6 Headbutt Techniques for Striking Vital Targets

Headbutting is illegal in most sports competitions, but in a self-defense situation, when your hands are tied up or you are in a clinch, your head may be the only weapon you can use.

The head is a vulnerable target, yet a dangerous weapon in fight.

The head is a vulnerable target, yet a dangerous weapon in fight.

A headbutt causes visceral pain that can instantly unlock a grip, make inroads, knock out, or change the tide of a confrontation. It shocks the inside of the brain. It doesn’t discriminate on size. It can incapacitate the body. Let’s take a look at why it works, where to strike, and how to do it. This blog is adapted from ‘Vital Point Strikes: The Art and Science of Vital Target Striking for Self-defense & Combat Sports.

Why Headbutt

As a weapon, the head is better used for thinking than for striking, however when you have no other options, a headbutt can be a lifesaving technique. The element of surprise is critical to headbutting. Generally, the headbutt is a technique that you can use once in a fight, so if you choose to use it, make it count.

How To Headbutt

From a natural stance, tuck your chin down, clench your teeth, and stiffen the neck muscles. Aim and snap your head toward the target. For more power, use your body weight. Keep your eyes on your opponent at all times. Because of the sensitive nature of the brain, which can be damaged by repeated impact, practicing headbutting is not recommended.

CAUTION: Begin to practice finding the spots on your face with your hands by gently pressing and monitor the effects carefully. Be aware that a vital point strike can render a person unconscious, paralyze some parts of the body and even cause death. Never practice full power or full pressure strikes on a partner and always use common sense when practicing.

Major Targets

1. Cheek Bone-Orifice (ST03, the yellow dot in the photo below right); 2. Nose (GV25, the white dot); 3. Eyebrow (EX-HN4, the blue dot); 4. Upper Middle Mandibular joint (ST07, the red dot); 5. Temple area (EX-HN5, the green dot); 6. Solar Plexus (CV15, not shown in the photo).

Abbreviation: ST=Stomach Meridian; GV=Governing Vessel Meridian; EX-HN=Extra Head & Neck Point; CV=Conception Meridian.

Junsado Vital Point Strikes by Sang H. Kim

The face is rich with glands, plexus of nerve bundles, and nerve branches that are directly connected with the central nervous system in the brain and the vagus nerves in the stomach.

 Scenario 1

Straight headbutt to the Cheek Bone-Orifice (ST03) not only shocks the nerves in the brain but also the sensory receptors in the stomach, causing nausea and disorientation.

Junsado Vital Point Strikes by Sang H. Kim

Straight headbutt to the Cheek Bone (ST03, the Great Bone-Orifice)

 Scenario 2

A headbutt to the nose (GV25) shocks the brain through the external nasal nerve, the branch of the trigeminal nerve, causing excruciating pain, and can seriously damage the assailant’s nose and mouth.

Junsado Vital Point Strikes by Sang H. Kim

A headbutt to the nose (GV25) drastically intensifies the sensory signals to the brain via the nasal nerve, causing pain and confusion.

 Scenario 3

Rather than striking a concussive blow, use your head to push on the Eyebrow (EX-HN4) and force the opponent to move away from you. Or snap with the strong side of your forehead on the ridge at the top of the eye socket.

Junsado Vital Point Strikes by Sang H. Kim

Headbutt to the Eyebrow (EX-HN4) can cause cuts that will bleed profusely, obstructing the assailant’s vision.

Scenario 4

The mandibular joint is a key facial structure for chewing and speaking. It also plays a critical role in counterbalancing the head and neck. Striking the upper inner mandibular joint (ST07) not only causes pain that spreads over the head and face (there is a huge membrane called the Parotid gland surrounded by three branches of facial nerves underneath) but also diminishes the sense of balance.

Junsado Vital Point Strikes by Sang H. Kim

Headbutt to the upper inner mandibular joint (ST07) causes pain and numbness and imbalance.

 Scenario 5

While pressing the middle of the forearm (LI11, Pool at the Bend) with your thumb and striking the groin with your left hammer fist, deliver a headbutt to the Temple area (GB4-8, the V-shaped area packed with vital targets) to shock the opponent into releasing his grip. (Abbreviation: LI=Large Intestine Meridian)

Junsado Vital Point Strikes by Sang H. Kim

The temple area is rich with nerves (GB4-8). When you strike the opponent’s groin with your hammer fist and bend your torso sharply forward, his head naturally drops forward. To avoid striking his nose on the back of your head, he will turn his head to the side, and you can strike his temple with the rear top corner of your head.

