Thursday, June 22, 2017

Western Sword Vocabulary

If you are versed in Western/European swords, you will be able to add many more terms to this list. But, these are the basics. I will feature Asian and African sword vocabulary in other posts.

Backsword -- A sword blade, which has a cutting edge only on one side. Most commonly found on curved blades, such as sabers, falchion, and cutlass.
Basket -- An arrangement of steel bars, and panels that form a basket-like cage around the grip (and the wielder's hand). These are most commonly found on Scottish basket-hilted swords, and European rapiers.
Blade -- The section of the sword, which is not part of the hilt.
Cruciform -- A generic term for any sword which when inverted point downward will form the shape of a crucifix. 
Edge -- The cutting portion of the sword's blade.
Ferrule -- A metal band at either end of the grip used to secure the leather or wire wraps. Also used as a decoration.
Finger guard -- A small crescent shape bar which extends from the sword's guard, and rises parallel to the sword's ricasso, which enables a user to loop their finger over the guard (which increases point control, but decreases cutting power), without fear of being injured by an opponent's blade sliding down their own.
Fuller -- A groove down the center of a blade, used to both lighten a sword, and conserve sword steel (making a wider blade possible with less material). Often mistakenly called a "Blood Groove."
Full tang -- A sword tang that passes the entire length of the grip, and is attached directly to the sword's pommel.
Grip -- The handle.
Guard -- The section of the sword hilt whose purpose is to protect the wielder's hand. It may take of the shape of a simple bar, a steel basket, a flat disc, or several other forms.
Hilt -- All of a sword, except for the blade proper.  
Knuckle guard -- A curved bar which extends from the guard to pommel, designed to prevent the user's hand from being cut by a sliding blow from an opponent's weapon.
Main Guache -- "Left hand." A dagger used in the 16th and 17th centuries, wielded in the left hand and used for parrying assailing swords.
Point -- The tip of the sword's blade.
Pommel -- A counter-weight at the end of a sword's hilt, used to balance the sword. Also may be used as a striking implement.
Quillon(s) -- Renaissance term for the crossguard. Used almost exclusively when referring to rapiers.
Quillon block -- Section of the rapier's hilt where the guard's arms (both bars, and rings) are attached. 
Ricasso -- Any narrowing or thickening of a sword's blade, which remains unsharpened, just above the guard. Increases the user's ability to loop a finger over the guard, to increase control of the point.
Tang -- The section of the sword blade that the hilt is attached to. This part of the sword is not visible when the blade is fully mounted.
Welded tang -- A tang where the steel of the blade has had another piece of steel (very often low carbon steel) welded on to it as an extension.
Wheel -- A pommel that is in the shape of a flat disc. It may have added features, such as beveled edges, or raised center sections.
Wire-wrap -- Spun and twisted metal wire, which is wrapped around the sword grip. Often used to increase the ability to grip a sword's handle. Also a sign of wealth, as these grips tended to be more expensive to manufacture. 

For a more exhaustive list, go to It is a fantastic resource for Western swords.

And now, for those really wanting to delve into Western "swordery," I give you, The Princess Bride...

Until the next round at, get blood on your pages.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Body Punches - The Cons and the Defense

In our last round, I discussed the pros of punches to the body. And, as much as I love them, they have many disadvantages. We'll take a look at those as well as body punch defense.

Note how Joanna guards her chin with her
shoulder as she punches
1. First, with any strike, you leave yourself vulnerable.  This is especially true when you punch the body as you must lower your hands from your face. Doing so leaves the head wide open to attack. With straight punches, the shoulder of the striking hand guards that side of the face. When you punch the body, the best you can do is tuck the chin down to the chest and tilt the head a bit. It's not much of a defense.

2. To drop an opponent, you need to target the liver and that punch requires some prowess. Only a small portion of the liver is exposed from beneath the ribs. And, as most fighters are right-handed, they stand with their liver side back which provides even greater protection. It's a tough shot to land and I would never base my punching game on it or fight strategy around it.  

3. Because of the ribs and hip bones, an opponent can take a good bit of beating to the body. The solar plexus is guarded by stomach muscles and an educated fighter will keep that portion of the body tight. Often when fighters punch, you will hear them exhale hard, make a "sss" sound. That gives a little oomph to the punch, but it also tightens the abs which you will want to do any time you strike. If
you make that exhale a habit, you will automatically tighten your stomach every single time you punch or kick.
So, if a strike does get through, you will be protected.

