inquring minds don’t want to find out first-hand

Dear LiveJournals,

Have you ever been punched in the face? I mean, really punched in the face, not just your brother smacking you one when you were five?

What was it like?

I kind of need to know the subjective experience of realio trulio being decked (or otherwise struck — I suppose a car dashboard or the like would also do) so I can describe it properly, and while I will taste gin for this book, I will not court concussion for it.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Novelist

0 Responses to “inquring minds don’t want to find out first-hand”

  1. attackfish

    I have been decked, thrown into the ground, and tripped over a power chord with my backpack on and landed face first on concrete. the throw and the trip both resulted in a broken nose and blood gushing out of my mouth. The punches resulted in black eyes (which both broken noses also gave me) and a snapped back head. I went right down. The noses actually don’t hurt that much. They kind of go numb really quickly, and tingle. the black eyes though, throb, and if the punch hits the upper cheek, it hurts bad enough to make you start crying before you even realize it. Getting an uppercut to the chin hurts worst of all because it snaps the neck back. Getting hit in the lower cheek can cut up the inse=ide of the cheek on teeth. not fun.

    • Marie Brennan

      What about the impact itself? My imagination at the moment is being shaped by the movie Brick, which kind of makes everything burst with light when the pov character gets punched. But I don’t know if that’s a fair depiction.

      • attackfish

        well, I closed my eyes before each impact except the one to the chin, so it was really dark, actually, despite the fact that I was in bright places each time. Both times I broke my nose, it crushed to the side (same side too, within months of each other) and I felt this grinding, wet, pain on impact, and then a few seconds of heat before it went numb and warm. With the eye and cheek punch, I felt this horrible pain like my eyeball was going to pop back in my skull and like someone had stabbed into my cheek bone. Everything went dark and wavy for a moment, and then blurry when I opened my eyes.

  2. erzebet

    Explosion of light and sharp pain followed by veritgo followed by blood gushing from the nose. Ew! The pain became a dull one very quickly, and then my face bruised. Fun fun.

    • Marie Brennan

      Light is precisely the detail I was wondering about. So “Light burst across [x]’s vision” followed by a disjointed awareness of clinging to the nearest wall would be a decent description?

      • erzebet

        It would. I don’t know if you need more detail, but I distinctly remember that the light was both white and red.

  3. time_shark

    I can tell you from experience that if it’s hard enough to cause a concussion, you probably won’t even register the impact in short term memory. It’s more a matter of suddenly coming to on the ground with your head swimming in bruised, lacerated pain.

  4. mojave_wolf

    pt 1 – sorrry, ran long

    gah, I was asleep, woke up, and rmanomly decided’ to hit my f-list when saw this, or would give you better diescription of all sorts of things than I can do now. First, where in the face? Yes, it matters. =) Mattering equally is how much adrenaline you have. And I can also give you description of other people. Like, people who get knocked out have no memory of the hit, usually, just they were fighting and “boom!, I am waking up now, wha happen?”

    Getting hit in the nose but not hard enough to really splatter it is uncomfortable and feels, umm, funny. It is hard to describe now, esp from decades back. If not full of adrenaline (and for a lot of people full of adrenaline) it will stop you for a moment while you deal w/the funny feeling, and you’ll blink a couple of times. I’ve never had mine full on broken because never got hit flush there, but people who do get flush? They don’t just bleed at the time, tho they do, and they might absolutely gush, but they wind up w/two black eyes and bruises all around the nose/upper cheekbone/eye area. I dunno why, but they do. If you’re in the middle of a full on fight, either athletic or for real, and you are one of the crazy types who get all cranked on adrenaline, the punches will feel like thuds but w/no actual pain unless you actually get bones broken, and then the pain will be a matter of degree depending on the severity of the break and the person (for, say, broken ribs, you will hurt *bad* later, every time you move or if you breathe wrong, even if it is a minor break, and for a long time, but during the fight, you may just think, “ow, that hurts, either that was a really hard shot or I’m a total wuss”. Or you may collapse in pain on the spot and be unable to continue. It totally varies, and some of the biggest, toughtest people may fall into the second category; really no way to predict in advance.

