Furry Writers' Guild Forum

Fang-to-Fang Combat

Warning: this post will feature limbs, and the severing thereof. It’s gonna get messy toward the end.

So, while I’m still working on getting better at writing short stories and poetry (which I seem to be more suited to, for some reason), I decided to also start trying my hand at longer works. I’m experimenting with a few scenes for a thing set in a 1980-ish parallel world with anthro foxes and wolves, that starts with the characters as kids, and follows an evolution from Pinocchio, through a Bildungsroman, until it becomes akin to Saving Private Ryan.

It’s modeled on a modern version of the Roman Empire. I’m not going to bother you with the Celts (foxes) vs. Romans (wolves) subtext. Instead, I wanted to discuss something I’ve been working on: Fang-to-Fang Combat.

Since life in the military becomes a big chunk of one of the character’s story, I tried to think about how unarmed combat would work with fangs and claws. I didn’t want to research how other writers did it – I thought about it, and I’m convinced it would be more fun if I could come up with it by myself. I do want to strike the balance between realistic and cool-looking, so any suggestion/critique’s more than welcome.

My main idea was a fighting style that would be suited to a military organisation, so anything flashy or Hollywood-style was out of the picture. These are the main points I had to address:

  • Anything involving disarming your opponent would be useless: when his “knife” is stuck to the tip of his fingers, it’s not an option.

  • Any grappling move was also not ideal, since grabbing your opponent meant being too close to his fangs/claws: we’re in a situation where even a short contact with his paws/mouth could result in an injury (eyes, ears, and there’s also no need to charge your punch to do some serious damage), so holding your opponent close was a no-no.

  • Non-lethal solutions should be possible, even if extremely harmful to the opponent.

  • It should be practiceable even while holding a gun, or with a single hand.

So I immediately excluded kung fu, karate, judo and similar stuff. After some brainstorming, the most fitting fighting style, even if it needed to be modified a bit, turned out to be Silat – the Karambit-using variant, to be precise.

A Karambit is an Indonesian knife, modeled after a claw. Having a finger guard, and being (sometimes) used exactly in the way you’d use a claw, it seemed like the perfect fit. I can’t use the thrusting motion, but in this context it allows for some interesting variations: for example, to follow up a grab with a slash (since you’re not actually holding a knife), allowing the practitioner to sever the tendons or the veins in his opponent’s body in a single animal-like motion. Or a chokehold with claws: now that would be an instant KO.

I think a visual example could help: look at the first hit (0.06) in the following video, taken from the Indonesian film The Raid 2.

Notice how the Assassin grabs the Protagonist’s leg and cuts his tendons at the knee. Now imagine the same movements, but with claws instead of a knife.

We end up with a fighting style that focuses on hitting the limbs more than the body. Since a similar move in the neck area would pretty much be an instant win, in an ideal fight the two opponents should try to keep their distance as much as possible, and grab-slash (gonna have to find a word for that) the sinews after baiting an attack. This would incapacitate the opponent, and distract him enough to close the distance and finish him with a bite to the neck (or subdue him, by slashing the muscles in the shoulders’ region).

In case of someone holding a gun, you’d simply have to manage to grab the forearm of the hand holding the gun and slash. Of course there would be ways to counter that (I’m thinking some kind of leather forearm guard, which would also fit nicely with the Celtic side of things), but I’m still fleshing it out. I’m also toying with the idea of a different fighting style for the Foxes, since they’re physically weaker and with less dangerous fangs/claws.

So here are my questions:

  • Does it sound interesting enough?

  • Is there any obvious flaw/contradiction that I’m missing?

  • Fang-to-Fang Combat or Claw-to-Claw Combat? The second one would be more correct, but Fang-to-Fang has a nice assonance with Hand-to-Hand.

  • Would it sound reasonable for soldiers/militia to carry a razor in case of injuries, to shave the fur and stitch the wound without risking an infection?

Thanks for reading!

*The claws on wolves and foxes are are more blunt than they’d be on, say, a tiger. That’s because they’re built for digging more than they are for holding prey. Also, having very large claws on the ends of fingers would correspond with reduced dexterity.

*Dense fur is actually quite difficult to cut through, even with a sharp knife. I know this from experience. It’s also worth noting that some types of fabric can be surprisingly resistant to cuts.

*Chokeholds which cut off the supply of blood to the brain (blood chokes) can render an opponent unconscious in a fairly short amount of time. Even assuming razor-clawed adversaries, there might still be occasions wherein a blood choke is an appropriate move.

*It may prove difficult to land a crippling slash on a moving opponent’s limb. Simple locks and holds which immobilize (i.e., “tie up”) a limb for a moment to facilitate such a slash would surely play a role.

*Addending the above point, there are bone-breaking techniques that follow from grappling. Because fur and clothing and tissue might interfere with a slash’s effectiveness, it may often prove more reliable simply to break the offending limb.

I’ll add more if I think of anything else.

