Dirty Fighting


elaine_icon.gif quinn_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Dirty Fighting
Synopsis A makeshift sensei provides instruction on how to cheat like mad in a fight.
Date August 20 2010

Coco's Boxing Gym

The gym's been around so long that no one knows who Coco was. Legend has it that he was an ex-mobster or some grizzled former POW. Either story would fit with the general atmosphere of the place. This is not a trendy location that offers yoga, pilates and spin classes. The gym is grimy, run-down, perpetually smells of sweat and full of well-worn, mostly manual equipment. It offers a wide selection of weights, a wall full of bikes, an area for martial arts training and a boxing ring towards the rear of the space.

Despite its lack of modern equipment, the space is almost always busy. It has a reputation for hiring serious trainers for both weight and boxing training. A world welterweight champion once trained here, and his picture hangs over the desk. Anyone who is serious about their training would feel comfortable here. Weekend warriors need not apply.

Cooking in the glare of the morning sun, the run-down exterior of Coco's looks anything but inviting as a venue for three young women of at least moderately respectable background. None the less, Ygraine seems to be thoroughly looking forward to the trip - and her enthusiasm doesn't fade even when she swings open the doors and guides the other two into fiercely aromatic interior of the boxing gym.

Nodding a greeting to the athletic woman manning the battered reception desk, she ushers Elaine and Quinn towards the changing rooms - the place at least civilised enough to have separate ones for men and women.

Quinn herself is rather excited to be out today - she's done physical training before, in the form of more traditional exercises, but nothing like this. So, the idea of learning a martial art is pretty exciting, particularly when she knows she's not going to be the only dunce stumbling about during Ygriane's lesson.

She hopes, at least.

Changing is a quick process, Quinn emerging in a light blue t-shirt (she not had incentive to actually buy a tank top) and a somewhat snug pair of old shorts she hadn't work in lord knows how long - they would do until she could get another pair at least. Making ehr way back to Ygarine, she approaches the older woman with a smile, turning to wait for Elaine.

It's really been a while since Elaine's gotten to do much of anything athletic. Not that she doesn't work out, occasionally, but it's nothing serious. She emerge a few moments after Quinn in a forest green tank-top and a pair of loose-fitting black yoga pants, red hair tugged up into a ponytail. She makes her way over to the two with a smile.

Ygraine has opted for bare feet upon reaching the practice area, and wears a loose, sleeveless vest over a much more supportive sports top, and the lower half of a simple tracksuit - tight at ankles and waist, and loose in between. Only a little of the new tattoo on her back is visible, though the toned lines of her arms and much of her shoulders are exposed. Her long braid has been looped and coiled to reduce as much as possible the hindrance it'll present.

In one hand she carries a small bag, which is set down by the edge of the practice mats, before the Briton looks to her companions and offers a somewhat nervous grin. "Right… shall we get started? There've actually been some studies done fairly recently that suggest that warm-ups don't seem to do much, if anything to reduce the risk of injury… but I'm a bit old-fashioned, so we'll start with some stretching. I'll keep it gentle, since I'm not sure yet what your stamina's like for this sort of thing… Now… stand in a relaxed manner - hard, I know, with someone telling you what to do. Your feet about as far apart as your shoulders, and then…"

What follows is a simple stretching routine, albeit one delivered by someone accustomed to daily exercise in a serious fashion.

The idea of stretching and routine gets a laughs and a shake of the head from Quinn. "Really?" she inquires teasingly. "Stretching. How dreadfully borin'!" Despite this mocking denouncement, she complies with Ygraine's instructions, going along with the stretches and warm up exercises without much argument. "'Bout how long are we plannin' on being here today?" Quinn inquires with a bit of grimace. "Not that I'm in a rush t' get out before we even get started. I just want t' make sure I dedicate part a' t'day to finding a new day job…"

"Stretching's important it you don't wanna be screaming 'ow' every five seconds tomorrow when you've pulled a muscle in your leg." Elaine teases, easily going through the stretches. She doesn't seem to have many problems with them as she keeps flexible, if not always active. "Finding a new job? What, gonna get rid of the one at the bookstore? Cause I can't imagine you giving up Tartarus."

