Friday, April 06, 2007

Nobody puts Emily in a corner

It never ceases to amaze me how much I learn about writing from kickboxing.

Trainer loves me. He loves me because I'm charming and witty and have promised to put him in my movies, but he also loves me because I do what he says. He pushes me harder than any of his other clients and by the end of the hour I am beaten and sweaty, but ready to kick ass, as soon as I drink my smoothie.

For some reason most people don't do that. They go into the training session and whine about every single thing he asks them to do. And don't get me wrong, I give him the finger and say nasty things about his mom all the time, but then I do the damn push-ups. But he's a doll because a lot of the time he'll do them with me. Or maybe he's just psychotic.

I look at writing the same way I look at boxing. I want to get better, so I'll suck it up and do the damn exercises. And when you're done you feel so freaking good about yourself that you're glad you muddled through, even if you do have sweat seeping into your eye sockets.

Yesterday Trainer kept pushing me in the corner and shouting at me to get him off of me but my arms were so tired from boxing for 45 minutes with only occasional 30 second rests. I couldn't get the energy to push him and he kept shouting and backing me into the corner and pushing the pad against me and I was trapped. Instinct hit me and I kneed him in the nuts.

Fortunately the pad protected most of his man parts and he jumped back with the grace of a gazelle running from the hunt, so I didn't kill any hope for future Baby Trainers. I apologized profusely but he just said, "No, you got me off of you," as he checked to make sure everything was still in place.

Because in a real fight we don't think about the most graceful way to land our punches. We react. If someone grabs you by the throat, you can't count on him to counter the way you've been taught. You have to work on instinct and you have to fight dirty.

One of Trainer's favorite stories is about a Friend of his who challenged this one Dude to a fight. As Dude was busy taking off his sweater to prepare for the fight, Trainer's Friend punched him in the gut. Since the sweater was halfway over his head, Dude couldn't react in time, and Friend grabbed him and knocked his skull against an iron pole.

In a real fight you use what you have available and you don't fight fair.

I say all this because I've been working on this new action spec and people often ask me if I'm using graceful martial arts moves like so many action films these days. But most people in most fights get it over with quickly and brutally and my guys are no exception. They fight dirty because they're desperate to win and because they didn't spend eighteen years on a mountain top learning graceful fight-by-numbers moves.

Bill Martell says it all the time that your fight needs to show us something about your character, not just be a plug-and-play battle. I venture to add You should also pay attention to the world your characters are fighting in. Flawed as the film was, look at how different the fight scene between Smith and Neo in the real world was in Matrix Revolutions as averse to the fight between them in the actual Matrix. The one in the real world was brutal because that's how most people fight. Hell, look at Fight Club. There's nothing graceful about those battles.

If you get in a fight with Trainer you can prepare for some dirty shit. And if you get in a fight with me you can expect a knee to the nuts. So watch out.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:44 PM

    Head buts, ear bloxes, eye gouges, nose rips, ear yanks, larynx shots, knee shots, groin shots, and kicking them while they're down, to name a few, are all legitamate in a street fight just as anything available is a weapon. While flying kicks and roundhouses look great, they leave you open and if your oponent knows what they are doing, then you become seriously screwed. I hope, some day, to see your movie, with a good all-out fight scene.

    And I understand the difference between the people at the gym, some want to learn, others just want to be able to tell their friends that they're learning kick-boxing.

    a couple tips:

    1) Hitting twice as hard may be good, but hitting twice as fast is better.

    2) When you fight, hit and kick your opponent's spine through their body.


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