One of the very first weapons that I learned in my combat classes in college was how to wield a frying pan. It was dubbed “clown fighting” because of the ridiculousness you feel using a frying pan as a weapon. However, any chef worth their weight in hummus can tell you just how deadly these seemingly useless pans can be.
Depending on what kind of pan your character happens to grab in their kitchen while being attacked will greatly depend on what that pan can do. We’ll look at three specific sizes: the “one egg” pan, then normal skillet, and the wok.
First, start with the size and weight of the pan. A lot of this will also depend on the type of pan you have. Cast iron pans can cause a lot more weight damage, but they will also be a lot heavier to wield. The newer Teflon pans will be lighter, but they will also break easily. You will also need to look at the handle. Is it welded on, or have a tiny screw that keeps it in place? Ones that are screwed on will break off on a solid hit to someone, whereas welded ones have a bit more resistance.
Next, you will want to look at the size of the base of the frying pan. This is going to be your impact area. The wider the base, the more of the body it can hit. The larger the pan is will also make it a bit less wind-resistant when swinging – stupid physics. Let’s say you’re aiming for the head – the “one egg” one will probably break a jaw with a good swing because it will be able to impact all your energy into a small area. The wok and regular pan will hit the entire face, but the impact will also spread over it. This will more than likely cause a headache with a regular pan, but could rattle the brain and knock out the victim on a cast iron pan.
You can also “stab” with a frying pan. Holding onto the handle of a regular pan and thrust into the stomach of the attacker can knock the wind out of them (and then follow up with an uppercut of the pan to their chin to knock their head backwards and out cold!). This won’t work as well with a “one egg” as it’s a smaller circumference around the pan, however it is better suited for swinging at hands to disarm knives.
The wok is awkward for stabbing motions as the top of the wok is wider than the base and will lose the force from the handle due to the shape of it. Woks are great, though, for using it’s special bowl-like design to cup a shoulder or a head to make the person move and throw them off balance.
Never use the handle of a frying pan as a weapon. They are fragile and it is awkward to hold onto the pan side and use it to fight.
There are other things that you can add to a fight scene using a frying pan in a kitchen fight:
Heat: having the pan sitting on the stove waiting to be used would have the base of the pan nice and hot. Remember that some pans have a spiral design on the bottom, so if they get hit with that on flesh, it will leave behind a burn in the design.
Cooking: was the person already cooking something? They can fling the food at the person attacking them, and then fight with a hot pan. Bonus if there is hot oil or grease in the pan – that could end the fight right there.
Also, remember the realism for frying pan scenes: a regular frying pan will only last a few good hits before it’s dented or the handle breaks. If it’s a colored pan, chances are that the color has flaked off. Also, ones that are treated to be non-stick have a coating that will break off into white flakes when dented as well. The wielder’s arm will get tired fast swinging around a cast iron pan if they are not used to using their arm muscles for prolonged periods of time.
The best advice I can give on choosing the weapon for your character comes down to have you have in your house so that you can understand your weapon as your character uses it. Frying pans can be a fun weapon to wield in any story, as long as you keep the believability of it to the scene. Enjoy finding a way to bring this into your next novel!
Image from Tangled © Walt Disney Pictures.