Martial arts strikes: Not all areas of the torso will have the same effect as others. List of best striking points and possible effects.
The striking points for the human torso have been studied and perfected for centuries. In the early days of martial arts the reasons for why certain areas were more effective than others were not known but today, medical science has an explanation for these same areas.
As with any martial arts technique, the size and skill of the one doing the technique as well as the size and physical shape of their opponent will cause any defensive moves to vary in effectiveness. A perfect example would be the favorite strike of movies and television, the karate chop. Who hasn’t seen Captain Kirk fell his opponents with one of these? True, the man he was “hitting” was being paid well to fall down but if it were a real life scenario, Kirk would have a better chance of having it work against an equal or smaller sized opponent. If he attempted it against Shaquelle O’Neil, it would be ludicrous. So remember, each of the following striking points will vary in effectiveness against different people.
Back of the neck (3rd vertebrae) – This is located midway between the base of the head and the beginning of the shoulders. If you reach up and feel the back of your own neck, you will find a naturally curving area, this is the area to strike. A forceful blow can cause pain, numbness, tingling and in some extreme cases, paralysis.
Front of throat – Under the thyroid cartilage at the base of the throat is a hollowed out area that sits right above the beginning of the thoracic cage. This cage begins at the shoulder blades and ends at the bottom of the ribs. It is in this hollow area where the trachea (windpipe) isn’t protected. A simple push with one finger can cause discomfort to the opponent while a forceful blow could cause serious permanent injury or death. If you wonder how much effect a single finger to this area can do, practice it on yourself. If you do practice it, remember to use a gradually increasing amount of pressure.
Side of the neck- Slightly above the collarbone is an area that is vulnerable because of a nerve cluster as well as both the jugular vein and carotid artery. Blows to this area can cause pain, temporary stunning or even death. All of which depends upon the force behind the blow.
Muscle at base of neck – Right where the neck joins into the shoulders is a group of muscles and nerves. This is the area that the previously mentioned Capt. would aim for. Depending on the force of the blow, the results could be pain, muscle spasms that make the arm on that side temporarily useless, numbness and possibly even injury to the muscles themselves.
Collarbone – Practically useless as a target for a small person hitting a larger opponent but when the opponent is the same size or smaller, it can prove to be very effective. There is pain, jarring and a good chance of fracture since the bone is fairly delicate.
The upper back – Located on the spinal column midway between the shoulder blades is a raised ridge area. A solid blow to this area can result in a loss of balance when used by a smaller person against a larger opponent. When the sizes are equal or the opponent is smaller, it can cause pain, jarring, shock and in some cases, injury to the spinal column.
Kidneys – These are located a few inches on either side of the spinal column and right around the waist and just below the lower ribs. The most common attack comes from the back in the form of a hammer fist, elbow strike or kick. Extreme care should be used whenever practicing blows to this area. Pain, kidney damage and even death are very real possibilities.
There is another way of hitting the kidneys. This comes as a forceful blow to the “false or floating ribs” located at the very bottom of the rib cage. It is well known as a “tickle spot.” These ribs are not attached at both ends. They are shorter than the normal ribs and if struck, are fairly easy to break away from the spinal column and cause a puncture of the kidneys or lungs. The internal injury will depend upon the direction of the blow itself.
Solar Plexus – This is the area commonly known as the “bread basket.” Depending on the force and angle of the strike, results against an opponent could include “knowing the wind out of them,” shock to the internal organs, breakage of the Zyphoid process. This breakage could lead to death as the process punctures the lungs or some other vital organ. To break the zyphoid process, you would need to be executing a strike that is in as well as upward. Kicks, upper jabs and palm-heel strikes are all possibilities so be very careful if you are practicing with a sparring buddy using these techniques.
Lower pelvic area – A few inches above the pubic bone but below the belly button is a soft area of the abdomen that is hard to condition and build up musculature. A solid hit or kick to this area can cause severe pain as well as the possibility of injury to the bladder and other organs located here.
Groin – The testicular/vaginal area is very sensitive and blows to the area can cause extreme pain to both men and women. In men, there is the possibility of testicular injury as well. This is a common area covered in women’s self-defense classes but it is unfortunately an instinctual coverage area for men.
Coccyx – This is commonly called the tailbone. To do deliver an effective blow to this area requires both power and accuracy. If this is accomplished, pain will result as well as the risk of sever injury. The coccyx area can be sheared off from the rest of the spinal column and when this happens, there is a high risk of spinal cord damage.
In any life and death situation you should use every possible means of defense to escape with your life. In practice, you and your partner should always wear proper protective gear to lower the risk of accidental injury.