open hand strikes

5 Useful Open Hand Strikes for Self-defense

Last week I wrote a post about the usefulness of open hand strikes vs. punches for self-defense. This week, I’ll discuss 5 specific open hand strikes that I teach for self-defense and how they are useful.

Here is a video of the 5 open hand strikes I will discuss:

1. Straight Strike. A straight strike using the base of the palm is best used to the bridge of the nose. This can cause a lot of pain, as well as the tear ducts to empty. It can also break the nose. In a social situation self-defense situation in which you don’t want to injure a person seriously, you can place your palm on the tip of the nose and vigorously press it back and forth as you push your palm into the nose. The resulting pain from pushing into the many small nerve endings in the tip of the nose can be an effective way of pushing someone away.

2. Open-hand Hook. The body mechanics of this strike are similar to that of a hook punch. It looks like it’s just a big old slap, but it’s much more than that. The difference is that you get greater reach and that it causes knock-outs in a different way. This strike causes a concussive effect on the brain, which can effectively stun a person or knock them unconscious. Think of the skull as being like a pickle jar, while your brain is the pickles. When you hit the skull hard it rattles the pickles against the inside of the pickle jar” (i.e. your brain on the inside of the skull), which is what causes the stunning effect. Also, if you happen to hit the ear, you can break the ear drum and cause a lot of pain. Even if it lands only on the face and not the head, the resulting “smack” can be distracting enough to give a person pause.

3. Ridge Hand Strike. We most often use the ridge hand strike on the brachial plexus origin, a nerve motor point that results in stunning and potentially knock-outs when struck. When attacking this area, we use the inside of the wrist bone, rather than the hand itself. A ridge hand strike using the inside knuckle as the striking surface, can also be used to attack the nose when on an angle or the temple from straight on. Warning: a strike to the temple has the potential to be a fatal blow and should only be used in life-threatening situations.

4. Back Hand Strike. We use this strike also on the brachial plexus origin, using the back of the wrist bone.

5. Open hand Uppercut. This works in much the same way as a traditional uppercut. You need to close to your attacker to use it. When you strike the jaw right on target, the impact can stun or knock a person out, as is evidenced in many professional fights. It is said that this is caused by the temporal mandibular nerve, located directly behind the “hinge” of the jaw. Essentially, the jawbone slams back against the nerve, basically causing a form of sensory overload that can shut down the brain.

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