Those activated muscles also give added protection to the ribs. Technically, you can break a rib with a punch. But, I wouldn't count on that. Ever. I've seen ribs broken by kicks and knees far more than punches but even those cases aren't common. Also, I've seen folks continue on with broken ribs to the end of the fight.

Now, for the defense. Blocking body shots isn't hard at all. The key is keeping the body tight. But, that's hard to do when you are new to fighting or just plain tired out. When you are exhausted, you will do things you know you shouldn't. A tired body will betray a tireless mind. 

Start from a basic standing posture. My post on punches will explain a good fight stance.  From that stance, you just bring the elbow down to the hip bone. If instead you drop the arm, your opponent will capitalize on your mistake. The next combo they throw, they will fake a body punch to get you to drop your hand away from your face then target your jaw.  

That's it for this round at Until the next round, get blood on your pages.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Body Punches - The Pros

Punches to the body are, in my humble opinion, highly underrated. By “body” I’m referring to the area beneath the arm pits to the tops of the hip bones. These strikes are very good at doing what they do. However, you have to know how to throw a good one. I will explain that in a different post. One of the most disabling is the liver shot or, as I call it, the Bas Rutten Special, which I posted on previously.  

Next week I will discuss the cons of punches to the body. This week, however, we'll focus on the pros: 

1. Because the area is larger, more punches can be thrown from different angles and it's harder to defend a larger area as well. Nick Diaz is great at this. He is known for beating down the body.   

2. They bring the hands away from the head. If your character is a seasoned fighter, they will be able to block without leaving the face completely open. However, the sides of the head still will be. And, because the punches will cause the character to hunch over a bit, they won't be as able to see their combatant switch levels (Like Nick Diaz did) and go from a low punch to a high, head shot. 

3. A punch to the solar plexus will quickly shut somebody down without injuring them. This may seem like a strange
thing to point out but if a character is saying something they shouldn't and another needs them to stop speaking, this is a great go-to. And, it doesn’t take much effort provided the character isn't expecting it. 

4. This same punch can help bring a character to the ground. The automatic reflex to any punch to the stomach is to put the hands over the belly and lean forward. This brings the body off balance making it easier to bring someone down. Never mind the fact that the character has had their breath taken as well which makes them less stable.

5. Body shots save the hands. When your character hits someone in the face, they risk incidental contact with the teeth which can cut and bloody the knuckles. Also, the head is a bit bonier than the abdominal area. You are more
likely to hurt your hand by punching the face – provided your hands aren’t wrapped well. If your hands are wrapped well, this isn’t an issue. Not just wrapped, wrapped well and there is a difference. I will do a post on hand wraps later.

6. Body shots injuries aren’t as visible. Most people wear shirts so bruises are hidden. If your protagonist walks into a room with a black eye, other characters are likely to say, “wow, what happened!” For this same reason it's a good option if
This is the kind of bruises you
get from kicks.
you want a character to have a very painful wound they want hidden. Let me assure you, bruised ribs really hurt. And, you can't get away from the pain because you have to move your ribs to breathe. If you cough, you are in even worse pain.
For the striker, because the knuckles won't be bloodied by teeth, it's less visible evidence that the character has hit someone. It makes them a less than obvious suspect.

7. A well thrown body shot delivers maximum results with minimal damage to both the combatants. Yes, the unfortunate party might have a dislocated or broken rib. But, unless that character isn't physically compromised in some way and if the strike isn't a kick or knee,
the rib isn't likely to snap and puncture the lung. Once the rib is set, it will heal and you'll be fine. However, regardless of how solid a character is, a well delivered shot to the face can break the orbital bone, trash the nose, knock out teeth and break the jaw. These injuries can leave permanent damage. Cracked rib? Meh, they'll get over it.

8. Punches to the body wear a fighter out. If your characters are both warriors, they will know how to defend a body strike. But, throughout the fight, taken repeatedly, these punches just wear the body down.

9. Technically, a hard strike to the heart can kill you. Can a human deliver such a punch, kick or knee? Not likely but it's not impossible. However, if your character's abilities are above that of normal humans, you have that as an option.

Well, there ya go. You may officially quit just punching the face! In the next round of, we'll look at the cons of body strikes. Until then, get blood on your pages!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Getting Hit in the Face

In our last round, I explained why knockouts happen, the science behind them. In this round, we're going to look at the reality of things. How it feels to take a hard shot to the face and how it feels after the fact.

I reached out to three pals from Brazos Valley MMA. Two have fought and currently coach. The third, pictured above, Anthony, currently fights. He blocked that kick and went on to win the bout.  