 Scenario 6

When there is a sudden totally unexpected change in the environment, we have a tendency to inhale. When the opponent grabs your wrist, relax your muscles initially, then suddenly rotate your wrists inward and open the gap. As he inhales, strike the solar plexus (CV15) with your head. A well placed headbutt can stop his breathing.

Junsado Vital Point Strikes by Sang H. Kim

A headbutt strike to the solar plexus (CV15) or the sternum (CV17) is a classic close-quarter martial skill.

 Bottom Line

The head is a vulnerable target and thus a headbutt is dangerous to use in fighting. However, due to the hardness of the skull, when applied correctly, a headbutt is a powerful technique that may stop an aggressive opponent in a desperate situation. The key is to close the distance and to use the hard part of the forehead to strike a soft target such as the nose or temple.

How To Maximize the Potential of Your Joints in Ground Fighting

Your initial response is the key to success in ground fighting. Your first move sets the tone of the fight. It affects what techniques follow and eventually who dominates. Many of the Junsado responses to being pinned or immobilized on the ground rely on your initial movement as a defender.

blog5 (01)For example, when you make your body smaller or draw your limbs into your center, you not only control your body better and conserve energy, but also make yourself less vulnerable by reducing the number of exposed vital targets. As a defender, particularly on the ground, it is critical to draw your knee and elbow closer together toward the center of your body to protect yourself, collect your inner force, and strike powerfully when needed. Bending the large joints and drawing the limbs in toward the center of the body creates three potential advantages: control, range of motion and twisting force.


On the ground, keeping your arms bent and close to your body increases your control and reduces the opportunities for your opponent to control you. For example, if you keep your arm straight, your opponent will likely try to lock it or break it (1). When you keep your arms bent, with your elbows close to your body, you not only defend against an arm lock, you put yourself in a strong position for twisting, pulling, pushing, or resisting (2). From this position, you can put your entire body weight into your techniques by using your legs and torso to initiate and follow through without losing control of your body as well as the situation (3).


Range of Motion

The greater the range of the motion in an arm or leg, the greater force you generate. By bending your knees or elbows, you put yourself in a good starting position for a strike, kick, push or thrusting movement. Bent joints store potential power. For example, when you are flat on your back with your legs outstretched, it is impossible to lift your body more than a few inches off the ground. But if you bend your knee, drawing your foot close to your hip and planting your foot on the ground, you are in a position to powerfully push off the ground and thrust your hip and torso upward. The same is true of your arms. By drawing your arms in close to your torso with your elbows bent, you create the possibility of striking or pushing the opponent over a greater range of motion than if your arms were already partially extended.

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 Twisting Force

When escaping from a lock, pin or hold, a twisting movement is generally easier to apply than a straight line movement. The same is true of takedowns; it is usually easier to take an opponent down by rotating your own body and whipping the opponent around it than by throwing him straight down. When a takedown utilizes a torquing action, it mitigates the resistance of the major muscles and joints of the opponent’s body and allows you to take him down with less work. In grappling against a bear hug for example, if you try to escape by going straight down or directly forward, it is nearly impossible to be successful, especially when the opponent is stronger than you are.

However, if you lower your body while twisting downward at a fifteen-degree angle, you have a better chance of escaping. By doing so, you create more sensory demands for your opponent to process, increasing his distraction and your control. More importantly, the twisting action often creates a throw or takedown in the direction of his blind spot because the twisting motion produces an angular or diagonal movement trajectory. Taken together, a twisting motion can provide you with pivotal advantages to maximize your potential while mitigating the opponent’s strength.

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 Forging Force

In wrestling against a bigger opponent or untangling a lock on a vulnerable body part, such as the neck, it is useful to use your entire body as leverage. For example, as your opponent chokes your neck with his right arm from the front, it is hard to escape using your hands alone. In this case, you can forge his arm to your body by pulling it down against your upper chest and then twist your torso to manipulate his arm. Since your torso has greater weight behind it, you can generate greater impact on the joint of his arm when you rotate your entire body.

This article is an excerpt from Junsado Fundamentals, Standing and Ground Combat.

Junsado Fundamentals, Standing and Ground Combat ($5.99, over 650 full color photos) is available exclusively in e-book format for Kindle (Amazon.com).

