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The Berserkergang

Fighting Techniques
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Berserker Basics

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Fighting Basics

 

Stance:

 

Generally the feet should be about shoulder width apart. The legs should be slightly bent, the shoulders rounded, and the fighter should stand on the balls of the feet. The stance should be side on, with either the right or left arm forward. There are two schools of thought as to which is most appropriate. One says that, if you are right handed, then you should have your left hand forward. As the left hand is weaker anyways, then you might as well use it just for jabs, which are speed punches, and do not need to be terribly effective. The right hand is then the one in the position for delivering the power shots and as it is naturally the stronger hand, these will be the most powerful punches you are physically capable of. The other way of thinking would have your right hand forward, to increase the effectiveness of your jabs, and to give your weaker left hand more of a boost by giving it further to accelerate. In truth no method is actually superior, it is simply a stylistic difference.

 

Punches:

 

There are a variety of different punches that can be used. Any fighter should at least know the following:

 

Jab: The lead hand snaps out a quick punch that is meant for speed rather than power. It simply goes as straight as possible over the shortest distance to the target. It is meant to harass the opponent. It is also used to keep them mentally off balance, and thinking more of defending themselves than attacking you. It is also a good way of judging the distance between you and your opponent, a thing that sight alone is not always good at. A quick step is usually taken with the jab, with the punch landing before the foot. This adds a lot more momentum to the punch

 

Rear Straight: There are a variety of ways of throwing a rear straight, each with their own proponents. Some have the punch begin by driving hard off the rear leg, other begin with a whipping motion of the waist combined with a slightly less powerful leg drive and snap. Any way you begin it (though the true strength of it does come from the motion of the body rather than the arm) the rear arm snaps out in a straight line to its target. The arm itself should not be extended too far. It is the body that moves the most. This is one of the most powerful punches. It is slower than a jab, and easier to evade, but it is the punch that does all the damage. It is usually used in combination with jabs, with a jab distracting the opponent and giving cover for a rear straight to sneak in.

 

Shovel Hook: The arms are bent, the fists are next to the chest, the elbows are on the hips. This punch is used in the clinch, when there is not any room to move the arms. The power comes from driving upwards with the feet, with the hip on the opposite side of the body being the one that snaps up. This sort of punch is deceptive: it is MUCH more powerful than you would think it could be, and in the clinch it can make the difference between victory and defeat.

 

These are some specialty punches that are valuable additions to any fighter's arsenal:

 

Overhand Hook: Much like a rear straight, but instead of coming in straight the power hand flies slightly wide, over the arm of the opponent, and hooks back in to connect. While this is a power punch it is a little less powerful than a rear straight. Its function is to evade the guard of your opponent.

 

Baseball Bat: This is a really nasty trick of a punch. It was developed by Champ Thomas, a legendary bareknuckle boxer who continued fighting well into old age. (His books are well worth the trouble it takes to find them.) It begins with a fakeout. You throw a hook that deliberately misses, coming up short of the target, and let your body drop low, like you've gone off balance. Most fighters, thinking they see an opportunity, will close in to take advantage of your "weakness". But instead of being off balance you have actually just wound yourself up for the strongest punch you could possibly throw. When your opponent is at the right distance, suddenly explode back upwards, uncoiling your body like a spring, letting it whip the hand you'd "missed" with at an unholy speed. Hit the opponent not with the knuckles but with the edge of the hand, where all that power will be concentrated into a smaller area. This punch, if it lands, is capable of doing extreme damage, and can knock an opponent out easily.

 

Haymaker: This is what every idiot with no training naturally throws, especially those who watched too may old Westerns. The arm is flung wide and loops back in to the opponent. The body is usually turning too. This punch is pretty useless, as it can be seen coming from a mile away. However, as it is pretty strong it can serve to make the opponent back away and give you a moment to catch your breath or improve your stance.

 

Any fighter also needs to know how to make a fist. Fingers curled tight, thumb on the outside. Most people will try to hit squarely with the fist, or on the first two knuckles. This is a mistake. The fingers do not lie flat together, and hitting on those two knuckes will break fingers. The proper place to hit is with the last three, which do lie flat together. Additionally, the wrist should be turned slightly inwards towards the other fist and towards the inside of your wrist. While feeling a little awkward, it actually lines the bones up straight and allows for MUCH more of your power to be transferred effectively to your opponent.

