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How Much Force Does It Take to Break?

This is a basic list for self defense students and teachers to use for scientific reference. This list gives and estimate on the breaking points that most self defense systems consider targets.

Military systems, self defense systems, and many martial arts styles across the board all have as arsenal of extremely destructive techniques.  Here is a list of common targets and an idealistic range of destroying that target.

  1. Ear – It takes approximately 8lbs of pressure to rip off a human ear.
  2. Eyes - The eyes are not necessarily attacked for removal as they can “pop” out from a fall or a serious blow to the head.  In combat the best and easiest thing to do is scratch the cornea and achieving this is easy.  
  3. Throat – Crushing the human throat takes roughly that same amount of pressure as crushing an empty soda can.
  4. Collar bone – Approximately 8lbs of force to snap this bone.
  5. Elbow joint – Breaking the elbow joint take between 5-8lbs of force.
  6. Knee joint – Putting direct force against the joint in the knee can be devastating, Breaking this joint takes approximately 15lbs of pressure.

These are just six of the most common self defense targets.  I hope this helps those who were looking for a little more information past the art and into the science.  Thanks!

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  1. John

    On November 14, 2009 at 3:50 am


    Pretty sure this is wrong.

  2. slim

    On June 13, 2010 at 8:46 pm


    I agree this isnt very well informing. I can punch with about 800 pounds of pressure. They make it sound like a slap could take someones head off.

    They must mean if you take a 8 lb weight and drop it directly on a skinless bone hitting only about a penny sized spot then it would break a bone.

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