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Old November 2, 2000, 08:34 PM   #1
Matt VDW
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I'm curious about the effects, if any, of a thick layer of abdominal fat in protecting someone from injury from the following causes:

1) Punching or kicking

2) Stabbing or slashing with an edged weapon

3) Gunshot wounds

I've never seen a martial artist (other than a sumo wrestler) deliberately fattening himself up, but I suppose that a few inches of blubber could provide useful padding for the internal organs. I have read an account of a gunfight in which a fat man with a .22 mini-revolver killed a police officer after "absorbing" multiple hits from the cop's .357 Magnum. Also, I've noticed that the national "Tough Man" amateur boxing/brawling championship has been won by a fat guy nicknamed "Butterbean". The extra pounds must give him some sort of advantage, because he definitely pays a price in mobility.

Would you change your tactics or targeting if assaulted (and unable to flee) by someone like a big-bellied biker?
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Old November 2, 2000, 08:51 PM   #2
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Nah, just throw him a couple of pounds of his favorite food and stand back. Remember, part of a fight is the ability to beat feet before they can "tag" you.

All kidding aside, some Polynesians in Hawaii? You never wanted to hit them in the coconut (head)...very dense bone up there. I use to spar against some three hundred pound Hawaiian dudes who learned martial talk about tough...I also got in fights with farmers and some cowboys...I don't think it was the fat that I was trying to penetrate...they earned those rolls by working hard physical labor.
So the answer for me?...Beat feet first.
If no choice...legs, knees, bony parts of the body...there's a certain way to hit the solar plexus..throat, eyes...those areas don't have a lot of protection on them.
Second choice? Hit the knees, feet, then beat feet. Harder for them to run after you.
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Old November 2, 2000, 09:19 PM   #3
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all kidding aside, i would definitely need a good several rounds of kona beer before i'd feel good about messing wid dem big big samoan ppl from da westside of o'ahu ... several of them (konoshiki, akebono, musashimaru) dominate the upper ranks of sumo competition with such brutal force it's very hard not to stand in awe.

fat, unlike muscle or bone, doesn't bruise up or damage with impact ... i don't know what ratio of body mass/fat is ideal, but you look at, say, mark kerr or ensen inoue, and then those vein-popping freaky ppl in those muscle mags, and i think the difference is pretty evident.

i wouldn't change my targeting, really. i'm not all that big, i just stomp 'em hard on the top of the feet and kick em in the kneecaps and RUN. fat won't protect cartilage.

ps - LASur5er, if you read this check out my last post in the "Good Book?" thread.

[This message has been edited by dragontooth73 (edited November 02, 2000).]
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Old November 3, 2000, 01:20 AM   #4
Mel Trog
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I know of one incident (relayed to me by a friend who was an eye-witness) where the "victim" of the attack was of such girth that the attacker, despite being armed with a long screwdriver (I can't remember if it was a Philips or a flat-head), standing directly behind the intended victim, attacking without warning, and despite having stabbed the screwdriver about handle-deep in to the victim's middle back, the attack failed because the layer of fat on the victim was sufficiently thick such that the screwdriver (measuring about 5-inches long, not including the handle) was not long enough to fully pierce the layer of fat and injure anything vital.

The attacker was, uh, dispatched when the victim turned around (with screwdriver still stuck in his back) and knocked out the attacker with a solid right cross.

The attacker was about 6-feet-2-some, around 200-pounds, medium non-muscular build. The victim (!) was about 6-feet-4-some, no idea on his weight, although when I met the victim about six months after the attack, he reminded me of one of the McCreary Twins, except that he could easily walk and didn't need a motorbike to get around.

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Old November 3, 2000, 01:49 AM   #5
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Other than a useful "shield". A man's "spare tire" can also be useful as a beverage rest when your sitting on the recliner in front of the tube sippin' a few cold ones...
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Old November 3, 2000, 05:48 AM   #6
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The police officer you are refering to is Tpr. Mark Coates of the North Carolina State Police. He was killed during a shooting in which he shot his attacker 5 times center mass with his .357 and is still alive in prison. Tpr. Coates was killed with, I believe, a .25 cal derringer. The bullet struck his arm then entered his chest between his vest panels and pierced his heart. Tpr Coates was very muscular, his killer was short and weighed about 300 ilbs.
There is a video of the shooting at In the line of duty (web site). They also have a video of an interview with his killer that I haven't seen. Very sad.