"I was thinking of buying the two of you lunch, after I've tortured you through the remainder of the morning", Ygraine says with a grin. "Unsubtly bribe my way into continued friendship. We should certainly leave plenty of time for job-hunting, I promise, Robyn. And I suspect you might be able to get some help, too, if you wanted…. Now - save the talking for once I've finished getting you warmed up. I promise I'll give you at least a few breaks…"

After a few minutes, the Briton - now breathing very slightly heavier than before - cracks a smile at her two friends. "And… that'll do for now. Sorry if I'm seeming bossy - I want to try to set the right sort of tone. I don't want people too relaxed while we're doing things that could possibly cause some damage. But before we get onto any of that, I figured that I should run over a few basic things."

As she talks, she pads over to crouch by her bag, quickly unzipping it and drawing out a couple of bottles of water, a small towel… a set of keys, and a small, collapsible umbrella. With the keys in hand, she rises to move back to the others.

"Take a drink whenever you want, and towel yourselves off if you need to. This isn't about making you suffer, I promise. Instead the idea is that I give you some ability to avoid suffering in future - or to inflict enough on other people that you can make them stop trying to do anything to you."

"In that light, let's start with some basic dirty-fighting self-defence. These things", she jangles the keys, "are really quite vicious. And one of the most common points for a mugger to strike is while someone's rooting through bags or pockets in search of either car-keys or the keys to their front door. They're also something that you'll tend to have with you, and know where to find, at any time that you think that you might be in danger. Hold most of them in your palm, like this, and either slip one through between your fingers while you form a fist, or arrange them so that you can jab with them. I personally find the fist more comfortable. It's not something to fight with… but a quick jab from these to someone's neck or eye or stomach or crotch is likely to have them thinking of very little apart from how much it hurts. And many macho types "know" that a punch from a scared girl can't hurt them, and won't worry too much about avoiding it."

"Huh," Quinn says with a bit of surprise as she eyes Ygraine, a smirk on her face. She doesn't move for a towel or water just yet, exhaling sharply after the brief warm up - she doens't look tired yet. If anything, she looks more awake. "You know, I never would have thought t' use keys for somethin' like that, you know. Now I feel stupid." She tilts her head, thinking. "I wonder if my scooter key'll work fine, it's shorter…" Never mind that she has a nice, long house key. She looks from the keys to Ygraine, nodding slowly.

"That's okay. You're fun when you're bossy. Although I'm sure Quinn would know about that kind of thing better than I." Elaine teases, though she listens intently. "Yeah, I've heard of that trick before… but I think you're probably right about them not trying to dodge a punch from a girl." She seems to think for a moment. "Although I think the neck seems like the easiest place to hit with something like that… I think people instinctively block their face either way and guys almost always get defensive if they see you going for the groin. The neck seems safe enough to get at."

Ygraine blushes, coughs, and attempts to soldier on. "Compared to some things, the keys are positively mild and gentle. You can kill someone with a stilletto-heeled shoe, all too easily. People have done it by accident in crowd surges at nightclubs or concerts, according to some reports…. But the keys lead us on to a few other things…."

"As Elaine says, you can't really just have a single thing that you'll always try, no matter what. Circumstances change and if you're always set on, say, holding the keys in your right hand and going for a particular kind of strike, you're tying yourself into something that can only work in certain sitations…. Which is part of the reason for starting with this sort of stuff - you need a lot of training, or a lot of luck, to be at all safe in relying on your formal skills and responses to get you through things. A fight's chaotic, confused, and'll virtually never go to script. Which is part of the reason why very few serious martial artists stick around if things turn nasty. Far better to get out of there as soon as you can, before something goes wrong…."

She shrugs, then offers a smile. "But the keys also lead us on to some of the basics. Physics and human nature are the two things you want to know a little about. For the first, the key thing is that it's faster to move something in a straight line from point A to point B than it is to move it on a curved path from A to B. And for the second, people do not like pain, and you can control them with it, at least for long enough for you to get away."

Quinn can't help back laugh and shake her head at Elaine, shooting her a mocking glare. At Ygraine's continued lecture and instruction, Quinn's attention is snapped forward back to the Brit, a smile on her face and a nods given at appropriate moments as she listens to the instruction. She seems to fidget in place, rocking back and forth on her heals in place as she watches. "Right, right. Like I told you before, I really doubt I'd stick around unless I absolutely had t'. You know, for reasons," which to Ygraine she hopes indicates in event of Ferry stuff.

Elaine giggles, but gives a bit of a nod. "Fair enough. Disable and get away, right? Just gotta hit them where it hurts and run?" She shakes her head. "I don't think I'd stick around." She pauses as she recalls a certain situation with a knife. "Kick him in the shin and make a run for it?"