    The hardest and most hurt I ever got from an in-face impact was not from a punch, but someone during a snowball fight during college packed an iceball, and after the fight was over and all 40 or so of us were standing around wondering what to do now threw it at the back of my head. Someone yelled “look out!” so I turned to look in the direction of the voice, meaning I got hit in the eye. Again, no pain, just impact, even tho no adrenaline, but everything receeded and went black, and my entire focus was on not passing out in front of everyone. Friends told me my legs were all wobbly and it was funny the way the went rubbery and I kinda almost fell and staggered a bit. during this time I could feel myself trying to konk and fall over and even tho it was all dark my entire focus was on staying conscious and aware of my body, cause hey, cute girls were there and passing out in front of them not cool. It was less funny when I began saying “I can’t see”, because I went totally blind in both eyes for a few minutes. I was trying not to panic about that. Then a tiny little pinprick of orange light appeared (this was at night), and gradually, I got limited vision back in one eye. This did not hurt at the time, I was just disoriented. I told everyone I was fine but decided to go home until I could see better. They decided people needed to go with me and make sure I got there when I marched off in a totally wrong direction (the vision in the one eye was blurry and apparently limited to vague shapes that were fairly close, and streetlights). The hurt didn’t really start until later. And wow did it hurt. I stayed blind in one eye for something like 36 hrs, and it was *very* light sensitive for about a week, at least (we’re talking two decades ago, so some details are a bit foggy).

    • mojave_wolf

      pt 2 – sorrry, ran long

      Never had a face or head bone broken, but with ribs or *especially* collarbone, later, it hurts esp bad when you are trying to lie down or get up or change positions while lying down.

      Getting punched in the mouth smarts a wee bit, but even if it busts your lip and there’s a lot of blood, if we’re talking some sort of fight, all it’s gonna do is make you mad; it won’t really hurt, unless you get hit hard enough to break teeth.

      Umm, I think I rambled a lot w/out describing the actual physical sensations of pain. That will take a lot of effort to describe all the variations exactly. The eye thing (later* was very similar to a migraine except centered in my eye where the knife stabbing was instead of back in my brain. A normal hard punch w/gloves will just sting. No one ever caught me flush w/knuckles cause normal people just aren’t fast enough; the closest was when some crackhead hit me w/out warning for being on “his” payphone, and i rolled w/that punch a bit; caught me in side of head but not too hard. Really hard shots to the the temple will make you feel all tingly and spacy; I know this from opening the freezer door into my head when I was a kid. It’s also one of the two best places to hit people to knock them out, the other being the jaw. Tho both of these vary, too; the jaw especially; some people you could whack w/a tire iron and break their jaw and it will just hurt but not ko them; other people haibitually go out from a hard punch w/gloves there. I can give you a lot more detail later if you want it. Bedtime now.

      I can describe a concussion (and varying degrees of them) for you too, if you want. =)

      • Marie Brennan

        Re: pt 2 – sorrry, ran long

        I wonder why the jaw is an effective knockout target? The temple makes sense; that one doesn’t.

        • attackfish

          Re: pt 2 – sorrry, ran long

          snaps the neck back, which interferes with bloodflow to the brain.

          • mojave_wolf

            Re: pt 2 – sorrry, ran long

            I’m not her, but thanks! I have wondered about this my whole life. =)

          • attackfish

            Re: pt 2 – sorrry, ran long

            It’s the same reason you can put someone under by pinching the back of their neck right. You’re trying to put pressure on the same nerves and blood vessels. It also helps that uppercuts force you up off your feet and back instead of straight back like a normal punch. Works like a lever.

          • mojave_wolf

            Re: pt 2 – sorrry, ran long

            Got it. Muchas gracias.

            And lol, sounds similar to how faith healers used to put people out with their “Heal!” smack on the forehead, which I’d forgotten about till now. Tho that always mystified me too, that this actually worked semi-reliably.

            And . . .you can actually do that w/a pinch? I understand how choke holds work, but I didn’t think the vulcan nerve thingy w/just your fingers was based on anything real. I know about the pressure point stuff and I know *some* of that works (you want to put me out? Hit me in the solar plexus. I can take really hard shots to the head, no problem; but catch me in the solar plexus the right way and I will at best have trouble moving and be unable to breathe for a moment and at worst will have something resembling an epileptic fit, tho I gather I’m atypical this way; never seen it happen to anyone else and only happened to me as a kid; have no desire to find out if it still would work that way)

          • attackfish

            Re: pt 2 – sorrry, ran long

            It’s more like a hard grab around the spine at the base of the head, but yeah. A couple of seconds, and bam. Yeah, a good hard smack to the forehead will do that (though there’s no chance of crushing the frontal blood vessels) some of the time, and actually, cutting off blood flow like that can make you feel temporarily better when you wake up. It’s really bad for you though.

