Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Skills of Udyr Part 1: Martial Arts

"Weapons are for the weak!"-Udyr
Udyr is a martial artist, a survivalist, an isolationist, and an embodiment of animalistic fury.  We're going to take a look at his martial arts skills in this post, and then some more of his assorted skills tomorrow.  We'll do a brief overview first, and then delve into the individual elements of his different stances.

Fighting Like an Animal 
Imitating animal movements to inspire fighting styles is an old, old tradition dating back to the original shaolin monks that developed kung fu hundreds of years ago.  Modeling an entire form off of one animal is a characteristic more common of southern kung fu styles, while the northern styles frequently featured animal-inspired stances and movements interspersed in their different forms.  The idea was that you observe some of the more efficient animals in nature and mythology, and adapt their physical manners and hunting techniques into elements of a martial art style.  
For example, the leopard/panther style focuses on smooth movements and subtle deception in movement to attack their opponent, while the tiger style focuses more upon direct attack and overpowering the opponent.

Tiger Stance
In-game, Udyr's first stance, the tiger stance, features a rapid multi-shot strike, with a bleeding damage-over-time effect.  In real life, tiger stance is the only stance of Udyr's that actually exists.  Tiger stance in shaolin kung fu features an open-hand guard, with the fingers splayed and bent into "claws."   The claws are used to attack soft, vulnerable areas like the eyes and the groin to deal brutal, lasting damage and quickly overpower the opponent.

To build our "tiger stance" in real life, we need to focus on two things: hand speed, and hand accuracy.  It's easiest to do this with a friend.  Find a wall, and face it, while your friend stands fifteen feet or so behind you with a bucket of tennis balls.  Have them give you some sort of verbal cue, like "go!" and throw a ball somewhere close to you.  You need to turn around and catch the ball with ONE hand, left or right.  Whether you catch it or not, turn back around as soon as the ball has passed, and begin again.  This is to keep you from getting too settled into a rhythm(and you stand by a wall so no one has to chase down the balls until your bucket is empty).  A good alternative to this if you don't have a friend handy is to just find a ball and play catch with yourself using a reaction ball.

Turtle Stance
In-game, turtle stance grants Udyr a temporary damage absorbing shield, and allows his strikes to sap some of his opponent's hit points and mana, though he cannot deal critical hits in this stance.  There is no real-life turtle stance in kung fu(or any other martial art I know of), but we can still emulate this style.  While some internal kung fu practitioners would say that it's possible to absorb your opponent's strength with certain strikes, I prefer to stay on the side of science and say that just plain hitting them will drain their strength well enough, and good old cardio will help keep yours up.  We can, however, look into damage reduction and absorption, of a sort =)
Iron palm/fist/shirt training has had enough of a fuss made of it that I don't think I need to summarize it here, but suffice it to say it's the idea of making parts of your body durable.  Turtle stance uses open hand strikes in game, so we'll look at iron palm.  
Iron palm training is relatively simple.  Fill a flat-ish cloth bag with beans.  Lay it on a flat, sturdy surface.  Now place your elbow on the table in such a way that if you let your hand fall, it will strike the bag.  Now this bit is key: keeping your arm, and hand, completely loose(with the exception of the tension it takes to keep your hand open), allow gravity to do it's thing, and drop your hand onto the bag.  DON'T APPLY ANY DOWNWARD FORCE!  Now turn your hand over, and strike the bag with the back of your hand.  After you've been doing this for a few weeks, switch the beans out for sand.  Once you've done sand for a few weeks, do lead shot/lead fishing weights.

A word of caution:  Some people claim iron palm training can cause arthritis.  I, personally, do not lay any credence to this, but I am young and inexperienced in some things, so take that as you will.  The main thing to remember is be careful, and listen to your body.  If you experience too much pain(there will be a little swelling and pain at first, regardless), then stop.  Seriously.  Being a BAMF does not require indestructible hands, and bodily harm can be forever.

Bear Stance
In-game, bear stance gives Udyr a short speed boost, and allows his strikes to stun an opponent.  Bear stance doesn't exist in real life, but stunning, disorienting, and debilitating your opponent definitely does.  As does running.

For the running bit, I'll leave you to The Udyr Workout.  The cardio workout there should give you more than enough of a leg workout to give you good sprinting power.  As for stunning an opponent, we have to talk about two things.  Firstly, when you hit hard things, use soft parts of your body, and when you hit soft things, use hard parts.  For example: if you're going to hit somebody in the head, use an open-hand palm strike if you can.  Less damage to you, and the act of smooshing their flesh against the hardness of their skull crushes blood vessels, and severely disorients people(try just throwing an empty hand strike at someone's face without hitting them - it STILL disorients).  On the other hand, if you throw a solid punch at the squishy spot just below the bottom-center of your ribcage, known as the solar plexus, you can instantly knock the wind out of them.  Punching them in the kidneys(on their side, towards the back, below the ribs again), you can cause severe pain and disorientation.  If you shin kick them in either the inside or outside of the thigh(top of the thigh won't do much), you can cause pain and disable that leg.

Bear stance is really about rushing down your opponent - closing the distance and using powerful, intentional strikes to disable them quickly.

Phoenix Stance
In-game, phoenix stance gives Udyr an area-of-effect aura that expands outwards, damaging anyone around him when he activates it, as well as doing magic fire damage in a cone in front of him.  I'm going to tell you right now, unfortunately, we won't be making fire with our fists.  If it's possible, I personally don't know how to do it, and I've been doing martial arts for twenty years of my life, so I like to think I've got a bit of a leg up.  Instead, we're going to talk about the mindset of fighting multiple opponents, and some techniques for surviving.

First of all, fighting more than one person at a time sucks.  Just like in-game, doing a 1v2 or 1v3 is probably going to end poorly for you, unless you're super fed(you have a significant equipment advantage over the other opponents, for you non-LoL players).  You want to avoid it if possible, maybe by using your Bear Stance running skills.

So, you can't avoid it, what are some good things to do?
  • Keep your opponents in a line in front of you, so you're only facing one at a time.  Do everything you can to keep from facing two at once.
  • Inflict heavy damage as quickly as possible.  The sooner you can take someone out of the fight, the fewer opponents you have to face.
  • Fight furiously.  Act crazy.  Go in with the mindset that you may not win the fight against all of them, but you sure as hell will win the fight against one of them, and the rest of them will be too scared to keep fighting.
  • Run.  As soon as you've made an opening, get the hell out.  This is a good rule of thumb for any fighting situation, because fighting sucks, but especially so for multiple opponents.
The idea of fighting multiple opponents really combines principles from all the "stances" we've looked at.  Fight quickly, inflicting grievous harm, make sure you can take a hit and not hurt yourself when hitting someone else, and disorient/disable opponents whenever possible, running away when you're able.

So that's it for our first skills of Udyr Part 1!  Part two is tomorrow, and looks at wilderness survival!  Make sure you like the blog on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter for updates!

Until tomorrow, continue to be awesome.

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

Udyr, League of Legends and all  property therein are © Copyright Riot Games.

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