hi, so two of my characters are going to fight, they are both female, highly trained and genetically engineered so they are faster stronger etc and one of them is much more malicious than the other and has years more experience so I was wondering if you had any suggestions for dirty/brutal fighting/tricks. I can't think of anything other than like those knives that come out of peoples shoes in mobster movies.
In the Stacks Answer:
You know, a character can be brutal and malicious in their combat style without resorting to dirty tricks. It’s worse here because you’re writing women and the common sense assumption is that if a woman is good at combat (especially if she’s evil), she must be cheating.
Besides, a dirty trick in combat is a knee to the groin or throwing sand in your opponent’s eyes. Essentially, dirty tricks are just all the things you can do to someone to debilitate someone and take them out of the fight before they can fight back. And, as anyone who’s been in a real fight will tell you, fairness is relative. After all, The Only Unfair Fight is the One You Lose, Brutally.
Skill in Combat Can’t Be Faked
Now, there’s some sheer terror involved in having an antagonist who is simply flat out better than the protagonist and for the scene to have tension, this character has got to be able to hack it.
When most non-practitioners think about cheating, they’re thinking about it the context of “I pulled the paper down off the internet”. “I’m cheating because I’m too lazy to do the work”, “I’m incapable of doing it on my own”. The difference is that a fighter has to actually be able to execute the illegal technique and they have to be able to do so (and do it well enough to get away with it) under the supervision of people who know what they’re looking for.
"Accidentally" hurting your opponent will not be treated as an accident. The supervisors know what they’re looking for and if this character "accidentally" hurting their opponents is a continuous habit then they’ll bear the cost for it. It’s also worth noting that accidentally wounding your opponent in traditional martial arts and in most sparring matches where the point is emphasis on skill and precision is the practitioner lacking in skill. A truly skilled cheater will make their opponent look like they fucked up and in a situation with multiple eyes on you, all of whom know what they’re looking for, that’s not easy.
If they can get away with it, especially multiple times, then they’re really damn proficient. Cheating in a martial arts context is about using techniques that endanger the health and safety of the practitioners in the sparring match. It’s only valuable if the emphasis on skill is not hurting your opponent (because you’re not allowed to kill them anymore).
These two characters are probably military, right? You can’t adhere to martial arts tournament rules because the focus of the training is different and thus what constitutes cheating and bad behavior will be different. Beating each other to a bloody pulp may be an attitude expected of the top recruits. Depending on your setting, the degree of injuries allowed to be inflicted will be significantly higher and injuries will be more common. They’re trained to hurt and kill, hurting each other in training is to be expected.
And, believe it or not, your villain/antagonist is not the first person in their setting who has thought: “I can gain an advantage by doing something I’m not supposed to”. Why does this character believe they can get away with this? If it’s easy to do, why isn’t everyone doing it? (And no, don’t say it’s because they’re evil. That’s not a legitimate answer.)
The rest is below the cut.