 

In general, when throwing a punch, the muscles should all be relaxed, and the body loose and limber. This allows for great speed to be built up. At the moment of impact the whole body should tense up, delivering maximum power. The combination of speed and tense muscle power makes for the strongest hits possible. Throwing all punches under high tension is a waste of energy, and robs the punches of so much speed they become very weak.

 

It is very important to learn to cover yourself when punching. Throwing a punch weakens your guard, and leaves you vulnerable to counterpunching. When you throw one, hunch up your other shoulder and tuck your head into it. Also, ALWAYSS immediately return a thrown fist to the guard. NEVER leave it just hanging out there after a punch. That will get you hurt, badly. Train relentlessly until these two things are instinctual.

 

A thing or two on knocking an opponent out should be understood as well. One punch knockouts are mostly a myth. And even when they do happen they are usually either an accident or due to some freak of genetics which allow for inhumanly strong punches. Most of the time a knockout has to be set up. One punch to the head misaligns the neck and jaw, meaning the head is not well supported. Then the second punch is able to more fully jar the head into unconsciousness. A knockout can also be set up with a body shot, especially to the organs like the liver or kidneys. Damage of this sort takes time to manifest (as much as a minute after the hit landed) but can so sap your opponent's energy as to allow for an easier knockout.

 

Kicks:

 

Kicks are an effective weapon for any fighter, but care must be taken with them. High kicking, in general, is a really stupid idea. High kicks usually only work in sport competitions that are based on points and style rather than combat effectiveness. They are too slow, too easy to see coming, and put you WAY off balance, making you easy to take down. Instead, kicking to the legs is best. Kicks are like punches, in that there is a lead kick, fast and weak, and a rear kick, stronger and slower. Purring (short sharp kicks to the shins) can be highly effective at distracting your opponent by pain or crippling a leg. Kicks are to cause damage to the leg muscles, weakening the opponent's legs and slowing them down. They are also used to stop a charge or to make an opponent back off.

 

Guards:

 

There are several defensive guards, each useful for different things.

 

Classic: Rear fist slightly lower than lead, lead not more than a foot out from the body. Elbows tucked in to the sides, but not tight. This is a good all-around stance. It conserves energy by not holding the arms too far out. It covers all targets pretty well. The head and upper body are warded by the fists and upper arms, the lower body is protected by the elbows, dropping the body slightly to cover low shots with them. This stance allows for close in fighting.

 

Irish: Like the Notre Dame mascot, the arms are held very far away from the body. Although it looks funny it allows for VERY fast punches to be thrown. Because the fists are so close to the opponent, they can be very hard to see in time to do anything about them. The disadvantages are that the punches are weaker and this stance is very tiring to hold for long.

 

Stonewall: Developed by Champ Thomas, this is another unusual technique. The front arm is held elbow straight down, held close to the body, fist next to the face. The rear arm is held horizontal at waist level, with the elbow jutting just beyond the edge of the body. That elbow protects the kidneys, and the rear arm protects most low line attacks while the front arm protects most of the high line attacks. This stance just looks bad. It looks very open and invites an opponent to attack, thinking they see an opening, But the opening is in fact an illusion. All parts of the body are very well covered. It looks like effective punches cannot be thrown from it, but this too is an illusion. It has not only deception as an advantage but also the fact that it is very easy to hold this guard indefinitely. The disadvantages are that the lower elbow is vulnerable, and the punches, while powerful, are a little slower. This guard takes a lot of practice to use correctly.

 

Of course a wise fighter will keep shifting guards, to keep their opponent guessing and unable to set up an attack. But be careful! You are vulnerable when shifting from one guard to another.

 

Takedowns:

 

Taking an opponent down is an art form in and of itself. It is far too complex to easily sum up. In general you want to move fast, and come in low, and keep your head and neck covered. If you have to move more than a step or two to close with your opponent then you are starting from too far away. Use your momentum to take them down, and try to keep your center of gravity (about two inches below your navel) below your target's center of gravity. You might go down with your target (though remaining standing is the most advantageous), but if you control it, you'll land in the superior position.

 

Submissions:

 

There are a great number of submissions that can be used to end a fight once it is on the ground. But a fighter should learn just a few of them and train in them very well. (At least at first.) It is better to have just a few submissions that work well than a whole arsenal of dozens where you are mediocre or worse at all of them.

