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Striking an assailant in a self-defense situation is possibly the best way to defend yourself. Striking is taught in most of the martial arts and is core to personal protection. Correct striking is imperative. Flailing wildly without landing a strike will drain your energy and telegraph that you do not know what you are doing. In this article I will detail 3 striking techniques with different parts of your body.
Self Defense Tactic 1 – Elbow Strikes
Elbow strikes can be a powerful and potentially lethal form of self-defense. Striking with the elbow, whether above or below the point of the elbow or the point itself can be used anywhere on the assailants body. The downsides of elbow strikes are they can only be used in close quarters combat and there is a possibility of injuring the point of the elbow if striking the opponents head.
Elbow strikes can target the head, neck, throat, back of the head, base of the skull, the arms, rib cage, thighs, hands and so on. This self-defense weapon can cause some serious damage and inflict an immense amount of pain. An elbow strike can come from any number of angles. From above or below the tip it can act much like a punch. From the tip it can be driven in or speared into the target.
Use short, quick strikes with maximum force or step into the aggressor for additional power. A women’s self-defense technique is a barrage of elbow strikes to the same target. Even though maybe not as much force can be applied all at once, hitting the same vulnerable body part or a nerve or major muscle can accomplish the same outcome with repetition. A standing barrage of strikes into the assailant can drive them backwards into a wall or trip them over something to allow for an escape.
Self Defense Tactic 2 – Closed Hand or Fist Strikes
Strikes with a fist or closed hand can be the most or least effective of all strikes. If the first strike is to a hard object, such as the head, you could break any number of small bones in your hand leaving you vulnerable. If the wrist is not trained or is not strong enough to handle the impact the wrist can be sprained. Boxers tape their hands and wrists for these very reasons.
Striking soft vulnerable body parts is better for closed fist punches. The ribs, kidneys, nose and solar plexus are a few areas. To be the most effective and powerful the hand must be compressed until it becomes a solid object. Aligning the hand, wrist and forearm into a straight line is the best way to avoid injury. Any part of this self-defense weapon that is not tight and aligned is subject to breaks, strains or tears.
A hammerfist is possibly the best self-defense technique for a closed hand strike. There is less potential for injury. Using the side of the hand can create more of a bludgeoning blow. A hammerfist typically comes from above and can be an unsuspected strike to many parts of the assailants body.
Self Defense Tactic 3 – Knee Strikes
Knee strikes, like elbow strikes, can be powerful and potentially deadly ways to defend yourself. Much like striking with the elbow a knee strike can be above, below or the kneecap itself. And again injury to the kneecap can result if striking the head. The legs and hips contain extremely strong muscles. Contact with any number of vulnerable body parts can disable an attacker quickly and allow for an escape.
Knee strikes are a close range defense technique. Do not leave your feet to deliver a knee strike. Strike the attacker on the inside and outside of their thighs, their hips, inside or outside of their knee joints, their tailbone, their stomach or groin if standing. Knee strikes can be a devastating self-defense technique if you find yourself on the ground and on top of them. Driving the knee into almost any area of their body with full force can inflict an immense amount of pain and render them useless and provide for an escape.

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