I’ve been upping my Krav Maga training schedule for the last month. I try to make sure I’m there at least four times a week, usually for a few hours. This means strength training in addition to learning Krav Maga techniques. It also means more sparring (fun!) and endurance training (less fun!).

A few times a week, after about 40 minutes of intense cardio, we’ll have endurance punching drills. They’re typically three-minute rounds of non-stop punching/kicking done back-to-back-to-back for a total of nine minutes of exhaustive fighting. I’ve mentioned before about how we want a fight over in 30 seconds. Well, this is practicing for worst-case scenarios. Also, it’s great for your shoulders if you wear boxing gloves.

Here’s the thing, though, all this training and the ability to wail on a punching bag or sparring partner for a few minutes doesn’t matter if I’m not willing to take a punch.

You read that correctly. This comes down to another mentality your character—if he or she is frequently in battle—needs to epitomize: the willingness to get hurt.

In order to be close enough to throw a punch, your heroine is going to need to be in range to get punched. As long as this isn’t their first time in a fight, they’ll know it’s coming. It’s important to have your character considering the risks of their actions. Even with proper form, you can open yourself up to counter attacks with every strike. There are a few ways to get around that, but two that are most helpful to writing fight scenes.

I’ll give an example from my sparring last week. My partner kept trying to throw a jab. I would trap her hand, and then slide around to the side while throwing a right hook. After the third or fourth time she called one of the instructors over and asked him how she was supposed to defend against my hook. His immediate answer, “Be faster than her.” It’s true. If she had pivoted with me, I wouldn’t have been able to get to her side and the open shot to her head. This is your first option: Make your character spry. If they can move quickly, it’s easier to dart in and out for strikes. This is especially effective if her opponent is larger. You may find the bigger guys aren’t as quick, but when they do connect the power is overwhelming. Think about your characters’ assets.

The second option comes back to being willing to take a punch. My partner conceded she couldn’t be faster than me in this instance (go me!). So what should she do? Our instructor then demonstrated with me. We did the same thing, and when my hook went for his head, he kicked me in the stomach (not hard, it was light sparring). The lesson: He’d be willing to take a punch to the side of the head for the chance to kick me hard in the gut. Yes, my punch would hurt him and likely disorient him, but he could probably stay conscious from it. Whereas body shots hurt. A good kick to the abdomen would make me bend over and give him the opportunity to kick the crap out of me. It’s all about picking your battles and finding opportunities.

When blocking fight scenes, think about what your characters would be willing to give up and injuries they’d be willing to take in the name of winning. Assess their chance at continuing to fight with whatever injury they’ve sustained, and think about how they’d do so. Because if your character doesn’t get scuffed up in the fight either they are super badass with weak opponents or maybe they aren’t flawed enough.

Also, just because I can take a punch does not mean I want to. Keep those hands up, folks!


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