When engaging a zombie at melee distance, you’re faced with the following combat dilemma: How do you deliver a terminating blow to an oncoming corpse while simultaneously remaining outside of its hostile reach?
A frontal assault is, for the most part, not recommended. If you initiate your attack directly face-to-face with your opponent, you must have 100% confidence that you will be able to end your attacker’s onslaught with a single blow. Should your strike fail to neutralize your opponent, you will most likely find yourself within a range where the ghoul can grab you with its outstretched hands, turning the conflict from a melee engagement to a close quarters confrontation – the most perilous of ranges to engage the undead.
A better strategy is to take advantage of your superior, and your opponent’s lack of, motor skill and coordination. This is defined by the ZCC as “Passing the Grasp” – getting around, over or under the reaching, infectious hands of the ghoul and delivering a finishing strike.
An effective ZCC melee technique which you can employ is the SCS – Strafe-Circle-Strike:
1) Strafe – when confronting a zombie at midrange, you will most likely be facing each other directly. With the ghoul’s arms outstretched, it may be difficult to attack its skull without coming in danger-close proximity to its grasp, especially if you face a taller attacker with a longer reach than yourself. Your first move should be to side-step, or “strafe” left or right of your attacker. This word in this context originates from the first-person shooter video game genre, meaning to shuffle side-to-side while continuously facing your adversary. The intention is to move out of reach of the opponent’s grasp while not losing sight of it at all times. Do not turn away from your attacker during this movement. At melee range, ghouls have been known to lurch suddenly in an attempt to grab their victim.
2) Circle – once you have positioned yourself to either side of your attacker, begin to pivot clockwise or counterclockwise, ending at the left or right side (you could potentially continue circling, eventually ending up directly behind the attacker, but this obviously takes more time.) With this movement, you are taking advantage of the zombie’s lack of coordination. Recall the zombie’s coordination weaknesses in “Anatomy.” A normal human attacker would most likely turn, pivot, and track your movement should you attempt to circle him. Using the ghoul’s lack of speed against it, you are able to remain out of reach while exposing several prime anatomical targets for your assault.
3) Strike – from your finishing position, you have several melee striking options: the occipital, temporal, and nasal/orbital region of the skull and the neck are all available targets. Remember, the zombie does not possess the intelligence to block an oncoming strike, so choose whichever target suits you and your weapon best.
As you become proficient in this technique, you will be able to combine the first two movements into one smooth clockwise or counterclockwise transition, known also as the “Circlestrafe.”
Safety level of engagement: Moderate
Combat skill required at this distance: Moderate
Percent chance of infection at this range: 10-15%
Medium-range or melee combat is defined as engagement with the undead at a distance of two to three feet (.6 and .9 meters) between opponents. For many reasons, including weapon availability, terrain, and combat skill required, this range is the most frequent distance at which combat engagements with the undead take place. Many of the strategies covered in long-distance combat can be utilized as well for melee range attacks. There are, however, some specific techniques particular to this range that can prove very useful for fighting the undead.
Although melee-range combat requires the least amount of technical skill than all other ranges, it presents its own unique set of challenges, the greatest being that you will be fighting at a distance where you are vulnerable to a ghoul’s reach.
Because you will be engaging an attacker at medium distance, a zombie will most likely have its arms extended outward, hands grasping for you, and within a conceivable range where it can potentially grab your person. You will learn in the Anatomy section that the grip of the zombie can be as lethal as its bite. Thus, a key strategy for engaging in melee range combat is to not only avoid being bitten, but grabbed as well.