Basically, in a real self-defense situation, especially if you are to use strikes, you are better off hitting the vital targets. One advantage to hitting vital targets is that the weapon does not have to be that hard; you can use your fingers or side of your hand for many vital targets and it doesn’t take a lot of force to do damage to those targets. And damage is what you want to do to the attacker if you want to defend yourself. A little pain won’t always do.
For purposes of this article we will define a vital target as a target on the attacker that is more easily damaged or that, when hit, can cause a maximum amount of pain with less effort on your part. In this article we will review the targets of the eyes, the throat, ears, the groin and the knee.
Basically, it takes very little force to damage the eyes and cause a lot of pain for the attacker. You can barely brush the eyeball and create enormous pain for the opponent and, indeed, blind him at least temporarily, which means you’ve disabled him somewhat (or a lot, depending). If you go all out and dig your thumb in to his eye or thrust fingers into his eyes, well you’ve got him not only distracted but maybe permanently disabled.
Thumbs into the eyes are an effective deterrent at close range.
This is a vital target because it can cause death if damaged severely; for this reason most people will protect their throats. Instinctively most of us know we don’t want the windpipe ruptured; that would mean loss of oxygen, which is vital, and death. A chop to the throat is extremely painful, creates an immediate response from the adversary and if enough force is used could end the fight abruptly.
It’s pretty easy to do damage to the ear, a simple slap to the ear can injure the ear drum and make it hard to hear. An elbow to the ear will be even worse for your adversary.
It just doesn’t take much force at all to stop someone for a good long time with a groin shot. Slapping the groin can often suffice. Those are some organs not meant to take too much punishment.
You turn into him (torque) as your right fist rakes through his face and chambers high, your left hand sword thrusts into his throat and your left knee goes up into the groin. You are doing four things at once: Chambering and striking in succession with both hands as you knee him in the groin.
The knee is a joint and all joints can potentially be dislocated, which would make the opponent disabled. It’s also a target that’s a little more difficult to defend. A low kick can be very quick and obscure and you can’t block a low kick with the arms without making yourself vulnerable; you’d have to move the leg. Not everyone (though some are) is savvy enough to know that.
Other Targets to Consider
Other targets to consider are the nose, the philtrum nerve, the cheek nerves, the jaw and the temples on the head. Near the groin, you might want to consider the bladder. On the limbs, the elbow joints are often vulnerable.
Someone getting struck hard in the nose will often find their eyes watering so that they can’t even see; the pain is excruciating because this is another one of those parts of the body that is sensitive, because we use it to smell; just as the eyes are sensitive.
The jaw can potentially be dislocated. Getting hit hard in the temple can cause a knock-out. But it should be remembered for these targets, you need a significant amount of force behind your strikes for them to be effective.
The bladder is a soft target, even pushing thumbs or fingers into it can cause a reaction. It’s located just above the groin, in the soft part below the belly where the waist bends.
It is just important to remember which targets take little force to affect, which is vital and will have a significant effect on the attacker when struck. Other targets, as mentioned, require significantly more force when struck to create damage.
Here is an excellent chart that shows all of the martial arts striking points.
In 1981, at the age of 11, I began training in Goju Ryu Karate at a local community center on the Central Coast of California. I trained there for about a year. In 1984, my family moved to Northern California, where I began training in Kenpo Karate under Professor Charles “Chuck” Epperson. I trained at Professor Epperson’s dojo for about a year. I left the dojo, but returned in 1994. I earned ranks up through second-degree black belt under Chuck Epperson. I tested for brown and black belts in front of Master Richard “Huk” Planas, first-generation Ed Parker Kenpo black belt. I taught classes at Professor Epperson’s dojo from 1998 to 2002. I have also taught private lessons for friends and family. I have training in Doce Pares Eskrima under Charles Epperson and have attended seminars by Master Anthony Kleeman and Grandmaster Cacoy Canete. I have also trained in DeCuerdas Eskrima under Professor James Muro. In addition to my martial arts training, I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, have worked in the Human Services field since 1996, and currently spend most of my time writing web articles.