If not you, then who?
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Old November 3, 2000, 09:22 AM   #7
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I saw the video mentioned. The perp received 5-6 serious rounds and barely noticed; he returned a single .22 shot that killed the cop (entered armpit, sliced arteries at heart).

"Don't shoot someone in a body part they don't want." - Ayoob
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Old November 3, 2000, 09:34 AM   #8
Joe Demko
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I've done some brawling against big guys, too. When the fat overlays muscle, then it does seem to act as "padded armor." For common, soft couch potatoes, it doesn't seem to act as anything but liability since they haven't the strength or stamina to fight effectively. Never shot a fat guy, so I can't comment on how it protects against bullets.
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Old November 3, 2000, 11:25 AM   #9
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Another good reason to avoid poorly penetrating handgun rounds (like MagSafe, some 115gr 9mm and 135gr .40, etc.).

Reminds me of something I learned from a fairly successful brawler: "Never punch someone in the face - punch through their face."
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Old November 3, 2000, 02:19 PM   #10
shiroikuma, Anchorage AK
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Fat is just soft tissue. It acts just like a pillow, except it hurts when you get hit unlike having a pillow stapped on. I think it would be just like someone wearing sparring gear except not as effective. As the above post mentioned, you need muscle under it to really resist penetration by a blunt object (fist). I imagine it's just like any other tissue in regard to bullets and knives the more you have the more penitration neccisary to reach an organ.

my 2.25 cents
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Old November 3, 2000, 08:35 PM   #11
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This is why I have decided to go with 230gr. .45 and get rid of the 185gr. stuff...I saw video of a cop that reportedly shot a guy with a .45 in the gut and the guy seemed not to notice and continued to struggle with the officer. It was on Fox's World's Scariest Police Shootouts, if anyone knows what type of slug let me was either very ineffective or it just happened to miss everything. A case where an exit wound might have helped. So, this may be why some argue penetration is more important than expansion-
"The thing is, due to its mass the 230 grain .45 gives more consistent penetration. While it is difficult, you can make a .45 an inefficient performer. You do this by lightening the bullet and increasing the velocity. While some 185 gr. .45’s, reportedly, are well constructed and give fairly consistent penetration, some are not. I have had 185 gr. Winchester Silver-Tips fail to penetrate 8 pound ground hogs – this is not confidence inspiring."

You can find the rest of that article here . . . under ".45 ACP Advocacy (by Jim Higginbotham)" Very interesting page!

[This message has been edited by racegunner (edited November 03, 2000).]
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Old November 3, 2000, 09:50 PM   #12
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FWIW I have seen a fair amount of fatter folks who seem to do quite well despite suffering low velocity penetrating wounds ("real-low" i.e. knife, or "plain-old-low" i.e. handgun). When in the category of handgun wounds I have seen no greater stoppage/lethality regardless of caliber in this type of patient (and for the most part when talking about reasonable service calibers, not in any other patients for that matter). Not too long ago I saw a 40ish 300 lb+ "gentleman" shot 4 times (he was "just minding my own business when this dude shot me") at a range of about 12 ft through a thin hollow core veneer type interior door with a 45ACP (?230gr ball by my estimate when looking at the slugs in the OR) with 3 hits just below COM in the lower chest/upper abdomen (one extremity "winging" hit). At operation he had a smallish liver lac and the remaining rounds were subcutaneous with one round first passing throught the bottom aspect of the right thorax (small pneumothorax resultant). I think that with the same scenario/wounds that a 175lb individual would have had done worse as the wounds would probably have been more effective (i.e. more vital structures with less of a "frontal cushion" and overall more vital structures in a smaller net area). The probability of hitting something more vital or causing a higher degree of exsanguination/tension pneumothorax would have been higher.
Given this I suspect that changing handgun caliber would not have helped greatly, and that any respectable defensive round (38 & above) would have had roughly equivalent results. More penetration here might have been better but not necessarily because no vital structures would necessarily have been more damaged. Lesson? If faced with this go to a "Plan B"; most people, even real fat people, don't have this kind of mass in their head (ok, ok hold all chortling commentary about fat-heads)

This is even more true for knife wounds. I've explored several folks with stabs/slashes and the general consensus when I've bounced this thread off of some of my colleagues is that the fatter they are the less likely they have serious (i.e. potentially incapacitating or lethal) injury. Many abdombinal stabs never penetrate into the peritoneal cavity to begin with and you lessen your odds with a fatter adversary. Ditto for chest wounds. Neck fatter, ditto neck slashes. Now, if you happened to be well trained/versed in knifework, AND had an outstanding knife with adequate length and good penetrating geometry (i.e. false edge, plain blade: something ala Mad Dog Voodoo series of blades or Shrike for instance) I think you would have a better chance of actually incapacitating a real fat individual if the defensive situation called for it.

