Basics of Fighting

Okay, I've heard a lot of people complaining about how they don't know how to write fight scenes. Well, on most forums that discuss fanfiction, it's a common thing holding some writers back. While I'm not entirely sure if it's just the descriptions or the act of fighting itself that they have trouble with, I've created this as a universal guide for fighting.

Part 1. Terms

Punch - The character balls their hand up into a fist and lashes out at their opponent. The thumb should always be tucked ON TOP of the fingers, NEVER UNDERNEATH unless you want to dislocate or break said thumb. Some dirty fighting styles teach you to keep the thumb up like you're going to give a thumbs up, as it can gouge flesh or damage eyes, but this style is illegal in almost all fighting tournaments and is considered an overall dirty move that no respectable fighter should ever need to use.

Kick - The character brings their leg up to strike their opponent.

These two are the most frequent attacks in any battle. Why? Because they don't require a lot of thought.

Dodging - As my martial arts teacher likes to tell beginners, "The best way to take a hit is to not be there." This means that dodging a hit is ALWAYS preferable to taking the blow, regardless of what others might say about you. It's might be nice being called a "Tough Guy", but it's better to be called a "Wimp who has all his teeth".

Block - Blocking is the act of moving an arm or a leg to intercept an attack, lessening the damage before it can deal more significant damage to the main body. Akido is an art based primarily around blocking. Blocking can often create openings in the opponent's guard, allowing for a powerful retaliation. Blocking should be done if dodging isn't as viable or even possible (such as against faster opponents). Blocking can even include advanced martial arts techniques, like tightening the skin to rock or steel-like hardness, but this generally takes ten to fifteen years of intense training.

Break - When two fighters separate enough that they're outside of the other's immediate striking distance, this is known as a break. Fighters who are worse off (tired, hard-pressed, losing) will seek to gain a break whenever possible, as will fighters who find themselves equally matched. Confident fighters will allow these breaks, but arrogant fighters will as well.

Any fighter who likes to press the advantage (cruel, visceral and/or blood-thirsty fighters) will not allow their opponents to gain a break unless they have no choice (i.e. they're forcibly moved away or downed long enough that their opponent can get one), though they too will seek one if they're being overwhelmed.

Driving Attacks - The point of driving attacks isn't hurting the opponent, but rather, gaining a distance for a break. This can be as basic as pushing the opponent back, or as elaborate as placing one's foot against the opponent and kicking them.

Spinning Attacks - The point of spinning attacks isn't to look silly, but rather to add kinetic damage.

Throws - Throws are very common in martial arts, as their effectiveness is rather high against those not nimble enough to perform aerial recoveries. In essence, a throw turns an opponent's body against themselves, as the kinetic force of the throw, gravity and their own weight combine to deal a lot of damage to the entire body at once.

Grabs - It may seem dumb to list grabbing someone, but a grab is very important. It can allow for a defense breaking kick or punch, be turned into a throw or hold or even be pressed to cause damage of it's own. Grabbing the throat, for example, can lead to a chokeslam, a rising chokehold, or rapid beatdown with punches or kicks to the exposed body (if the target grabs at the arm, which is actually a psychological response). Grabbing the legs or arms can lead to a number of VERY painful throws or equally painful holds.

Holds - Holds are VERY popular in wrestling, as it forces the opponent's body into a position that is very painful. Holds are also used when a fighter wants to control his enemy, as they often put the victim into a submissive state, allowing the fighter to either verbally calm or painfully subdue the target. Holds can sometimes lead to dislocations if the victim or fighter isn't careful or if the fighter presses them too hard.

Subdual Damage - Some attacks don't eat away at hit points or simply harm the flesh (or scale) of their intended target, they do internal damage, damaging, rupturing, crushing or breaking organs or bones, or they might just damage nerves, causing excessive pain.

Subdual damage is when muscles, bones, or organs take damage that isn't apparent, but felt by the target. Another good example is Ranma 1/2's liberal use of shiatsu points, which are strikes to parts of the nervous system that activate various automated reactions, which can include, but are not limited to: falling asleep, relaxing, tensing up, the skin growing hypersensitive, the skin becoming unsensitive, and perhaps even going poo in one's drawers.
It's often subdual damage that causes a fighter to faint.

