View Full Version : Unarmed Combat in Zero G

7th April 2013, 19:32
An article I recently wrote

8th April 2013, 11:58
My immediate thought is that the lack of gravity and ground would make a zero-g fight look a little like Brazilian Jujitsu or Judo newaza, in that the two opponents would be constantly clinging to each other and trying to position for chokes. It would completely change grappling and joint locking; if you try to move me or turn me, I can't really prevent that. At the same time, if you try to lock my wrist, I might be able to prevent that by just letting my entire body rotate 360 degrees using your force as an impetus. Turning you, taking your back, and getting a rear choke seems like the best strategy.

Tripitaka of AA
8th April 2013, 13:30
I just began to think of "Moonraker" and wondered if they have invented any cool hand-held laser blasters yet. On further reflection, I was wondering how you could film a fight scene...

8th April 2013, 18:34
Upon further reflection, I'm uncertain about how well striking would work even when holding onto your opponent. I'm a bit vague on the actual physics of a punch, but I suspect that a lot of the force comes from the fact that I am firmly rooted to the ground. I suspect that a punch thrown by someone in freefall would have much less force. The only way to generate power would be to grab you and pull you into my fist/pull my fist into you. This seems fairly week.

So, I agree with Dirk's overall image that strikes would be best done while holding onto the opponent and that elbows and knees (and heads) would probably be the best tools for striking, but I suspect that even the strongest of these blows will be mostly annoyances rather than k.o.'s.

Cliff Judge
8th April 2013, 21:59
I have thought about this a lot and yeah, in the absence of weapons it is largely about strangulation.

The biggest issue is that all of your movements would cause an equal and opposite movement to occur. There would be a lot of technique involved in controlling what muscles you move and being conscious of how your movements - when you have a grip or something on the other guy - cause other movements...for example if you tangle with someone in a large dead space different possibilities are available versus tangling with them in a narrow tube where you both have a solid surface at your backs.

Mass also becomes a factor - if you expect someone to jump you in the rec pod of an orbital supermax, for example, you might do well to have stuffed your sleeves and pants full of lead tubing stolen from the machine shop. When they other guy tries to turn you around he will find himself spinning much faster.

9th April 2013, 00:42
Of course, like real life, the guy with the stabby knife probably wins. But then, everyone gets to breathe the losers blood :-(

As for Hollywood, they could do the fight scenes in a vomit comet, with a succession of 30 second takes against a blue screen. Probably not very expensive compared to the cost of the usual blockbuster.

11th April 2013, 18:14

Good point--on earth normal g's if somebody got ahold of you, people sometimes try to run them into walls etc. Which is a problem since its often hard to get up enough speed/intertia to do real damage.

Might not have that much of a probem in zero g. You get me in a headlock and I could bounce your head off the ceiling or wall with little effort.

Slamming somebody into a wall or the floor could cause BOTH of you to careen wildly about the room. A slight push or twist could send one of you into a nice, pointy, metal table corner.

Interesting thought problem.

18th May 2013, 04:20
Interesting. My first take would be that it would be done with weapons. Ender's Game is a fascinating book which has a take on this, and which is actually recommended in a popular "tactical science" class by .mil and LE luminaries due to its outside-the-box thinking.

As for it looking like Judo or BJJ - yep. Kinda like unarmed combat in a gravity based environment tends to go there, too. :D