Defense without a weapon - the body's soft targets

Driving to work today I thought about all of the great conversations going on in the Community. There are a lot of interesting articles and videos referenced with amazing education on self-defense with various weapons. One thing we haven’t talked much about is how to defend yourself without a weapon. In martial arts, there is a lot of training on where the vulnerable spots are on the body.

One thing I mention in another post is self-defense is not a clean fight. Fighting dirty can save your life - and really isn’t fighting dirty when it’s your life in the balance.

Here are a few soft body targets that can help you defend your life:


The temple
upwards on the nose or chin
the center of the neck
the sternum
the solar plexus
the groin
the front of the knee
either side of the knee
behind the ear
just under the skull on the back of the head
the kidneys
the sides of the knees

And remember, gouging the eyes with your thumbs is a great distractor and can blind your attacker - and is something easily forgotten in the adrenaline rush of the attack. Cupping your hands and clapping them over your attacker’s ears can cause a ruptured eardrum if done correctly.

What areas of the body do you train to attack if you don’t have a weapon?


This image is missing the radial muscle cluster on the forearms. About 2-3 inches below the elbow. Hammerfist strike it, kubatons and tactical pens make this even worse for the receiver. If you’re still not sure where you’re striking, hold your arm out straight. then bend the elbow until your arm is making a 90 degree angle. Examine your forearm and look for where the muscles overlap each other. The goal is to cause those muscles to cramp, which will weaken the ability to grab or make a fist. When striking you want to drive your fist through like you’re trying to push their arm to the ground.

Outside of the thigh is another muscle cluster, this one is called the common peronnial. The goal is the same, only you’re trying to gimp their ability to move. Shin kick the snot out of that muscle overlap.

Follow your collar bone to the center of your throat. Feel the notch in the bone? That’s the jugular notch. Against an attacker drive two fingers as deep into that notch as possible at a downward angle.

Along the jawline, just below the ear you will find another notch. Shove your finger in there like you’re trying to push their brains out the other side.

If your attacker has a grip on you, don’t try to peel the whole hand off. Grab that pinky and yank it back to their forearm, bonus points for twisting and reefing it back and forth in directions it’s not supposed to bend.


All good points, @Spence. The graphic was to show some of the easiest to hit without having to process too much information during a self-defense incident. I think I’m going to make this a weekly installment and talk about different defenses without a firearm every week :slight_smile: The finger bend was one of the first moves on the list of ideas I made this morning. Great minds think alike!

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I guess when you’ve trained to strike these areas for years they become autonomous. I didn’t think about it (pun intended) requiring thought lol.


After years of training, it is automatic. But some of the most basic strikes to those of us who have trained are a-ha moments for those new to weaponless self-defense. After learning about the finger bend/breaking technique, I thought, “Of course that makes sense! Why didn’t I think of it before?” So I want to start at the very basics - review for some, new to others.

Knocking the cobwebs off of some unused training is never a bad idea. :slight_smile:


The human body is designed to bend in certain directions, forcing them to bend in other ways creates unique responses.


Crotch, solar plexus, throat, and the knees. And yes, I absolutely subscribe to the notion that “old men fight dirty.” I’m too old to run, and too good lookin to take a beatin’.



Sometimes, even the most fit people will have to utilize force to get away from someone. If someone grabs your arm and you have to get out of their grip - there are techniques to help you do that without a gun.


Ive actually been studying this for a different reason; my son. A 9 year old cant be walking around with guns and knives for defense. My wife and I have been working with him in how to get away from an attacker/kidnapper. Also, with all these idiot kids doing these knockout games, and stuff like that, I want him to have the best advantage he can. We tried Jiu Jitsu when he was younger, but, our son is a very social person and wouldn’t sit still and pay attention. We may try again now that he’s a little older. Until then, just like millions of young boys my age, he’ll learn to fight from dear old dad.


If I lose an unarmed fight it is because I didn’t “cheat” soon enough. The only fair fight is in the ring with a referee and boxing gloves (and even then some dont fight fair).


Nobody has mentioned the side of the neck’s nerve bundle…your attacker’s brain is the “real” threat. Knife edge strike/backhand ulna strike/fist into the side of the neck will shut the lights off. Threat neutralized. Punch to the throat…elbow to the Solar Plexus…any kick/strike to the groin (works on female as well if need be) They aren’t interested in YOUR well being, don’t worry about theirs. Your life could be on the line.


Very true, that nerve bundle can do some damage as well, @fiznerpin. This was definitely not all of the spots, just a few that are easy to remember. :slight_smile:

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Yes the points you show might be vulnerable and I show some
hand/finger etc manipulations but:
I mostly try to emphasize and show simple but strong Defensive
Positions to protect “your” head and neck areas.

Attack any points that may be open but even more important
protect yourself from a knock-out.

And emphasize that there is a good chance you will 1st
have to fight and move to gain some distance to just get
“To” their gun to deploy it. And show how to do that.

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