Tuesday, December 30, 2008

On Getting Punched In The Head

by Tom Schreck
Author of "TKO", "On The Ropes" and "Out Cold"

I like it when things are broken down to their simplest elements.

Mystery characters are always being punched, karate chopped, or whacked in the head. Sometimes they take it and smile, sometimes they go unconscious, sometimes they see flashes of light and sometimes the shot just serves to piss them off.

Here’s what I know about being punched in the head.

- If you get hit high on the head or forehead where the skull is thick it doesn’t hurt much. It might throw off your equilibrium if it was a particularly good shot but it won’t hurt that much.
- Getting pinched right in the center of the ear can hurt a lot. It might really sting the skin of the ear and that sucks, but it also might mess with the inner workings of the ear and that feels like an ice pick in your head.
- A shot to the bridge of the nose will cause a thudding through your head and give you a headache that might last a few days. It will be dull but uncomfortable.
- If the nose breaks there are a variety of experiences. For some people who break their noses often it’s a minor irritation. You’ll hear a distinctive click or crack and then the instant feeling of swelling. Breathing gets harder and your eyes water. For those who don’t experience that often it will be a sharper pain.
- For me the worst is getting hit on the jaw line and not having my teeth clenched. That sends a jarring feeling across the jaw and a piercing feeling inside your ear. It may even feel like there is liquid running in your ear. It will be difficult to bite down for awhile and when you do you will get a sharp feeling in your ear again where the jaw connects to the skull. I’ve never had a broken jaw but I know guys who have and continued to fight. I find that interesting.
- Getting hit on the temple will hurt, make you dizzy and if it’s hard enough might make you throw up. One time I took a shot on the temple and it wobbled me at the time. The more concerning thing to me was four days later when I had to pull the car over because I was getting dizzy.
- Often the worst part s of getting hit is what it does to your neck. Then you get tension headaches for awhile because your neck has trouble supporting your melon. One time a pro fighter hit me with a straight right and I went down. I went down so hard and so fast that I don’t think my neck ever had to brace up against it. I got up and it was almost like on a cartoon. I was giggly, like I was drunk and wobbly. It hurt but not in an unpleasant way. My neck didn’t hurt the next day.
- Getting hit in the face isn’t good for your sinuses. A doctor told me that.
- The reaction to headshots is largely personal. I judged a fight one time with a fighter named Ricardo Mayorga. He’s a former world champion and he’s been in with DelaHoya, Trinidad and other future hall of famers. I saw him drop his guard and deliberately take three punches directly on the face from a seasoned middleweight. Then he smiled at him.

I don’t know how to explain that.


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Geez, Tom, I think getting punched in the head is a great metaphor for being a writer. We take the punches and get right back up again ... and smile at our assailant.

Mark Terry said...

I'm into karate and I've been hit all over the place with bare hands (or feet, or elbows...), but typically not full force. I've been hit lightly in the jaw with a bare fist and it doesn't take a huge imagination to understand how that might feel full force.

A couple years ago I asked one of the black belt masters (5th degree black, I think it was) about a spear strike--open hand, with fingers out, typically to be hit in the throat. He demonstrated it on me lightly (it hurt), then he said, "Here's a variation I prefer," in which the fingers are sort of pinched together and he drilled me with the knuckles of his fist right about at the top of the sternum that then snapped the fingers into my throat.

It was very controlled (if it hadn't been I'd probably be dead) and it's probably the most memorable strike I've ever received because the first thing I thought was, "He could have killed me without barely trying," followed rather closely by, "I'm never asking a master a question ever again."

Cricket McRae said...


While I understand the gentlemanly art of fisticuffs in a theoretical sense, I'm glad it's still [largely] for gentlemen. Which does nothing to explain why I saw Million Dollar Baby five times...

Duck and weave, Tom, duck and weave.

G.M. Malliet said...

I read through this whole blog thinking, "ouch, ouch, ouch."

Cricket - that sucker punch in MDB is one of the most horrifying moments in film. One reason I could only watch that movie once.

The other reason was her creepy, trashy family.