Another month of Krav Maga classes, another round of lessons for writers. Last time, I touched on speed prevailing over strength. Today’s takeaway is another for the little guy: Distraction.

Many Krav Maga moves can be fight enders. That’s the goal. We want to end the fight as quickly as possible and get to safety. However, there are times when you aren’t going to be able to deliver a knock-out blow. Sure, ideally, we’d like to do a low roundhouse kick and break their knee. Then we can run away from the evil guy. Not always an option.

Thankfully, some moves buy you time while also messing with your attacker’s mind.

For example, an elbow blow delivered at a downward angle just over someone’s eye will gush blood. Head wounds are bloody. It isn’t going to knock them out, but having blood running down their face, over the eyes is a psychological wallop. This buys you time to get enough space for other, more powerful strikes.

Same goes for eye gouges. Even without force, being poked in the eye hurts. Instinctively, our eyes begin to water and our hands come upward to guard our faces from additional attacks. Scratch someone’s cornea and know you’ve diverted their attention to their face. It won’t last, though, because they won’t take the strike well. Be sure to use the distraction to follow up with the kind of strikes that will allow you to get away safely.

When it comes to writing, the biggest takeaway here is the fight scene can be more than strikes; they can be mind games. Look at how your character would react to blood both her own and her attacker’s. In a sneak attack situation, would she claw her attacker’s face? If so, don’t let her just stand there gloating, make sure she follows up quickly because that distraction is not long lasting. Fight scenes are more than just upping the action pace, but a yet another chance to dig into our character’s personality. The way they react to distraction techniques and their resourcefulness speak to who they are and, more often than not, their past.

In other words, just because your character is fighting for her life doesn’t mean there aren’t time for mental sparring.