"Guard" - This isn't about actual blocking, but rather the state when a person who expects an attack, and is ready to either dodge or block that attack. If you are surrounded by those you consider friends, you're going to be more relaxed than you are around an enemy (or even someone you just don't like). Trained personnel or martial artists often keep their guard up when they are in places they don't know or with people that they don't entirely trust. This is a careful level of preparation which isn't always visible, but the person is ready for attacks that aren't obvious. This is often shown when a character seemingly nonchalantly blocks or dodges an attack. Their guard was up, so they knew to they had to be ready to move quickly. It's considered a universally bad idea to ever drop one's guard, but it's considered even worse if one has a lot of enemies. Some martial artists never truly drop their guard.

A good example of how big a difference one's "guard" makes, is the so-called "Magic Stomach Punch". A lot of people may mock the "magic stomach punch" that automatically knocks out some characters in fighting anime, yet a few minutes later, the user receives an identical attack, yet doesn't faint.

What they don't realize is that there is a MASSIVE difference between a person ready for combat and a person having a conversation.

A person who's prepped their bodies for combat has, even if it doesn't seem noticeable, informed their body to prerelease adrenalaine, beta-endorphins (which numb pain), tighten muscles and prepare for damage. They also oxygenate their blood more than usual (this is usually only shown as the ever-so-dramatic deep breath before the fight begins).

These critical yet unnoticed actions can determine whether even an experienced fighter is coldcocked in a bar fight or if they manage to remain standing long enough to return the favor; or in the case of our "magic stomach punch", whether the victim will stay standing or faint. And that's neglecting the fact that the strike itself is already quite damaging, as it hits the diaphram (the muscle that you use to inhale and exhale), causing the victim's lungs to suddenly exhale. Such sudden loss of oxygen is well known for causing blackouts.

The difference is so huge that one can liken a combat-ready body to a T-74 Russian Battle Tank while the non-combat body is likened to a 9-Volt remote control car. The difference in how much damage they can take is nearly mind-boggling. A martial arts teacher of mine liked to recite a story of a marine friend of his who got coldcocked stepping out of a hotel. The thief had his wallet and was gone before the marine recovered. And anyone who's ever seen a real U.S. Marine knows that they are among the toughest sonovabitches anyone will ever face in a fight (outside of master martial artists and comic book characters).

Ki/Qi/Chi/Life Force/etc. - This refers to one's spirit. The most common names are Ki or Chi, but I prefer the word 'Ki', so we'll be using that. This is that undeterminable force that allows fighters to amplify their strength, speed, agility, etc. or even allow them to use moves that would otherwise be impossible. Most humans never learn to consciously use their ki, but many can access it instinctively in extreme moments. Those who do learn to use it can vary greatly.

Unlike how it's portrayed in video games, learning to project ki is not easy. In fact, a great deal of martial artists will struggle with it, and there's a good portion that will never succeed in projection. This does NOT mean that their ki potential cannot match or exceed those who do learn to project their ki, but it does indicate a self-imposed psychological or spiritual restraint. Also, unlike in video games, where things are set up to balance out, a strong enough ki user can deflect or reflect ki projectiles. Of all of the martial arts video games dealing with this, King of Fighters happens to have the largest number of ki users who cannot project their ki.

Depending on how the user learns to access their ki, manifesting ki can sometimes take on elemental form, such as a fireball, a bolt of electricity or even a wave of ice. But ki can also be used to turn the user into a projectile, like (from Street Fighter 2) Blanka's Cannonball, Cammy's Drill Kick or even M. Bison's infamous Psycho Driver.

Part 2. Attacks


Classic Backhand
A Backhand deals light stunning damage, thanks to the whip-like motion it has. It's also good for getting inside an opponent's defense for a combo attack.

Spinning Elbow
Adding in kinetics with the thicker striking surface of the elbow often deal fairly good damage. Add in the fact that it's often aimed at the chest, neck or face and it can be quite painful for the target. The biggest points is that you aren't endangering your hand, but you also don't get much reach.

Double Palm
A double palm makes the striking surface much larger. Generally aimed at the chest, these can knock the wind out of an opponent if properly done.

Normal Uppercut
A powerful strike that sends opponents to the ground... when it connects. Most people can see these coming, which is why they're often placed at the end of a combo attack or as a opening retaliation attack when the opponent leaves themselves open. The second more common attack for "coldcocking".

