“I don't even call it violence when it's in self defense; I call it intelligence”
Let's face it, if you ever have the misfortune to be attacked in the street, your attacker thinks they can beat you. They believe that they have the physical capability to subdue you. Usually this means that they will be bigger and stronger than you.
To defend yourself, you will need to put all your efforts into attacking the most vulnerable targets on their body. The accessible areas will vary upon the encounter and will probably change as the situation develops.
The more effective your attacks, the quicker you can get away and the safer you will be. The target areas are sensitive areas which can't be toughened easily. This makes them ideal striking areas for self-defence.
Note that this isn't strictly about pressure points, that article is already written and awaiting posting. This post just identifies the areas of the body which are weaker to attack the effects a good strike will have.
Starting at the top and working down is a logical way of identifying the vulnerable areas, naturally many of these vital points are positioned in the head.
Head and Neck -
Top of the head:
Where the frontal cranial bones join at the top of the head there is a weak spot. A strike to the top of the head causes trauma to the cranial cavity, which can result in unconsciousness. A severe strike can result in death.
The forehead is reinforced with thick bone; impact will rarely cause serious injuries however a forceful strike can cause whiplash. As with all head strikes, a severe blow can cause death.
The temple is the area on the side of the head behind the eyes. The temporal bone overlaps the sphenoid bone. The overlap is the spot weak to strikes. His area will be covered in more detail in the pressure point post but an artery and nerve lie close to the skin here. A strike can cause unconsciousness and brain concussion. If the artery is severed, the brain is compressed causing coma and/or death.
The eyes are one of the most vulnerable body parts to pain, a slight jab in the eyes causes uncontrollable watering and blurred vision, a forceful poke can cause temporary blindness. The eyes can also be gouged out. The eyes are not protected by bone or muscle and cannot be strengthened; an attack usually causes an involuntary movement in the attacker allowing for secondary attacks or escapes.
Ears and Nose:
A strike to the ear with cupped hands can rupture the eardrum and may cause concussion, pulling on the ears is also painful for attackers. While it's a myth that you can shunt the nose into the brain it is certainly easy to break the cartilage of the nose causing pain and watering eyes. Attacks to the ears and nose are pain reliant so an attacker on drugs or is determined wouldn't be completely deterred.
Chin and Jaw:
A strike to the jaw can cause whiplash and is the cause behind many knockout punches. A powerful impact can break the jaw. The chin and jaw are tough areas and there is a risk of hurting yourself with strikes to this area.
Back of the head and neck:
Known as a rabbit punch in sport, strikes to the back of the head cause unconsciousness, concussion or death by jolting the brain inside the skull. This is illegal in sports because of the likelihood of serious injury.
A strike to the front of the neck can cause intense pain, vomiting and difficulty breathing. Compression causes the attacker to choke but will take too long to be effective in losing consciousness. The suprasternal notch is found at the base of the neck and is soft tissue, so it cannot be hardened apart from calluses on the skin.The throat is particularly vulnerable and attacks can prove fatal.
Side of neck:
Strikes to the side of the neck can cause pain and involuntary movements or unconsciousness. The carotid artery is found in the side of the neck and is also vulnerable to compression and strangulation.
Front of shoulder muscle:
A large amount of nerves passes around the shoulder, the joint is very complex and strikes can cause significant pain compared to the effort put in.
A strike to the clavicle can easily break; this will cause pain and destabilising the shoulder, making it essentially unusable. Downward pressure behind the clavicle will effectively deter an attacker or take them down. Under the new rules, this attack is no longer a foul in MMA.
The armpit is relatively void of muscle and has a large nerve cluster which can be struck causing pain; the armpit of an attacker is often readily available to be attacked.
Strikes aimed at spinal column can result in paralysis or in death. Attacks to the spine are completely banned in MMA due to the risk of injury.
Solar plexus and Diaphragm:
The solar plexus is a centre for sympathetic nerves that control the cardiorespiratory system. A strike to this region, between the navel and the sternum, can cause shock, breathlessness and pain. The feeling of being “winded” comes from blunt impact to the solar plexus.
A powerful strike to the kidneys can cause incredible pain and shock, internal injury to the kidney is also likely.
The sternum is a hard bone in the centre of the the chest, strikes cause significant pain and can jolt the heart. This is particularly effective if the attacker’s chest is very muscular.
An opponent can be disarmed by a strike to the forearm. If the strike is powerful enough the arm can become useless. The radial and ulnar nerves are viable pressure points to utilise in the forearm. However a forearm attack alone is unlikely to incapacitate an attacker
A strike to the inside of the bicep causes pain and can often cause the arm to lose all strength which can deter an attacker. Remember that the attacker still has their other arm too!
Back of hand and fingers:
As the nerves in the hand pass over the bones near the surface, a strike to this area is intensely painful. The small bones on the back of the hand are easily broken however the attacker can still attack with the other hand. Attacks to the fingers cause pain and are equally easy to break.
A moderate blow to the groin can incapacitate an opponent and cause intense pain on male and female attackers. There is an instinctive reaction to protect the groin if attacked. However the groin isn't a get out of jail free card like it is often thought of; some attackers will not be deterred by a groin attack.
Outside and Inside of thigh:
Large nerves pass near the surface on the sides of the thigh. A powerful strike to this region can cause “dead leg” and even takedown an attacker. The peroneal nerve is on the outside of the thigh and the femoral nerve on the inside.
A severe strike to the hamstring can cause muscle spasms and weakness in the leg.
Damage to the knee can cause huge damage to an attacker, pushing the knee backwards stretches the oblique ligaments making it impossible to stand.
A moderate strike to the shin produces great pain, it is only protected by thin muscles and so powerful strikes are capable of breaking the bone.
Instep and Ankle:
The small bones and nerves on the top of the foot are easily attacked with stomping attacks. A strike here will hinder the opponent’s mobility and cause sprains as well as breaking the small bones of the foot.
Knowing the weak areas of the body is one thing, knowing how and when to attack them is another thing. Being able to chain effects together is a skill which can be developed too, but only with practice!
Depending who you talk to, there are dozens of ways of striking an area. The obvious is a closed fist punch but there are other options you can use, palm heel strikes, Leopard fist, hammer fist and knife hand strikes to name a few, and they're just using the hand. Elbows, knees, head butts, kicks and forearms, anything can be used, just need to know how.
Knowing how to match the striking area with the method of striking right for the situation is key for self defence.
Next week will feature actual “pressure points” in much greater detail. Stay tuned.