Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

Technique of the Week (September 18th, 2006)

Kyoshi David Baker,
Chief Operating Officer
Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA


Jodantsuki (nose punch)

Jodantsuki is aimed through the tip of the nose. The target, just like in tameshiwari, is on the other side of the head. (“Don’t stop ‘til you get there.”)

As with all three primary frontal targets - nose, solar plexus, and groin - jodantsuki is located on the midline of the body. In addition, the nose is located at the midpoint of the face on its length. Therefore, it is in the very center of the face and a near miss will still often impact the face, and thereby retains some potential for damage to the brain or the organs of the face.

Advantages and disadvantages of the technique:
On the negative side of the ledger, the nose is one of the easiest targets for our opponent to remove from our reach (think of our style’s body shifting, the flexibility and mobility of the neck itself, and a boxer’s ability to “bob and weave” which uses the legs, back and neck); the face is much narrower and much shorter than is the solar plexus’s chest, so the chance of hitting the general area despite missing the precise, intended target is smaller; and the nose of a much taller opponent may be out of our reach.

The inherent advantages of jodantsuki include 1) the brain is directly behind the nose, and 2) it is the weakest point structurally of the entire cranium.

Goals of jodantsuki:

A) Concussion:
A nose punch can cause a bloody or broken nose, watery eyes, and pain to the sinuses and throat. But with even more force, it will cause damage to the brain, ranging from shock and disorientation, to concussion or even brain hemorrhage.

As with chudantsuki, it is useful to view the force as a “shockwave” (force in motion) going into the nose, through the rear of the skull.

The brain itself is quite soft and delicate, surrounded by the Cerebrospinal Fluid. (Do a Google search on "brain has the consistency of" and you’ll receive a smorgasbord of responses: soft tofu, firm jelly, gelatin, warm butter, raw egg, cold porridge, cooked oatmeal, ripe strawberry, toothpaste, etc.)

Actual trauma to the brain is caused, not only by the strike itself, but even more so by the brain’s collision against the interior walls of the cranium from the whiplash created by the strike. And after bouncing off one wall from the jodantsuki, the brain may then bounce off the others in succession as well. These repeated collisions cause neural damage to the brain, which may lead to a concussion or worse.

B) Skeletal fracture:
With even greater force, fractures to the facial bones can result in damage to the sensory organs and to the brain behind those organs.

You can see the structural weakness of the nasal area in the first two photos at the bottom of this email, which are from “Atlas of Human Anatomy” by Frank H. Netter, M.D. 1) The “Skull: Anterior View” illustration shows the hole for the nose in the middle of the maxilla bone (upper jaw, indicated in green,) the fissures above and to the sides of the maxilla, and the lack of support below the maxilla. 2) The “Skull: Lateral Radiograph” (x-ray) reveals the relative absence of bone in the entire facial area (bottom left quadrant in the x-ray) when compared to the virtual “helmet” of skull bone protecting the other four exposed surfaces of the head. (Top, rear, and two sides.)

In addition, the skull can withstand great pressure vertically because of buttresses (skeletal pillars) in the sides of the face, which is relevant to everything from chewing food to performing a head butt. But it has no such structures against lateral forces from the front, which is significant for our jodantsuki.

Therefore, it is a relatively softer area behind the nose that results from a) the fairly contiguous cavity comprised of the orbital cavity (eye sockets), nasal cavity (maxillary sinus), and oral cavity (mouth); b) the relatively thin maxillary plate; c) the nasal opening within the maxillary plate; d) the natural fissures above and to the sides of the maxillary; and e) the lack of support below the maxillary. Together they combine to cause this area to be more vulnerable to damage than any other cranial target. And because of these structural vulnerabilities, it is less likely that we will break our punching hand.

(I always cringe when I see a White Belt incorrectly aim his fist at the significantly thicker jawbone in yakusoku shodan.)

The importance of these facts is that any damage to the skeletal structure of the face will cause, in turn, even more damage to the internal, highly sensitive organs of the nose, eyes, sinuses, and throat, as well as compound the damage to the brain, by forcing these organs and the sharp-edged, broken maxillary rearward, toward the brain.

“Etiology: Maxillary fractures often result from high-energy blunt force injury to the facial skeleton. Typical mechanisms of trauma include motor vehicle accidents, altercations, and falls.”

The third photograph below shows a Le Fort II fracture pattern from the site that might result from a massive force applied to the center of the maxillary. Specifically, it shows how those fissures above the maxillary might fracture in a pyramidal shape if sufficient force is applied. (Maxillary fractures are rarely a “pure” Le Fort pattern [I, II or III], but are usually a combination of them.)

More on the skeletal structure can be found at the Gray’s Anatomy site:

The purpose of jodantsuki is to cause as much damage as possible to the facial structure and to the brain behind. Damage may include breaking the cartilage of the nose and the small nasal bone, causing the nose to bleed and the eyes to water; injuring the facial nerves - especially the infra orbital nerve; damaging the eyes, sinuses, and throat; all the way to what would constitute the ultimate damage, causing trauma to the brain, including shock, disorientation, concussion, and even cerebral hemorrhage.

From page 42 of the Red Book, “A focused jodantsuki can deliver 700 foot pounds of force.” And on a recent episode on the National Geographic Channel called “Fight Science,” one martial artist was able to generate nearly 1,000 foot pounds with a nose punch.

The shinden picked this target for its unique vulnerability and its potential for injury. As with every technique, accelerate through the target, and keep your fist tight.

Domo arigato gozaimasu,
Kyoshi David Baker,
Chief Operating Officer
Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA
founded by Grand Master Ansei Ueshiro
under the direction of Hanshi Robert Scaglione