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I write centaurs as wild barbarians that love fighting - especially with weakling, little humans. So let's say our centaur and hero are fighting in an open, little, dirt circle in the middle of the a village. Neither of them have weapons or armor or magic spells - all they have is their fists and hooves. They several paces away. And let's assume the human half of the centaur is as strong as a football player (because I don't know how strong a centaur would actually be).

How would our hero be able to win the fight? What would he have to do?

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    $\begingroup$ Hi Banana Prince. I see you have accepted an answer, which indicates that you feel your question has been satisfactorily answered. However, it is recommended to wait at least 24 hours before accepting an answer, in order to allow for community members from different parts of the world to see your question and chime in with answers, comments, or voting. A question with an accepted answer often receives less attention from the community, so this could cause you to miss out on even better answers than what you have received thus far. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Aug 19 '17 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ It looks like you're asking about how should someone act in a scenario not about building a world. Questions of this nature are often closed. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Aug 20 '17 at 20:59
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings Oh. Sorry about that. What should I do? $\endgroup$ – Banana Dan Aug 20 '17 at 21:34
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    $\begingroup$ @BananaDan For the moment, I think your question is acceptable here, and voted to keep it open. It does have a few close votes. Hopefully before any further close votes are cast, anyone considering that will review the linked Meta discussion. I don't think you need to do anything in particular at the moment. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Aug 22 '17 at 6:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Michael Kjörling Awesome. That question does give me a good idea of what the centaur's fighting skill could be and opened me up to some different perspectives on how "centaur martial arts" would be. Putting it into context here... I'd say our centaur might be more likely to try and grapple with our human - a skill sharpened by hunting game in the mountains. Still, using it's legs sounds right. After all, it is the strongest parts of their bodies and got hard, bony hooves. It'd be like having stone fists at the end of tree trunk arms and not using them. Anyways... Thanks! $\endgroup$ – Banana Dan Aug 31 '17 at 5:25
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It won't be pretty because there is a very big difference in strength. But, because the centaur is so big, the hero might try to get him tired. I assume the hero is a skilled fighter, like Floyd Mayweather.

The hero must avoid contact. If he gets hit by the hooves or even by the strong arms of the centaur he will get seriously injured. He has to run (jump, roll) around the dirt circle, so that the centaur, who should try to jump on him, misses him. He always needs to change direction, because the centaur is too big to do so as quickly. As a rule, the hero should always stay on the centaur's flank. The fight should be with the hero staying on the flank and the centaur trying to rotate so that his legs have a clear shot.

If I were the centaur, I'd just wait on the edge for the hero do approach me. My front legs should be fast enough to catch him. The hero cannot play my game without losing, so he would need to taunt me, call me names and disparage my centaurhood. That would cause me to try to trample him, at which point his tactics might work.

If the hero gets underneath unscathed, he should try to go for the genitals, which is the only weak point. Once he does that he should be wary of the centaur crushing him. He can further upset the centaur by punching his flank, but I doubt that would be a good idea given the difference in strength.

After hours of running around, the hero might try his hand with the upper half of the centaur. But, however, tired the centaur is, his upper half would still be aching for a fight. Given the strength difference, he might just try to break the hero in half. With the centaur's hands circling the hero, the hero might go for eye gouging or hitting the ears with both hands. In any case, this has a low probability of winning.

Another way is to jump on the horseback once the centaur is tired enough and attempt a rear naked choke. But, if the difference in strength is too big, there is little chance it would succeed.

Yet one more way is to take advantage of the fact that the centaur might get tired easier than a horse because instead of a normal head, he has a human head, hence less oxygen. Rear naked chokes or even karate chops to the neck, seem like a good idea from this point of view.

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    $\begingroup$ Assuming your human is wearing shoes once he is under the centaur there is one other weakness he can target, the splint bones in the legs, there will be a great deal of luck/timing involved but a fractured splint bone, the higher he kicks it the better, if he centair has his full weight on it when it breaks it could cripple him for life, it will definitely take the fight out of him. Of course this may end with the centaur falling on the man. $\endgroup$ – John Aug 19 '17 at 7:26
  • $\begingroup$ Related to the point on the centaur getting less oxygen than would a horse, see How do centaurs get enough oxygen to run. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Aug 19 '17 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ Huh. Suppose someone hurts the centaur bad enough that he's forced on his rump like a "sitting position" in a Motaro fashion. Do you think it'd be plausible to pull/tip the centaur to the side and force him on his side or back? $\endgroup$ – Banana Dan Aug 19 '17 at 19:29
  • $\begingroup$ @BananaPrince I don't think so, because of the weight difference, but in that position, the centaur is very vulnerable. Only it's upper body can fight, but can't move. Plus, depending on the injury, it could be painful for him to sit in that position. $\endgroup$ – user9981 Aug 20 '17 at 7:41
  • $\begingroup$ once the human is on the centaurs back the centaur really can't do anything to him, and unlike a horse the human can wrap his legs around the centaurs human half waist which will make him very difficult to dislodge. From there choking and eye gouging are possible, he could even rip off or bite off an ear. $\endgroup$ – John Jan 10 '18 at 1:02
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All your hero has to do is to tire out the Centaur. Seeing as how humans have a very effective temperature regulation in the form of sweating in order to facilitate our terminator-like hunting style (In which we essentially run down prey until they die of exhaustion), the hero could essentially out endure the Centaur and then, when the Centaur is exhausted, make his move by attacking the legs.

