Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Firearm Wounds - Pt 1 Stats and How Guns Do Damage


If the setting of your manuscript is the good ole U. S. of A. and it contains a violent crime with a weapon, statistically, that weapon will be a gun. That's why there's a whole chapter on guns as well as gun injuries in my book. Be on the lookout for it June, 2019 with Writer's Digest. 

According to Criminal Justice Information Services Division 2016 report, of the 15,070 murder weapons used in the United States, 11,004 were firearms. What that means for us as writers is that we need to be familiar both with firearms and what they do. (Choose these links for a review of handguns and rifles/shotguns.) 

In this first installment we are going to look at how to NOT handle a gun, some statistics regarding gun injuries and exactly how guns do damage. Hint: It's not just because the bullet makes a hole.

How to NOT Shoot a Gun (In good conscience, I have to include this.)


Guns by the Numbers
Where are our characters most likely to be shot? 
Well that depends on the circumstances of the shooting: assault versus unintentional. But, in both cases, I think the facts will surprise you. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (yeesh, that's a mouthful) the area most likely to struck by a bullet is the legs and feet. 


(1)

Mode of transport to hospital (1):
Ambulance/EMS - 69%
Air Transport - 2
Private Vehicle - 13 
Walk-in/police - 6
Unknown (We all know it was a dragon) - 7

Medical outcome for firearm injuries in the U.S.(1):
ER visit, treatment and release - 31%
Hospitalization and release -  36%
Death - 33%

Fatal injuries by firearm(1): Men - 86%, Women - 14
Nonfatal injuries by firearm (1): Men - 90, Women - 10

Fatal injuries by age (1):
0-14 years   2.4%
15-24          42.7
25-34          27.4
35-44          12.1
45-54           8.0
55-64           3.9
65+              3.2

Approximate number of fatalities by firearm type (2):
handgun - 64%
not stated - 28
rifles - 4
shotguns - 3
other - 2

How Guns Do Damage

When a bullet enters the body, the energy that put it there dissipates and creates a cavity. That cavity stretches, distorts, and compresses the surrounding tissue. This is known as blast effect and the faster the bullet, the greater the blast effect; as well, the greater the bodily damage. If the bullet tumbles or oscillates within the body, the potential for damage increases even more.

Here's a video on exactly what a bullet does to tissue. Notice that even though the entry wound looks like a tidy hole, the skin expanded and contracted greatly with the initial impact. It's pretty shocking. There's also a bit about bullet proof vests.


Damage Done by Different Guns
One way to see the sort of damage a gun can do is to whack a watermelon. 


What if the bullet isn't fired from a gun. Is it still dangerous? For those of you looking for creative ways to kill with a bullet, this video is for you. (I love Hickok45 on YouTube. Fantastic resource and just a charming fella.)


In our next round on FightWrite.net we will look at the sort of wounds created by firearms. Until then, I leave you with a beautiful disarm by Victor Marx and the perfect disarm by Master Ken. OSS and get blood on your pages!










(1) ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4700838/
(2) statista.com/statistics/195325/murder-victims-in-the-us-by-weapon-used/





Thursday, December 13, 2018

Featured FightWriter Cindy Emmet Smith: Headbutting

Happy holidays, fightwriters! On this round of FightWrite we are taking a question from fightwriter, Cindy Emmet Smith. She asks: I have a question for you about the headbutt
thing. If it is hard enough to hurt the other guy, doesn't it hurt both equally? Unless one is Klingon. I see this in movies and I wonder why one guy is knocked out and the other is fine.

That is a great question, Cindy. Also, deep respect for the Klingon mention.

 A headbutt is a legit strike and it is devastating. Anyone who doubts that need look no further than the sport of Lethwei. This Burmese form of bareknuckle fighting allows striking with all the limbs and, yes, headbutting. And, I have to tell ya, a well landed headbutt is tough to watch. 


So, why isn't the fighter throwing the headbutt knocked out? Well, for one, he's got a heck of a hard head. Whenever a part of the body is repeatedly roughed, the bones develop calcium deposits making the bones thicker. Also, the Lethwei fighter has proper technique. Yes, there's an actual technique for headbutting. I cover headbutting in my FightWrite book due out in June, 2019 with Writer's Digest. But, I'm gonna cover it now too!

