Friday, December 15, 2017

The Geek Block podcast w/ Edged Weapons Expert, Kirk McCune

It's a rare blessing to know someone as knowledgable as Master Kirk McCune. Being able to interview him live is rarer still.   

Calling Kirk an edged weapons expert does him both justice and a disservice. It expresses his mastery but also narrows it. In truth, Kirk knows a bit of everything about anything having to do with melee warfare. He can also thumb through the history of warfare and tactics like a human index. And, for the purposes of this blog, I'm happy to say that he thinks like a writer and is a great storyteller. I've told him that he should write. The ability wafts off of him like a stink. 

Me with Kirk McCune. Y'all, I knew I was going to take
a picture and THAT is the shirt I wore? I'm nothing if not
classy...and 40-60% Irish.
That title also doesn't tell you what a sincerely nice and generous guy he is. During this podcast he was finishing up a month long Bahala Na European tour. He called me from Ireland at 8:00pm and he hadn't even been there a full 24 hours yet. When I say he is a nice guy, I'm not just being nice. (Because he was calling from such a clip away, there's a bit of a delay between us in the interview.)

Kirk will cover a lot of great things in this interview including:
- What you can tell about an edged weapon just by looking at it
GME Leo Giron and GME "Tony" Somera
- Weapon balance
- Where bladed weapons are used today
- Defensive use of daggers
- Main gauche dagger or buckler, which is better for the left hand
- What kind of fighter uses a main gauche dagger and what kind uses a buckler
- What happens when two blades collide edge to edge - it's not what you think! (I gasped like a total nerd at the answer)
- Purpose of fullers and when you wouldn't want one
- What sort of sword he would carry everyday
- One-hand vs two-hand vs hand and a half swords
- How the hands work together with a two hand sword
- How long a real sword fight lasts
- What sort of injuries happen on the battlefield
- How a weapon matches a character's personality
- And what he would choose for self defense in a zombie invasion

By the way, we mention HEMA which is Historical European Martial Arts. 

This and other episodes of The Geek Block can be accessed
through iTunes on the Along Came a Writer network as well as BlogTalkRadio.

To listen to this episode now choose The Geek Block logo. ENJOY and thank you for listening!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Physical Cues Predicting Assault W/ and W/O Weapons

We've been in a series regarding blades and the damage they cause. For today's installment, we're
going to hit the rewind button and look at what leads up to blade damage. We're going to examine precursors to attack. Not fight. Attack.  

In order for a fight scene to be realistic, everything leading up to it has to be true to life as well. If your character means to do harm, they will give predicative cues. Even if they remain silent, their body will communicate what their mind intends. And, yes, the body will also communicate if a weapon is forthcoming.

PATC Legal & Liability Risk Management Institute conducted a study on interpersonal cues predicting assault. A sample of 129 law enforcement officers, all assaulted at least once on the job, chose eleven behaviors that signaled attack. They are listed from least to most predicative.

11. Stretching arms / shoulders
10. Sweating profusely
9. Pacing
8. Tense jaw muscles
7. Head rolls / neck stretches
6. Looking around the area
5. Making verbal threats
4. Clenching hands into fists
3. Placing hands in pockets (Hiding hands) 
2. Invading personal space
1. Assuming a fighter's stance

To continue our series on blade damage, we are going to focus on two of these cues plus one more. We'll look at fighter's stance, hiding hands and, as well, body blading. The last is peculiar to attacks with weapons.

In our post on Types of Punches we looked at a solid fight stance. But, that stance was specifically for Muay Thai. Depending upon your sport or martial art, what you consider a fighting stance may vary. Here are four common fight stances for Muay Thai, boxing (Sugar stance), wrestling and street defense.

Now, Shane Fazen is a trained fighter. If you ever pick a fight with someone and they adopt a proper street fighting stance as he does in this video, you have made a grave error in judgement! Let it go, move along.  

If your character is a regular person, the stance they take before an attack will not look exactly like Shane's. Again, he is a trained fighter and most folks are not trained fighters. Your character may have been in many fights, but that doesn't mean they have proper training.  

On the street, a fight stance may not be easy to spot. The hands may not go up with palms out in the "I don't want any trouble" gesture. But, the hands will be up away from the sides, one foot will step back a bit and the chest will be toward the opponent.  

This brings us to cues of obscured weaponry. If a person assumes a fight stance but keeps a hand or both hands out of view, they are hiding something. That hidden hand may be behind the back, in a pocket or up a sleeve as seen in the picture here. Had the victim noticed that only one hand was in view or known it was a physical cue, he might not have ended up a victim of a knife attack.

At the Realm Makers writing conference last year I demonstrated how a knife could be hidden in one hand with the entire arm and part of the hand in view. It is very easy to do with a reverse grip. But, even then, with the blade completely out of sight, I was giving a warning signal. My arm was straight. One arm was gesturing as the other was strangely immobile. 

In this picture, the attacker is in a fighting stance with one arm up. The other arm, however, is straight. That is because she is hiding a blade. There will be a full breakdown of this particular fight at the end of the post.

The last cue of an attack with a weapon is blading of the body. This means turning the body sideways with the weapon away from the target. The purpose of this is to further hide the already obscured hand. 

This picture is from security camera footage. The clerk was very distracted by the item in his hands and didn't notice that the patron kept one hand in his pocket all times. And, more often then not, the attacker bladed his body. The side of his body that is away from the victim is the side on which he is hiding a dagger. In the full footage you would see the attacker pacing the store, looking around and several times adopting a fighting stance.

Here is an analysis of the physical cues before a blade attack. This is graphic in that you will see blood and explicit as you will hear foul language. Nathan Wagner is the gentleman breaking the fight down for us. He is the creator of the Hourglass Threat Matrix developed specifically for the Fortitude Tactical Group. What you aren't able to see in the video is the same the victim didn't see: the blade. You hear onlookers say knife, but Nathan gives good reason why it might have been a razor blade.

Well, there you have it. Not only are you learning how to write a good blade fight scene, you're learning how to lead up to it. Next week will end the series. We'll go over some statistics regarding blades attacks and learn how to stitch up a victim. Hurray! 

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