The No. 1 request I get when it comes to topics for the Write Like a Fighter posts is how to fight injured. We’ve talked about three keys to fight scenes with injured characters before, but there’s something I instinctively do when in a fight that’s built for being at a disadvantage.

There are many schools of thought as to how to put your attacker on the offensive. Where to stand to how to hold them may vary on your training. I’ve trained with active-duty law enforcement whose first move is always to take their attacker to the ground. That’s a cop move. It isn’t the best bet for me. Joint locks, though? Oh, those are my friends. I’m not going to talk about the fine motor skill options you’d get in cavaliers and wrist manipulations right now. Nope. Quick and dirty is how we roll for these blog posts. Plus, when it comes to self defense, I’m a fan of keeping the fight nasty and as short as possible. (Those two go hand-in-hand.)

So today’s tool for your fight scene arsenal: Stretch ’em out and hold on tight.

After we’ve taken care of the immediate threat—clearing hands in a choke, escaping a headlock, blocking a knife attack—we try to move to the “dead side.” This means getting to where your body is facing the profile of your attacker. That way all their weapons (arms, legs, head, etc.) are oriented away from you, and all yours are right at them. In this motion, I often move to take hold of my attacker’s arm. I’ll wrap my arm around theirs with one hand cupping their triceps and the other striking into the side of their neck. (Side note: This is incredibly effective. Go ahead. Tap the big muscle on the side of your neck a few times. You don’t have to hit hard to register you have a large bundle of nerves packed there. A firm strike to that spot is incredibly disorienting.) Once we’re in this position, I use that hand to push the person away from me while keeping a hold on his arm. This accomplishes several things.

First, it makes him very long. Their other hand may well be out of striking distance because of the space created between us. It keeps them in a position that’s open for additional strikes from me. So, if your character’s attacker isn’t giving up and is still determined to take her down, you can easily kick, punch and the like from this position.

Watch out for the Hurricane.

But more appropriate to our goal, it’s great for fighting when hindered. This is particularly good if your character has some type of visual impairment. This could be as simple as blood in their eyes (head wounds bleed quite a bit) or a blindfold. Regardless, this move lets your character know where her attacker is. This is great for striking, but also makes sure she can maintain space while she gets her bearings. If the attacker is much larger than her, he’ll be able to pull her around, but if she locks up the joint well, she can follow his motions. Moving with him will buy her time to come up with a plan of attack. It also makes for great places to inject internal narrative, emotion and reaction to what’s happening. Let your character assess her situation, and adapt as the fight moves forward.

Sometimes we have to take actions that only buy us time to do something better. It’s why the process should always be to take care of the immediate threat—what’s going to severely injure the character—and then focus on the steps to get away safely. Unless, of course, your character is a super badass and can turn her attacker to soup and wait for the police to arrive.

Important note: These posts are provided as informational for writing fight scenes. If you want to learn self-defense techniques, I highly advise taking a Krav Maga class. Practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to handling stress situations.