Horse legs are actually very fragile compared to the rest of their body, as they are much lighter in order to run more effectively. All it really takes to permanently damage its legs is a single misstep. This means if the hero is somehow able to fracture the Centaur's legs or facilitate it (foul play is always an option), the Centaur will be unable to continue running around without further injuring itself. Even medical attention to that Centaur may never truly heal the leg, resulting in chronic pain as it does for many horses.

This means that now the Centaur is tired, and cannot run without dealing damage to itself. I assume the Centaur would still try to run down the hero, which would result in terrible damage to its own leg, maybe even breaking the bone and damaging muscles, effectively bringing itself down. The hero is then free to dish out damage to the vulnerable, concussion-prone head of the tired Centaur into a bloody pulp.

Source on Horse leg strength: https://www.thespruce.com/horses-with-a-broken-leg-1886850

Sources on the effects of punches on Human Heads: https://mic.com/articles/117340/this-is-what-happens-to-your-brain-when-you-get-punched-in-the-head#.cMVQeLWC9

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/brain-trauma-what-happens-brain-hits-skull/

http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/39/10/710.full

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    $\begingroup$ I think that would technically work but how do you tire the Centaur in the first place? It can run faster than any human so you would never get enough time to do that. $\endgroup$ – lurch Aug 19 '17 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ @lurch I believe Magicsowon has already solved that little issue for us. You would have to fight the Centaur Matador-style, jumping to the side to avoid the Centaur's charges. And seeing as the Centaur would have to either keep running and turn around slowly or stop, turn around and run towards the hero again, it would take a long time to face the hero again, giving time for the hero to prepare. If the hero can keep it up, bingo bango dead centaur coming right up. Also as I mentioned in my answer, Humans have an amazing endurance and thus sort of negate the Centaur's quickly spent speed. $\endgroup$ – DevourerOfStars Aug 19 '17 at 14:18
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    $\begingroup$ @DevourerOfStars ... Provided the centaur doesn't approach a little more carefully the second or third time. And the downside to going around the centaur is avoiding being behind him. Horses can turn faster than you'd think by doing a "jump-spin" and maybe even kick during one. I've seen horses sort of jump to power their kick. And I think it goes without saying how deadly a horse kick is. So sidestepping is gonna have to be done carefully so someone doesn't get caught behind a centaur. A good punch in the ribs during a sidestep might help sway the odds though. $\endgroup$ – Banana Dan Aug 19 '17 at 19:23
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    $\begingroup$ I'd emphasize any damage to the centaur's legs in this answer. Any strong kick or even successful punch to the centaur's front joints could incapacitate them immediately, whether or not they were exhausted. You could combine the exhaustion approach with the neccessity of the centaur having to continually rear, turn or even jump as they try to avoid attacks to the legs. $\endgroup$ – 8DX Aug 21 '17 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ Or course this also means putting yourself in the ideal position to get hit by the centaurs primary weapons, trampling and striking with the hooves. and the chances of a human breaking a horses legs (assuming it is not a horse bred for thin legs like a race horse which are the ones that have most of the leg issues) is extremely slim. $\endgroup$ – John Jan 10 '18 at 0:59
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The centaur is faster so he'll quickly close in. Also with his hooves he has the better weapon and probably the better reach. Unless your hero has superspeed or something he can only win in a fair fight with a lot of luck.

Therefore let's fight unfair. Your hero picks up some dirt and throws it into the eyes of the centaur. I admit that it's difficult to hit, but let's assume your hero gets lucky. The centaur will momentarily be blinded. The hero can try to break a leg by kicking. (Others have already mentioned that the legs are vulnerable.) Since the centaur will kick blindly in every direction that will be difficult. Therefore I suggest picking up a stone and throw it. Try to hit the head. It's possible to kill somebody that way, even if it is difficult. But let's face it: When fighting a centaur without weapons you can't expect any easy solution.