How to Headbutt

First, find the horns of your forehead. If you draw a line up from the middles of your pupils to the top of your forehead, you'll find two places where the bones are a bit thicker. It will feel like two little knobs. I drew two arrows on the forehead of the x-ray here. You can see by the opaqueness that the bone is a little thicker in these areas. These are the horns of the forehead. You can also use the area between the horns as well as just above it. In my self defense class I teach using the horns. Using these bony knobs allows the striker to keep an eye on their opponent which allows them to aim a little better. Also, if you are trying to use the horns and are a little off with what you use to strike, you will still be striking with a safe area. 

In the instructional video you will see the instructor using other parts of the forehead and head which are absolutely correct. You're gonna love that video. Trust me.

Second, find your target. The best places to strike are the nose, eyes and cheeks of your opponent's face. Avoid the mouth as you could end up with teeth stuck in your forehead. My BJJ coach was a soccer goalie in high school. He jumped up to grab the ball just as another player went to head it. The two collided and my coach was knocked out. When he awoke his two front teeth were gone. They weren't lost though! He found them sticking out of the other guy's forehead. 

Three, deliver those horns! Despite what you might think, you don't rear your head back. Instead, you use your abdominal muscles which are far stronger than those of the neck. If possible, grab your opponent's shirt and pull them toward you as you strike. Grabbing the shoulders or back of the neck may signal what is coming and your opponent might tense up and brace for the strike. When delivering the strike, your chest, shoulders and neck should move as a single unit.  

Here's an instructional video from Master Wong. Oh...this guy...I love him. He's a really low key, shy, quiet fella. I hope one day he comes out of his shell. As he will tell you, if you deliver a headbutt incorrectly, your face will look so ugly, your mom won't even know you! 



Done incorrectly, a headbutt can, most likely, knock you out. I say most likely because biologically it makes sense. But all the videos I have seen of people knocking their own selves out with a headbutt are from unsanctioned fights or encounters with punching machines or pumpkins. In all of those cases, I have no idea if the people are drunk or compromised in some way. In the example of my coach being knocked out while he was a goalie, the collision was far more violent than a regular headbutt. So, I can't really use that as a good reference. BUT, can a character in your manuscript headbutt someone and knock himself out? Yes, it's plausible.  

There you have it, Cindy. Headbutting 101. Fightwriters, to read Cindy's work, just hop over to Amazon


In case you need a little inspiration for headbutting in your manuscript, here's two videos for ya. The first is of a goat knocking out a cow with a headbutt. Yes, really. The second is of a goat just headbutting a bunch of people. Y'all, the guy in the striped shirt is a kicking machine! For reals.









Until the next round at FightWrite™.net, get blood on your pages!






Monday, November 19, 2018

Fighting a Turkey



In honor of Thanksgiving I thought we'd look at how to fight a turkey. I get questions about fighting fantastic creatures "on the regular." My advice is always for the writer to find the closest real animal equivalent, if at all possible, and look at how that animal fights. If your fantastic creature or being has the appearance of a turkey, scoot closer to the screen. This post is for you!

We are considering wild turkeys here, not the domestic ones raised for food. Male wild turkeys, known as toms, stand about four feet tall, weigh upwards of twenty plus pounds and have a wing span somewhere around four and a half feet. They are big birds. 

Wild turkeys can fly in short bursts up to 55mph and can run about 25 miles an hour. They are also just brimming with confidence. It's fairly easy to find footage of them nonchalantly crossing the road and backing up traffic as well as menacing people. Here's a video of a postman fending some off. You will notice that they are quick to back away from the prod, but then also quick to get back to the business of intimidation.
What might a wild turkey do to you if it happens to catch you? Most likely it will jump up and try to beat you with its wings like a thug. It might also attempt to peck at you. It's not likely to use it's spurs, which is good because those babies are huge. A lady in one video I watched claims a turkey jumped up and drop kicked her. But, even then, it didn't use its spurs. I'm not saying they absolutely won't use their spurs. That just not what they generally do. If a turkey manages to "get" you, it won't kill you. It will humiliate you by smacking you around and might leave you with a few bloody pecks.

My father-in-law grew up out in the country and has spent a good bit of time in the woods hunting. I asked him how would he defend himself against a turkey. Without missing a beat he said, "go faster." Now, y'all saw how fast a turkey can run: 25mph. Usain Bolt runs 28mph. That doesn't leave much hope for the rest of us. Luckily, my father-in-law said that turkeys will not run you down. They will chase you just long enough to get you at a distance that is safe for them. They are prey animals after all.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the protagonist of our story runs into some turkeys that have a real vendetta against him. They are birds straight from Alfred Hitchcock's, The Birds!* The turkeys mean to run your protagonist down, beat him senseless and tear him to shreds. He has no shelter to run into. What does he do?