            My favorite pressure point is the pit under someone’s ear. Get your thumb in there and separate the jaw a bit, and wow, pain. Also, almost no one struggles effectively when you get them there, though it works best if you get both sides at once. Also, I used to regularly win fights by jabbing my thumb into someone’s bikini line. Ow.

          • mojave_wolf

            Re: pt 2 – sorrry, ran long

            Oww indeed. And I just added you as a friend. Writer who shares reading tastes and also lives in desert and likes to fight and knows tricks I don’t? I am so totally thinking you rock.

        • mojave_wolf

          Re: pt 2 – sorrry, ran long

          I honestly don’t get the mechanism of that one either. But those are the two main places they train you to hit people in boxing, and the jaw is the preferred target. I’ve seen it work on plenty of people, but I don’t get it either. Even when I fell head first rock climbing, my jaw landed on the back of my right hand and my right hand broke, but my jaw was fine and it didn’t remotely ko me. So no first hand description of getting knocked silly from that angle. And even tho I got woke up writing that I really should go to bed now.

        • clodfobble

          Re: pt 2 – sorrry, ran long

          It’s also because the jaw is connected directly to the temple. Put your fingers on your temple, usually towards the upper section of it, and open and close your jaw. You’ll feel some very powerful muscles moving under there. Knock the jaw in the wrong direction, and those muscles will be transferring the pull through your whole skull.

        • pentane

          Re: pt 2 – sorrry, ran long

          There’s also a cluster of nerves under the jaw (near the carotid) that a solid punch can drive the jaw into, along with neck snapping goodness.

          Unfortunately, all the times I’ve been punched in the face, I’ve been too hyped up to really remember anything, but your desired description sounds plausible.

  5. novalis

    It hurt a lot. It felt like he had hit me two or three times, but in fact it was only one. It continued to hurt for the next week — I could barely chew for a few days. Then about three weeks later, the pain flared up again. A few hours later, I was fine. The doctor hypothesized that my bruise had somehow popped or something?

  6. unforth

    I don’t know the answer to this, as I have not been decked. What I can suggest is, searching google in my experience produces surprisingly useful answers to questions like this, if the search is carefully constructed. For my novel, I had to figure out how it actually, really, truly felt to be shot…

    Actually, I guess I do have one that counts, since you say car dashboard is acceptable.

    One day, I was getting into a car – it was a 1983 Buick Regal, very low riding – and I bent down to get in, and then I felt like someone had pushed me really hard, and I was on the ground, and my head hurt. A lot. I hadn’t bent low enough, and with my full momentum I’d brained myself on the rim of the car. My memory of it is that it wasn’t painful in that first moment so much was it was confusing, cause I had no idea what had happened. Then I started to laugh, cause it was pretty ridiculous, and I put a hand to my head, and found a spot that hurt if I got anywhere near it, on my forehead. My head hurt for a few days. Probably not terribly helpful, but there you go. 😉

  7. sartorias

    My dad knocked me across the room once, when I was a kid. I still remember it quite vividly. It was like lightning exploding in my face, and a flash through my entire body that was cold at first. Then I found myself lying against the wall on the floor, and when I tried to get up (he was yelling at me to clean up the floor) my entire body shook so hard I had trouble figuring out what was my hands, what my feet or legs. The side of my head throbbed with my heartbeat, yet felt weirdly numb and distorted, as though someone had sewed a baseball mitt on the side of my face.

  8. xiphias

    I haven’t been in any fights since high school, but, in high school and junior high, I’ve been hit in the face a few times.

    The experience is different depending on contexts. It feels different in sparring, in actual fights, and in walking into things/having branches swing and knock me over/whatever.