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Element of Suprise & Strangulation

I've hopped on many a horse that was not broken, without any trouble. Talk nicely, and hop on - if there were a human attached, I imagine I could strangle them easily, though I'm not a violent person. On horseback, you do have the advantage of being from behind with no recourse for them.

Able-bodied humans have extremely solid grip with our legs on horseback. While I don't know to strangle a human, I imagine you just have to use your hands. You're behind them and they can never turn around in a way they can face you. They will suffocate. They cannot even reach you, even if they're 'bucking,' etc. There is the possibility they would roll and cause a bit of pain, but if you continue your grip on the neck, the exertion will make it more difficult for them to function these tasks.

I am nothing special, but I have been on a very angry stallion for over 90 seconds while I was breaking him. I suspect your story hero (or villain) could stay on longer since she can strangle the human part of the centaur.

Summary: She/He jumps on the centaur, grips with the legs on both flanks, solidly, and grabs the neck of the human part, and squeezes. Even if it falls over, just hold on - you can get your protagonist through this. Happy writing!

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Luck

Unless the centaur is particularly incompetent, the human's best chance is probably for a lucky break to occur which aids him.

First, note that this question is constrained in such a way that it gets rid of what would be the humans best advantages in other situations. This assumes a dirt circle flat terrain, while humans are remarkably good at handling more varied and rough terrain.

This also assumes no weapons where humans are very much tool using creatures. Of course, the Centaur presumably is as well, but the lack of tools will hurt the human more here.

We are also assuming a one-on-one fight were humans are pack animals. Of course, so are horses and presumably centaurs, but with the size differences this hurts the human more.

The one constraint that does favor the human is that we are assuming a "little" dirt circle which will constrain the centaur's ability to charge, but unless we are talking truly small area that is not a huge advantage.

Others have suggested tiring out the centaur. Tiring our your opponent is often a good idea in a fight, but a centaur is not likely to be particularly susceptible to that, no more so than the human is. Humans are endurance predators, but horses were not particularly high on our list of prey and horses are also built for endurance. Unlike many other animals, they sweat much like humans do and have good lung capacity. In human vs. horse marathons, the horses (with riders) win more often than the humans. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_versus_Horse_Marathon

(We could of course argue that the centaur has less endurance than a horse due to being restricted to a much smaller human-sized nose rather than a horse sized nose, but I assume if we are positing the existence of centaurs at all that we are hand-waving that away. If we aren't, then tiring the centaur out is probably not only going to be plausible but incredibly easy to the point of the human winning by making the centaur exert itself slightly and then falling over under the many anatomical issues a centaur would have...)

It might also appear that the humans greater agility is an advantage. And it is, but not a big one under these constraints. It would be a bigger advantage in a more varied environment like an urban area or dense forest. If you ever watch barrel racing competitions, horses can be quite nimble.

Getting on its back is also a good idea, but much harder than it sounds. Its already hard to mount a horse that does not want to be mounted. (Without benefit of either mounting blocks or stirrups, it can be a pain to mount a horse that isn't fighting...) This scenario removes many of the common strategies for achieving it by assuming flat terrain and giving the human neither teamwork nor tools. And then, depending on the particular interpretation, the centaur can probably reach much or even all of its back to swat the human off.

If you are writing a story and want the human to win under these conditions, your most plausible scenarios are either the centaur is not a competent fighter and makes a mistake the human can exploit or the human gets a straight lucky break such as the centaur tripping.

Strategy

Of course your human will have various strategies it can try to use, such as going for the legs, staying on the flank (sides) but the match is heavily stacked in the Centaur's favor. Cavalry was immensely effective on the battlefield up until motorized vehicles for a reason. Of course, cavalry was often defeated but that tended to involve weapons, teamwork, and constricted or unfavorable terrain, all of which have been essentially assumed away in this question.

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The most obvious way is to cheat.

You'd start with a handful of dirt to the face and kick to the joint of the front legs while he tried to clear his eyes. The front legs of a horse are actually quite delicate. No reason why a centaur would be any different.

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    $\begingroup$ This appears to basically just repeat lurch's answer from yesterday, with less detail. Please take care to ensure that your answers aren't just repeating what has already been suggested. If you agree with an existing answer, vote that up instead. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Aug 21 '17 at 7:31
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Centaurs would not want to get into a close-quarters battle in the first place. Assuming the equine portion has a similar physiology to a horse, they've got a long, vulnerable flank that can't be protected either by the arms or by kicking the legs. The human merely has to force the centaur to keep spinning to avoid getting flanked, and given the aforementioned problems horses have going laterally, that increases the odds of stumbling.

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