Well, first, he shouldn't climb a tree. Turkeys roost in trees.They don't generally attack there but we aren't talking about regular turkeys here. These are crazy attack turkeys! He also won't be able outrun the things. His best bet is to get a buffer between them, something the turkeys will have to run or fly around. The more impediments between the character and the foul fowl the better. I think running into the woods would be great. Yes, wild turkeys live in the woods and maneuver just fine in there. But, that's when they are choosing their own path. The leader of a chase has the advantage of choosing the course. The turkeys don't know that your character will quickly turn left or right.

Your character could also look around for thick brush to bury himself in. Even if the demon turkeys could get in there with him, they wouldn't be able to pimp slap the character with their wings and might have a harder time raising their talons or pecking. Getting under something is also an option for your poultry pursued person. The thing would need to be low enough to the ground that the turkeys could not follow.

Another option is to fight back. If your character is battling two birds, he should focus on one of the birds, fighting and  circling, while keeping bird two in his peripheral. That will be very hard since turkeys are fast. But, it might be doable. Battling three or more would be a nightmare. If you write that, please send me that scene.

In a one on one fight, your character could swing an item of clothing at the bird, something to make it not want to run at your character. If the turkey swoops up to escape the thing being swung, your character should continue slapping at it but also get himself out of he way of the turkey coming down. He could also throw rocks or handfuls of gravel at it. Even if he doesn't injure the bird, the bird will back away to protect it's head and eyes.

Your character's best bet is to get a heavy duty stick or club and go after the sucker's neck. Yes, a gun would be absolutely best but that's too easy. We want this to be tough.The reason I suggest aiming for the neck is you have a greater margin of error. If the turkey goes up or down, your character will still hit something.

In order to battle the turkey head on, keep your character still enough that the turkey runs directly at him. When its neck is within whacking distance, your character should swing for the fences. Or, if your character is so skilled, he could kick it, but I don't suggest that. A bird with talons will jump at you talons out. Let's assume these turkeys will do that. You might not want your character's leg in the way of that. Or...maybe you do...hmmmm. If your character uses a bat and the turkey flies up talons out, he could swing at the feet or jab the bird's chest to maintain distance.

And, there you have it folks, how to fight a wild turkey! I hope all of you in the U.S. have a great Thanksgiving. 

To all my readers around the world, I am incredibly thankful for you. When I began this blog two years ago, I never imagined I would have the readership that I do that spans the globe. May God bless you, keep you, cause His face to shine upon you and give you peace.

Until the next round at FightWrite.net, get blood on your pages. Here's a compilation of funny turkey videos. Enjoy!




*The Birds, like all Hitchcock movies is amazing. It's about all the birds turning on humans. If you have every confronted a parking lot bird, the kind that demand fries, you know it's only a matter of time until Hitchcock's imagining is realized!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Redirecting Momentum - With Video

Ok, ok, I did a video already. Yeesh. You fightwriters are a pushy lot! Thankfully, the folks at Brazilian Top Team North Houston indulged me and let me film a bit of our *Meninas do Mãozinha self defense class.

This is a drill for the redirection of momentum. I repeat, this is only a drill. It teaches muscle memory and introduces a fighting fundamental which is nestled deep in Newton's First Law of Motion/Inertia. All fighting is physics, y'all. Sir Isaac Newton was a fight thug.  

Newton's First Law states, in part, that an object moving in a straight line wants to keep moving in a straight line. The faster that object is going, the easier it is to take it off course. Think about driving in a car. Turning the wheel just a bit to the right has a far greater impact when driving 65mph versus 6.5mph.

The concept is the same with strikes. The faster a strike comes at you, the easier it is take it off course. Yes, it's trickier to get to it before it hits you. But, if you can, just a small tap to the side of the approaching fist will direct the punch away from its mark.  

With that in mind, watch the video. I am not letting Emily throw me. She's not even pushing me hard. It looks like it but she's not. She's using the movement I am giving her and taking it off course.  

Without further ado, here's the video. Wait, there's a couple ados. Let me point out a few things. The block shown is an inside block because it directs the strike to the inside of the body. The great thing about an inside block is that it brings the offending hand over the thrower's body which helps to block a follow up punch. 