Junsado Defense Against Tackling

Junsado Fundamentals, Standing and Ground Combat is a comprehensive book on fighting, with an emphasis on effectively neutralizing and destroying your opponent in either standing or ground confrontations. Using training scenarios, it presents unconventional defenses against tackles, head locks, chokes, arm locks, punches, grabs, low kicks, sweeps, throws, pins and a variety of strikes.

 Sample standing combat scenario:

Against Tackling

A fighter who attempts to tackle you is either an expert at ground fighting or is very inexperienced. The key to defending against a tackle is to redirect the assailant’s lunging force off your centerline. Once you pivot your body off the centerline, you are less likely to be knocked backward. If your opponent is large and powerful, counterattack to a vulnerable area like the head or neck to disorient him.

 Situation: Lunging for Tackling 

Tackling Defense: Evade – Takedown – Headlock

 How to Defend:

1. As your opponent rushes in to tackle you, put your hands between the two of you and lower your posture.

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2. Grab his hair or the top of his head with one hand and his chin with the other hand.

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3. Use your grip on his head and chin to steer his body in the direction he is moving until you have solid control over his head. Then swiftly pivot your body away from him to spin him down to the ground.

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4. As he falls, maintain your hold on his chin and head, flexibly adapting to the changing intensity of his fall.

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5. When he lands, kneel on one knee behind him and secure his head in your arms.

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6. Tilt his head downward to intensify pain in the neck and reduce his opportunities to strike you with his hands or feet.

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Caution: This head twist is extremely dangerous and can cause damage to the cervical spine in the neck. Use caution when practicing this with a partner, never applying the twist forcefully in practice, and only use this technique in self-defense when justified.

 Key Points:

When the opponent pushes you, pull his body in the direction he is already propelling himself. This will confuse and distract him. Then as you move your body out of the line of his attack, lower your stance and change the trajectory of the force. His body will continue moving as you yank his head in a different direction, causing him to fall. It is important to apply the headlock as soon as he lands, before he orients himself and recovers his balance to mount a counterattack.

The scenarios presented in Junsado Fundamentals, Standing and Ground Combat  are offered as examples of how to use Junsado skills in actual combat, but they aren’t meant to cover every possible action or reaction that could occur in a fighting situation. They’re simply intended to be used as a method of arranged practice to facilitate learning the fundamental skills. As you repeatedly practice scenarios like the example above, your body will adapt and internalize the skills, making them your own. Once you’ve mastered the practice scenarios, your goal is to move on to free practice, applying the skills in increasingly less structured situations so you can use them at will.

The above instruction is an excerpt from Junsado Fundamentals, Standing and Ground Combat.

Junsado Fundamentals, Standing and Ground Combat ($5.99, over 650 full color photos) is available exclusively in e-book format for Kindle (Amazon.com)Android (Google Play store)Nook (Barnes & Noble), and iPad (Apple Store).

Junsado Fundamentals e-Book

New Junsado e-Book Released

In Junsado Fundamentals, Standing and Ground Combat Sang H. Kim teaches you how to neutralize and destroy your opponent in standing and ground confrontations, including realistic, no-nonsense strategies against tackles, head locks, chokes, arm locks, punches, grabs, low kicks, sweeps, throws, pins and a variety of strikes.

JSD Book coverDeveloped based on the popular Junsado videos and DVDS, along with valuable feedback from the Junsado practitioners from all over the world, this is the first book in the Junsado Essentials Series. Over 50 standing and ground combat scenarios take you through a wide range of possible attack and defense situations to improve your fighter’s instinct. In addition to demonstrating a practical defensive strategy, each scenario illustrates a key Junsado principle in action, building your ability to apply fighting principles across a wide range of situations.

Also included is a complete reference to the fundamental skills of Junsado, including: stance, open and closed hand strikes, elbow strikes, low kicks, knee strikes, takedowns, wrist, arm, elbow and shoulder locks and ground fighting skills.

Junsado, literally translated as The Way of Combat Expert, is known for its versatility and adaptiveness in fighting. It has its origins in late 1970s and early 1980s, created by Sang H. Kim during his service as a South Korean counter-intelligence agent. Today it is a dynamic and direct fighting style that can be applied to stand-up and groundfighting situations in the ring and on the street.

Junsado Fundamentals, Standing and Ground Combat ($5.99, over 650 full color photos) is available exclusively in e-book format for Kindle (Amazon.com), Android (Google Play store), Nook (Barnes & Noble), and iPad (Apple Store).