The weapons of the body to use in self defense

Weapons of the Body

In a close combat situation, many people consider the fists as the only weapon of the body. Fists are important in close combat, but in fact, there are many other body parts that can be used as an effective weapon in a combat situation.

Hands and Arms

The hands, forearms, and elbows are the arm’s individual weapons. The hands consist of several areas that can be used as weapons: fists, edges of hands, palms, and fingers.


To minimize injury to the fists, use your fists as weapons to target soft tissue areas such as the throat. The proper striking surface to use on the fist are the first two knuckles of the hands or the meaty portions of the hands below the little fingers.

Edge of Hand

Don’t forget that you can use the edge of the hand (knife edge) as a weapon. Use the edge of the hand to strike soft tissue areas.

The palm of the hand as a weaponPalms

Because of the palm’s padding, use the heels of the palms to strike, parry, and/or block.  The palm is especially effective in a hard-driven, uppercut to a opponent’s jaw.


Use the fingers to gouge, rip, and tear soft tissue areas (e.g., eyes, throat, groin).


Use the forearms as a defensive tool to deflect or block attacks. Forearms can also be used as striking weapons to damage or break an opponent’s joints and limbs and are especially useful when the opponent is close to you.  Given the length and limited number of joints involved, a forearm blow is especially quick too and can easily catch the opponent off-guard.  You are likely to sustain less self-injury when strikes are conducted with the forearms than when strikes are conducted with fists and fingers.


Use the elbows as striking weapons. Because of the short distance needed to generate power and dense bone construction in the elbow, elbows are excellent weapons for striking during the close range of close combat, especially if the combatant is facing you (strike the head, face, or chin of the enemy).


The legs are more powerful than any other weapon of the body, and they are less prone to injury when striking (especially if the feet are protected with shoes).


Use the balls of the feet, the insteps, and the toes to kick an opponent. The cutting edge of the heels and the heels can be used to stomp on an opponent. Striking with the toes should only be attempted when wearing boots.



Like elbows, knees are excellent weapons in the close range of close combat. Knee strikes are most effective while fighting close to an opponent where kicks are impractical. The opponent’s groin area is an ideal target for the knee strike if he is standing upright. Knee strikes can deliver a devastating secondary attack to an opponent’s face following an initial attack that caused him to bend at the waist.

Target Areas of the Body

Target areas of the body

During close combat, you should strive to attack the accessible target areas of an opponent’s body. The readily accessible areas will vary with each situation and throughout the engagement. The target areas are divided into five major groups: head, neck, torso, groin, and extremities. The figure above illustrates target areas of the body.


The vulnerable regions of the head are the eyes, temple, nose, ears, and jaw. Massive damage to the head kills an opponent.


The eyes are excellent targets because they are soft tissue areas that are not protected by bone or muscle. Attacks to this area may cause the opponent to protect the area with his hands, allowing you to execute a secondary attack..


The temple is one of the most fragile areas of the head. Powerful strikes to the opponent’s temple can cause permanent damage and death.


The nose is very sensitive and easily broken. An attack to this area causes involuntary watering and closing of the opponent’s eyes, rendering him vulnerable to secondary attacks. However, through training, individuals can condition themselves to withstand attacks to the nose. Therefore, any attack to the nose must be powerfully delivered.


Attacks to the ears may cause the eardrum to rupture. But this may not stop or even distract an opponent unless you deliver a particularly powerful strike.


Because of major nerve pathways in the area, the jaw region, when struck forcefully, renders the opponent unconscious. Strikes to the jaw can cause painful injuries to the teeth and surrounding tissues (e.g., lips, tongue), but the risk of self-injury is great unless you deliver strikes with a hard object such as a stick, club, or boot heel.


The front of the neck, or throat area, is a soft tissue area that is not covered by natural protection. Damage to this region causes the opponent’s trachea to swell, closing his airway, which can lead to death.

