Meet the Horde - Part 5: Halvar
Her partner was Halvar – defender of the rock – a man-mountain. His face looked as though it had been punched relentlessly for more than a decade and a scar ran from his left eye to his upper lip. His hair was cropped short and matted, and his chin hadn’t seen a razor for a week.
“Some golden rules,” he said, standing in the centre of the hexagon with the candlelight playing on his oak-tree arms. “Keep your chin down, pushed into your neck. Don’t give your attacker a chance to hit this area. A chin or neck punch will fell you.
“Keep moving. Not bloody dancing about like a monkey, but not a stationary target either. Little light steps, always in balance and not too high off the ground.
“Hooks, jabs and uppercuts – only use these if you’re very confident they’ll work. They can be slow or wild or risk counterattack. A straight-on direct punch is always the best option.
“Likewise, kicking.” He looked at Thrall VIII. “Never kick higher than an opponent’s thigh, unless you are very, very good. Any higher and you risk having your foot caught exactly as we saw. Believe me, in a full-out fight you really don’t want to find yourself in that position.
“If you can’t avoid a punch, step into it. This may seem counterintuitive, but the real power in a blow is when the elbow has extended. Step forward so that your attacker’s strike hits you before the arm has fully extended and it’ll soften the impact.
“Finally, attitude. Show confidence at all times. No matter the odds, bristle with confidence. Your opponent may be a gigantic piece of horseshit, but you need to worry him. Make the bastard wonder if you can win.”
The group were silent as he spoke. Half-listening, but also lost in their own thoughts. Perhaps that was why Halvar made sure he filled the quiet with his voice. There had been violence here tonight and they had stepped across a boundary. It was one thing to lift and hit bags, but over the last hour they had gone at one another. They had punched and kicked and hurt. And they had done it unquestioningly because they had been commanded. Some had won. Some had lost. Some felt quietly exhilarated. Some chastened.
But the same question played in all their minds: What have I just done?