Recently I attended a full day of training sessions for the staff of my public library system. (Wait! Don’t go to sleep yet!) That there were sessions for meditation and self defense tells you everything you need to know about working in a modern public library.
First session of the day was Self-Defense. Expecting mats, sparring dummies, and punching bags, I was disappointed when I walked into a regular classroom and saw a police officer standing by a chalkboard. Then the police officer started his presentation. I am sure it was not his intention, but his class turned out to be a master class in choreographing a realistic fight scene.
When she is threatened with assault in my current work in progress, my MC resorts to that old standby of eight year old girls everywhere – hair pulling. Turns out, that wasn’t as lame as I thought.
Our self defense class was taught by an ultra sharp and engaging police officer I’ll call Officer X. The first slide he shared with us listed the top banned moves (“fouls”) of the Ultimate Fighting Championships. UFC fighters are mixed martial artists, which means that anything goes in fights of incredible brutality and intensity. If the fighters in the UFC were allowed to use these moves, fights would be over too quickly because the banned moves cause significant pain, injury, and surprise. These moves, Officer X said, were the “go to” for self defense. Why? Because they work.
There are 31 fouls on the UFC list. Officer X shared the top 14 since after that the moves become increasingly less effective for self-defense. Timidity, applying substances to the skin or hair, or foul language are probably not going to help you or your MC defend yourselves.
Hair pulling is number five on the list.
I realized that this list was a good menu of moves for fight scenes. Not that I think I’ll need many. My MC is a lover, not a fighter, and like most women, she’s more likely to use her intuition and street smarts to avoid danger than her fists or feet to get out of it. However, in a mystery novel, danger cannot be avoided – what a dull book that would be! – so I’m glad to find her some effective moves, just in case.
As the UFC website states: “The following acts constitute fouls in a contest or exhibition of mixed martial arts and may result in penalties, at the discretion of the referee, if committed.”
1. Butting with the head
2. Eye gouging of any kind
4. Spitting at an opponent
5. Hair pulling
6. Fish hooking
7. Groin attacks of any kind
8. Putting a finger into any orifice or any cut or laceration of an opponent
9. Small joint manipulation
10. Striking downward using the point of the elbow
11. Striking to the spine or the back of the head
12. Kicking to the kidney with a heel
13. Throat strikes of any kind, including, without limitation, grabbing the trachea.
14. Clawing, pinching, or twisting the flesh.
Officer X told us he hoped we’d never need these moves. The best defense, he said, is not needing one. And if you haven’t read The Gift of Fear by Gavin deBecker, you should – it offers valuable insights to ways your intuition will keep you - and your characters - safe.
Does your story include a fight scene? How does your character get out of scrapes?