Monday, November 19, 2018

Fighting a Turkey

In honor of Thanksgiving I thought we'd look at how to fight a turkey. I get questions about fighting fantastic creatures "on the regular." My advice is always for the writer to find the closest real animal equivalent, if at all possible, and look at how that animal fights. If your fantastic creature or being has the appearance of a turkey, scoot closer to the screen. This post is for you!

We are considering wild turkeys here, not the domestic ones raised for food. Male wild turkeys, known as toms, stand about four feet tall, weigh upwards of twenty plus pounds and have a wing span somewhere around four and a half feet. They are big birds. 

Wild turkeys can fly in short bursts up to 55mph and can run about 25 miles an hour. They are also just brimming with confidence. It's fairly easy to find footage of them nonchalantly crossing the road and backing up traffic as well as menacing people. Here's a video of a postman fending some off. You will notice that they are quick to back away from the prod, but then also quick to get back to the business of intimidation.
What might a wild turkey do to you if it happens to catch you? Most likely it will jump up and try to beat you with its wings like a thug. It might also attempt to peck at you. It's not likely to use it's spurs, which is good because those babies are huge. A lady in one video I watched claims a turkey jumped up and drop kicked her. But, even then, it didn't use its spurs. I'm not saying they absolutely won't use their spurs. That just not what they generally do. If a turkey manages to "get" you, it won't kill you. It will humiliate you by smacking you around and might leave you with a few bloody pecks.

My father-in-law grew up out in the country and has spent a good bit of time in the woods hunting. I asked him how would he defend himself against a turkey. Without missing a beat he said, "go faster." Now, y'all saw how fast a turkey can run: 25mph. Usain Bolt runs 28mph. That doesn't leave much hope for the rest of us. Luckily, my father-in-law said that turkeys will not run you down. They will chase you just long enough to get you at a distance that is safe for them. They are prey animals after all.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the protagonist of our story runs into some turkeys that have a real vendetta against him. They are birds straight from Alfred Hitchcock's, The Birds!* The turkeys mean to run your protagonist down, beat him senseless and tear him to shreds. He has no shelter to run into. What does he do?

Well, first, he shouldn't climb a tree. Turkeys roost in trees.They don't generally attack there but we aren't talking about regular turkeys here. These are crazy attack turkeys! He also won't be able outrun the things. His best bet is to get a buffer between them, something the turkeys will have to run or fly around. The more impediments between the character and the foul fowl the better. I think running into the woods would be great. Yes, wild turkeys live in the woods and maneuver just fine in there. But, that's when they are choosing their own path. The leader of a chase has the advantage of choosing the course. The turkeys don't know that your character will quickly turn left or right.

Your character could also look around for thick brush to bury himself in. Even if the demon turkeys could get in there with him, they wouldn't be able to pimp slap the character with their wings and might have a harder time raising their talons or pecking. Getting under something is also an option for your poultry pursued person. The thing would need to be low enough to the ground that the turkeys could not follow.

Another option is to fight back. If your character is battling two birds, he should focus on one of the birds, fighting and  circling, while keeping bird two in his peripheral. That will be very hard since turkeys are fast. But, it might be doable. Battling three or more would be a nightmare. If you write that, please send me that scene.

In a one on one fight, your character could swing an item of clothing at the bird, something to make it not want to run at your character. If the turkey swoops up to escape the thing being swung, your character should continue slapping at it but also get himself out of he way of the turkey coming down. He could also throw rocks or handfuls of gravel at it. Even if he doesn't injure the bird, the bird will back away to protect it's head and eyes.

Your character's best bet is to get a heavy duty stick or club and go after the sucker's neck. Yes, a gun would be absolutely best but that's too easy. We want this to be tough.The reason I suggest aiming for the neck is you have a greater margin of error. If the turkey goes up or down, your character will still hit something.

In order to battle the turkey head on, keep your character still enough that the turkey runs directly at him. When its neck is within whacking distance, your character should swing for the fences. Or, if your character is so skilled, he could kick it, but I don't suggest that. A bird with talons will jump at you talons out. Let's assume these turkeys will do that. You might not want your character's leg in the way of that. Or...maybe you do...hmmmm. If your character uses a bat and the turkey flies up talons out, he could swing at the feet or jab the bird's chest to maintain distance.

And, there you have it folks, how to fight a wild turkey! I hope all of you in the U.S. have a great Thanksgiving. 

To all my readers around the world, I am incredibly thankful for you. When I began this blog two years ago, I never imagined I would have the readership that I do that spans the globe. May God bless you, keep you, cause His face to shine upon you and give you peace.