Ygraine offers Quinn a gentle smile. "The vital thing's not to get sucked into a drawn-out fight. The odds are that anyone attacking you will be stronger, heavier, be able to take more damage, and probably know more about how to win a 'proper' fight. So you want to cheat like mad and get - and never lose - the upper hand, finishing things as quickly as possible."

To Elaine, she wobbles a hand. "A single kick to the shin will probably just anger someone. It might buy you a few moments, but no more than that unless you put your full weight into it and catch him just right, or your wearing steel toe-caps…. Generally, the first move is one that gets you an advantage; the second is what gives you freedom. Hrmmmm. Let's take a simple example, shall we?"

She holds up one hand, then uses the other to carefully take hold of the first one's little finger, folding it over so that it's curled up. "Try this yourselves. It's quite comfortable, here. Your finger's in a natural position. Now… carefully, or you might regret it, but squeeze and lift with the gripping hand. Get someone in this grip, and you can literally lead them around by the finger until they get free. And while you're doing that, your other hand is free and they're thinking of nothing but the pain and how to get their hand back."

Quinn gives a slow nod, wrinkling her nose at the mention of most people being… generally better than her. Truthful as it is, and she knows it is, it sucks to hear. Looking over at Elaine, she chuckles. "Kick 'im in the shin? Should aim higher, if you ask me. That'll give you plenty a' time t' get away." She smirks, before returning her attention more fully to Ygraine. Another slow nod, and she beings to comply with Ygraine's instruction, her head tilting. "Really? Just like that? Almost seems too easy?"

"Ow!" Yes, it seems Elaine has figured out the trick. "Boy, that's clever." She's silently wondering if she's got the guts to try that on Magnes if he gets annoying. She peers over at Quinn. "Well, there were extenuating circumstances." She moves to try again with her finger. "This is awesome."

Wincing a little, and shaking out her left hand, Ygraine quirks another smile. "Thank you, Elaine - though it's not actually too easy to do. People generally don't let anyone grab their hand unless they trust them, but… if they lay hands on you it can become an option. And, similarly, kneeing someone in the crotch is actually quite hard to manage. You'll generally catch thigh or hip rather than your target - and if you're wearing a skirt, you'll run into resistance from it. It's also one of the moves most expected by guys attacking girls… though they will tend to fight girls differently to how they'd fight a man. You're far more likely to be grabbed and brought in close - at which point a good kneeing might work, though that does lead into another point…"

A rueful smile, and another shrug. "It's fundamentally a reiteration of that 'fight dirty' advice I gave to start with. If you do something in one place, your next effort should probably target somewhere else. Preferably somewhere you've just made vulnerable. Land a good kick to their shin, and they're probably going to put their weight on the other leg. At which point you kick that leg's knee, while they've got their full weight on it and it's locked in position. Or you make them think about something low-down - put your high heel on their foot - and immediately hit them with a key-jab to the ear."

Now Quinn's got this whole hand thing, and her wince and quick drawing back of her own hand seem to indicate that well enough. Shaking it, she grimaces as she looks back up at Ygraine, quirking her lips. "I've never really though about things that could, you know… get in the way like that. An' I still think the term fightin' dirty it a cock a' shit, you know? In a real fight, there's no such thing as dirty." Hands come to her hips, Quinn nodding like she's just said a truth of the universe. Not that she'd know at all, of course. She's just watched enough movies to know, she believes.

"Dirty fighting. Kinda sounds fun. And promising. If you have to fight, that is." Elaine peers to Quinn. "Dirty fighting is true. Think about it when they say they want a 'good clean fight' they're usually referring to like… fights that aren't you fighting for your life. So dirty is basically anything that's not a 'I'm going to kill you' fight." She chuckles. "I dunno, I guess you're just assuming the only fighting you're doing is for your life so I guess that makes it really irrelevant. I just kinda meant, y'know, sparring, I think."

"Actually, virtually everyone fights to rules, even without knowing about it", Ygraine says with another smile. "You "know" what a fight is - you throw punches, or kick, or maybe scratch, or wrestle, or pull hair. You don't do things like consciously set out to break a nose - really easy: a thrust with your arm, using the heel of your hand rather than your fist, like this - or even punch full-strength. Almost everyone throws a punch or aims a kick to connect, rather than to still be accelerating with full weight behind it whenever it lands. One of the things that some combat martial arts teach is to aim for your target's back, if you're hitting them from the front. Literally attempt to put your force right through the blow…."

