March 23, 2020

30 Seconds of Wick Chapter 21: The Last Range is the Ground (1:11:30-1:12:00)

(Author’s Note: I’m going to try to get several chapters posted today, for release once a day for the next while, then move onto my interim one-off post 30 Seconds Without Fear about one of the most interesting fights in the Netflix Daredevil)

My title for this chapter is a bit of an inside joke for MMA/combat martial artists. It’s commonly held there are four close combat ranges: kicking, punching, clinch, ground. They are defined by the possible ‘weapons’ available (though technically weapons range is a fifth range outside of most of the others, depending on your weapon. As a stick fighter I can train all the ranges both armed and unarmed). Not everyone uses the same terms: some say ‘grappling’ rather than clinch or ground, some combine clinch and ground into one range, some call ground ‘wrestling’ (I don’t because that’s the name of an art to me, not a range), some (like myself) use grappling and ground as synonyms. None of them are right or wrong, just internal terms. Jargon is everywhere.

Kicking: the foot and leg can strike the opponent.

Punching: the foot, fist and leg can strike.

Clinch: fist, foot, and leg are available but the heaviest human tools enter the fray — elbows and knees. Chokes and locks become available, though they require excellent leverage; takedowns (sweeps and trips and throws) are now a factor. This is essentially the same range as ground but standing.

Ground (or grappling): combatants have a hold of one another, with little to no distance between them, on the ground (or at least not standing). Feet are less available as weapons but fists, elbows and knees remain. The crucial change here is available locks and chokes multiple in both number and severity. It is truly possible to cripple and kill in seconds on the ground.

Lesson over. Onto the show.

We left John Wick the victim of a ground and pound by Kirill. This is a terrible place to be: it’s hard to defend (with the ground behind you retreat is out of the question and it’s harder to cushion blows). Being immobile in a fight is bad; being immobile in a fight and on the downward end of a gravity well is worse.

Kirill is a smart fighter. He’s got John’s hands (still held in the plastic cuffs) controlled. He’s staying close and striking for vulnerable points. Part of the point of the fight at Red Circle was to establish that Kirill was a valid opponent for John, in a way that the cowardly, blustering Iosef isn’t.

But this is John Wick we’re talking about, so things don’t go to plan. He gets both feet up, plants them on Kirill’s hips and throws him over his head onto his back . Now side by side on the ground, Wick uses the connection between them (Kirill hasn’t let go of the cuffs) to throw a sweeping kick from his upper leg. That’s actually a very valid and powerful move from the ground (though he doesn’t quite get his hips into it right, he’s low on power, whatever, it’s a movie I know I know).

The kick does little damage but Kirill lets go and Wick surges away from him, clearly trying to get back on his feet. Kirill grabs a length of industrial plastic near by and wraps it around Wick’s neck like a garotte, taking his back and beginning to choke John. Wick spins out to one side in an action very familiar to anyone who’s done BJJ or a combat wrestling art. In the position he was in he has to do two things:

  1. Prevent Kirill from sinking the choke fully
  2. Get out of the near rear mount he was in.

In other words, move so Kirill can’t solidify the choke and get Kirill off his back. Then Wick correctly gets his hands up and under the material — which is a shitty thing to try and choke someone with, it’ll stretch, how much plot armor can one guy have, grumble, grumble, Perkins won that damn fight JOHN — and then he gets in a solid desperation elbow.

Of course if Kirill had been choking him properly, with his head buried against Wick and off to one side that would never have happened …

I think I should be running a counter of “Times John Wick Should Be Dead” cause we’re at five-ish at this point.

Kirill though doesn’t let go and Wick does that 360 roll again, several times, ostensibly moving away from the pressure of the choke to the side he just weakened (though he struck Kirill on the opposite side, and they ‘cross the line’ with the camera shot here to confuse that I think).

Wick is on his back, Kirill is bearing down on the plastic and things just go brutal now. A punch to Kirill’s side and a knee to the head throw him off Wick and the pressure on the plastic is gone, still wrapped around Wick’s neck though.

They exchange punches and this thirty seconds ends with another double leg tackle, and John Wick on his back again.

Next chapter: Fighting dirty