    First: I don’t ever really recall the actual moment of impact. At one point, where the guy hitting me was much, much bigger than me, I remember blocking four punches in a row, but the fifth punch powered through my block and hit me in the face. I think I remember HEARING the impact, and seeing the world spin around as my head snapped around, and then I spit out some blood (my cheek and lip were cut, and a tooth was minorly chipped where my jaw snapped together).

    In sparring, I can remember a time that I was hit in the face, and I saw stars. Basically, it’s just little dancing points of light randomly scattered around my field of vision. By “dancing”, I mean that they remain constant within the field of vision, but, since one is always looking at different things, as you look at different things, and the points stay constant, it looks like they are moving quickly and randomly around the room.

    I remember another time in junior high school where a guy wanted to fight, I tackled him and we rolled down a hill, he recovered first, and clipped me above the ear. I don’t remember it, particularly — all I know is that I was back on the ground, my glasses were off and the earpiece was bent, my temple was sore, and his fist was coming back from a position in which he would have punched me. (I got up, picked up my glasses, said, “Okay, you win,” straightened out the earpiece, and walked off.)

  9. icedrake

    I gotta say, you have a lot of friends who’ve been punched in the face.

    The main thing I remember is the disorientation. The first occurrence (only two total that I can recall) was fairly low-strength, and didn’t knock me over. the impact was high on my face, around the bridge of my nose and one eye. Result: Ringing in the ears, loss of visual focus for a few seconds (briefly, some dark spots in the field of vision).

    The second time, the impact was in about the same spot, but much, much harder. I woke up on the ground, with blood coating the back of my throat. Didn’t lose consciousness, no concussion, but I still don’t remember anything about going from vertical to horizontal. No auditory or visual artefacts that time, but that could be because I was, in fact, out for longer than I realized.

  10. hawkwing_lb

    Once or twice sparring (Shotokan) with no gloves I’ve run into a strong punch on the cheekbone. The actual impact is kind of fuzzy – blank, sort of visionless for a couple of seconds, although whether that was me blinking like a stunned badger or the shock actually disorienting me, I don’t know: mostly I recall being rocked back three or four paces, and a few seconds later an almighty throbbing cheek, and trying not to actually cry.

    Getting hit on the cheekbone just under the eye is very embarrassing that way: it seems the eye starts watering pre-emptively.

  11. moonandserpent

    Having had this happen more than a couple of times, yeah, I’ll vouch for the quick flash of light, especially with a nose-punch hard enough to damage something, or any hit hard enough to pop your jaw.

    Any hard enough blow to the head will result in a sort of *brrt* reset moment, this includes the front of the head.

    Now, there’s a huge difference in how you’ll react to this, depending on if your juiced up on adrenaline or not. First time I got my nose broken, in elementary school, I didn’t even notice until the fight was over and I was covered in blood. Much of it, sadly, my own.

    And as much as I hate anything happening to my lovely grill or re-breaking my nose, I *hate* getting punched bare-knuckle in the cheek. Knuckles cutting soft tissue and really irritatingly sore sinuses. Also leads to sneezing blood for days.

  12. lordlothair

    As it appears you have a wealth of resources on this, I will attempt to not ramble on too much.

    First, as has been pointed out, it really depends on where you get hit, and by what. Blunt trauma from a fist is very different than a pipe or something like that. Hitting the ground, a nice big flat surface, with a larger portion of your skull has a tendancy to spread the impact a bit. Getting hit with a melee weapon that is small but dense, or by a skilled fighter (because what is a fist of a skilled fighter but a melee weapon?).

    Some general things are pretty consistant when I have been punched/clubbed:

    Sudden disorientation. Be that a blinding flash of light, a blur of red across your vision, a ringing in the ears, dizziness, nausea, or a flat out concussion/unconsciousness.

    Changes in adrenal levels. Even if you knew you were in a fight ahead of time, taking a good shot will result in shifts in adrenaline. Fight or Flight works! But getting punched by surprise can be even more dramatic. Many times, especially if you are a fighter, and you realize you are going to take the shot to the head, your body has already compensated as best it can… mind you, squishy brain bits can only ocmpensate so much!

    The taste of it. I have noticed (at least for me) that there is a very particular “flavor” to taking a head shot, even if it doesn’t result in the broken nose/bloodly lip/bit tongue type of bleeding. It is a residue, similar to the way your brain can call up flavors from smells. I don’t recall this happening to me the first few times I had been punched, but anymore, there is always a bit of iron and dryness to the flavor, even if I’m not actively bleeding.

