“Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” –Bruce Lee.
Many people know that quote but seldom apply it to everyday life, let alone in combat. Achilla Johnson is an exception because her survival has depended on her adaptability. Still, she’s not the only exception. Martial artists throughout the generations learned to adapt to succeed. Those great fighters inspired Achilla’s intellect, aggression, and perseverance in a fight that allows her to recognize an opponent’s weakness in the moment and exploit it.
“That’s a nice attack. You learned that straight lead from Ares. Too bad you don’t have his power.” – Achilla to Artemis, Strike of the Mantis.
Bruce Lee’s philosophy and affinity for wing chun is a large part of Achilla’s hand-to-hand approach, but she loves boxing. She defeated Ares, her greatest foe, with a check hook that left him unconscious and drowning face-down in the Long Island Sound. She also countered him with Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s pull counter and clocked Ailina with Muhammad Ali’s anchor punch. Combine that with her 52 Blocks defense, and Achilla’s a formidable street boxer. Much like Holly Holm, she can kick too, but her hands are her greatest asset.
Though she’s the superior power puncher to him(along with the rest of the human population), readers will find Achilla’s diverse boxing style similar to Andre Ward’s. The same way he beat Sergey Kovalev (Yes, he beat him), Achilla attacks the head and the body to break down her opponents before delivering the killing blow. She does whatever is necessary, not what she prefers, because she possesses a diverse skill set. She’s also nasty enough to hurt her opponent where she’s weakest with no mercy. Achilla has great empathy for victims, especially her loved ones, but she’s a psychopath when it comes to dealing with a legitimate threat. It’s not a trait she’s proud of, but in a fight to the death, it’s a necessary evil, and unlike a boxing match, deadly blows to the vulnerable parts of the body are fair game. The goal isn’t to score a knockout or win on the cards. Achilla fights to kill her opponent when the need arises.
“Unlike the CIA, I have no interest in experimenting on you. I only pray to God that you’re my last murder.” -Achilla to Ares, Strike of the Mantis.
Adaptability is more than just an individual changing up her style. It also involves switching personnel on the battle field. Words of the Serpent will present numerous situations Achilla will need assistance to overcome, not because she’s too weak, but because styles make fights, and even an adaptable fighter has holes in her game that can be exploited if they fit her enemy’s strengths. Artemis landed a blow on Achilla for a reason, even if it didn’t hurt much, and her technique differs from Ailina or Ares. She’s also not the only enigma Achilla will be forced to solve. So what can Athena and Apollo bring to the fight that Achilla can’t, and will it help them?
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Adapt well, my friends.
p.s. Yes, I just called Achilla a nasty woman.
Photo credit: Walter Lim.
Video credit: The Fight City.