March 2018 Workshop: Writing Realistic Fight Scenes

Local blackbelt Rick Lutes gave a fantastic and comprehensive look at hand-to-hand combat, as well as practical demonstrations of the techniques with his student, Jim Johnston.

Every culture has a system of unarmed combat. There are usually two forms: hard (eg. Karate or jiu-jitsu) where the martial artist attacks the target directly, and soft (eg. Akido) where the target’s own moves and balance is used against them. Most martial arts are developed out of a perceived need or gap in existing styles. For example, MMA was created out of a desire to see how different styles of martial arts would work against each other and has now become its own unique style.

There are four categories of martial arts that appear in fiction and film:

  • Realistic: where strikes are quick and injuries quickly accumulate
  • Hollywood: where the strikes are visually dramatic and injuries are minimized/maximized (depending on whether they hit the hero or villain)
  • Fantasy: where the laws of physics no longer necessarily apply and strikes can be supernaturally amplified or injuries can be mystically healed
  • Science-Fiction: where the rules of anatomy can vary but the rules of physics are still maintained (eg: the Vulcan neck pinch)

Rick and Jim demonstrated how any every day item can be used as a weapon, from a magazine to a pen, where the pressure points are on the human body, how a smaller opponent can overcome a larger one, and why grabbing someone actually puts the person who grabs at a disadvantage during the fight. Their demonstrations impressed, entertained, and informed. We all walked away inspired for writing future fight scenes and feeling a little more confident.

Rick Lutes teaches a class on Spiritual Karate at Pranashani Yoga centre (52 Armstrong Street) on Tuesdays from 4:30 to 5:30.  Monthly and drop in rates available and the first class is free to try. 

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