A typical petite, urban fantasy heroine takes out a guy twice her size. We read it often, and I hear readers suggest she couldn’t really win that fight without supernatural abilities. It’s her vampire speed, the animal instincts of werewolf nature or magic slows time down for her.

I’m here to tell you a small woman can dismantle a large attacker without preternatural abilities of any sort.


At its core, Krav Maga is about breaking big people into small pieces. In self-defense mode, you don’t want to look at the entirety of the 250 lb. lug coming at you with a knife. You want to focus on key areas you can destroy.

We’ve talked about speed prevailing over strength before in the Krav Maga for Writers series. This is another wonderful example of focusing on small areas, bit by bit, that allow us to win over a larger opponent. Let’s say our attacker has his hands around the heroine’s throat. She’s not going to grab his arms and try to pull them down. He’s bigger and stronger. But his thumbs? Those are weak. She can pluck those away quickly. Once his thumbs are no longer holding the choke, the she can distract him by striking him in the groin. That area pulling his attention, she’s able to elbow him in the chin and rattle him a bit more. This gives your heroine time to square to her attacker and get the edge in the fight. She can punch, kick and knee her way out by taking out small areas one at a time.

Try not to think of the attacker as a big guy, but in Mr. Potatohead format. You can break his leg. You can gouge his eyes. You can strike his ears. It’s all about mentality and remembering size doesn’t matter when you know how to strike and understand leverage. (Once you learn how to take over someone’s shoulder, it’s easy to direct them around and use them as a shield. Even when they’re big, because no one likes their shoulder going the wrong way. Promise.)

In a knife scenario, all your heroine’s attention should be on not getting cut. Before you roll your eyes, hear me out. If we are focused on the knife, we’re going to be focused on blocking a stabbing motion and then controlling the wrist (and, ideally, the shoulder). You aren’t going to worry about the body coming toward you or more than a basic block for punches with his other hand. It’s better to take a left hook than a knife to the gut. That knife is your main focus. Take control of this one element and you’ve saved your life — and depending on the motion, maybe turned the tables and forced the big fella to stab himself using lunging motions.

The beauty for writers with this style is that it makes for strong visuals for fight scenes. If your heroine is already breaking down her attackers into pieces — strike here, elbow under the chin there — it may help you choreograph the scene and give you touch points for visceral imagery.



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