Until the next round at, get blood on your pages. Here's a compilation of funny turkey videos. Enjoy!

*The Birds, like all Hitchcock movies is amazing. It's about all the birds turning on humans. If you have every confronted a parking lot bird, the kind that demand fries, you know it's only a matter of time until Hitchcock's imagining is realized!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Redirecting Momentum - With Video

Ok, ok, I did a video already. Yeesh. You fightwriters are a pushy lot! Thankfully, the folks at Brazilian Top Team North Houston indulged me and let me film a bit of our *Meninas do Mãozinha self defense class.

This is a drill for the redirection of momentum. I repeat, this is only a drill. It teaches muscle memory and introduces a fighting fundamental which is nestled deep in Newton's First Law of Motion/Inertia. All fighting is physics, y'all. Sir Isaac Newton was a fight thug.  

Newton's First Law states, in part, that an object moving in a straight line wants to keep moving in a straight line. The faster that object is going, the easier it is to take it off course. Think about driving in a car. Turning the wheel just a bit to the right has a far greater impact when driving 65mph versus 6.5mph.

The concept is the same with strikes. The faster a strike comes at you, the easier it is take it off course. Yes, it's trickier to get to it before it hits you. But, if you can, just a small tap to the side of the approaching fist will direct the punch away from its mark.  

With that in mind, watch the video. I am not letting Emily throw me. She's not even pushing me hard. It looks like it but she's not. She's using the movement I am giving her and taking it off course.  

Without further ado, here's the video. Wait, there's a couple ados. Let me point out a few things. The block shown is an inside block because it directs the strike to the inside of the body. The great thing about an inside block is that it brings the offending hand over the thrower's body which helps to block a follow up punch. 

Also, I'd like to point out that my partner in the video, my teammate Emily, had NEVER done this whole drill. We had practiced the redirection a few times then I kinda put her on the spot and asked her to jump in. She's a BJJ fighter so the mount was a familiar concept but I hadn't said a word to her about trapping my hand until we were recording. That said, I get super happy with her for doing it correctly. I believe I say, "ta-da!"

And...roll footage...

First, let's look at how Emily held her hand for the block. I call it "waitress hand." Making that angle with the wrist keeps me from being able to slide up and over her hand to strike her. With the waitress hand she steers the strike away. With her other hand she redirects the source of the movement: my body. Again, she's hardly pushing at all. I start falling harder because I am moving faster. BTW, don't fall on your hands like I'm doing. You will hurt your wrist. If I had fallen any harder I would have tucked the arm and let the entire limb absorb the landing.

You also saw that she blocked with the back or top of the arm, whichever way you wanna look at it. Like I said in the video, it spares the more blood and tendon/nerve rich underside. If those tendons are severed, your character will not be able to make a fist which means he will not be able to hold a weapon. Never mind the issue of severing those veins/arteries. On that note, here's a post on the stages of bleeding out!

When Emily redirected my momentum, she turned toward me. That's important. It keeps her ready to address me again. By going to "mount" (that top position) and staying upright she immobilized my body and kept a better field of vision than if she had put her chest on me. Having my assailing arm extended kept me from taking the knife into my other hand. Also, pinning my wrist rather than forearm keep me from being able to do anything with the knife.

I said that in that position she had a lot of options. What were they? Well, she could have drawn my hand back which would have lifted my elbow and rolled me toward the hand to break my wrist. She could have landed hammer fist strikes to my temple. She could have gouged out my eye. But, best of all, she could have taken the knife for herself and just ended the matter. I know all of those seem extreme. But, if a malfeasant pulls a knife on your character and stabs at him, that villain aims to kill. The reaction should always fit the intention. Again:


In other words, even though an action does not kill your character, that was the intention! So your character better kill back first! That's what we go over in self defense as well. If somebody tries to kill you, kill back first! For the record, that is the best way to say that. "Kill back first!"

That's it for this round at A big obrigada to Emily and all the *Meninas do Mãozinha at Brazilian Top Team North Houston. I want to say another thank you to Haru Dojo Aikido from whom I learned this little gem of a drill. 

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

*Our coach, Daniel Galvão, has the nick name "Mãozinha." That is why our team is known as Team Mãozinha. Meninas do Mãozinha is Portuguese for "Mãozinha Girls." And "O gato tem a cerveja e as chaves do carro" is Portuguese for "the cat has the beer and the keys to the car," a phrase my Portuguese learning felt imperative for me to learn. Apparently cats drunk driving is an issue in Brazil. With that, I must attach a video of Toonces. It's kinda obligatory - é obrigatório!