In the middle of a hexagonal ring, complete with a heavily padded floor, flexible plastic chain mesh fence along the boundary (for safety concerns, Tim was hardly a trained fighter after all) and narrow, vertical cushions placed at each of its vertices, stood both Tim and Frank, separated by ten meters. The main difference between this ring and the one used for televised MMA fights was that this one was far larger, a request Tim had made to the manufacturers after realizing that fitting it into the mansion was a logistical nightmare. Of course, that ‘small’ request added another $25,000 to the price, but the result was exactly what Tim had in mind.
Both fighters were wearing custom-made 16oz gloves, enough cushioning in there to heavily dull the impact of a punch. Once the door to the hexagonal ring was closed, Frank called out “Come at me whenever you’re ready to go, I’m ready”.
“Try not to die, Frank,” said Tim, as he covered the distance between them in a rapid charge, and then threw out a clean right hook, extending enough to reach his target but with a limited amount of strength behind the attack, more of a probing blow than a striking one. As Tim had expected, Frank sidestepped his attack as if he had seen the attack coming from miles away, but what came next surprised him. Since the past year, he had been training with Frank after realizing that punching and getting the shit knocked out of him was an excellent way to let out his anger, and he had come a long way from the frenzied madman that swung his sloppy punches with no semblance of skill or control, just a desire to swing as hard as he could- even if it broke his fists.
Frank had learned parts of various martial arts as part of his military training, including Krav Maga, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, some elements of Judo grappling techniques, and basic training against knives and other weapons in hand-to-hand combat. Later on, in his mercenary career, he further refined those techniques and added a few other disciplines to his repertoire, like boxing and Jeet Kune Do.
Usually when they fought, Frank would dodge his hooks and jabs, followed by a few light punches of his own, slowly chipping away at Tim’s focus and stamina until he got sloppy enough to over-extend himself or invest too much momentum into a single strike, a submission lock or an overhead toss instantly ending the fight.
This time though, the moment Tim missed his initial swing, Frank followed through with a crude kick to his right shin, a burst of pain temporarily stunning him, followed by a quick jab to the gut, knocking the air out of his lungs and then a light backward shove, that sent him tumbling backward into the ground.
“What… the… FUCK!?” Tim croaked out between heavy gulps of air, wondering if he’d actually managed to piss off Frank in their verbal jabs before.
A hand came into his field of view once his breathing stabilized so that probably wasn’t the case. Begrudgingly accepting it, he got back up with Frank’s help and waiting for an explanation with a questing look on his face.
“You have improved,” said Frank, as he sized Tim up with a glance. “But the way you fight is too rigid. Since you know what martial arts I’ve learned, and the way to counter them, your fighting style is reactive instead of pro-active”, Frank sighed with a shake of his head and then continued with his explanation.
“You see Tim, there are very few situations where an armed man needs to resort to his bare hands to take down an opponent. Even if guns are taken out of the equation, there are a variety of weapons that can take down an opponent non-lethally. Hell, if you always keep a taser in your back pocket, there isn’t a bar fight where you’d ever lose” said Frank, and then took a pause before driving home the important point.
“But in my line of work, there have been a few situations where hand to hand combat was the only means I could apply, and in all those cases my targets had either a rudimentary or a non-existent understanding of combat, and Krav Maga isn’t a form of combat meant to give the enemy a fighting chance. Simply put, a gangster without a gun or a knife isn’t much of a gangster” said Frank, as if it explained his previous actions.
“And what does that have to do with you kicking me in the shin?”, Tim asked in a cool tone, reserving his judgment for later.
“You think you know what I can do, but you don’t. Hypothetically, if one day I came across a trained fighter as skilled as me, what do you think I’d do?” asked Frank.
“Strike non-lethally in the neck first and hope the man goes down?” asked Tim in a nonchalant manner, being in no mood for games.
“An amateur who can see through the moves of a master is far more dangerous than two opponents who can read each other and act in advance. Change the terms of the game, play football instead of chess. Strike with unorthodoxy, be it a ruthless kick to the shin, a crude, yet effective push to create distance and gain time, or even an elbow to the face if it gets the job done. The various forms of martial arts are just tools, so if the situation demands it there is no shame in using these so-called ‘crude’ tactics if your life is on the line” explained Frank, and immediately dropped down to his knees with astonishing speed and lunged with his right leg, performing a brutal sweeping kick that sent Tim to the ground yet again.
Before Tim could protest, Frank’s voice echoed out “You got your ass handed to you by a move I learned whilst playing arcade games. Still skeptical?”
Groggily get back up on his two feet, Tim created a gap between him and Frank and with a determined glare, uttered naught but a single word-