Bubba Bush  - 3 Time Legacy Middleweight Champion, UFC Fighter, BJJ and MMA Coach at BVMMA

Bubba putting petroleum jelly on his fighter's face
before the bout. It makes the skin slippery and
less likely to tear/split.
Being punched in the face doesn't really hurt at all. You feel the jarring and the impact, but no sense of pain like you would if you got cut or slammed your finger in a car door. Just an impact usually, and an awareness--that you're not glass, but that something less than good just happened to your body. Then you eventually feel incredibly fatigued, but this is a combination of the body reacting against the duress as well I'm sure as the tension in your body as you react/forget to breath/etc. 

Being knocked out happens in 2 ways. The first is the punch you don't see coming, which is usually the most effective. So the experience isn't so much what it feels like to be knocked out, as what it feels like to wake up from a knockout. 

It takes a few seconds to realize whatever you were dreaming about was just a dream, and then to re-acclimate to your surroundings. And then to process all of this and simultaneously process all of the implications and emotions that rush over you along with this sudden realization that if you just woke up...something bad just happened. Physically, at this point, the only sensation may be a minor stiffness in your neck, or bruise like impact pain on a swollen part of the face (assuming a tooth didn't get knocked out or jaw dislocated or anything). 

Jaw jarring pain is pretty intense and actually an 
experience of pain and not just one of impact. But, it's more rare in my experience and only when things shift. It burns and stings and gives you that terrible sense of “my body shouldn't be doing this” that you get when looking at a dislocated appendage. 

Tre Herrera - Muay Thai Fighter and Striking Coach

When Im moving through the motions, two punches may
  Tre and Bubba readying a fighter
before a fight. Look how serious
he's taking his job.
land. One is the one I see, I can anticipate, I can try to calculate. My opponent’s movement, his shoulders, his body is what I’m watching. It’s what I’m trying to time whether I’m engaging and trying to move forward to anticipate and move where his punches will not land flush, or whether I’m trying to counter his strikes. If and when that strike lands I’ve seen it; I knew it was a calculated possibility. 

Boom! It lands. It feels like i just did a long mathematical formula and I came up with the wrong answer. And, that error just cost my eye, my jaw, my temple. It feels like a pop, a flash of quick pain that immediately turns to disappointment and aggravation. Like I knew better or calculated wrong. 

If I was able to return fire or use a combo during that exchange, anything I land, I land with an extra amount of umph. I do that to let my opponent, and myself, know that I anticipated that possibility, that math went through my head and that my opponent may have made me make a mistake but that I was there and I am capable.
Tre coaching a terrible and vicious fighter
that is also the love of his life:
his wife.

The second type of punch is the strike I never saw, never anticipated, never even put in the realm of possibility. That strike is blunt. Forceful. Like a brick hit me. I taste metal, my jaw hurts, or my eye stings, my pain reminds me that I am vulnerable. It rings, loud, my vision tunnels, sounds disappear. The silence is deafening. My eyes blink uncontrollably, my nose hurts, my feet feel heavier, or my legs don’t feel as sturdy. 

I try to move but its like my body is now three steps behind my brain. I do a mental clarity check, shake my arms, my head, keep my eyes laser-focused on my opponent. Is he charging me? Is he coming in for more? Does he see that I’m hurt? Am I really here? Why is everything so quiet? Why is everything green? 

I bite down harder and move forward knowing that I have to strike back before he strikes again. I have to make sure he knows that while wounded I’m still dangerous. After a few minutes of collecting myself, moving, becoming aware again of my surroundings. I wipe my brain clean of what happened and move forward again, and dance the dance of men.

Anthony Cruz Veimau - Muay Thai and MMA Fighter
Anthony after his last victory. He is a high
energy fighter with a fantastic attitude and
really a lot of fun to watch.  

Throughout the fight, there is an amount of adrenaline that overwhelms me. Working up to the sound of the bell, I do my best to calm down and even develop a playful mind set. With that being said, as the fight progresses, the violent conversation begins. I have been lucky enough to have never been rocked in competition, but I have been hit in the head more than I would prefer. During the fight, I keep calm and register the landed strike to my head as a point scored in a game. Doing this separates my emotions from the common mistake of overreacting in the cage. At the same time, this also keeps me focused on generating a game plan to score my own points.

This is how Anthony "walks out" to the cage.
I'm telling you, he's a blast to watch!
When the fight is over, I am usually relieved. My neck does take a lot of abuse from the strikes. Fortunately, throughout my experience in 7 fights, I have never been cut. The next day, my neck certainly bares most of the pain from the strikes that have landed to my head or face.

