Punchy start to the week, eh? Jason Lambright riffed on my ju jitsu grading essay with a blog post of his own which should be compusory reading for any writer wanting to do more realistic action sequences. Drawing on long combat experience—actual combat, not just faffing around in a dojo—he's written an informed and densely informative post about the subjective experience of extreme violence.
Combat is an ugly word. I still get shivers when I think of it. Combat entails people trying to kill you in the dark, feeling naked and vulnerable beneath the stars above. It is the feeling of recoil against your shoulder, radio calls, falling leaves from trees and bushes. Combat is screaming. Combat means blood, lots of it, sticky pools of spreading black/red.
But before combat is something worse. It’s anticipation. Sudden combat is best, there is no time to think, only time to react. Someone opens up on you, you respond without thinking. While lethal and shocking, it’s better than knowing for long hours that you are going to assault a known enemy position, starting at time X.
Because this is a subjective piece, I can only speak for my reactions. I would smoke cigarette after cigarette, frequently lighting one with the cherry of the previous. I would obsessively go over the plan. Check my gear and the gear of my soldiers, over and over. Jump a little when a vehicle would start, or the word would come down to move out on foot. Felt the frequent need to piss, sometimes I would do it on the move. My hands would be numb. Whether this was physiological or a function of the weight of my equipment (usually about ninety pounds), I don’t know.
The whole post is worth reading and bookmarking if you write in this field.