Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Size Disparity - Punches and Kicks

Before addressing how to deal with a size disparity in striking, it’s important to know why a larger opponent is more powerful. Yes, obviously they are larger, but size alone doesn’t create force. Remove the other factors that go into creating force, and your smaller character has a better shot at victory or, at least, escape.

Efficient fighting is a science. In the case of strikes, it’s all physics. The power delivered by strikes (punches and kicks) derives from the ground with movement of the feet and culminates in the hips with drive (jab, cross, push kicks) or torque (hooks, round kicks). That powerful drive/rotation creates speed. Add in the mass of your combatant and you have force which is equal to mass x acceleration. The smaller fighter cannot change the mass of their opponent but they can remove or lessen their speed and force with a countermove. Or, they can dodge it and render it ineffective.

By the way, I do not suggest ever allowing your smaller character to block a full power strike of a much larger opponent. The impact will 
According to, the PSI of Tyson's punch equal
that of having a 221 lb anvil dropped on you from 5ft.
I believe it!
definitely damage and maybe kill them depending on the disparity. If I blocked Mike Tyson’s hook, it would still knock me out or, more likely, break my neck. So, none of the counters I mention will involve a block. 

To lessen force, the smaller combatant has to get close to the larger - close enough to feel them breathe. Being close to the striker inhibits the striker's rotation and drive. Reduce those and you lessen acceleration. Reduce acceleration and you’ve lessened force. 

Imagine swinging a bat. Take away the rotation of the hitter's body, and they've got little power in the arms. And, being hit by that bat close to the handle is less damaging than being hit by the bat's end. It's the same with the striker's body. Get in close and the strike is slower. And, taking the thigh of a round kick or bicep in a hook, is far less damaging than either at the business end! 

In the case of drive, think how much more productively you push when you are able to take a step. Remove that step, or drive, and you've weakened the push. Also, as a strike with drive moves straight out from the striker's body, if you are close that striker, you can't be struck. They would have to hook back around toward their own person. To do that effectively, they'd need rotation in the hips. But, if you are close to them, they won't be able to rotate well.

However, it's pretty hard to get around or get out of the way of those straight out strikes ie jabs/cross and push kicks. And, because blocking is a bad idea, the best defense is to parry or redirect that forward motion. And, ironically, the faster that forward motion, the less strength required to redirect it. The hard part is being fast enough to get to the strike before the strike gets to you.

If you are overwhelmed with all this, you're normal. I will say it many times in the life of this blog: fighting is a science. But, the good news is, most people don't know how and if they dare to throw a punch they don’t do it efficiently. They do these wide, bar room brawl sort of punches that aren't even effective hooks. And, they hardly every kick. 

So, since most people don't know how to punch, that crazy wide punch is a very realistic addition to your fight scene. Luckily, it's super easy to combat especially if you are smaller. Just duck under it. Allow the missed punch to wrap around the striker. When their arm is in front of their own body, slip in quickly and strike or take them down. (Takedowns are another post.) Also, as most folks are right handed, a right arm in front of the body leaves the liver open...which I will discuss in an another round when I address what to do once you're close. (I'm twirling my evil magician's mustache and making a mwa, ah, ah, sound. )

I’ve included some videos on proper kicking and punching as well as the parries when applicable. Whichever you will be using, look closely at the mechanics. With every strike, look at what the fighter is leaving vulnerable. Use that info for your counter moves. Remember, don’t add so much of your newly acquired technical knowledge into your story that you intrude. First and foremost, serve the story! (I've also included this video. Ignore the title. It's the BEST FIGHT SCENE EVER! You're welcome.)

The next time you see professional fighters at work, I hope you have a little more respect for what they do. They aren't just brawling. They’re “sciencing!”

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


  1. Ah physics.

    Great article. Being a scrawny twerp (literally 5'4", 95 pounds), good to know I'm not automatically toast. ;)

    1. You aren't automatically toast. Promise. Use whatever you are to your advantage. In tomorrow's post, there's a video you'll appreciate. :)


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