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.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Catapults (and Cow-tapults)

Siege warfare was a Medieval military operation that involved surrounding or blockading a town, fortress or castle in an attempt to capture it. Quite often these places were surrounded by a wall which left the besiegers with two options: go over or go through. Going over was a no brainer. They simply used ladders which were not only easy to set up but to carry to the battlefield as well.  

Unfortunately, any time you are close to your enemy you are more vulnerable and the use of the ladder was no exception. The climbing soldiers were easy pickings to not only arrows but one of my favorite weapons, the polearm. Ya gotta appreciate a good ole' long stick!

In order to minimize loss of troops, attacks were also performed at a distance, more often than not with a catapult. These are the weapons we'll be looking at today. There are many but I will highlight the biggies. All of these were used to not only knock down walls but to launch fire, pestilence and of course, in the case of the "cow-tapult", cows, over them. Catapults were employed by not only those outside the wall by those within as well as evidenced by this documentary clip.

Any piece of equipment that uses tension, torsion, traction or gravity to launch is technically a catapult. However, this is what we we commonly envision when we encounter the word. All types consist of a bucket, arm and frame. Whatever is launched is called the payload. This particular catapult has an arc trajectory.

The ballista is basically a giant crossbow. Straight trajectory.

The source of the mangonel's tension is rope wound around the arm and frame. Although able to launch farther, mangonels aren't as accurate as trebuchets. Arc trajectory. 

The onager is often confused with the trebuchet. The difference is their source of propulsion. Like the mangonel, rope is the source of tension. However the onager employs rope twisted at the base of the arm. Arc trajectory.

The trebuchet requires a counterweight. The tension required to make it a catapult is in the pulling down of the bucket and raising of the weight. Arc trajectory.

Until the next time at, get blood on your pages. Now, go away or I shall taunt you a second time!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Improvised Weaponry Part Dos

I've gotten some amusing responses from my last post on
improvised weaponry. Yes, I really do look around for this sort of thing. And, I carry a weapon just about all the time. I'm not paranoid, I'm simply aware that I'm assailable. And, being mindful of that, ironically, keeps me safer. 

Even if your character, or you, never needs to make use of these weapons, you know they are there which makes you both more prepared. It's better to be prepared and not need something that to need it and not have it. Or, as Sun Tzu said, "it's better to be a warrior in the garden than a gardener in a war."

Just like in the last post, "impact” refers to anything that can be used to strike someone. And, if I say something is used on pressure points, that means that you use it to hit sensitive areas.  

Backpack - used shield or swung at assailant, impact
Book - thrown at face, impact
Dry erase marker - thrown or used on pressure points
Aluminum water bottle - impact
Permanent marker - pressure points
Shoes - thrown, impact
Shoestring - choke
Phone charger - use prongs for impact, cord to choke
Musical instrument - impact
Sweat shirt hood/clothing - wrap assailants own hood, hood strings or collar around their neck to choke (The choke in the video can also be done with tshirts and polos because they're pretty stretchy. Especially if your adrenaline is up, you're going to stretch it out pretty good.)

Pot of hot coffee - impact and thrown to burn
Coffee mug - impact
CD - broken in half and used as knife (surprisingly sharp)
Fire extinguisher - spray at person’s face or impact
Pencil, pen, letter opener - stab
Keyboard, laptop, monitor - impact
Electrical cord - choke or whip
Potted plant - impact or dirt thrown in face
Decorative items - impact
Phone charger - use prongs for impact, cord to choke
Framed pictures - impact, corner used can cut and shattered glass to cut
Magazine - wrapped around arm for knife defense

On a plane/in airport:
Backpack - used as shield or swung at assailant
CD/CD case - broken and used to stab
Permanent market - pressure points
Carabiner - hand placed inside and used as brass knuckles
Jacket, socks, shoestring - choke
Pen, pencil - stab (metal barreled is best)
Credit card - edge sharpened as knife
Magazine - wrapped around arm for knife defense

Phone charger - use prongs for impact, cord to choke

When I began this blog, my secondary reason for doing so was to help writers write more accurate fight scenes. My primary reason was to encourage people to learn to defend themselves or, as in this post, help them see how they already can.

In classrooms, offices, planes or any public place, I believe in attacking as a means of defense. If an assailant enters an office, getting under desks or tables does not improve the situation. Instead, those at risk should all immediately grab anything and everything and start throwing it at the intruder. Even if, God forbid, the intruder has a gun, they will guard their face from the thrown objects and not be able to shoot or shoot wildly rather than target someone. It may also allow enough time for someone to grab a fire extinguisher to blast at the face of the attacker or brandish a weapon against them. Almost anyone, of all ages, can throw things at an assailant.

