Tweet of the Day: Writing Excuses 8.21: What the Avengers Did Right
The Combat Pragmatist knows there is not place for second place, when second place is death. He will shoot the man welding a gun, push somebody under a truck or kick them in the nuts. He fights dirty because he doesn’t believe in death before dishonor, since in his mind, the dead don’t get to enjoy any honors heap upon their decaying corpses.
In real life, all combatants are by definition combat pragmatist away from a dedicated sports arena. Of course, pragmatism can lead to very short fights sequences, but it does have its uses in showing that a hero is as capable of using guile as brawn or allowing him to win a fight he otherwise should lose (against a stronger opponent or when outnumbered). However, combat pragmatism can easily become outright brutality (and the page quotes don’t make that distinction) which in real life can backfire spectacularly, since it encourages the other side to fight dirtier still. Just ask the Germans who thought bombing enemy cities would crush the enemies moral. It didn’t and got their own cities burned to the ground with tens of thousands killed and millions left homeless. Ironically, it didn’t work for the Allies either, as Axis resolved stiffened to the point that it took the bulk of the Red Army to take Berlin and two atomic bombs to end the war in each major theater of operations.
This trope makes for a great break in overtly long fight scenes and injects an sense of realism (or balance) to any fight. But remember, the key to the combat pragmatist is the balance between the threat and the extend of the methods used.