There's this thing I've seen on Chaos where people don't like to take damage in duels. They think that by stubbornly refusing to take a hit when surrounded by a half-dozen Master level Force Users who are trying their damnedest to kill them, this makes them some kind of badass.
No. It does not make you a badass. It makes you a jackass.
Fights are dirty. They're dangerous. You do not walk away from even a simple fistfight without a scratch. This is one of the first things they try to impress upon you in any sort of practical fighting class. You are going to get hit. It is going to suck. Make peace with it and move on. Some of the more creative knife fighting classes will include a slideshow of gaping knife wounds, just to hammer the idea into the students' heads. It doesn't matter if you've spent the last decade training in a monastery in the mountains of Bumfuqistan, you're going to get hit.
Even when Force users fought in canon, it was rare for someone to walk away from a duel without at least taking a backhand to the nose or something. You just don't go into that sort of close quarters fight without getting hurt somehow.
So why do people insist otherwise?
Well, for starters, there's a lot of pressure to win fights, especially in invasions. No one likes to lose, and it sucks even more when your faction's future is on the line. Then there's personal pride. Who wouldn't want to be able to say they fought one of the most powerful beings in the galaxy and came out without so much as a scratch?
At the end of the day though, it's not a sign of skill. In fact, it's the opposite. Skilled duelists know how to take damage fairly. They know what hits can be dodged, what hits can be blocked, and what hits have to be taken. Refusing to take a hit serves no purpose other than to take an already tense situation and make it unbearable for all involved.
With that in mind, the first rule of taking damage is don't be afraid to take damage. A single hit does not determine the fight. Hell, two or three hits won't determine the fight. You'll earn a lot more goodwill from a judge taking a couple of good hits than you will loldodging out of them.
Also remember that taking a hit can oftentimes leave your opponent exposed. It's an old tactic to leave yourself slightly exposed in order to make an attack. Your opponent can either exploit the opening or block the attack, but rarely both. In that situation, my first instinct is to take the hit. Not only does it freak people out when they see you're willing to sacrifice some mobility (more on that later) in exchange for landing a counter, but by taking the hit in the first place, you place a lot of pressure on them to take your return hit fairly. If one side is taking damage fairly, the other side either reciprocates or looks like an ass.
When it comes time to assess the damage done by the hit, a little bit of basic medical knowledge goes a long way. No one expects you to become Dr. House for the sake of the duel, but just knowing where the major organs, blood vessels, and muscle groups are can help out a lot. For instance, I know that if I take a bullet to the thigh, I have to contend with the possibility of severing the femoral artery. If that happens, a human can bleed out in a matter of minutes and it's extremely hard to stop. If the thigh bone (femur) is shattered, I'll not be able to put any weight on that leg, and I can expect to go into shock in as little as a minute. But if I can position myself so the bullet goes to the outside of the thigh instead of the inside, I'll probably be okay. Mobility will be reduced, but I don't have to worry about the femoral, and I can take my chances with the femur.
When it comes to internal organs, I know that a shot to the heart is almost instantly fatal. A shot to the lungs can potentially kill within minutes. A shot to the gut is painful, but not necessarily fatal or instantly incapacitating. A shot to the kidneys is among one of the most painful things the human body can experience. The pain is intense enough to cause instant shock and paralysis, and can potentially be fatal even without blood loss. The liver isn't quite as sensitive, but has several large blood vessels that can cause rapid exsanguination if ruptured.
It also is important to know the capability of your armor, if you choose to wear any. Chain mail will stop a slash, but can be pierced. Plate armor, especially good beskar'gam, can stand up to nearly any physical blow, but it still transfers the kinetic energy to the user. As an example, while the US Army's bulletproof vests can stop a sniper's bullets, severe bruising and broken ribs are common. It's better than a sucking chest wound, but it still hurts like a bitch and will knock the wind out of you. A blow to the head, even with a helmet, can cause a concussion. If the blow is hard enough, it can also cause whiplash.
When dealing with lightsabers, the kinetic energy isn't as much a problem, but severe burns and amputation are. Even a relatively small third degree burn can send someone into shock and render a limb useless. Blasters can also cause severe burns. When dealing with strikes to armor from either, it's important to remember that thermal energy will be transferred, even if it's not a whole lot. If a blaster bolt strikes a chest plate, it might warm it up uncomfortably. If twenty of them hit in a span of a few seconds, expect some gnarly blistering.
If there's one thing you should take away from this, it's that there's no such thing as a minor injury in a fight. But, like I said before, taking a hit will often give you an opening to deal even greater damage, and a fight isn't a marathon. Once blood has been shed, it's only a matter of time before someone falls. If you use your head and take damage in an intelligent manner, it won't be you.
As always, if anyone has any questions or comments, the comments section and my inbox are open.