 

Strangle: Strangling places pressure more or less directly on the front of the neck. The classic strangle is one or both hands gripping the opponent's throat and squeezing. It is a moderately dangerous submission, in that it can crush the larynx. Some sport competitions disallow them, but any streetfighter should know them. While they can be applied from almost any angle they are easiest to work from the front, or in the mount. This is a very effective submission on fighters who have not trained to resist it (most people) but it is nearly useless on fighters who have trained their neck muscles to be strong and to resist compression.

 

Smother: Smothering is most effective from the opponent's rear. It is simply placing one (or, better, both) hand over the nose and mouth tightly. If it can be maintained well it can make the opponent pass out. But even where it isn't fully successful it can still slow an opponent down and impair their judgment. This submission is particularly useful where a choke can be successfully or safely applied.

 

Rear Naked Choke: A choke tends to apply pressure more to the sides of the neck, and can cause unconsciousness by compressing the carotid arteries. It tends to be safer than the strangle. The rear naked choke (RNC) is applied, surprisingly enough, from the rear. One arm (either one) encircles the opponent's neck, with the elbow in front. The hand of that arm grabs either the bicep or the hand of the other arm and squeezes.

 

Figure Four Armlock: Also called an Americana. It is usually applied from the mount or from side control, but it can be applied, with some effort, from almost any position. One of the opponent's arms is placed on the ground, elbow bent. The palm should be faced upwards, The wrist of that arm is grabbed with the hand opposite to the one you are holding. (In other words if you are applying the lock to your opponent's left arm, grab their left wrist with your right hand. Slip your other arm under their bicep and up through the crook of their arm to grab their wrist. Slide their arm down while cranking their elbow up. The pain is quite intense, and will make many opponents tap out.

 

Ground and Pound: Applied usually from the mount, ideally the opponent's arms are immobilized by sitting on them. Then it is simply a matter of punching them in the face and head repeatedly until they submit or pass out. As the head is resting on the ground it cannot move to absorb the impact so the punches are much more effective. The opponent will generally try to grab your head or body and pull you close to him, so that you do not have room to swing. Watch for this and do not allow it to happen.

 

Shirt Strangle: Grab your opponent's shirt and twist it up around your hand. It can be an effective fight ender, though a strong or aware opponent can rip the shirt or slip out of it.

 

Ranges:

 

There are three ranges in any fight situation: striking, clinch, and grappling. Any fighter should have some basic familiarity with all three ranges, whatever preferences he or she has. Some strikers, particularly, have a really stupid attitude about range, claiming that they don't need to train in the clinch or on the ground because they "won't let" any enemy take them to the ground. (Or clinch.) A skilled enemy, especially a determined one (or even a stupid one who lacks a sense of self preservation) will eventually find a way of closing the distance. The history of Mixed Martial Arts shows that any fighter, no matter how skilled at striking, needs to be at home on the ground and in the clinch.

 

There are several positions on the ground.

 

Guard: On your back, with the opponent between your legs. This is a very superior position. Your legs control your opponent, and prevent them from doing a lot of harmful things to you. As you are on your back and resting you are regaining strength while your opponent is spending theirs trying into get out of it or submit you. An ignorant opponent may even think he has you in the superior position and allow you to maintain it. It is important to note that you’re ankles must be locked together for this to work properly. It is also important to be aware of this when your opponent is taking you down. Do not let him get you in the guard! It is also important to train in ways to get out of it once in it, also called "passing the guard".

 

Front Mount: Opponent on their back, you on top straddling them, outside their legs. A superior position where you control your opponent and are in a position to do all kinds of nasty things to them.

 

Side Mount: Also called side control. Your body is at 90 degrees to your opponent's body, and you are on top. A good position, though not as good as front mount.

 

North/South: Also called reverse mount. You are on top of your opponent facing the opposite direction. You have some good opportunities in this position, but you are also rather vulnerable in some ways.

 

Each of these mounts should be trained in; how to apply them, what to do in them, and how to get out of them if your opponent has them on you.

 

There are two schools of thought on basic strategy on the ground. One has it that you try to get a good position and keep it no matter what. The other has you constantly moving and always willing to trade even a good position for one that might be better. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The second has greater risks, but also greater potential gains. The first is more conservative but surer.

