|Marc Renouf renouf@********.com
|The viciousness of martial arts (was: Matrix Spoilers)
|Wed, 14 Apr 1999 16:18:29 -0400 (EDT)
> The most grevious error was that they only moved back and forth most of
> the time. A martial artist at that skill level doesn't just restrict
> himself to moving backwards and forwards. He moves sideways and
> corners in and out on you (as you move forward he moves diagonal into
> you ending up off to your weak side and takes out your ribs). In fact,
> going sideways or cornering out are prefered.
Hell yes. When faced with someone coming at me, my first thought
will be to get the hell out of the way. The key is that this is
accomplished not simply by backing up but by angling, sidestepping,
twisting in place, or even by stepping forward (something that throws
people for a loop).
> There should have been a *lot* of throws. Of course, throws aren't very
> showy on the silver screen :)
Tell that to Steven Seagal. I find throws to be showier than most
punches and kicks, but that's probably because I am familiar with the
inherent difficulty involved in performing them correctly in an actual
> Posing before you attack is a major no no.
Agreed. The less warning someone has that you are about to hit
him, the less he can prepare for it. Even if your opponent is already in
"fight mode" mentally, surprise hits are what make the difference. It's
fairly easy to tense, relax, or subtly move away from a hit that you know
is coming. Hell, it's reflexive. But if you get jacked in the neck by a
shot that you didn't even know was inbound, you're gonna go down. Period.
Boxers can take a tremendous amount of punishment from body blows, but if
you hit one in the stomach when he's not expecting it you can do serious
damage (ruptured spleen, burst intestine, liver damage, bruised diaphragm,
> The sternum and face are valid targets, but they are not targets of
> choice for a martial artists. For example, my target of choice is the
> knee. Or if I can catch a strike you can kiss your elbow goodbye.
I've always been partial to the neck, knees, and kidneys. The
floating ribs are good too, and absurdly easy to hit under many
circumstances. The ankles and feet are fun simply because no one really
expects to get kicked in the ankle (which is what makes it effective).
The problem with portraying martial arts (or any kind of
combat) in movies is that it's over so quickly. Real combat takes place
in seconds, not minutes. You don't take twenty round-house kicks to the
head, then come from behind and kick your opponent's ass. The best way to
take your opponent out of a fight is before he even knows he's fighting.
Often times, the first hit will decide the outcome. After that, all
that's left is one guy on the ground trying to protect himself as best he
can, and another guy standing over him kicking him like a dog. With
trained martial artists who are serious about combat (and not all are),
there's usually a sickening crunch in that first hit as some major bone or
other gets broken.
Armed combat is the same way. Olympic fencing aside, people with
weapons in their hands are usually trying to kill each other. This
changes all the rules. Opponents circle cautiously (because recklessness
kills), sizing each other up and waiting for someone to make a mistake or
leave an opening. They come together suddenly, and usually one of them
dies, if not both. This is especially true where swords are concerned, as
even near-misses can cause grievous tissue damage.
But nobody wants to see a fight like this. You don't want to see
a minute of stillness followed by a momentary flurry of movement too
quick or subtle for the untrained observer to catch, followed by a guy on
the ground screaming in pain. You can't "root for the good guy" this way.
It doesn't get your blood pumping and isn't climactic. It's more like,
"Whoa! What the hell just happened there."
To bring this all back to Shadowrun, I've heard time and time
again that the melee combat rules make combat go too quickly. Well, if
you're looking for cinematic, then you're probably right. If you're
looking for realistic however, SR's melee mechanic produces results that
are surprisingly realistic given the level of abstraction of the rules.