Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Blade Damage - Wounds (GRAPHIC)

Blades are special weapons. Not only do they injure, but
Select the pic!
they do so in such a way that both combatants experience the attack. Purposely choosing a blade over a gun can show a higher level or rage and deeper need to physically experience the suffering of the victim. 

In this third installment on blade damage (Week 1, Week 2), we are going to look at the actual wounds caused by blades. First, let's differentiate in the types of wounds: incised cuts, lacerations and stab wounds. Now, if you look in a thesaurus you will see the first two words are synonymous. But, in medical terms, they aren't.

An incised cut  is a slash in the tissue caused by sharp-force trauma. The wound maintains very clean, sharp edges and tends to be longer than deep. There is no tissue bridging or strands of still intact tissue joining the sides of wound. Because of the clean line of injury, incised wounds are easier to stitch.

Unlike the incised wound, a laceration isn’t so much a cut in the tissue as a tear. Lacerations are caused by shearing, crushing, or blunt-force trauma. They have irregular edges, tissue bridging and are more common on bony areas. Lacerations are more likely to scar and become infected because of damaged tissue. And, because of their irregular edges, they can be very difficult to suture.

How different do they look? Very. You can pinch an incised wound close and it will be a clean line. That's not the case with a laceration. The edges are jagged. Here's some examples and they're gross. I will scoot down a bit so you can prepare yourself. I made sure that in all the pictures the person was living. There are no pictures of dead bodies. And, the pictures in which I wasn't sure, the wound shown wouldn't have been enough to kill anyone.


  These are incised wounds. Notice that you can pinch the edges and bring them together to form a straight line. That guy's tattoo will never look the same.


Laceration - I doubt this was caused by a blade. It was hard to find a laceration wound caused by a blade on a person who I could tell was still alive. But, it shows the difference without making you throw up in your mouth.

Can a blade cause a laceration? Yes, big, heavy swords caused them all the time. The purpose of such blades wasn't cutting so much as bashing through shields and armor. If contact was made with the flesh in such a blow, a laceration was a result as well as crushed bones.

Which leads me to blades that are used for chopping such as axes, machetes and cleavers. Don't worry, I have no pictures. All that I found were so horrific I found them disrespectful to life itself. BUT, I can tell you how they look different and they all do.

Ax lacerations are straight lines that look like the skin has popped. There are crushed bones and tissue.

Machete wounds are straight lines and very deep, deeper than an ax, best I could tell. That's likely because a machete has a shape that lends itself to be drawn in a slicing motion after the impact. Also, there is more cutting surface than in an ax so, again, longer and deeper cut. There's no crushed bones because a machete's design doesn't lend itself to crushing. But, bones can be cut through.

Cleaver chops are clean, thin wounds that don't break bone but do leave cut lines on them.

A stab wound is neither an incised cut nor laceration. It is a type of puncture and there are two types: penetrating and perforating. Penetrating stabs, as the name suggests, penetrate the body. The wound doesn't always match the size of the blade because blades are seldom driven in and removed at exactly the same angle. Also the skin can shrink up a bit after the blade is removed.

Perforating wounds go all the way through the body. The entry wound will be larger with inverted edges. The exit wound will be smaller with everted edges. (Also, I didn't know everted was even a word.)

If the stab is from a single edged blade, the wound will likely have one pointed edge and one duller edge. Fishtailing may also occur as in the second picture

If the wound is from a double edged blade, both sides of the wound will have points.

In this double edged injury, there's a bruise which tells us two things. One, the blade had a guard. Two, this blade was completely plunged into the body.

 Last but not least, remember that the body has an internal vacuum.  If you open up the abdomen, innards can become outers. I will spare you an actual picture. And, although this is a post-op depiction of why one should never be sutured with nose hairs, know that any breach of the abdominal wall can cause this. In sayoc, we call a low abdominal slash a "blue worm" for reasons you can likely deduce.

I was going to include an instructional video on suturing but I'd say we've seen enough blood and stuff. I will save that for next week. Instead, let's all take something for nausea and watch this completely perfect instructional video with Master Ken and Kali expert Doug Marcaida.

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Blade Damage - Vital Targets

The entire body is a target. However, there are certain points that can be especially
vulnerable. Striking these are more likely to have mortal implications. Remember that many vital organs are protected by bone. Don't assume those bones will leap out of the way of your character's blade or that said blade will break through those bones. 

I've noted that some strikes cause an immediate drop. That's not to say they cause immediate death. Sometimes pain causes the drop, sometimes the quick blood loss causes the body to go down in an effort to maintain  blood pressure. Unless noted, assume the opponent can continue on fighting for as much as fifteen minutes. It probably won't be that long but it's better to assume more time than less. I will get into that in more detail in another post.

Remember, to do the most damage you need to remove your blade. An inserted blade may staunch the flow of a injured blood line. Pull that sucker out though and you have a flow going.

In this scene from John Wick 2, (SPOILERS AHEAD) Wick tells Cassian that once he removes the blade, he will have about a quarter second to live. And, like just about everything in John Wick, that's correct.  