I highly suggest everyone read The Gift of Fear by Gavin deBecker. There is a chapter especially for threats in the workplace. And remember, fear is a GIFT!!! The good Lord didn't give us the emotion by accident. Fear is a precious messenger and guardian. If you don't feel right in a situation, get out of it. Who cares if it was nothing? Worse case scenario, you're a warrior in a garden.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Improvised Weaponry

When it comes to weaponry, think outside the box. Quite likely your character will always be surrounded by objects that can be used against an assailant – and so will you. Look around right now. What could you use to defend yourself? Well, you’re looking at one: your computer. Yes, your Mac can be part of your attack. That coffee cup beside you filled with hot liquid? That’s two weapons in one. Never mind if you have a pen or pencil near you. And there’s the framed pictures on the wall, the random decorative items and remote. You’re basically sitting in an armory and don’t even know it.

Here’s a few non traditional items that can be used for self defense. Some will simply buy your character some time and that may be enough. Some will injure and a few could very well dispatch if wielded well. I’ve organized them by location and given a brief description of use. I’ve left out the obvious such as knives, hammers etc. “Impact” refers to anything that can be used to strike someone. And, if I say something is used on pressure points, that means that you use it to hit sensitive areas. For example, when you grab a permanent marker and wrap your fingers around it, the tip generally sticks out. That would be used to hit someone any place on the head, face and neck and any joint. Actually, anywhere is better than nowhere. So, if your character or you has that handy, just start hitting! Note the seemingly innocuous things that can always be carried for defense.  

Next week we will venture outside the house. Until then, look around your abode and post unconventional things that can be used for self defense. Around the house only!!! 

Forks, spoons, wooden utensils - stabbing
Boiling water - thrown
Pot of hot coffee - impact and thrown to burn
Coffee mug - impact
Water sprayer on sink - hot water sprayed in face
Fire extinguisher - impact or spray in face
Pots, pans, dishes, baking items, rolling pins, small appliance, meat tenderizer mallet - impact
Dish towels - to use as a choke or snapped at face
Flour and ilk - thrown into face, breathed it will cause coughing and also impede vision
Salt - thrown in face will irritate eyes
Broom/mop handle - impact and trip
Phone charger - use prongs for impact, cord to choke
Cleaning chemicals, vinegar - thrown in face
Wine bottle - impact or broken to cut
Wine glass - goblet broken and used to cut or remaining stem used to stab
Electrical cord - choke or whip
Permanent marker - pressure points
Plastic bag - placed over head or around neck to choke
Can - impact

Living area:
Fireplace tools: impact
Logs in fireplace: impact
Remote - impact
Electrical cord - choke or whip
Coffee mug - impact or to burn if filled with hot liquid
Lamp - impact
Throw pillow - shield or to smother
Blanket - thrown over assailant or used to choke
Decorative items - impact
Magazine - wrapped around arm to shield from knife

Cleaning chemicals - thrown in face
Plunger, hair dryer, hair brush - impact
Toothbrush - stab eyes or pressure point
Razor - slash
Towel - thrown over face, used to choke, or snapped at
Curling iron - impact or burn
Rat tail comb (comb with ice pick end) - stab
Magazine - wrapped around arm for knife defense
Electrical cord - choke or whip
Folded bath towel - wrapped around arm for knife defense

Belt, clothing - choke
Belt - whip with buckle at end
Blanket - thrown over assailant or used to choke
Pillow - used as shield or cover face of assailant to smother
Lamp - impact
Light bulb - break to cut and stab 
Electrical cord - choke or whip
Phone charger - use prongs for impact, cord to choke

Tools, PVC pipe, paint can, bike pump - impact
Screwdriver, drill bits, nails - stab
Extension cord - choke
Brick - impact
Cleaning chemicals - thrown into face
Chain - swung for impact, to grab or choke
Mop/broom - impact and trip
Bug spray - sprayed into eyes (wasp spray has very long reach)
Chemicals - thrown into face
Carabiner - hand placed inside and used as brass knuckles
Garden hose - used as whip or choke
Electrical cord - choke or whip

Flashlight, glass break, auto emergency tool - impact
Flashlight - shine light into eyes
Umbrella - impact, stab
High heel, keys - stab, impact
Seat belt - choke
Car - hit attacker or, if assailant in the car, crash to eject or deploy air bags.
Credit card  - edge can be sharpened and used as knife (yes, really)
Loose change - thrown in face
Ice scraper - sharp impact and to slash
Pen, pencil - stab (metal barreled is best)
Road map - wrapped around arm for knife defense

Phone charger - use prongs for impact, cord to choke

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