Rising Uppercut
Best used on opponents attempting to jumping over the user.

Straight Punch
Straight Punches are strong, direct attacks which are made stronger by all of the muscles in your arm. After haymakers and uppercuts, these are the most powerful punches one can use, but they're also the third easiest punches to dodge.

This is a Haymaker. You'll note how the arm draws back and there's an almost circular motion to the punch. The reason this punch is devastating is that it's got a lot of kinetic force behind it. Unfortunately, it's also as obvious as 50 meter tall radioactive lizard that breathes flame.


Driving Stomp
Not actually very damaging normally, but great for getting breaks.

Hook Kick
Hook Kicks are tricky to get use to, and their usefulness might not be obvious. They, like Driving Stomps, are good for catching opponents off guard and pushing them away long enough for a short break. They can also be used to move opponents into position for a more devastating attack.

Retreating Mule Kick
An Retreating Mule Kick (or simply Mule Kick) can easily catch opponents off-guard and stun them as the feet usually strike the chin, chest or (if the timing is off) the stomach; and with all of the muscles in your body (as well as your weight kinetically amplified), the Mule Kick can deal a lot of damage. Very good for getting breaks.

Advancing Mule Kick
Identical to the Retreating Mule Kick, except the user moves forward, not backwards while using it. Most fighters don't use it for advancing, though, as there are too many ways for opponents to dodge.

Snap Jump Kick
A powerful strike that only works on one opponent, the Snap Jump Kick isn't subtle, but it is effective.

Reverse Spinning High Kick
Sometimes called a 'Heel Kick' (since the striking surface is your heel), this can often deal damage similar to a sledge hammer.

Standard Sweep
Sweeps are powerful attacks against those with poor balance, and especially against opponents who are heavier (mainly thanks to the Law of Gravity).

Spinning Sweep
Spinning Sweeps have more kinetic force than Standard Sweeps and are more likely to knock opponents down.

Side Kick
One of the most powerful kick most people can muster, this kick is much like a stomp, except you remain standing.

Spinning Jump Kick
There are fifty or so names for this attack, but this is essentially what it's called. It's meant to strike opponents who stay at a distance, but like to use charging attacks.

Butt Ram
As ridiculous as this looks, there is a rationale to using this attack. For one, the butt is quite well-padded. For another, the legs and hips are (next to the back, heart and tongue) the strongest muscles on the human body. Add in the fact that you're slamming into your opponent in a manner that is not easily deflected, and you can send an opponent sprawling. Of course, it's meant to be a close-in attack, meaning your opponent shouldn't be further than two or so feet away.


Rising Choke
When the fighter grabs an opponent and lifts them up, it might seem like machismo, but in actuality, it's quite powerful. Humans regard their throat and their genitals as the two most vulnerable spots on their body, and with good reason. Any attack that might threaten one or the other can cause psychological fear and the fact that an opponent has a hold of one of your weaknesses and is holding you off the ground (the ground is often viewed as a source of comfort for many humans), is terrifying. Add in that gravity and your own body's weight is making it more painful and it can help strike fear into the hearts of victims, oftentimes ending a fight before it gets very far.

Standard Piledriver
A devastating 'standard' attack, a piledriver adds your weight to your opponents and brings it all down on their head.

Part 3. Defenses

Wall Flip
A good manuever for getting behind the guy who's behind you.

Part 4. Special Moves

Taunting doesn't seem so special, but that's because taunting is an art. It's meant to embarrass and humiliate the socially-minded fighters as well as anger any fighters who are sensitive to insults. Since few fighters are without emotions, taunts can eventually get to most fighters.

Wind Slash
It's possible to amplify simple motions with ki to create attacks that don't appear visibly. While games like SNK's King of Fighters might show us the gamer the effect simply to give us an idea of how far it goes and such, the truth is that attacks like this wouldn't be visible unless they kicked up sand, water or leaves.

Shock Spike
Here's an example of what the Shock Spike attack looks like. The blast strikes all opponents nearby, but is particularly useful for hitting opponents who like to flip over the user.

Ki Double Chop
Manifesting one's ki is a difficult thing for most beginning fighters, so when they learn to use their ki, the first thing they learn to do is use it to increase the power of their normal strikes.

Part 5. Super Moves