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Weapon of Choice: The Best Hand Strikes to Stun an Opponent

Updated: May 10

Best Empty Hand Move The Black Belt List
Black Belt Plus

hand striking

We talked to 7 martial arts combat experts who shared their experience on the best hand strike to stun an opponent.

Here is what we learned.

Here are the best hand strikes.

In the realm of martial arts lore, the notion of the Death Touch or Dim Mak once held a mystique that captivated practitioners and spectators alike. Tales of masters possessing the ability to incapacitate adversaries with a mere touch fueled imaginations and fueled debates on the true extent of human potential. While such legends persist, modern martial arts have shifted focus towards practicality and effectiveness in self-defense.

Today, seasoned practitioners emphasize the importance of proven tactics over elusive mysticism. Rather than dismissing the concept of Dim Mak entirely, they integrate a sense of realism into their training methodologies. The objective is clear: equip individuals with techniques that can deter or neutralize threats without resorting to lethal force.

Before delving into the age-old debate of Dim Mak's existence, it's crucial to consult experts who navigate the intricate landscape of combat strategy. They offer insights into striking techniques tailored not for fatal blows, but for stunning adversaries sufficiently to facilitate escape—a philosophy befitting the ethos of the peaceful warrior.

Let's embark on a journey through the wisdom of these martial arts practitioners, as they illuminate the pathways to effective self-defense through the art of striking.

Graciela Casillas 
Brachial Stun
hand striking graciela casillas

In my perspective, the most effective move for stunning is the brachial stun. By disrupting the blood flow to the brain, it operates independently of pain compliance, rendering it a highly efficient means of halting an individual in their tracks. Its effectiveness stems from its ability to be executed with a gross motor movement, employing the forearm to strike the targeted area with precision.

Jim Arvantis 
Lead Straight Punch 

hand striking

The lead straight features a forward hand delivery and lands vertically with the impact focused on the bottom three knuckles of the fist. Applied at close range, it delivers full power penetration — unlike the snapping motion of the boxer’s jab. During execution, your rear heel is raised and your hips twist in the direction of the punch, which puts your body behind the blow and generates the greatest force. The main target for the lead straight is the solar plexus.

Burt Richardson
Two-Hand Palm Slap 
hand striking burt richardson

Let’s assume that we are in a face-to-face scenario instead of squared off at kickboxing range. My personal go-to at this distance is a sudden, explosive two-handed palm slam into the mandible of the aggressor. Accomplishing this with a forward step and lean to create leverage (the “dive entry” from Silat) delivers tremendous power in an instant. It is a very efficient and effective initial salvo that may end the fight, but will at least stun the opponent, giving you that precious free moment to overwhelm him with follow-ups of your choice. 

Jared Wihongi 
Open Hand Palm Hook 
hand striking

An open-handed palm hook has been one of my favorite hand-based techniques for stun purposes. Target areas could vary from the back of the jaw, eardrum, back of the skull (nape), or nose. An open hand protects the bones of the hand more than a close-fisted punch, and the hooking strike allows for significant power generation much like a Boxer's hook.

Harinder Singh
Finger Jab
hand striking harinder singh

The best move to stun an opponent is a quick finger jab to the eyes, an opponent who cannot see is one who cannot attack you.  

This movement can attack from any angle, and in almost any situation, its purpose is to steal a beat in time by causing a moment of pain.  

Even if you miss, you will create a flinch response and the head will snap backward exposing the groin for a follow-up.  

Make sure to keep your fingers together and practice whipping mechanics like a Mohamed Ali-style jab."

Tom Callos 
Palm Strike

hand striking

After breaking my hand a dozen times and hitting hard objects with my fists, I have transitioned to palm strikes as my preferred method of empty-hand striking. 

The amount of power that can be generated with an open-handed straight line (straight right) or circular punch (hook) is staggering, literally. If the opportunity presented itself in a confrontation, 

I would aim an open palm strike to the side of the jaw with the intent of knocking my opponent unconscious —or at the very least stunning him enough to facilitate an escape. And in some cases, a good hard shove of an opponent, into or over something, can buy enough time to exit the situation. 

Bram Frank
"Karate Chop"

bram frank

The best actual strike to the limb would be the " karate chop" of the movies.  A shuto or bottom rifle hand to the radial nerve of the bad guy.

This literally can stun the whole bad guy from the nerve induction shock of the strike .. and "stun" the arm so it can't be used against you.  

"HIYA," chop that arm.

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