To add to Dwale’s point, watch some videos of a pride of lions hunting and going in for the kill. There are instances where the claws are simply to hold the prey in place while either going for a neck gash using teeth, or going as far as to cover the prey’s mouth and nose with their mouth, suffocating it. Quite a few large cats employ this technique, especially when the prey is that much larger than them. I believe (though don’t quote me on this since I haven’t done near as much research) wolves do something similar.

As Dwale has already mentioned, claws for most species are not as harmful as people commonly think - I suspect it has something to do with the appeal of the ‘claw slash’ image, perhaps because it’s a powerful sin of animality (our hands being creative, clawless, whilst animals have claws, and use their ‘hands’ to destroy). Anyway, think of claws more as a utility weapon.

Also, fangs are the greatest asset of a wolf.
“The wolf’s jaw can exert 1500 pounds of pressure per square inch, twice the jaw pressure of a German Shepherd. Wolves can crush large bones in just a few bites.” Source:https://www.californiawolfcenter.org/learn/wolf-facts/

In other words, it’s their killing power. Don’t neglect it - you can use this whole idea that the mouth of the speaking, sentient animals is also a place of destruction to complicate the binary I talked about before. Looking at how wild animals hunt, the best move would be attempting to get hold of the neck, which may well instead make the combat not about avoiding grapples, but matching them. If your opponent grapples with you, and you don’t match his move by holding him back, you’re exposed.

Apart from that, everything else you detail sounds good. =)

This isn’t directly on topic, and it’s not even remotely Politically Correct. But it caught my attention some years ago as a furry writer, though i haven’t had the chance to use it yet.

Apparently in the mid to late 19th century in the midwest of the USA, a series of promoters (keep in mind this predated most if not all animal cruelty laws) arranged public fights to the death between either grizzly bears, Alaskan brown bears or both (I fear I don’t remember exactly) and lions and tigers. They sold thousands of tickets to these events, and large sums were wagered. What struck me was that in each and every case not only did the bear kill his opponent-- that part I expected-- but the fight only lasted two to three minutes at most, leaving the spectators feeling cheated. (I’ve only ever come across one source on this, and that was ages ago. Not only that, but apparently the details available to the historian were sparse.) It seems, however, that in essence the bears won so quickly because the big cats were in essence totally unable to damage them in any serious way. This seems to be why the practice ended so quickly-- word got around that the battle wouldn’t last long enough to justify the ticket price, and no one was willing to bet on the cats. So there was no more money to be made.

Don’t get me wrong-- I’m sure most of you already know that I’d never support such cruel bloodsport, and the rest of you are now aware of how I feel as well. However… Since it’s already happened and there’s nothing we can do about it, well… The resulting data is fascinating in a morbid sort of way. And…

…like I said, only tangentially on-topic. But I thought it worth sharing.

As much as I hate to say it, you’re taking up a common view in the modern world. Not that it’s agreeable that such a thing occured, and especially not that you would ever back such a practice. Just the idea that the deed is already done, with all the data right there for the taking. It’s a horrible thing that it happened to begin with, but if nothing else, at least we can keep the deaths from being so pointless by making use of the data that was created from it.

It makes sense to an extent. The bear has a longer reach and a whole lot of power behind each swipe, while the cats have a relatively shorter reach and their main killing weapon would require them getting in close.

I was thinking on this more last night.

As I mentioned, fox and wolf claws are rather blunt. Well, but let’s say they weren’t…perhaps they sharpen their claws! That would work, yes, however, we also need to keep in mind that they can’t put down the claws when they’re not fighting, they have to go through life like that.

These claws would be dangerous. They don’t retract. Got an itch? Better rub up against a tree or something. Type on a keyboard? You’re gonna be replacing that sucker a lot. Putting on your own clothes? Hope those duds weren’t expensive, they’ve got all kinds of holes now!

EDIT: should have cited Shel Silverstein. I guess he was at the forefront of my mind thanks to another thread :slight_smile:

And forget about wiping your butt!

Personally, I feel that with the wolves having a strength advantage, one of their unarmed killing techniques could include a neckbreak on their foes. This wouldn’t work the other way round, though (the foxes being physically weaker, and all). For foxes, however, they could utilise leg-slashing methods followed by hitting upwards (the wolf would bend over after having his leg slashed)

Another way to counter the forearm grab would be the installation of spikes. Not too long to cause unintentional injury to the wearer, but long enough to rip the pads of the assailant in a quick pull or twist (maximum length of 5mm, with 40-degrees taper, maybe?). Given that this is set in the modern version of the Roman Empire, you could have the foreguard made of a polymer instead of leather. Unless the wearer is an irregular/militia, which means equipment quality might be compromised on that aspect.

And perhaps there is some way to attach the gun to the foreguard permanently, via the means of integrated straps, or a metal frame, perhaps. Modern military vests and backpacks have what we call a MOLLE system to allow attachment of additional pouches and equipment. Maybe in your world it could be a different strapping system.

I know that ancient Romans were one of the first people to have folding knifes, so it would be historically accurate to have it included as part of their kit.