During the fight, notice that when Wick blocks a blade, he does so with the back of his arm (1:03, 1:33). Why do you suppose that is? Hmmmm? Also, note where the final strike is on Cassian.  

Wick blocks with the back of his arm to protect the blood rich underside of the forearm and wrist. It also protects those tendons. If they are cut, the hand won't work as well or at all depending upon the cut. And, Cassian gets a knife to the heart. The heart isn't on the left side of your chest. It's in the middle but it does tilt to the left. So much so that it can be attacked from under the left arm. You absolutely can be stabbed in the heart and live, although Cassian doesn't as far as we know. (I'm holding out hope) I will talk about survival rates in another post.

Vital Targets

* Base of skull/brain stem (immediate drop - clinical death, technically they will still see for a few moments)

* Ocular cavity
* Temple
* Sinus Cavity (go in between nostrils, just above mouth, and aim up about 45 degrees)
* Jugular Vens
* Carotid Artery
* Subclavian Artery (go in right behind collar bone, immediate drop)
* Brachiocephalic
* Heart (through chest or under left arm)
* Abdominal aorta (from celiac trunk to inferior mesenteric, immediate drop, aim just below sternum)
* Liver
* Kidney (through back, immediate drop from pain)
* Liver
* Lower Abdomen (slash produces more immediate and dramatic results than stab, will not cause an immediate drop but victim will need to catch their intestines as they spring out so they will be unable to continue fighting)
* Femoral Artery  
* Perineum (view post on this strike)

Here is a 360 view of the body. It will allow you to examine the body's "roadmap." Turning the body will help you decide how to best strike certain vital points. Keep in mind how much and what type of clothing will be over those areas as well.

How much blood can your character lose? In the post on bleeding out we learned the body can lose 30-40% before it gets into real danger. How much blood is that? Well,depends on the person. Blood accounts for about 7% of one's weight. So, I have far less blood than a 200 pound man, about 5 pints less actually. Here's a blood calculator, and here's a mL to pint conversion.

Blood makes a real mess. It's often hard to calculate how much blood has been lost. Even professionals struggle with an estimation. Here's a video that helps. 20mL is about a tablespoon and a half.

Let me make a huge digression here to say a few personal words:
With the American holiday of Thanksgiving upon us, I want to say a sincere thank you to the readers of this blog. A year ago, I never imagined it would be what it has become. YOU are the reason FightWrite is still here. I'm thankful for all of you. And, I feel a special appreciation for those of you outside the U.S. It means the world to me to know you are reading from all over the world. 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.  

Monday, November 13, 2017

Blade Damage - Differences In Blade Damage

I receive more questions about blades than anything. The inquiries are varied but more often than not come down to constructing a fight scene. With any fight, movements are determined by the intended damage. Even if that damage isn’t inflicted, the intention tells how the aggressor is moving as well as the defender.

Because that damage is so important, we need to understand it. Over the next few weeks, we are going to examine damage caused by blades. Specifically:
* Damage by different blades 
* Vital strike points 
* Wound appearance 
* A wound’s impact on the body
* After care

In case you’re wondering, yes, the wound appearance one will include photos. You’ve been warned or pleasantly informed however you want to think of it.

First off, let’s consider damage by different blades. There’s an idea that certain blades are more damaging than others. But, in truth, a wound two inches wide and four inches deep has the same consequences regardless of what caused it. So, in that respect, a sword is no more deadly than a knife.  

I can hear what you’re thinking, a sword is deadlier because it can go way deeper. Well, yes, it can. But remember, the advantage of a sword over a knife is reach. To drive a sword deep you will have to get closer to your opponent. And, though stabbed, that opponent can absolutely retain their ability to strike back for several minutes. We’ll look at that more closely in a few weeks. For now, know a deep plunge isn’t necessarily the wisest move. Also, the deeper the stick, the harder the hold the body will have on the inserted blade. The body has an internal vacuum. It wants to pull in whatever compromises that. 

Also, as important as the wound dimensions is the location. One can be stabbed with a pen knife in the chest many times and survive. I knew a young lady that was stabbed at least sixteen times with a small knife in her chest and back and survived, praise God. Had wounds of the same dimension been created on her neck, that wouldn't have been the case.  

Here’s a video on differences in damage caused by different blades. It also addresses why some blade shapes are more suitable for stabbing and touches on the physics of it. If you’ve read the post on size disparity, you’ll remember the importance of mass x acceleration.

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

JUST KIDDING! I think we all knew by the post thumbnail that there would be a link to this most epic fight. Writers, we can learn a lot from the Black Knight. We are, all too often, piñatas with pens. We take our share of hits from agents, editors and publishers. "Readers" leave one star reviews. I put that in quotation marks because you know good and well some of those people never read the book. Never mind all the folks who don't take what we do seriously.

We have to find the strength to stand tall, if we can stand at all, and proclaim, "'Tis but a scratch!"

NOW...until the next round at FightWrite.net, my steadfast, stalwart, readers, get blood on your pages.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

FightWriter - Jonathan Clay: Fighting in Zero-G

This week's FighterWriter, Jonathan Clay, asks: How would hand to hand combat change in
a zero-g environment (say, on the ISS)?

