Under: martial arts, Movies
23 Mar 2014


Fight scenes in movies generally are not realistic, I mean my wife hates watching moves with me as I get mad. I tell her anyone who gets hit with a solid punch first should lose the fight but so often the fight goes on for another five minutes. But this post is not about the normal movie fight but having women in the fight sequence.


As a martial artist I really do not like fighting depicted in a cartoon light. If a movie is going to show a fight scene – it should be close to what would work in real life one would think, unless it is one of those cheesey fighting Masters in the clouds or a fantasy kind of movie.


So I’ll start with a movie fight sequence I like. Then I’ll discuss what some of the problems with the movies and depicting women in fight scenes. Notice that while you may say this sequence is not likely to happen – if it did – it could really work. I’m willing to suspend disbelief to this point in a movie. :)


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So I think movies should depict women in a real light when showing fighting. Women are not as likely to knock out a man with a punch but an elbow would do nicely. The groin is an effective shot for women as well as other weak spots. Let me see – throat, eyes, ears, knees, shin and such when women fight men. Women have a real advantage when fighting men in that the men do not believe a woman can harm them. Any fight scene that highlights this stealthy advantage is realistic in my view.


What I don’t think works well is women trying the same power moves that men do. For instance a punch to the face from a 110 pound woman to a 220 pound man may be like a man’s jab but it will not daze him. Whereas a women elbowing a man to the face with good body torque could knock the man out.


Another example to illustrate my point is when my roommate (a fellow bouncer in my youth)  had to fight big guys at the bar. He asked me what he could do if a punch did not work (typical worry with a huge size difference). I told him an elbow would work against  anyone. So he ran into a big guy starting trouble while bringing a keg to the bar. The bigger guy (my roommate was only 200 pounds) grabbed the keg and tossed it. My friend then torqued an elbow into his jaw and dropped him!


So you see size matters when a smaller gal fights a bigger dude! This is not sexist – it is just is! Reality! So for a man vs woman fight scene to be believable, it should be workable. If not some people are gonna believe that a 110 pound woman can fight like a man and knock the 220 pound man out – if she just trains real hard. While that may be possible but it should not be an apple to apple fight. First look at a Marvel Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. fight scene to see what would not work.


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While I enjoy watching the series I cannot help but wonder if young women watching will think it is possible to be intimidating to the men around them? I would have rather seen Agent May being a bit more stealthy. In this scene an elbow – eye gouge might have been more believable.


So what was the difference between the first and second video? The woman in the first video used a lot of groin kicks. Those are absolutely show stoppers for men – even more so nowadays since the advent of unrealistic MMA fighting in boxing stances (open for groin kicks). While the flip to break the chair was a reach – the head strike was a good tactic.


The second video had a woman fighting like a guy. I know this is all pretend but really – if women had the weight and muscle men did – then perhaps this might be believable. In men’s competition in MMA, Boxing and such – flyweights do not pack enough power in their punches to knock anyone out normally. You do see knock power in middle-weight and above commonly.


In women’s MMA you have a gal that can do an armbar taking all comers because the women have not demonstrated any knockout power in their kicks and punches. I think that is a weight thing like it is in Men’s contests. I could be wrong about that though – it is frustrating to see an armbar as the deciding factor in a “fighting” contest. I’m just saying…


So tying this up I think the movies could do a better job showing women fighting with techniques that would really work. They are not glamorous but they get the job done. Women can take on men in self-defense situations and women today have law enforcement jobs that necessitate women learning some fighting skills that really work. Why not show some of that in moves?


What do you think?

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5 Responses to “Women in Movie Fight Scenes; Can they be Realistic?”

  1. Dr. J Says:

    I agree, John! I would also like movies to be more realistic in many ways. The movie industry seems to feel that they must exaggerate everything. I’ve seen many documentaries that were much better than the Hollywood retelling of the same story.

    I know that women have the power to knockout or at least disable a man with a strike directed to the right areas. I imagine a long well-manicured fingernail into the eye would be effective :-)

    The problem that concerns me is that, from what I have seen, many women do not take the time to learn how to maximize the ability that they do have to defend themselves.

  2. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Dr J! I used to try and figure out why most people including women did not take the time to learn how to fight at some level when I owned a karate school.

    I never did find a great answer other than inertia… you know – if it has not happened to you before – it never will. :(

  3. Marshall@ Girl Fights Says:

    Completely agree with you. Most of the women fight scenes are just unreal, but as you know they thrill and shock us with intense choreographed violence all the time. Most of them are pretty impressive also, especially some of the Chinese fight scenes, such as Zhang Ziyi vs Michelle Yeoh – Crouching Tiger, there martial arts epicness earned it a place at the top of the best martial art fight scenes for me.

  4. Saleh bitar Says:

    Well This is known about women, first they do not like violence, more than a man would like, for many reasons, mainly because they do not want their men to be violent, then they as human beings, do not like violence. The world of women is actually more build on softness, feminity and a bit romance, which is very far from any kind of violence. Woman in general, they like, things in fighting, like exitements, quarrels, and controlling and having the authority on others, or rather to say, they like to be dominant, but this is not enough to let them have this violence in their homes.

  5. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Marshall! Yes there are some cool fighting scenes out there. I am also impressed with their athleticism.

    Hi Saleh! Violence is distasteful and tough to deal with by men and women. And as you say women are not as willing. I really wish the world was a better place for many as it makes me sad to see how women are treated sometimes.

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