I'm attending BristonCon on 6th November. There'll be a panel on writing the fight scene, which I'll be on. The writer I've always emulated in this regard is Adam Hall, author of the outstanding Quiller novels, which produced physical tension in the reader in a way that no else could. (They didn't have the humour of Deighton or the literary fury of le Carré, so the books aren't quite as well known. But the same author, under his real name of Elleston Trevor, wrote a couple of the classic World War II novels, as well as Flight of the Phoenix.)

For unpublished writers looking to do research, I'll recommend either picking a fight outside the chip shop when the drunks spill out of the pubs on Saturday night, or reading Geoff Thompsons's and Marc McYoung's books on real violence, and engaging in something that's physically stressful though not necessarily violent. (The main thing being to experience adrenaline dump.)

Whether we'll talk about the physical training and techniques, I don't know. Fighters train hard. They usually don't look like bodybuilders, and here's why. Watch (if you can stand it) Buffy hitting the punch bag or a vampire. She flings out her arms and not her body. In fact, the arm is just the delivery system of a punch - its purpose is to be rigid enough and properly aligned for impact, but that's all. The force comes from the linear acceleration and the rotational torque of the entire body - the legs and core create the strike.

On the other hand, it's possible to be built like a terminator and be great at both karate and hardcore fighting.

A while back, I linked to a training video of Alain Ngalani. He's how I picture Hawk in Robert Parker's Spenser novels. (In the TV series Hawk was played by the guy who played Sisko, commander of Deep Space Nine.)

I still want to look like him when I grow up.

Anyway, he doesn't just lift massive weights and hit the heavy bag - he can do the business in the muay thai ring.

Here's Ngalani against a tougher opponent. This deliberate implacable destruction of his opponent's leg has to be taken in the context of professional muay thai fighters - they're conditioned to receive impact. Most people couldn't take a single one of these kicks.

He's aiming for the lower quadriceps, not the knee joint - it's not obvious from the camera angle, but the ref would have intervened otherwise. Plus I've seen him do this to other opponents. In other words, this is what Ngalani can do within sporting rules... Imagine what would happen on the street.

Anyway, I'm inspired. Big bagwork session coming up, then Sunday 'lunch' at 4pm.


Blogger Tim said...

Kind of reminds me of Marco Ruas chopping down the much larger Paul Beunatello in a very early UFC. Back then UFC crowds didn't respect the effectiveness of what a proper Muay-Thai leg kick can do if you don't block them correctly. You keep chopping at the base of a big tree and it will eventually fall. Watch this at 2m 15s -

So when will ABSORPTION be out in the USA? (Borders, Barnes & Noble, etc.) Many in the US cannot wait to read it!

November 5, 2010 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger John Meaney said...

Hi Tim - Thanks for the YouTube link - I'm a Ruas fan, all right, but I hadn't seen this fight. What a height/weight mismatch! No problem for old Marco, though. Nice reminder that Chuck Liddell wasn't the first striker in MMA. You're right - fight fans have changed as much as the fighters.

I bought Marco Ruas's instructional videos back in the 90s, and my wife often chuckles about the Street Defense volume, where the instructions for nearly every combination end with: "...and break the arm."

Not only do I not have a US publication date for Absorption, I don't yet have a publishing deal! But my agent is in New York right now wheeling and dealing. I'll let you know...

November 5, 2010 at 7:51 PM  

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