 

Special Techniques

 

In addition to these fighting basics there are several specialized techniques unique to the berserker style of combat.

 

Bullrush: The berserker raises as much wod as possible while not spending any of it in action or even expression (like yelling, growling). Once the wod is at the maximum possible, let it affect you physically. With the sudden spike in wod rush in and either take your opponent down or start throwing punches considerably more powerful than anything you have so far.

 

This technique works in two ways. One is that by suddenly having much more strength than your opponent suspects you have a decent chance of catching them by surprise and overwhelming them. The other involves standing out of distance, where neither you’re attacks nor your opponent's can reach each other. Most opponents will drop their guard a little, to conserve energy and because the pressure is off. The wod spike will make you capable of moving much faster and getting back in distance faster than the opponent can recover, thus getting in past their guard.

 

Baritus: One of the few techniques we are pretty sure was used by the ancients. It is the berserker version of kiai jutsu. In a deeply wodful state you start yelling, screaming, and howling, really expressing your inner animal. This is best done either before a fight, to demoralize your opponent or, more subtly, during the fight at an opportune moment. Observe your opponent carefully. At a moment when they look tired, haggard, unaware, distracted, at low energy, or otherwise vulnerable, give a rapid bestial utterance. Immediately rush in and attack. The baritus should have your opponent startled, scared, or taken aback for a moment, giving you the chance to strike freely.

 

Wide Awareness: Raise wod. Get a good start on it and then pull back, not stopping the energy but instead stopping the techniques, the acts and thoughts meant to raise the energy. Instead allow yourself to slip into a deeper meditative state or trance. Regulate your breathing to a calmer state. This combination, if done correctly, will have some special benefits.

 

Your senses will tend to sharpen. Your mind will be both clear and powerful. You will suddenly see much more clearly what your opponent is likely to do next. You will respond much more quickly. Your strength will increase a little but your overall judgment and competence will increase much more. It is best to switch to this after using a lot of strength boosting wod for a while, as repeated strength spiking will tend to cause bad coordination and bad judgment.

 

Dagaz Strike: Another of the ancients' techniques. This rests upon the dagaz moment feat. Make seeing a thing and moving in response to it one. This triggers the default unitary state and that reflexive move will be perfect. It is useful for things like knocking aside spears and arrows coming at you (what the ancients used it for), or for stopping a surprise strike of your opponent's.

 

Reset: Most people have an "energy utilization curve" unlike that of a berserk. The more they use, the more tired they get. The slower they get. The weaker they get. So they will likely be unused to the fact that a berserk, if they have time to focus, can always return to a "fresh" state. Getting off a full elevation ritual can allow you to fight as fresh as you did at the start of the fight. You do rapidly run out of energy again, and end up in an even worse situation. But no matter how far down you go you can always reset to fresh at least for a moment. This can take an opponent seriously by surprise.

 

Stored Meditation: This is a tricky one, but quite worth practicing. The trick is, before a fight, to engage in deep meditations for raising wod, or deepening trance, or doing one of the other techniques. But leave out one key element, like a mantra. The trick is to do almost all of it without experiencing the result in any way at all. Then, at need, (such as in a fight) speak the mantra that was missing. If the memory of the incomplete rite is fresh enough then the missing piece will bring it ALL back at once, with the effect that in the space it took to speak a mantra you get the benefit of a long and involved ritual.

 

Wolf Leap: Also called Cat Leap, this is one of the techniques likely practiced by the ancient Celtic berserkers. It is simply a wod-fueled leap either out of range to get rapidly away from an attack you cannot handle, or to get inside your opponent's guard to make a surprise attack. This is a very dangerous technique! Once you have left the ground you cannot change where you are going. If your opponent reacts in time they can set you up for a serious attack that you can do nothing about.

 

Throw: This is a very simple technique. Its advantage lies in the fact that most people won't be prepared for it, as it is a thing most people cannot do easily. Raise your wod very high, get into the clinch with your opponent, pick them up, and throw them. They might take you down with them, which isn't necessarily bad, but you might also manage to throw them onto the ground while remaining on your feet, which is just about the best position to be in in a fight.