Also, I'd like to point out that my partner in the video, my teammate Emily, had NEVER done this whole drill. We had practiced the redirection a few times then I kinda put her on the spot and asked her to jump in. She's a BJJ fighter so the mount was a familiar concept but I hadn't said a word to her about trapping my hand until we were recording. That said, I get super happy with her for doing it correctly. I believe I say, "ta-da!"

And...roll footage...





First, let's look at how Emily held her hand for the block. I call it "waitress hand." Making that angle with the wrist keeps me from being able to slide up and over her hand to strike her. With the waitress hand she steers the strike away. With her other hand she redirects the source of the movement: my body. Again, she's hardly pushing at all. I start falling harder because I am moving faster. BTW, don't fall on your hands like I'm doing. You will hurt your wrist. If I had fallen any harder I would have tucked the arm and let the entire limb absorb the landing.


You also saw that she blocked with the back or top of the arm, whichever way you wanna look at it. Like I said in the video, it spares the more blood and tendon/nerve rich underside. If those tendons are severed, your character will not be able to make a fist which means he will not be able to hold a weapon. Never mind the issue of severing those veins/arteries. On that note, here's a post on the stages of bleeding out!


When Emily redirected my momentum, she turned toward me. That's important. It keeps her ready to address me again. By going to "mount" (that top position) and staying upright she immobilized my body and kept a better field of vision than if she had put her chest on me. Having my assailing arm extended kept me from taking the knife into my other hand. Also, pinning my wrist rather than forearm keep me from being able to do anything with the knife.

I said that in that position she had a lot of options. What were they? Well, she could have drawn my hand back which would have lifted my elbow and rolled me toward the hand to break my wrist. She could have landed hammer fist strikes to my temple. She could have gouged out my eye. But, best of all, she could have taken the knife for herself and just ended the matter. I know all of those seem extreme. But, if a malfeasant pulls a knife on your character and stabs at him, that villain aims to kill. The reaction should always fit the intention. Again:


THE REACTION SHOULD FIT THE INTENTION!!!!

In other words, even though an action does not kill your character, that was the intention! So your character better kill back first! That's what we go over in self defense as well. If somebody tries to kill you, kill back first! For the record, that is the best way to say that. "Kill back first!"

That's it for this round at FightWrite.net. A big obrigada to Emily and all the *Meninas do Mãozinha at Brazilian Top Team North Houston. I want to say another thank you to Haru Dojo Aikido from whom I learned this little gem of a drill. 

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


*Our coach, Daniel Galvão, has the nick name "Mãozinha." That is why our team is known as Team Mãozinha. Meninas do Mãozinha is Portuguese for "Mãozinha Girls." And "O gato tem a cerveja e as chaves do carro" is Portuguese for "the cat has the beer and the keys to the car," a phrase my Portuguese learning felt imperative for me to learn. Apparently cats drunk driving is an issue in Brazil. With that, I must attach a video of Toonces. It's kinda obligatory - é obrigatório!





Friday, October 19, 2018

Poison, Pt 3 - Flora & Fauna


If you are joining the show late, our first installment on poisoning explained some of the medical jargon you will encounter here. Part two covered various types of poison and their effects. In this, our third and final round on poisoning, we are going looking at flora and fauna. Now, there's a ton of poisonous plants and animals out there. Books have been written on them. I couldn't cover them all but here's a few. 

Poisonous Plants
Again, there's a ton of poisonous plants out there. This is just a small taste. (Don't taste these plants!)

Belladonna - Also know as deadly nightshade, belladonna impacts the nervous system causing dry
Belladonna
mouth, enlarged pupils, blurred vision, fever, tachycardia, inability to urinate, sweating, hallucinations, spasms, seizures and coma. Both the berries and leaves are poisonous. It is purported that as few as two berries can kill a child and ten to twenty can kill an adult.

Castor Bean - see ricin

Oleander
Oleander - I looked through dozens of sites including the CDC and couldn't find an exact time on how quickly oleander affects the body. However, I often saw that medical attention must be expedient and includes gastric lavage. All parts of the oleander plant are poisonous even the smoke resulting from its burning. Symptoms of oleander poisoning are sweating, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, unconsciousness, respiratory paralysis, and, finally, death.

