Kate (kate_nepveu) wrote,

WorldCon: Anatomy for Writers, Heroes and Tavern Brawlers

Panel notes that I edited yesterday in a brief moment of downtime.

Anatomy for Writers, Heroes and Tavern Brawlers
Sean McMullen assisted by Jetse de Vries
Author, karate instructor, fencer and first aid officer Sean McMullen provides a tour of how the human body can and cannot be damaged. Want to know where a hero can be punched without any effect? Worried about his vascular dilation? Curious about the real-life version of Mr Spock’s nerve pinch? Not sure whether a really long sword fight is three hours or seven seconds? Wondering why readers are laughing because your hero has microsecond reactions? Come along and find out in complete safety.

This was in a much, much too small room: practical stuff like this, that promises to be fun too, is always really popular. McMullen was I think very recently off a plane from the other side of the world and so a little discombobulated, but he had thorough notes and did a good job getting through them.

A lot of these descriptions are of physical moves and may not be very clear; don't hesitate to ask for clarification. Everything is McMullen's statements unless otherwise noted.

when can do anything, boring; come up against limits of what people can do, much more interesting story & more realistic people

Jeste editor SF, built heavier than wiry McMullen

going on quest, or recruiting for City Watch, who are you going to recruit? depends on purpose, what physiology & anatomy you want

characteristics: reach, strength, weight (not drawback in fighting but in chasing)

physiology of reactions: brain refresh rate: only get ~25 frames per second on TVmovies because human brain has refresh rate roughly of that; people can't have nanosecond reactions without SFnal or supernatural powers

nerve impulse speeds, from fingertip - brain about ~4'; ~200 mph to hit, register touch ~90 mph, register pain, slower; none are very fast

training! a force multiplier (which can be psychological or mechanical)

muscles & muscle groups: chalk to outline, demonstrate pairing & that can only contract

in many martial arts, not using arms as much, use stomach muscles to pull hips and arms around until strike with arm, lock body behind to get extra strength

if trying to take somebody down, what would you do? well, could probably punch them: demonstrates getting punched, playing a bit but obviously tensing stomach; then Jeste literally jumped on his stomach lying down; people get winded when punched because diaphragm goes into spasm when hit; if hit ribs, or lower than stomach, also bad

in human body, all sorts of interesting points

large intestine 16 (accupunture) : Mr. Spock point; fully-grown engineer jumping up & down on you, no problem; but little pressure on this point, ow really hurts (won't knock out but will go to ground to try and get away)

"If anyone of you want to see good fighting, watch the riots at soccer"--in the stands, not on the ground

someone tries to grab you: grab their arm & straighten, can't bring any force at full extension. Then step behind, brace other's arm & go behind their leg & let down on ground, or hit all kinds of vulnerable spots (kidneys, floating ribs, more accupunture points)

what hero should be doing is pinning: superior strength can't be used once use human geometry to put in certain positions

if someone tries crosshand grab, twist arm & as before (and if get down hard enough knees will hurt, makes hard to chase--should be running away!)

force multipliers: people very reluctant to kill each other, overcome with training. definitely not bigger rocket what gives advantage

karate training: speed, confidence

physiological shock: can't really cope with constant strikes to face, lots of nerve endings there, fights usually won in a couple seconds

don't hit with closed fists, use heel of hand, much tougher skin & cushioned (knuckles split)

mugging with knife, told put your hands up; spread hands, put thumbs together, bring down to grab wrist: lots of space between index fingers, means hard to miss

not good idea to just twist hand & stab mugger, lots of time before die and can do "perfectly beastly things"

use submission holds instead: so twist up and back, not into body to stab, pressure points to make drop knife, drop whole body, pin, get groggy enough to run away

"People don't die straightaway."

knife at throat from behind: make sure can't move by grabbing with both hands just above elbow & at wrist; then step on metatarsals at top of foot (can't harden muscles there to protect), "punch" stomach with bottom, twist back & make drop knife

seems complicated but have force multiplier of training

pull arm out & twist, arms don't work very well at full extension

movie _Miss Congentiality_ was actually pretty good for anatomy & physiology over choreography, had problems but not too many

attacker with baseball bat: they don't expect people to move in: hands up and crossed to block over head, then can grab at both ends, gives leverage, pull out of attacker's hands, poke in face, side

really bad idea with a sword: can hit on flat of blade, which doesn't hurt, knock out of hands: your hero will have been doing this stuff for years and know can do it

if both have swords: reason had chainmail is that radial artery, inside crook of elbow, is one of very rare arteries near skin

if a predator is too big, cannot take it down, full stop. "They are in the business of pulling down prey and eating them, we are not."

judges shake hands with fighters, cold & clammy: don't need fine motor control, lot of muscle movement for fingers is actually further up arm, so blood is there

become briefly very much stronger when actually fighting

beserker rage really does work, for brief times

hit artery, can lose 2 liters in 2 minutes = no condition to fight, 2, 2.5 liters lost = irreversible organ damage

so cutting radial artery: don't do it

recommends _Gunther's ER_ DVD

swords: Jeste stronger, but he has experience: how long they can fight? not very long: get tired fairly quickly, blood in muscles may be super-oxygenated but runs out

120-145 pulse rate: brain stops working properly, stop thinking as clearly, fine motor skills start degenerating (trouble loading gun magazine)

145-175: totally in fight mode, not being reasonable, mammalian brain taken over

175+: reptilian mode, T Rex with really bad hangover

really cannot sustain long

if block punch with one hand & getting ready to punch with other, cannot switch to block instead, reaction times above [I'm not sure I get this math to work, I may have missed something]

found that in SCA hard fights w/armor, 1-2 minutes before get really tired

35 minute fight almost killed him, people did not fight all day and night (line of battle, fresh people can replace)

when grab arm with knife, don't go for wrist, slide your hand down until get hand to immobilize

fat: for quest, not dumb to recruit people with some so that don't burn muscle which is what fight with; also insulation cold, cushioning against muscular contusions

OTOH chosen for city stuff, thinner faster

he's 60, still faster than 46-year-old Jeste, he trains every day

start really slowing down 75-80 no matter how much train

drop in strength as age but as seen, not the important thing

Barbara Tuchman, A Distant Mirror (14th C Europe) (Wikipedia)

question about whether women more willing to attack crotch in training: well, crotch maybe not first thing want to go for if someone is grabbing you. Smash elbow to neck; lot of sensitive skin inside thighs; foot down on top of foot. Can do knee into crotch, has value because can't miss and will hurt, but there's a chance won't be slowed down that much, foot may break bones

other force multiplier: peer pressure (re: post-battle atrocities)

why were medieval knights so much better? peasants don't do much fighting

guns: force multiplier again, not always highly effective; if close enough, again, reaction times, can just take away

aftermath: researchers stressed people out (put them in high danger situations), sent out people to chat them up, far more amenable to being chatted up; does tend to generalize

fighter: euphoric then depressed, then get away from feelings (alcohol, sex) -- or maybe not, 1/2 lost control bladder or bowel during battle (not fear, brain doesn't have enough to devote to control)

I asked about the multiple people trying to overpower one person on screen, always seem to attack one at a time: even minimal teamwork is extremely effective, a.k.a. very bad news for the one person

Tags: anticipation 2009, con reports, cons, worldcon

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