 

Warfetter: The rate of neural processing and enhanced strength of the deepest gangr is the foundation for the gangr's most advanced technique, the warfetter. (This is, seemingly, the ultimate technique of the ancient berserks.) Truly difficult to correctly perform, it is capable of defeating even an opponent superior in all other respects to the berserk. It should be used to take on an opponent who has resisted or is capable of resisting the berserk's other methods, but it should generally not be attempted at the beginning of a fight. For one thing this is because it takes no small amount of time to raise the wod high enough to perform it and it also takes time to observe the opponent well enough to enable it. For another thing this is because the warfetter takes so much energy it will completely drain the berserk, leaving him or her very vulnerable to attack if it fails, so it should be saved as a last resort. The warfetter is the expansion of the unitary state the berserk is in to encompass the opponent as well as the berserk's own self and animal-fetch. Once the berserk has observed the opponent for enough time (which varies greatly depending on circumstances) and has observed the range of strength, speed, and techniques available to that opponent, then the understanding resulting from that observation can become the object of ritual focus that creates the unitary state. (The object of ritual focus is the visualization, concept, mantra, or such thing used to deafferent the OAA, or Orientation Association Area, triggering the unitary state.) If this unitary state is formed in the correct way then it will coincide with a powerful triggering of the fight-or-flight response. This brings about a sudden massive increase in wod, supplementing the already high levels the berserk should have in reserve for this technique. The result of this is that suddenly the berserk is capable of knowing *exactly* what the opponent will do in response to a wide range of attacks. Once this occurs the berserk knows, instantly, what his opponent will do next in any circumstance. This anticipation allows him to forestall any motion the enemy makes, even before he begins it. The enemy's motions are stopped at the very "p" of "punch", the very "e" of "evade". Combined with the temporary extraordinary speed (even higher than normally possible for a berserk) the effect is that the berserk can move freely while his opponent seems to stand still, frozen, bound (hence the name). I have used this technique only a few times in all the years I have been fighting. It is that difficult. My opponents said that it looked from their point of view like I suddenly moved so fast I became a blur, striking home several times before they could even raise a defense against the first blow.

 

I have only been able to use the warfetter against non berserker opponents. It seems that the berserker ability to control their sense of time via psychetachia makes this technique, difficult in the best of times, nearly impossible. After all, to make your own sense of time run that much faster than someone who is already on fast internal time is MUCH more difficult.

 

Physical Strength Boosters:

 

There are several techniques useful for increasing your physical strength that can be used by anyone, not just berserks. These techniques are championed by Pavel Tsatsouline, a strength trainer formerly of the Soviet Spetznaz. He describes strength as not just an inborn attribute but as a skill. Learning to use your body correctly will teach it to use more of its strength.

 

One of the keys to this is intra-abdominal pressure. This does NOT mean sucking in the stomach. That disconnects several muscles that are needed for support. It means tensing up the muscles and feeling the abdomen "settle in" over the waist. With internal pressure built up this way physical strength can increase dramatically. (An explanation of why high internal pressure, and the other tricks here, increase strength is interesting but beyond the scope of this work.)

 

Another simple one is tightening the perineal muscle, particularly at the moment of exertion.

 

Yet another is muscle recruitment. If, when performing some physical action, you also tense the muscles that are near the ones you are using, or that mirror it (such as tensing the left arm when punching with the right) then your strength in the muscles being used will increase noticably.

 

Wod Raising:

 

Hyperventilation tends to raise wod. Breathing in lightly and out explosively tends to enhance physical strength through wod while breathing out longer than breathing in tends to enhance the senses and awareness, and increase balance and judgment.

 

Flexing large groups of muscles will also raise wod, so leaping and pacing work well, as well as flexing the arms rhythmically.

 

Bending over backwards, forming the back into a C shape is anotherr excellent wod trigger. It is harmless physically, but the brain, sensing the tension in the spine, fears that it is about to break and so dumps adrenaline into the bloodstream in its panic.

 

Tossing the head about, or head banging, also works well, for a similar reason.

 

Clenching and baring the teeth also seems to work well at raising wod. There is a theory about why this is so, based on triggering ancient instincts tied to the muscles being worked.

 

Growling, howling, and screaming all raise wod very effectively.

 

Any sort of pain will also raise wod, such as biting the lips, yanking on the beard or hair, or twisting joints and muscles.

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