Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Featured Fightwriter: Linda Kozar

If two people are fighting on land and they tumble into the water, how do the dynamics change in terms of punches? If there’s a knife, wouldn’t the water slow things down? I would imagine it would effect how well you are able to see your opponent as well. How would something like that go?

WOW! I have never once imagined that scenario. This is a good question that I really had to sit and think about, as well as get some consult, as there are a ton of variables. There will be many "ifs" in this post.

With any fight, the three most important factors are why, where and who, in that order. (I will address that in upcoming posts.) 

First, the why. If this fight is between two people who don’t actually want to hurt each other beyond a busted lip and black eye, it will be far different than if one’s life is on the line. But, any time a fight goes into the water, the level of danger increases drastically even if it’s just horse play. As such, I think it’s best to end it quickly. (I’m a huge fan of efficient/lazy fighting.) So, we’ll address the scenario two ways for two whys. One, a combatant wants to be alpha. Two, a combatant wants to kill. I will also address weaponry for the latter.

Secondly, where the fight is happening changes everything. The depth of water and the solidity of the bottom change not only the style of fighting but can also impede vision. If the bottom is sand and shifting or rocks and unstable, it will be difficult to strike because each shift of weight will cause a shift in your base, where you make contact with the ground. And if you have silt beneath you, vision below will be minimal.

And then there's waves and/or current to consider both of which would be another opponent to fight as they push, pull and slam you under. Never mind what may below tearing at you as you go. I will make it easy and say it’s all happening in a pool with depths of hip level and over the head. However, what I suggest can work for just about anything if you get a good grip and move as needed to keep your base or stability. Never fight a current by the way. Hold on and move with it. Use it to your advantage.

And, thirdly, who is fighting is pretty darn important. The level of experience, size and strength play key rolls. Remember, the average person doesn’t know how to fight. They don’t even know how to throw a proper punch. For this scenario, we’ll say same height, one of experience, one not. Do not presume that no actual fight training equals unwillingness to fight or an inability to inflict damage. From what I've seen, the most willing to fight are folks that don't actually know how.

Ok, waist deep water, hand to hand, you can punch away if you'd like. The water will lessen the force of the punch only as much as the water impedes torque in the hips. (See post Size Disparity, Punches and Kicks. Movement of the hips is key.) If the goal is to dispatch, a punch to the throat can prove successful. Do it quickly then push kick them away from you. Not only does that create distance, but it also gives you something to push off of to get you moving through the water. 

However, just to be the alpha, there's a hold that really does the trick. It's much less effort than punching, which I'm all for. My coach teaches it to flight attendants. (Mind your manners on planes.) I don't know that it has a name. We'll call it the "angry flight attendant." It is painful and very controlling. 

Hold your jaw. Let the web of your hand be across your chin, your thumb down one jaw-line, fingers down the other. Now, leave your thumb in place but let your fingers come down to your neck and rest on the carotid artery. Curve your fingers and dig in, then push hard with your thumb. Your head will turn. Where the head goes, the body follows. So, turn the head of your opponent and drive it in the direction you want your opponent to go. I suggest out of the water. This isn't something you will hold onto for minutes. This is an immediate establishment of dominance. 

When you practice this on someone else, (you know you will) please be easy especially with the fingers on your neck. It hurts. Also, if you do it enough times, even easy, it can give you a headache. Your fingers are restricting blood flow.

As far as deep water, you want to keep your head above it, obviously. If you grab your opponent or vice versa, staying up won't be easy. Likely you will both sink. So it's a good idea keep a safe distance from their arms. Unless they play water polo, they probably won't attack and pull you under with their legs. (Have you seen what goes on under the water in that sport? It's mayhem!)

If you just want the jerk to leave you alone and establish your dominance, you can lay back in the water and kick them in the face. This keeps you buoyant with safe distance while positioning your legs near the surface out of the deeper drag of water. If they grab your foot, you can push away with the other and/or kick them in the face again. Since you're on your back you're not going to be pulled under easily. If they do grab one or both ankles and you can't kick, you can twist out of their grip the same way you do a wrist grab. Just swing each leg around quickly in succession. I do it in jiujitsu all the time with foot attackers so I know it works. To stay afloat, you might need to do one foot at a time. The video demos the wrists but it's the same motion and concept with the feet. 

You also have the option of letting them hold your feet, thinking they have the upper hand, and quickly pulling your knees into your chest. (I've also done this. If you practice a few times you will be able to do it so that your head doesn't go under at all.) The motion pulls you and your opponent toward one another. When you make contact with them, sit up and palm strike in one fluid motion. It's highly effective.(And will get you thrown out of the water park. Just saying.)

If your opponent intends to dispatch you, you better do it first. You can accomplish this by grabbing their wind pipe and ripping outward. (Yes, that's really a thing.) You really have to grab it. Imagine their trachea is a banana you're trying to squish. Get a grip and push them away with your legs. Even if the slipperiness causes you to slip off and not dislodge the trachea, you will have damaged it significantly. If you collapse it, you've won. The trachea is very sticky. If the sides touch, they will not un-stick without aid.

Also, of note, if you can get someone to scream while underwater, cha-ching! Screaming will deplete their oxygen. If they can't take a breath relatively quickly, game over.  

Weaponry in deep water needs to be used at close range. Knives for obvious reasons, the water creates drag and lessons force. That applies to bullets as well. You need to be within five feet or so. This video explains that. (The pic is the link.)So now, when you go to the movies and you see people shot from great distance underwater, you can stand up tell everyone in the audience that the scene is scientifically inaccurate. Moviegoers LOVE that.

Bear in mind that if you wound someone, the water will cloud and impede vision. So, you need to strike and get away in the case they too have a weapon they’ve yet to brandish. You can use your foot to push against them and propel you each from the other. If you are in full clothing, all of this is going to be a real pain. I’ve swum in open water in jeans and tennis shoes. It’s exhausting. If I was fighting and thrown into deep water, I’d kick my shoes off pretty quick.

I hope that answers it for you, Linda. If not, email me and we’ll sort this scuffle out. Thank you so much for writing in! Until the next round at Fightwrite. net, get blood on your pages.

Linda Kozar:

 Linda Kozar, is a successful author of over 16 books, speaker, and radio host of Chat Noir Mystery & Suspense and Network Coordinator for the Along Came A Writer Network on BlogTalk Radio. Founder, former president, and current board member of Writers On The Storm, The Woodlands, Texas Chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers, she was the recipient of ACFW’s Mentor of the Year award 2007. She is currently a PR Director for the Christian Authors Network and is a member of Chi Libris, ACFW, RWA, AWSA, and CAN. Linda and her husband of 28 years, Michael live in The Woodlands, Texas and enjoy spending time with their two grown daughters, wonderful son-in-law and their spunky Jack Russell Terrier, Gypsy.


  1. Wow! That more than answeredmy question. Now I'm going to have to write a fight scne like that and get it back to you so you can judge how I fared. Now thats a challenge!!!

    1. You sure you should be writing "cozy mysteries?" Come to the weird side, Linda. We have cake.

  2. Seriously, I will write a fight scene and get it back to you. That would be an interesting post, based on what I've learned here. Get my cake ready, girl!


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