The martial arts class wasn’t the sort of “We’ll teach you how to kick, you practice for five years, then we’ll show you how to use it,” kind of class – it was the “Let’s get you in a stranglehold and we’ll show you half a dozen different ways of getting out of it, now, today,” kind of class – It was fun – The getting out of it went from just breaking the grip with no harm done, to smacking the offender, to getting out of the stranglehold and putting the offender in an arm lock in the same move, all the way through to oh-go-ahead-and-break-the-offender’s-elbow (“You’ll hear a little click,”) – What’s not to like?
The class ran for ten weeks – we did strangle holds, front and back and lying down, all kinds of holds and body grips, shoving, fighting when down, dealing with punches and such things as three against one – with two villains (the bigger the better because you’re going to be using their strength, not yours) holding your arms while the third comes in with a punch or a knife (my fav).
Back then, believe it or not, I was as shy as they come. This was my first experience at getting hands-on training in order to write with knowledge and authority. This was a couple of years before I learned to drive a semi-trailer for the same reason, then got my motorbike license and went touring Australia on it, and it was way before we moved onto the wilderness and lived with no house for near-on five years. At this point in my life, I was still a puppy.
Sitting in that classroom, I was nervous. There were about fifteen women and no one really knew what to expect. I thought we might get some lessons on the law, some advice about not going out alone at night and most likely a sales pitch for “handy gadgets” like mace spray.
It was a staggering experience to be taught Atemi points (pressure points) on the body and how to get your fingers into them and shoot a guy through the ceiling with no effort at all.
We each had to experience it, too, of course. It was all gently done, but you still discovered an amazing connection between your neck and your toes and you’d still go leaping into the air to get away from the electric-shock pain when some of those nerves were hit (this maneuver was exploited in book one, The Khekarian Threat – you’ll know it when you get there).
By the way, have I ever mentioned I’m a coward? First law of survival – flee! That was me. I deal with it in what might seem a strange way, yet to me makes perfect sense. I dive in straight away. I go first. I get it over and done with. I do the same at the dentist’s office, I make the appointment for first thing in the morning so the rest of the day is free, otherwise the appointment is hanging over my head all day and waiting is always far worse than just doing it, right?
So when the call for the first volunteer came, I was as scared as the rest of them, but I knew that if I just sat there, the tension would build and become worse as the inescapable moment came closer. I couldn’t handle that.
That’s the only reason my hand shot up in the air while everyone else remained rooted in their seats, frightened of getting active. They thought I was brave, but I wasn’t being brave at all, although I never let on. As we all had to go through it, I got the experience over as quickly as possible so I could sit back in my chair and be able to relax because, for me, it was over.
I did that throughout that first ten week course. It got to a stage that when the instructor said, “Okay, who wants to go first?” everyone would look at me.
The ten weeks was so addictive, though, I had to take it further and that’s when the instructor brought me into his far larger class at the Police Training College in Crewe, Cheshire, England, and I got to fight with the cops.
Of course, I did it all for Jackie, a character of mine. But I’ll tell you why tomorrow.
Cheers all! 😀
See also: I just wanted to write fight scenes, but I had to drop a policeman to achieve it!
Writers sometimes have to experience a certain situation firsthand or get a step-by-step account of such situation in order to depict or write something close to it. A writer and blogger friend of mine from the middle-east has released her debut novel. Her story, largely fictitious, is inspired by her past. The story is the account of a belly dancer who is forced into prostitution and is later accused of a murder she didn’t commit. Man! It is graphic and powerfully executed. When I asked her if she would’ve achieved such level of success in her storytelling without such experience, she said no. And I mean “no” in a capitalized form.
Your experience in martial art will definitely come in handy. It’s important you acquired this knowledge ahead of your writing because you don’t know who will be your next reader — perhaps a martial art expert.
My second novel (not yet written) is a prison story set in a Cameroonian jail. I’ve not been jailed before, but I’ve been meeting up with former warders here in Nigeria and from Cameroon and by next year, hopefully, I should be able to speak with a willing inmate.
I praise you for your determination and courage. I bet you’ll knock me out in a ring, LOL 😀
I agree very much. Personal experience is hugely important for bringing something to life and for really getting to know the details. I ended up teaching self defense classes for five years in Australia, to women’s groups, youth groups and even at the Blind Association in Western Australia. But I took it on purely so I could write a professional fight scene professionally.
That’s also why I got my truck license (articulated vehicles – semi-trailers, we call them here – it had sixteen gears and a 30 foot trailer – although in the book, my experience went into only a single paragraph!), and my motorbike license, and jumped at chances like living in the wilderness.
Your friend sounds like she has written an amazing book. She’s done well to take a bad situation and put it to good use. With powerful writing like that, it should go very well – I hope it becomes a best-seller.
It’s great, too, that you have lined up interviews with warders and an inmate (definitely better than doing jail time yourself). Certainly where I cannot get hands-on experience, I will look to the next best thing, which is the accounts of others who have (in my case, these have been mainly elite forces soldiers, both the training aspect and details in operations), or the hard slog reading technical manuals (surgical techniques for book one equalled learning about internal fixation for a broken jaw and medical terms for an eye replacement – also a broken femur and the “scaffolding” that goes on the outside, but due to those internal time constraints, I had to drop the broken leg from the story).
I do love a book written with attention to that sort of detail. The book you are writing and the one your friend has written stands head and shoulder above those written by people who do no research and just guess – and there are a lot of those out there.
I look forward to reading your book. I would like to read your friend’s book, too, if you would let me know the title.