Self Defense Techniques: The Eight Targets
Article by William Gabriel
You already know why you need to study self defense. Your reasons are your own, but the situation is all too common: someone wants to hurt you, and you’d rather not get hurt. Fortunately, every assailant has one thing in common: he’s a human being. Humans have several common ‘soft spots’, some of which are obvious, and some of which are pretty counterintuitive if you’ve never studied them. Below is a list of targets, bottom to top, that every human shares.
Instep: Unless your assailant is wearing combat boots or heavy raingear, a hard stomp to the instep, even from a light person, will be enough to break some of the small bones of the foot. The result may not be incapacitation, but it will slow your attacker down and cause some severe pain.
Knees: To properly attack a target’s knee, don’t try to kick it like you would a soccer ball. Instead, the self defense masters say to stomp on it like you would the instep: draw your knee to your chest, and then thrust your heel out directly at your attacker’s knee. It doesn’t matter which direction you attack from, you’ll either hit and drive him to the ground, or you’ll miss and basically end up taking a big step closer to him — which you can also use to your advantage.
Groin: The obvious one. If you’re striking a guy, the specific self defense techniques you use don’t really matter — just get it done. If defending from a female attacker, don’t bother with your hands — just curl your toes back and give her the biggest soccer kick you can muster. Even a concentrated impact on the perineum (the least sensitive part of any human groin) can cause crippling pain and keep someone from walking for several seconds.
Solar Plexus: No matter how barrel-chested a man is, any focused upward impact from below the xyphoid process (the place where the lowest ribs join in the front of the body) will knock the air out of someone. Depending on your height differential, this can be accomplished effectively with a variety of self defense techniques including a knee, fist, elbow, or even a clever headbutt.
Armpit: A self defense option often overlooked by would-be wrestlers who like to take the fight to the ground, a thumb or one knuckle ground into the depths of the armpit and twisted will cause what can only be described as “massive discomfort”. It’s painful, but not blindingly so. Nonetheless, every instinct the human body has will kick in to make the burrowing sensation go away. It’s usually more than enough to get your assailant to scramble away and let you get back to your feet.
Throat: Striking the throat is tough — humans instinctively and effectively protect it with their chin even if their arms are busy. That said, if you get an unexpected first strike in, or your assailant is distracted by something else, it’s an excellent way to get someone away from you. Simply shove the open joint between your thumb and index finger forward into his Adam’s apple, hard. Worst-case scenario, he’ll back up fast and be more wary — but far more often, he’ll gag, gasp, and be ineffective for several seconds.
Upper Lip/Nose: That same open-joint shove can, if your opponent drops his chin, be adjusted to hit the upper lip. A massive complex of nerves sits directly behind the bottom of the nose, and an upward-angled strike to the upper lip will set off that nerve cluster. Similarly, a basic hammerfisted smash of the nose can often get the same results: momentary blindness, a massive involuntary backward flinch, and enough pain to cause almost anyone to tear up.
Eyes: The human instinct to protect the eyes is so strong that entire schools of fighting have been founded on attacking the eyes. Just sweeping the backs of your fingernails like a fan across an enemy’s face toward his eyes will universally cause a significant involuntary flinch, and if you even barely touch either eye, both will reflexively close. A thumb or knuckle in either eye will cause tearing and momentary blindness.
Eight targets, an infinite variety of self defense techniques. The next time someone who wants to abuse you makes a move, don’t concentrate on what ‘moves you know’ — concentrate on what you can do to hurt him enough to keep him from hurting you. It might not be martial arts at its finest, but it’s self defense at its most basic.
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