    Pain. Now, everyone handles pain and talks about pain differently (hence why doctors have those nifty little pain rating charts). But I would say that the sensation is always dull, except for the first time I had my nose broken, that was just numb. I think the closest to a sharp pain I have ever had was when I had the bottom of my eye socket broken by a pipe strike across the cheek. That was a burning, intense pain, as with most other broken bones.

    After the fact. Nine times out of ten, during the fight I didn’t really notice the pain/injuries unless they were hard enough/well placed enough to cause me to have to take note of them. But afterwards, as your face starts filling with blood, everything starts to hurt.

  13. anima_mecanique

    I ran into a glass door at full tilt once, and I’ve collided with another skier while skiing. The door didn’t do any serious damage, though I’m kind of amazed that it didn’t, and the skiing accident left me with a black eye and a kind of nasty gash where my goggles dug into my face.

    Mostly, I remember not being able to see for a second on impact, like I had suddenly gone blind. And, oh my god, the NOISE. I don’t think getting hit in the head actually makes a really loud noise, but it FEELS like you get this ungodly loud CRACK, everywhere. My ears were ringing almost immediately, like someone had set off a gun right next to my head. There was a short but very intense cracking, sharp pain, and then it sort of…ached. I fell over both times, but it happened so quickly that I was on the ground before I even realized I had been hit (it might be different if you’re expecting to get punched).

    Being hit in the nose hurts immediately, but right after your nose feel swollen and warm and kind of numb, like it’s stuffed up. It somehow feels like it’s hard to breathe, even though in my case there wasn’t any actual damage to make it difficult. Your forehead aches like a bitch, though, and the part right between the eyes.

  14. hakamadare

    i was kneed in the face by an Icelandic pony last winter 🙂 my
    experience was pretty congruent with your other posters’, but here are a
    few details that may be of particular interest:

    re: the “flash of light” – i remember being unable to see for a
    moment, but it was a different feeling than, for example, having a
    bright light flashed in my face at the optometrists’s; i don’t remember
    any pain in my eyes, and rather than feeling like my vision had been
    overwhelmed by too much light, it felt like my vision had simply gone
    away for a moment.
    there was a distinct and quite audible crunching crack at the moment
    of impact, somewhat like snapping a stalk of celery. i doubt it was
    audible outside of my own head, but it sounded quite loud to me.
    there was no pain at the beginning; first my nose felt very warm,
    then it began to tingle, and only afterwards did it start to throb. my
    nose hurt, my nasal sinuses hurt, my upper lip hurt, the gums around my
    upper incisors hurt, and my forehead above my nose hurt. i remember
    being able to perceive my pulse very accurately, since every heartbeat
    made my face hurt.
    the oddest aspect of the whole experience was how long it took me to
    figure out what has happened. i didn’t see the blow coming at all; in
    terms of my cognition, i first figured out that my nose might be
    bleeding or about to bleed, then thought that i should do my best to
    keep the blood off my sweater (it’s white wool felt), then figured out
    that my glasses were not broken, and only then put two and two together
    and realized that the pony had kneed me in the face (and that he was
    quite uninjured, and didn’t seem upset at all). by this point a minute
    or so had elapsed, at which point i started figuring out how i could fix
    myself (i knew roughly where the nearest first aid kit was, but figured
    i wouldn’t be able to use it while keeping the blood in my nose, so
    instead i scooped up a big handful of powdery snow and packed it onto my
    face, which worked wonders).


  15. Anonymous

    being kneed in the face

    well this mightn to count because i am a martial artist and constantly get hurt so i don’t know what pain is anymore but. Yesterday i was bringing this girl to the ground and she accidentally kneed me in the face…. really really hard. Pain shot through my entire body, i was on the ground wimpering holding my face that was now bleeding like a faucet! i was covered in blood, my uniform top and pants, all bloody! it did not hurt that much after that, but during the next few hours it felt like when you bite into something really really cold, it was that kind of tenderness. now the next day! my nose is still bleeding and my face hurts… a lot

  16. Anonymous

    I’m pretty sure you’d enjoy Escher Girls

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