Similar to a car accident, I never truly recall which punches or kicks have contributed to the different parts of my body. I only register the pain. Having good coaching in between rounds is vital for my momentum throughout the fight. The adrenaline will dissipate, and the months of training will reveal itself as the fight progresses.

My advice for everyone that wants to do MMA: Keep it fun,
  and you will only have fun. We can have fun throughout the wins and loses in our life if we expect them. Have fun! OSS

 My thanks to the guys here from BVMMA. If you're ever in College Station/Bryan, Texas, pay them a visit.

Until the next round at, get blood on your pages!

Bonus! Here's Anthony versus Bruce Whitehead. Keep in mind as you watch, this young man dips his head respectfully and calls me ma'am every single time he sees me. He is incredibly polite, sweet natured and always smiling. I say that because in the ring, he's a wild man! 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Knock Out Punches

In case you're not a huge nerd like me, this is a
Japanese superhero known as
 One Punch Man. As the name suggests, 

he knocks out with one punch.  
 There are several things at work in a “knock out punch.” When a strike lands on the jaw or chin, the head spins. Muscles and tendons pull to keep the head from spinning too far which causes a deceleration. Unfortunately, that reduction in speed is the brain’s undoing. If the head could just keep on spinning and slow down gradually, the result might not be so traumatic. If your character is an alien with a head that can spin completely on its axis, well done. Good thinking.

However, the human body being what it is, the sudden deceleration causes the brain to hit against the skull. This concussive trauma overstimulates the brain and causes neurons to fire out of control. Overwhelmed, the brain shuts down until the neurotransmitter balance is restored. Think of it as the brain's way of “rebooting” the system. 

Here's a knock out punch in slow motion. It really shows the level of trauma the entire head experiences. In real time you just can't appreciate it. Also, even though this fighter isn't lifeless on the mat, he is knocked out. Although he is moving and trying to get up, he has no idea where he is or what has happened. Note the glassiness in his eyes.


Can your character be knocked out without actually having a concussion? Technically, yes. The loss of consciousness could be the result of a shock to the carotid artery. This major vessel provides blood to the brain and has a reflex area known as a “sinus.” This area is very sensitive to pressure changes in the arterial blood flow and helps keep the body in sync with external conditions. A sharp blow to the jaw could jolt that sinus. This would alter blood and oxygen flow to the brain enough to generate a loss of consciousness. 

So, yes, it is POSSIBLE for your human character to be knocked out without having a concussion. The only absolute in fighting is that there are no absolutes. However, it is rare. And, even if the blow itself doesn’t cause a concussion the subsequent fall may. It’s always best to treat a loss of consciousness as if the brain is concussed. 

How will your character's muscles feel the next morning after being punched out? Well, that’s for another post. :) For now, here's how the concussion will effect them. 

Symptoms of a concussion that your character may suffer:
Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
Temporary loss of consciousness
Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
Dizziness or "seeing stars"
Ringing in the ears
Slurred speech
Delayed response to questions
Appearing dazed

While these symptoms may also happen immediately, others may be delayed for hours or days, such as:
Concentration and memory complaints
Irritability and other personality changes
Sensitivity to light and noise
Sleep disturbances
Psychological adjustment problems and depression
Disorders of taste and smell

In an upcoming post, we'll also look at how the body lands and reacts immediately after hitting the mat. It's not like the movies would have you think. Until then and the next round at, get blood on your pages!

And now, without further ado, 10 THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT ONE PUNCH MAN!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Firearms Part II - Rifles & Shotguns

Just as in my last post regarding firearms, Firearms Part I, Handguns, I'm not addressing military grade or anything from the Star Wars catalog. Regarding the latter, I'm attaching a Mythbusters episode regarding whether a blaster can really be dodged.
(Can we just pause a moment in honor of Adam, Jamie and the whole lot? I miss them!)

Rifle - a gun fired from shoulder level, having a long spirally grooved barrel.

Rifling in a Rifle Barrel
The grooves in the barrel of the rifle are known as rifling and they are the bread and butter of this weapon. The spin the grooves create give the bullet stability as it goes. Without it the bullet would be more flung out than shot. Because of that stability, a rifle lends itself to more accuracy over greater distances.

There are many types of rifles. Some are classified by the mechanism they use to shoot (air rifle), and some for their intended use (elephant rifle). I'm going to gloss over some of the most common, historically and now, as well as the ammo.

