There are many factors to consider when striking to protect yourself or others. One of these is striking vulnerable parts of the assailant’s body. A concise definition of “vulnerable part of the body” is parts of the human body that cannot be strengthened by exercise or training. An obvious example would be the eyes. To my knowledge, there are no gym equipment or “Eyeballs of Steel” DVDs. Please contact me if you find any. Or not…?
With this definition in mind let’s explore some of the vulnerable points on the body. We will start at the top of the body and work our way down. This is not an exhaustive list (there are more) but covers the ones we tend to cover most often in class. We are also staying away from the more technical language, preferring the more accessible layperson’s terms. Also, we have matched each with a practical self -defense scenario.
Temple. The weakest point of the skull. Strikes (e.g. hooks) can lead to disorientation and unconsciousness.
Practical Situation: Combat. Hook punch or inward horizontal elbow.
The Eyes. Strikes can water the eyes or even cause blindness. Using your fingers or thumbs to strike or gouge. Yes, it is disgusting (think [spoiler alert] Game of Thrones Mountain vs Red Viper) but can be life-saving.
Practical Situations: Escaping headlocks from the side and behind, bear hug from the front (arms free).
The Nose. A strike to the summit of the nose (e.g. vertical hammer strike or head butt) can disorient by water the eyes and shocking the brain. Strong enough strikes can lead to unconsciousness.
Practical Situation: Escaping Bearhugs from the Front (Arms free or arms trapped)
Ears. Cupping the hands and slapping the ears can disorient, induce pain and create trauma to the eardrum.
Practical Situation: Escaping Bear Hugs from the Front (Arms Free)
The Jaw. A well-placed strike can induce dizziness or unconsciousness.
Practical Situation: As part of a striking combination (often a hook punch included) used to defend yourself.
Carotid Sinus (side of the throat). A strike here can disrupt blood flow to the brain causing the heart rate to drop and leading to disorientation or unconsciousness.
Practical Situation: Forearm strike to attacker’s carotid sinus.
The Base of the Throat (Windpipe). A strike here can inflict severe pain.
Practical Situation: Educational Stop (stopping an incoming aggressor with a strike/push with middle finger). Here, you are offering a strong warning.
Ribs (Floating Ribs) The 11th and 12th ribs (the lowest, just above the stomach) are most vulnerable.
Practical Situation: Hook punch, diagonal roundhouse kick, escaping choke on the ground, mounted position
Groin. Effective strikes can lead to pain, nausea, and unconsciousness, particular with male assailants.
Practical Situation: Escaping various hold and grabs, leg strikes to create and maintain distance…
Lower Thigh. An effective strike can cause pain and temporary paralysis or “dead leg”.
Practical Situation: Roundhouse kick.
Knees. A good place strike can inflict pain and disable an attacker.
Practical Situation: Roundhouse kick, sidekick to create distance e.g. after escaping choke from the side.
Top of the Foot. There are many small bones on the foot (similar to our hand). A hard strike can inflict pain and compromise the attacker’s balance.
Practical Situation: Escaping a bearhug.
During training, we use striking pads to safely strike with speed and power. We must, however, always be mindful of where we are striking to give us the best chance to survive an assault.
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