My Hands-on Krav Maga Research for ‘The Defectors’ and Fight Scene Realism

Based on my Google search history, Big Brother probably thinks I’m either a serial killer or a weird survivalist. Writing fiction means I have to research a lot of weird things on the Internet, from how a field blood transfusion is performed to the best assault rifles to non-fatal gunshot wounds. While the type of safety glass used in prisons won’t ever make it into the next series I’m working on, there are a lot of little details that I need to know to write a scene with confidence.

One of the most fun things I had to research for “The Defectors” was Krav Maga — the style of fighting I determined Logan would have learned from her time with the PMC.

Krav Maga is the self-defense practiced taught by the Israel Defense Forces and hundreds of law enforcement agencies in the U.S. It incorporates boxing, Muay Thai, Jiu-Jitsu, and Judo. It’s pretty bad-ass (very Logan) and definitely something PMC officers could learn.

I didn’t start taking Krav Maga for the sole purpose of research. But when I was writing fight scenes, I watched a lot of videos and actually got pretty into it. I decided to start taking a few classes, and I have to say it’s dramatically improved my fight scenes. (I’m also in the best shape of my life.) I have more ideas about different types of strikes they could use to incapacitate carriers and how combinations would progress, which I think makes for a more colorful reading experience.

Of course, it’s hard to make everything realistic. One of the hardest decisions to make as a writer (I think) is what you want to keep realistic and what realism you’re willing to sacrifice for the narrative.

For one thing, I’m pretty sure a gunshot wound (even a non-fatal one) would make it pretty difficult to keep fighting. You might even die of blood loss. But isn’t it more interesting if someone gets shot trying to thwart the PMC? I think so. Sometimes, even “realistic” fiction requires some suspension of disbelief.

That said, watching the “Divergent” training scene was a little painful. If Tris was going at the punching bag like that, I think even the Dauntless could have sprung for a pair of gloves. Also, throwing a couple kids in the ring and having them go at it is probably not the most effective way to teach fighting.

On the other hand, hit-or-be-hit bare-knuckle boxing makes for a more interesting story.

What do you think? Does it bother you when certain details are fudged for the sake of the story?