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body shot punch

Introduction: The Core of the Matter

While Hollywood glorifies the knockout punch to the face, those versed in the arts of fighting and self-defense know the unsung hero is often a well-placed body shot. Striking the body isn’t just a tactic used to rack up points in the ring; it’s also an effective method to quickly incapacitate an opponent or assailant.

This article will delve into the psychology and physiology of body strikes, comparing their utility in sports martial arts like MMA or boxing and real-world self-defense situations.

The Psychology of Body Strikes: The Inside Story

For the Striker

Aiming for the body can be a calculated move to divert an opponent’s defense away from the face, creating openings for future attacks. In a self-defense scenario, body strikes can be less lethal but highly effective at stopping an attacker.

For the Recipient

Being hit in the body can be both physically and psychologically debilitating. It can knock the wind out of you, limit your mobility, and affect your ability to counter-attack or defend against subsequent strikes. The psychological aspect of body shots should not be underestimated; a solid hit can sap your will to fight.

The Physiology: Where It Hurts


A punch to the stomach can disrupt the diaphragm, making breathing hard and causing extreme discomfort. If the punch is forceful enough, it can even lead to internal bruising.


Strikes to the kidney area are not only painful but also dangerous. Kidney shots are illegal in most combat sports because they can lead to severe medical conditions and internal bleeding.


The liver shot is a golden ticket in the world of combat sports and self-defense. A strong enough impact can cause the liver to spasm, inducing a sharp, paralyzing pain and often causing the recipient to drop their guard or collapse.

Solar Plexus

A hit to the solar plexus can “wind” an individual, making it difficult to breathe. It can be a fight-ending shot in both sports and self-defense situations.


While not a common target, a forceful enough blow to the lower abdominal region could impact the bladder and cause immediate discomfort and even longer-term injury.

Tactical Advantages: Sport vs. Self-Defense

In Sports

In the realm of sport fighting, body strikes serve multiple purposes. They can wear down an opponent over time, set up for head strikes or other combinations, and strategically win points during a match.

In Self-Defense

When it comes to self-defense, the objective is to neutralize the threat as quickly as possible. Targeting vulnerable areas like the liver or solar plexus can be more effective in achieving immediate incapacitation than aiming for the head, which risks a glancing blow and may have legal repercussions.

Psychological and Physical Aftermath

Repeated body shots can accumulate damage, making it progressively more difficult for the recipient to maintain their stance or continue fighting. From a psychological standpoint, being unable to defend against body shots can also impact morale, affecting overall fighting performance negatively. Conversely, the striker gains confidence with each successful hit, enhancing their psychological edge in combat.

Conclusion: The Body of Work

Body strikes are far from being the unsophisticated moves they are often perceived as. They are tactical tools grounded in a deep understanding of human physiology and psychology, useful in sports and self-defense.

Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or an everyday person interested in personal safety, integrating body strikes into your repertoire can provide you with a more versatile and effective approach to combat.

As always, be safe and be prepared.


See Also (our Striking Science Series):

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