Knowing your strike points, and their importance in self-defense.

Certain areas on the human body are vulnerable to concussive strikes.

Certain areas on the human body are vulnerable to concussive strikes.
Certain areas on the human body are vulnerable to concussive strikes.

Know your strike points, a vital part of self- defense

In many Traditional Martial Arts, the notion has often been created of some mythical and magical incapacitating strike. One that can stop your opponent dead in their tracks.

Cinema and comics have added to this myth. Many people believe that there is some dark secret waiting to be discovered that will allow them to knock their enemy out with impunity. This is mostly nonsense.

Realistic strike targets

Of course, there is always a but! There are certain areas on the human body that are more vulnerable than others. By concentrating on these areas in a real combat situation you could get yourself out of trouble quicker and more efficiently

Most people have seen a boxer knockout his or her opponent with a strike to the chin. This is an example of a target area on the human body that is vulnerable to concussive striking. Let’s have a look at the main areas that would suffer damage if struck cleanly.

Firstly, some of the main strike areas to the head and neck area…

Strike areas to the head and neck
Strike areas to the head and neck
  1. The chin is very vulnerable to concussive strikes. It not only contains a lot of nerves but also any shock to it can affect the jaw area and shake the brain. This is why it is a go-to target, as many a boxing KO is testament to.
  2. The eyes are a dangerous target as you could blind your opponent. If the situation is desperate ( a soldier in combat would not hesitate ) it can be used. I will say I have used this target before, but as a form of distraction to open up another target.
  3. The temple area contains nerves and the main artery to the brain. A clean strike to this point can cause a knockout or severe disorientation. Mike Tyson famously won the heavyweight title by striking Trevor Berbick on the temple.
  4. Ear/jaw/neck area. This spot has the main artery ( carotid ) running through it. Similar to a strike to the temple, you could KO someone.
  5. Throat. This is a very dangerous target and could cause death if struck with force. Obviously, in a life or death conflict, it would be aimed at and this is why it is a go-to area in Military Combat training. If struck it can cause damage to the air intake and choking is a possibility.
  6. The nose. We all know how it feels if you get whacked in the nose. It is a go-to target in all forms of combat. A strike under the nose is very painful and can cause a lot of damage. A strike to the bridge of the nose causes severe pain and can make the eyes water.

Main strike areas to the body

Strike areas to the body
Strike areas to the body
  1. The solar plexus is often mentioned and for good reason. It is a soft spot just below the rib cage and sternum and if struck cleanly it can cause serious incapacitation.
  2. The groin area is an obvious one. It should still be mentioned, though. If you are good at distracting your opponent, it can be left open more often than you might think.
  3. Joint areas. Any joint on the human body is vulnerable as it is designed to move in certain ways and not other ways. Once you learn how to strike across a joint to work against its function, you will see that it is a strike target that can incapacitate an attacker very quickly.
  4. The shins. Really? Yes. Anyone who has played football ( Soccer in the USA ) knows why you need shin pads. It really hurts getting whacked on the shins. In Old School Kung Fu we were taught to rake your shoes/boots/feet down the shins or stamp on them. This is something taught in military combat and it is very effective.
  5. The top of the foot or instep. This is not an easy target and can often be seen in slightly unrealistic self-defense videos. Either way, if it is struck cleanly by a foot stamp, then it really causes a lot of pain and could also result in broken bones. And, yes, another typical Military Combat technique.

In conclusion. Is it realistic to aim for these areas?

In a word, yes!
If you train your physical strike weapons correctly ( knees, head, hands, feet etc.. ) you may as well be training to hit something specific.
I remember a rugby training book by Jonny Wilkinson that spoke about tackling a large opponent. In it, he pointed out that to tackle this opponent efficiently, you had to aim at something very specific ( legs, knee area for example ).

This applies to self-defense. When you train to strike, always train to strike A SPECIFIC TARGET. This means that when the pressure is on, you will have a well-conditioned reflex strike action that will help in disarming a dangerous assailant.

Here is a video of examples of how a specific strike to the carotid artery on the upper neck area, close to the jaw, can completely disorientate an opponent.

Author: Andrew Johnson

I trained many years in Kung Fu, fought in full contact competitions and am a qualified instructor at The Combat Academy in the UK. The aim of this blog is to look at what modern self-defense training actually is and what it most probably should be.

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