Carotid Sinus

The carotid sinus is located on both sides of the neck just below the jaw. Strikes to the carotid sinus restrict blood flow to the brain, causing loss of consciousness or death.


Cervical Vertebrae

The cervical vertebrae on the back of the neck, from the base of the skull to the top of the shoulders, contains the spinal cord, which is the nervous system’s link to the brain. The weight of the head and the lack of large muscle mass allow damage to the cervical vertebrae and spinal cord. Excessive damage to this area causes pain, paralysis, or death.


The opponent’s clavicle (or collar bone) can be easily fractured, causing immobilization of the arm.

Solar Plexus

Attacks to the opponent’s solar plexus or center of the chest can knock the breath out of him and immobilize him.


Damage to the opponent’s ribs immobilizes him. It may also cause internal trauma.


Powerful attacks to the opponent’s kidneys cause immobilization, permanent damage, or death.


The groin area is another soft tissue area not covered by natural protection. Any damage to this area causes the opponent to involuntarily protect his injured area, usually with his hands or legs. In male opponents, the scrotum is the main target since even a near miss causes severe pain, contraction of the lower abdominal muscles, deterioration of his stance, and possible internal trauma.


Rarely will an attack to the opponent’s extremities (arms and legs) cause death, but they are important target areas in close combat. Damage to an opponent’s joints causes immobilization.

Pressure Points of the Body

Pressure points on the human body

There are nerves in the human body that, when pressure is applied or when they are struck, allow you to control a subject through pain compliance. Use pressure points to control an opponent when deadly force is not desired. You can also use pressure points to soften or distract an opponent so a lethal or nonlethal technique can be employed. The figure above illustrates the body’s pressure points. You can execute attacks to these pressure points by rapidly kicking or striking pressure points or slowly applying steady pressure to pressure points.

Infraorbital Nerve

The infraorbital nerve is just below the nose. You can apply pressure to this nerve with an index finger to control the opponent.

Mastoid Process

The mastoid process is behind the base of the ear and beneath the edge of the jaw. Apply inward and upward pressure to this pressure point with the fingers to distract and control the opponent.


Jugular Notch

The jugular notch is at the base of the neck in the notch formed at the center of the clavicle. Apply pressure in a quick, stabbing motion with the index finger. Strikes to the jugular notch cause serious damage.

Brachial Plexus (Tie In)

The brachial plexus (tie in) is on the front of the shoulder at the joint. Strikes and pressure applied with the hand are effective on this nerve.

Radial Nerves

Radial nerves are on the inside of the forearms along the radius bones. Strikes and pressure applied with the hand to the radial nerve serve as a softening technique.

Ulnar Nerve

Ulnar nerves are on the outside of the forearms along the ulnar bones. Strikes and pressure applied with the hand to the ulnar nerve serve as a softening technique.

Pressure Point on the Hand

The hands contain a pressure point on the webbing between the thumbs and index fingers where the two bones of the fingers meet. To force an opponent to soften or release his grip, apply pressure with your index fingers to this pressure point or strike this pressure point with their fists.

Femoral Nerves

Femoral nerves are on the inside of the thighs along the femur bones and help a person extend their knees. Hard strikes to the femoral nerve serve can make it difficult for the opponent to stand while pressure to the nerve can acts as a softening technique.

Peroneal Nerves

Peroneal nerves are on the outside of the thighs along the femur bones and provided sensation to the front and side parts of the legs and to the top of the feet. Strikes to the peroneal nerve serve as a softening technique and cause the opponent to be unable to lift his foot.

Pressure Points on the Feet

There are pressure points on the feet that, when pressure is applied or when they are struck, serve to soften or distract the opponent. You can apply pressure to these areas with the toe, edge, or heel of your boots to the following points:

  1. The notch below the ball of the ankle.
  2. The top center of the foot, above the toes.
  3. The top of the foot where the leg and foot meet.