Taking a deep breath, Ygraine chuckles. "But I'm getting ahead of myself. We'll do some sparring and practice in a bit, but I should probably give you some ideas on target areas. There are the classic ones - people don't like being hit in the face, every girl learns very young about the mythical properties of hitting a boy in the groin, and you know that the throat's vulnerable, too, for example. But joints are good targets as well, especially if they're locked - a knee that's bearing weight, or the elbow on a straight arm, for example. You don't need to hit very hard to jar it badly, since there's so little padding there. Just remember what it feels like if you whack your knee off a table-leg or bang your elbow against a door."

"Likewise, organs can be good targets, though most are at least somewhat protected - and aiming a precise blow for a kidney or to send a lung into spasm is quite hard. But one of the most vital systems is up on the skull, on the outside - and is really easy to disturb. Your ears, you see, aren't just for hearing - they contain your primary balance systems. One of the nastiest things you can do is simply to slam your hands over someone's ears - both at once, for best, or worst, effect. The pressure, the sound, and the force will combine. You'll give them pain, violent dizziness, and a loss of balance all at once."

Quinn looks a little lost at first as she listens to Ygraine - she understands, but she's still quite tuned into everything she says. She does, however, begin to zone back in more properly at the talk so target areas, particularly joints. Again, something she'd seen in movies, but would never have thought of on her own. The mention of attacking organs reflexively causes a bit of a groan, a hand rising to where her kidney is. "Wait, so… just, like, box someone's ears?" Quinn remarks with a hint of scepticism. "Man, I know how much that sucks just gettin' it done t' you. I can only imagine how it would be in a fight."

"Oh, that makes sense." Elaine states, mentally picturing letting the air slam into someone's ears. "How long do they say like that? I mean, is it a stunning thing for a few minutes or does it do permanent damage…?" She asks, curiously.

"Time it right, and there's nowhere for the pressure-wave to go except through the skull", Ygraine says quietly. "You can rupture eardrums, and do permanent damage to the vestibular system. It's actually a really horrible move, but if you get it a bit wrong you'll just thump them on the side of the head - which hurts a bit, but doesn't do much else. Similarly, an upward angle on the strike with the heel of your hand to the nose - that can risk driving bone-shards into the brain, if you catch them straight-on. Hit an elbow or knee just right when it's locked, and you can wreck the joint - reconstructive surgery'll get it working again, but not as good as before. Like eye-gouging, which can obviously blind someone, there are good reasons why such things aren't part of any 'normal' fights, and why they're not part of what you get taught to think of as part of fighting."

"Mum always warned me against boxin' people ears because it could make them deaf," Quinn states with a nod at Elaine. "Which, I mean… didn't stop me as a kid. Come t' think of it, I was a bit of a bitch as a kid!" There's a bit of quickly fading laughter, and another nod. "I just never really thought a' usin' anything like that in a fight…" She winces visibly as Ygraine continues, particularly the part about bone shards into the brain. "Christ, okay, yeah. Maybe I spoke too soon about that whole fightin' dirty thing. Jesus, that all sounds right painful…" Which just means she hopes it never happens to her, more than anything else.

"Sheesh. I think I was a pretty good kid. Not quite like that. Dunno that I even got into a fight until high school, at least." Elaine shudders at the idea of bone shards. "Damn. Human beings are so fragile… I'm surprised we manage to live this long!"

Ygraine chuckles ruefully. "We're fairly well-protected against normal attacks to be honest. It's generally pretty hard to kill someone. Tends to take significant effort or careful thought, though any time you hit someone, there's a risk involved. British law used to hold you accountable for the consequences - if you punched someone and it turned out he'd got an eggshell skull, you'd be guilty of murder. Things are increasingly moving towards the US system, with a lot more focus on intent, but there were reasons why the old one made a good bit of sense…."

"Other stuff in the basic dirty-fighting school? Hrmmm. The most important one might sound at odds with much of what I've just been saying. Your voice is often going to be your most potent weapon - but again, not if used in a normal way. If someone's attacked, they're likely to squeal, or scream or shout 'help'. How often do you hear kids and teenagers and college students doing that and just ignore it? It's just part of the background of a big city. Same for someone swearing angrily, or even some of the things the generation before us were told to try. I've seen kids shouting "help, rape!" when being tickled. The more that sort of thing happens, the less those things matter… and the more they fit into what an attacker expects and is ready for."