Good question. Any time I explain how something works, or doesn’t work, I try my best to use science for several reasons. One, science is something to which we can all relate. You don't have to know a thing about fighting to understand the science of fighting. Two, it doesn’t change. Fighting is fickle. Science is stubborn. Three, Science is, like, so much smarter than me. All of that said, if you have magic in your manuscript, some of this may not apply. If that’s the case, your reader should be aware of the physical laws of your world. 

Ok, let’s put on our Newton pants and look at his laws of motion.

Law One: An object at rest tends to stay at rest. An object in motion tends to stay in motion.

Things on earth slow down because of the opposing force of gravity. On the ISS, however, if you push yourself off of a wall you will keep going until you hit something. And, you better hope you hit something because if you don’t, you will just keep going until Jesus comes for you. How can you use that to your advantage in a fisticuffs? Push your opponent. It won’t take much. A little nudge could send them off into oblivion if they aren’t anchored in some way. If you do hit them, they will propel away from you until something stops them. Which is all well and good until that third law comes into play. (I will come back to Law Two.)

Law Three: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

If I hit or push you, I am, in turn, pushing myself away from you with that same amount of force. That puts me in a real pickle. And before you say, “oh, no biggie, there’s a wall behind my character,” remember that the character will hit that wall with a force equal to that of their punch. And, if their momentum is circular, as with a hook, the character might end up spinning until they hit something…with a force equal to their punch. 

The way to work around the first law also helps with the third. Your character would hold on to their opponent. And, they’d probably do well to grasp the combatant on the center line of their body – say, the chest of their clothing – as it would give your character a point of reference for their strike. When the body starts spinning, your character could get disoriented. Their hand below their combatant's face would guide their aim no matter how their own body is moving.
But, I tell ya, if it were me, I wouldn’t punch at all because of the second law of motion.

Law Two: Force = mass x acceleration.  

I only know how to punch on earth. And, on earth, I am able to create force for my strike by getting as much of my mass and speed into the equation (literally) as possible. In order to punch hard, I don't punch hard. I punch fast. That speed combined with the mass I already have will create a punch with greater force.

To get the mass of my body behind my punch as well as create acceleration, I need rotation in my upper body. That rotation is a result of torque in my hips. That torque (twisting motion) is given speed as well as stability by the pivot of my feet on the ground.  

My feet remain anchored to the ground while pivoting because of friction. I have stepped in sweat before, pivoted and hit the mat because that liquid inhibited my friction. It took away my hold on the floor and the torque in my hips set me off balance. That friction is crucial to the entire movement that creates force in a punch. And the thing about friction is that it needs gravity.  

So, I personally can’t see how, from free floating, a punch in zero-g would have as much force for the simple fact that it doesn't have any sort of anchor. Now, by propelling off of a wall you could create acceleration to go with your mass and create a ton of force with that punch – which will send you flying let's not forget. But, again, from free floating, I just don't see how it's scientifically doable.

Also, punching is a problem because it brings in momentum. It would send me and my opponent banging around against the walls and all the equipment in the room. I could feasibly be knocked out by whatever we propel ourselves into. It takes next to no effort to move as you can see in this video. Imagine how you would move with a bit of muscle.

There's also the issue of blood from a busted nose or split forehead etc. Liquids in space are "squirrely." They move around in bubbles so you have a bit of a traveling mess.

Instead, I would employ a choke. I'm not talking about a strangle hold. I mean capturing the neck in such a way that blood flow is impeded which leads to unconsciousness. At the same time, I’d want to isolate their legs because they would likely kick out of panic. The kick could create momentum which might propel us and cause me to to hit something. If I can manage to be anchored to something while choking them, the legs wouldn't be an issue.

If I chose the right sort of choke, I wouldn’t need to worry about guarding my own neck as my body position would make it difficult or impossible for them to attack me. But, again, their legs could cause some momentum issues. I’d want to wrap those babies up with my own legs.

This is my favorite choke, my "go-to". This example is from Kent Peters and ZombieProofBJJ. This guy and this channel are great resources for fighting...even though they're Canadian. ;) (That's a joke! Canadians are so nice and Coach Peters is no exception. I'm sure he apologizes to all the people he submits.) 

I hope that gives you all some ideas for your work. Again, the physical laws of your created world may differ. Plus, spacecrafts in movies and TV all seem to work out an artificial gravity so zero-g isn't an issue. I'm not sure how they do that but they all do with the premise that we will accept the fact and we do! 

On the podcast that goes with this post, (recorded almost a year after this post was created) I mention the rear naked choke. Here is another great video reference from my buddy Kent Peters. As soon as the Zero G podcast is uploaded, I will attach it also to this post. Also, I will do my own video tutorials at some point. It makes me all uncomfortable and stuff... Stop looking at me!

But, every now and then, movies like Inception embrace the concept of "compromised gravity". It wasn't zero-g as much as moving-g! Here's a behind the scenes look at how they did it.  

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