So, answer IMHO of the original question is a qualified yes- there is some mechanical defensive advantage to LARGE amounts of body fat. When faced with a very large adversary one might wish to make appropriate adjustments to tactics/targeting. With the epidemic of obesity in the US today this might prove to someday be a real tactical consideration for someone reading this.


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Old November 4, 2000, 02:30 AM   #13
George Hill
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I dont know about hugely fat guys...
But I tussled with a Tongan. He want down just fine.
Two places where Fat wont protect you.
Nose and Testicles.

Bigger they are, the harder they fall.
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Old November 4, 2000, 04:13 AM   #14
shiroikuma, Anchorage AK
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Dang George.. I thought I was invincible for a minute or two.
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Old November 4, 2000, 08:00 AM   #15
Gopher .45
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The first shooting death by a Texas CHL holder involved a very large Samoan. One shot to the chest from close range and that was it for the big guy. Shot placement and penetration are what count. Fat may provide some barrier and may provide a larger target picture that includes a greater view of non-vital areas, but I don't think that putting on that much fat would be a good tactic given the number of health issue, slowed body movement, and lack of mobility that it would also provide.
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Old November 4, 2000, 02:39 PM   #16
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Hey, guys, fat hurts when it gets hit too... I'm 6'2, 350, formerly athletic, now I'm happy to be able to climb stairs with both knees... (if you have kids who wanna play football, just take 'em out behind the barn and break a leg or two... It's the same amount of fun, and they may take up academics while they're healing...).

It takes more force to affect a change in our direction. If we get moving, and you're in the way, you are in a world of hurt. When I hit something, it stays hit. And don't get too darn close either, because if I get 'hold of you, you're on the ground, and I'm on top of you (that way my knee doesn't matter...).

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Old November 4, 2000, 10:12 PM   #17
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I try not to go to ground with big guys. (My ideal "fighting weight" is about 142 lbs.)

With Spartacus (6', 265 lbs) I can hold my own on the ground- unless he relaxes. Ever try to benchpress over 250 lbs of jello?

Defensive advantage it might be, but on offense, I like my mobility. Even "big" guys have kidneys, eyes, and bones. Stretch their upper lip over their head, and they will re-evaluate their need to hurt you over losing face. So to speak.
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Old November 4, 2000, 10:15 PM   #18
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Oh, yeah. Even on the strongest guys, if you can use your body weight and motion to draw their limb away from their body, they will be weaker, and vulnerable. I don't know anyone who can curl 150 lbs of fighting human at arm's length. Move around and break the elbow, then see if he wants to keep the other one, or give it to you, too.

You'd be surprised at what you can do to large people, if you move well. "Pride cometh before the fall."
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Old November 5, 2000, 09:19 AM   #19
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jmo but here goes....

1. punching and wont provide anytype of real protection from blows, in some case's such as the torso I believe it can magnify the problem, blows to the stomach around the bellybutton or blows to the short ribs on the sides. Besides it really kills the fat mans endurance and ability to move his feet, fighting is like defensive basketball its done with body positioning or the ability to move.

2. Stabbing or slashing with an edge weapon......I have no knowledge of it helping with slashes, you bleed when your cut so the only advantage here might be if the layer(s) of fat are at such thickness as to cover major veins or arteries, I doubt if that would be the case there are to many areas to close to the surface even on fat people. I do know of an idividual who survived multiple (8 or 9 appx.) stabs to the torso with a 5" airforce survial knife and because of his girth the blade never reached a vital organ, and I dont know if the wound placements were over vital organs either, I do know that this man survived and lost at least a 100lbs while he was maybe. Think about how big you would have to be for this to be effective?

3. Gunshot wounds.....Going back to what I consider reasonable shot placement between the nipples or at the bend of the elbows in the com, if you look at most fat people in that area, the depth of fat is not that great there, but immediately below the sterum the fat seems to concentrate in men so just on that I would say it would be no benefit at all.........

There a probably exceptions to every situation......fubsy.
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Old November 5, 2000, 04:57 PM   #20
Matt VDW
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Thanks for the replies, all.

Just in case you're wondering, I'm not planning to fatten myself up to get some padding. Running away is still my plan A.
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