Another of Ygraine shrug-and-smile combinations. "So, as with hurting them, take the initiative and do something unexpected. Studies in the UK showed that more than half of random attackers who targetted women could be completely deterred just by being told off. A single firm, loud, definite shout of "no!" would put many off, but if more was required then the tone of voice to be used was that of an angry mother telling off a toddler. No swearing, no hint of doubt about who's in command, and clear, simple language. After all, every single one of us has had at least some conditioning to obey that sort of delivery by a woman, and it's likely to throw people seriously out of their stride."

"Hey, now. I was good, most of the time! I never got int' any real fights. But I certainly did like t' go around boxin' hears as a young thing." Quinn smirks at Elaine. "An' yeah, I'm with her. I ahd no idea were were so feckin' fragile." And then she blinks at Ygraine, tilting her head. "R-Really?" That seems to be a bit of a common sentiment from her this morning. "I mean, I'm not so surprised about the first part, particularly not after livin' here for five years, but… how many times does that actually work?"

"Yeah, that's kinda interesting. I could see screaming 'no'. Especially if you have enough force behind it." Elaine muses, but she shudders. "But really? Some guy attacks you and you punch him and could be guilty of murder? That seems kinda… I dunno, wrong…" She frowns, but peers between the two. "Think about it. We reflexively would freak out if our moms said 'no!' when we were about to do something dumb, so… yeah."

Ygraine nods to Elaine, quirking a wry smile. "You chose to punch him, and he died as a direct result of your actions. Why wouldn't you be guilty of murder, when phrased in those terms? My point's not really about the legalities - it's that any time you choose to try to hurt someone, there really could be unforeseen consequences, that might be vastly worse than anything you had intended. It's part of the reason why we tend to shy away from actually putting full force into anything we do, or recoil after landing a good blow. We don't actually like dealing violence, and most people need to be trained to overcome their instinctive problems with taking actions that might maim or kill."

Looking to Quinn, she wobbles a hand. "Random attackers tend to come out at night, want to avoid notice, seek lone targets they think seem vulnerable… a display of confidence without physical challenge, something that switches the paradigm from them as predator and you as prey, can put many of them right off. If they're hunting in a pack, it's less likely to work unless you cow the leader… and someone who's consciously choosing particular targets, rather than ones that just 'seem easy' is a lot less likely to be deterred.

"Like everything else, it's not to be counted on - just as you shouldn't rely on the old advice of screaming "fire!" to actually get anyone to call the emergency services, even if it is a lot more likely to work than most other things. In this city in the present climate, to be honest, your best bet would probably be shouting about a bomb, if you really want people to call the cops while you're out on the street. It might not help you instantly, but no one is going to want to stick around to meet SWAT and the counter-terrorism units."

"Laws are screwy sometimes," Quinn remarks with a slump of her shoulders and a shake of her head. "Look at these silly new registration laws." That's really all she plans to say on that, she just felt she needed to make a point. When Ygraine turns to addresss her, Quinn perks up and her head tilts. "So, it's somethin' t' try before things get bad, then? See if you can head it off before it gets worse? I can see that. Hopefully I never end up with the kinda guy who just laughs in my face, though."

"Laws are messed up, for sure. I don't think people know quite what they're doing anymore these days." Elaine murmurs, but she peers over at the two. "Well, it'll be useful, at least. Cutting him off before things get worse." She nods a little bit. "Hrm…"

"Even if someone does laugh in response - better they laugh and give you more time to think of something else to do, than they kept going on with their original plan", Ygraine says with a smile. "Anything you can do to derail things from how your attacker thought they were going to go is probably good. The more chaos you can put in the way of their goals, the better it's likely to be for you. If nothing else, you give them more time in which to screw up, and more chance for things to just happen to go your way - whether it's someone coming around the corner, or whatever."

"Still…." She rubs her hands together. "It's probably a good idea to get onto something practical, now. I'll start you with some foot-work. Get you used to a feel of moving while balanced - able to go forwards or back just as easily. Because for anything physical, balance is the key to doing it in a controlled manner… and to keeping your options open. Put your weight in a particular direction, and you're cutting off choices. You know the phrase "on the back foot"? It's a literal disadvantage to be unbalanced in a confrontation. And it's part of the reason why you want to break up an attacker's plans. Get him to pause, and he quite literally loses his momentum. Now… if you'll try to stand like this, I'll set about critiquing your stances, then get you moving…."

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