Rosary Pea - Abrin is the poison in the rosary pea. Exposure can be the result of inhalation, ingestion
Rosary Pea
or contact with the skin or eyes. Death from abrin poisoning could occur thirty-six to seventy-two hours after exposure.
    Symptoms of inhalation include respiratory distress, fever, cough, nausea, heavy sweating and pulmonary edema. The build up of fluid in the lungs could cause cyanosis. Finally, low blood pressure and respiratory failure could occur.
   Symptoms of ingestion are vomiting, bloody diarrhea (is there a grosser two word phrase? mercy!), severe dehydration and low blood pressure. Other possible symptoms may include hallucinations, seizures, and blood in the urine. Within several days, failure of the liver, spleen, and kidneys may occur.


Water hemlock
Water Hemlock - Water hemlock is dangerous to ingest or even apply to the skin. All parts of the plant are considered dangerous and can cause death in under twenty minutes. It is said that Socrates was sentenced to death by means of drinking hemlock. Symptoms of water hemlock poisoning are drooling, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, sweating, dizziness, abdominal pain, weakness, delirium, diarrhea, convulsions, heart problems, kidney failure and coma.

Poisonous Snakes

   Y'all, snakes are weapons. If the setting of your manuscript is rural or an area known for snakes, make use of them! Here are a few of the most poisonous snakes and the effects of their venom. Treatment of all bites by poisonous snakes should include professional medical care. One should never put ice on a bite or apply a tourniquet to a bitten limb. Also, an incision should not be made to the wound as it could cause further injury. And, I might as well say it: don't try to suck out the venom! I mean, really?
   Here's a video on snake bites that just makes me happy.  I don't know why they called an ambulance. The awesomeness and raw confidence of that second guy should have been enough to make the snake venom leave the body out of respect!

     There's a ton of poisonous snakes out there. I couldn't possibly cover them all. I chose three biggies. I know I have readers from all over the world. Feel free to tell me what snake is an issue where you live. It will help other writers out on what snake is found where and how much of a problem it is. Oh, by the way, if you've heard baby snakes are more deadly because they can't control their venom, that is incorrect. They are less venomous according to this guy whom I believe because he has an Australian accent and is playing with a dangerous snake WHILE filming!!!!

 



Coral Snakes - The venom of the coral snake is one of most poisonous snake venoms in the world, second only to the black mamba. And, there is very little antivenin available to combat the effects of their bite. In fact, as of May 2017, the only producer of antivenin had stopped its production.
   The good news is that not many people die of coral snake bites. The fangs of the snake just aren't terribly efficient at piercing skin and don't stand a chance against a decent pair of leather shoes. The bad new is that inefficiency isn't the same as inability.
   If your character is bitten by a coral snake that character is in for some trouble and probably won't have a clue. Symptoms of a coral snake bite don't manifest for at least twelve to eighteen hours after the strike. Symptoms include muscle weakness, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, inability to move eyelids (who knew that was a thing!), blurred vision, decreased oxygen levels, paralysis and respiratory arrest.
 
Corn and Coral Snakes
Coral snakes look a lot like corn snakes. The latter, however, is harmless. There's a rhyme that helps you identify the poisonous from the harmless and refers to the snake's coloration. "Red on black won't hurt Jack. Red on yellow will kill a fellow!"

Death Adder - Despite being known as Australia's top ambush predatory, the death adder is actually a "sit and wait" kind of predator. If you leave it alone, it will return the favor. (I only know that by reading, not experience.)
   Legend has it that Cleopatra used a death adder to kill herself. If that's true, she sure chose a nasty
Death Adder
way to go. Death adder venom can cause a loss of voluntary muscle control which can result in respiratory failure. Other symptoms of death adder envenomation include abdominal pain, headache, drowsiness and inability to control eye movement.

Rattlesnake (eastern and western diamondback, Mohave, timber) - Rattlesnake venom kills by causing cells of the body to hemorrhage and also by suppressing the nervous system.  
 
Western Diamondback
 The effects of a rattlesnake bite begin quickly, within seconds of being bitten. Medical help should be reached within thirty minutes of being struck. If left untreated, effects of the venom will increase within a period of two to three days and result in organ failure and death. Symptoms of a rattlesnake bite include sweating, numbness in the face or limbs, lightheadedness, excessive salivation, weakness, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and difficulty breathing.

Well, that's it for our series on poison. What's the next round about? Well, that's up to you. Let me hear from you on "the Twitter" @carlahoch #fightwrite

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