Rifles (and One That's Not):

Musket - If a musket doesn't have rifling, it's not a rifle. But, it has the long stock look so I'm putting it in. There were over a half dozen kinds including matchlock, flintlock and loose powder. Most smooth bore (non-rifled) were only accurate up to about 50 yards. A rifled could be accurate up to 500 yards. We get the phrase "lock, stock and barrel" from the musket.

This video is the loading and firing of a flintlock musket. It's a none too hasty undertaking.  

The phrase, "don't shoot your wad," originated with muskets. It referred to not packing your musket correctly and only the wadding coming out as a result. It was therefore a wasted shot. Originally it was not profane and to be understood as such simply shows a lack of basic musketry!

Breech Loading Rifle - a rifle in which a cartridge or shell is loaded directly in a chamber that's integral to the back portion of the barrel. These are much faster to load than the earlier muzzle loaded rifles and can also be loaded from a prone position. Most mass produced rifles are breech loading.

Cartridge/Shell - Casing in which a bullet or shot is housed. 
Revolving Rifle - has a revolving mechanism like the handheld revolver. The problem with revolving rifles is that metal fragments sprayed away from the front of the revolving mechanism and into the shooter's hand that supports the rifle barrel.

Repeating Rifle - a rifle capable of holding multiple rounds of ammo. These only fire one shot per trigger pull unless they are semi-automatic or automatic. For a definition of semi-automatic and automatic, see my post on hand guns.Firearms Part 1 - Handguns


Shotguns (aka scattergun, peppergun) - They operate as a rifle however they do not shoot a bullet. But rather, as the secondary names suggest, they scatter or pepper with shot pellets or deliver a single slug. The circumference of the spray widens with distance. So, at close distance, the circle of shot will be much smaller than if it is 100 yards away.  

xray of shot gun wounds

Slugs are slower than bullets and travel shorter distances. They must be used at closer range and are considered safer than bullets in populated hunting situations. That is not to say they will not kill someone. Slugs are as devastating as bullets at close range.

Sawed Off Shotgun - a shotgun with a purposefully shortened barrel that allows it to be used at closer range and more easily hidden. In the U.S., a shot gun barrel must be at least 18 inches or it is considered illegal.

If your character picks up a shot gun, he will not shoot a bullet and if a rifle, he will not shoot shot. If he is using a musket, he will not be able to reload with any speed or while lying on his stomach. And if he picks up a blaster rifle, well, he may have better luck than Han Solo led us to believe. 
Until the next round at, get blood on your pages!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Healing Time

I've been so excited about this post and I want to say first and foremost thank you to my friend Amber Schoech for sharing these with me. It has been an honor to watch her grow as a fighter over the last few years. She's tough, she works hard and she has huge heart!

Amber can take a punch. Dear heavens, she has a jaw of steel. And, if you can manage to land one on her, you better. Because if she gets you to the ground, you've lost.

Her last fight was a tough one. She took some damage as all fighters do. If a fighter has never looked beat up after a fight, I'm not sure they are a fighter. 

Immediately after a fight, within the time it takes for the announcer to raise a hand and the TV camera to capture a quick interview, is not when a fighter looks their worst. Yes, you will see the swelling start, but it's not until the face is no longer flushed from exertion that the scrapes really show up. The more the adrenaline ebbs, the more the swelling. If you are already swelling in the ring, you are going to really be swollen after.

Ok, so here is pretty Amber, and she is pretty. And, I have to say that with her hair braided up on her way into the ring, petroleum jelly on her face and not a stitch of make-up on, she's still pretty darn adorable.

Now, here is maybe ten minutes after the fight, she hadn't even gotten stitches yet. She still had some dried blood on her face. You can see it mixed with the sweat on her neck.I love this picture with all my heart. 
The cut above her eye is from a punch. She first saw the blood on her opponent's face and got excited thinking she had hurt her. But, after feeling something drip, she wiped her forehead and realized the blood she had seen on her opponent was her own. She did feel her face swelling during the fight but it wasn't painful.

Ok, next day. She has a bit of make-up on but you can see how much her eye has swelled overnight.

Day two. The swelling has gone down a bit and the bruising has darkened.

Day three. Bruise is turning brownish yellow which shows healing. Amber is young and very healthy. Her bruising is healing fast.

Day Four

Day five or six.  

And here we are at about a week.

Alrighty, FightWriters, there you go. Hope this gives you some tools to keep in your "details" toolbox. Until the next time at, get blood on your pages.