Martial Arts

Can A Knife Hand Strike Knockout Or Kill

Yes, A properly executed knife hand strike to the side of the neck often causes severe pain to the receiver and a potential knockout. Can it kill well I don’t think UFC would set up a rule ” Throat strikes of any kind, including, without limitation, grabbing the trachea” for no reason. That should have answered both your questions, if you wanna learn more about the knife hand strike stick around.

Can A Knife Hand Strike Knockout Or Kill

How Can A Knife Hand Strike Knockout an Opponent?

A knife hand strike can be executed from multiple areas, which in certain situations would provide a better result than a normal punch. The most lethal area a knife hand strike is known for, is to cause extreme damage to the neck. This is because the neck contains a lot of sensitive nerve endings, similarly to the groin that hurt like hell when hit in that particular area.

Vagus Nerve

The vagus nerve is located at the side of the neck, it is responsible for the parasympathetic control of the heart, lungs, and digestive tract. A precise knife hand strike to this area will cause disorientation, dizziness and possibly even a knockout.

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External Carotid Artery

The external carotid artery is located to the side of your throat, if you put your hand on it you can feel your pulse. This artery is responsible for supplying blood to the face and brain. This technique is known as the ‘Brachial Stun’ where you target your opponent’s carotid artery, the pressure from the attack to the artery temporarily disrupts the blood flow depending on your opponent and how precise the strike was done the causes of the strike will be from disorientation to a winning knockout.

Rabbit Punch

Both the techniques we discussed above have a chance to knockout an opponent but unlikely to kill an opponent assuming that those techniques are used on professional fighters. Though the rabbit punch takes it up a notch on the killing potential and is definitely a technique you should not be using, the name of this technique came from hunters using this technique to kill rabbits with a quick, sharp strike to the back of the head. A knife hand strike to the back of the head can damage the cervical vertebrae and afterwards the spinal cord, which will lead to an irreparable spinal cord injury. A rabbit punch can detach the opponent’s brain from the brain stem, which can kill instantly. Never practice this technique even in controlled environments.

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Knife Hand Strike?

Like all techniques each technique has it’s up’s and down’s, so what makes the knife hand strike superior in certain situations than other techniques. The main area where this technique excel’s is when its used in an uncontrolled environment ‘street fight’ as it inflicts less damage back to your bone structure. As experts say ‘when it comes to survival, you need to cause as much damage to your target as rapidly as possible while maintaining the integrity of your bone structure.’ I don’t see it being that great in a controlled fight situation as your going to be wearing protective gear.

Durability On The Hand

Newton’s Third Law states ‘For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.’ What does this have to do with the knife hand strike you might say, well for every attack we do it inflicts pain on ourselves. The part of the hand that’s used to inflict pain on the victim is one of the most naturally durable parts of our body, unlike the normal punch.

Even though the normal punch looks more natural to do if the fist is unprotected by hand wraps and gloves it will often lead to shattered knuckles or dislocated fingers if the opponent where to block it correctly or you hit a strong bone such as the skull elbow or shoulder, or you might miss and hit the concrete if you’ve already pinned down your opponent there’s a high chance of breaking your bones. Obviously fighter’s condition there hand’s to avoid this problem but conditioning your fists takes years, while your hand’s heel can inflict damage without inflicting a lot of damage back to you without any prior training.

Theoretically someone who does not have a fighting background knife hand strikes would be a more efficient attack to use than a normal punch.

How To Do The Knife Hand Strike?

  • Open your hand with your fingers slightly bent and touching together.
  • Bend the top of the thumb downwards.
  • Pivot your hand backwards from the forearm.
  • Move you arm to the opposite side ear with the palm facing away from the ear.
  • Aim which part you want to hit and strike.
  • Just before landing the hit pivot your hand forward from the forearm.

Here’s are man John Graden showing us how to do a knife hand strike.

What Martial Arts Use The Knife Hand Strike?

The knife hand strike is basically a default technique implied in every martial art throughout the years being called a multiple different names such as karate chop, edge of the hand strike, ax hand, judo chop, sword hand and many more.

It has always been a popular move, in fact it inspired many cartoons/ movies where they use the karate chop after getting behind there opponents in a stealthy way to knockout the target instantly without harming him. Which is quite concerning as a knockout from the knife hand strike might link to future strokes due to damage on the brachial artery. The way it’s displayed in cartoons/movies might give the impression that its totally harmless to the simple minded and be used to joke around with friends.

With the rise of MMA and UFC this technique has started to lose it’s popularity and even it’s credibility. This is due to people not seeing the technique being used in UFC matches which gets them to think that it’s some kind of gimmick move. We all know we have some idiots here in the martial arts community that make martial arts look like a joke such as this guy in the video down below which leads to a lot of skepticism about certain techniques.

But the main reason that this technique is not used in MMA is cos it has no purpose to be used. Since your wearing gloves and hand wraps there’s no durability advantage in using it. The rule that prevents attacks on the neck further makes the move less useful. That’s the reason why this technique is not seen in these competitions not because its inefficient. I personally fully agree with this rule as there were cases where people pretend to execute a knife hand strike and ‘accidently’ ended up doing an eye poke.


Always be careful when practising a technique and make sure your under supervision of someone that knows what he’s doing in case things go wrong. Just because it is highly unlikely to kill someone with certain technique remember that these are described on fighter’s not your everyday normal people , your siblings or elderly these people are weaker and something that’s not harmful to a fighter might be deadly to any of these people.

Sources :
All images have been taken from pixabay or myself with a Creative Commons CC0 licence.
Videos are embedded so that the original creator will still gain the views and any monetization they have.

Can A Knife Hand Strike Knockout Or Kill
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Can A Knife Hand Strike Knockout Or Kill
Find Out The Full Potential The Knife Hand Strike Wields, Including Videos, How To Do and Why It's Banned In Tournaments Such As The UFC.
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Martial Arts Nerd
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