The Truth about the Brachial Stun

April 16, 2017


ave you ever hear about the well-known Brachial Stun when you join any martial arts?

What’s more exciting than the one punch knockout? Nothing!

It’s the thing you’re waiting for in every boxing match, every street fight and every action movie. The power to shut a person down with one touch.

What if there was a way every person could do this?

Not with power or muscle, but with technique and precision. Something that the frail and the weak could apply. According to policing and self-defense professionals, there is.

What Is A “Brachial Stun”

Brachial Stun and Neck Cran

In essence, this is a deceptively simple strike to the neck. It’s either a chop or a forearm smash to the side of the neck, near a blood vessel like the carotid artery. The idea is to strike a pressure point, or rather in nerve in that area. When done correctly this is supposed to be an instant knock out, causing the recipient a bit of pain and virtually ‘switching off’ his body for a couple seconds.

The stun from this strike can last anywhere from three to seven seconds. Sometimes longer if more serious damage was done.

Take a look at this famous video of a pimp getting knocked out by a karate instructor.

You can see from the video that this is not just an ordinary knockout. The strike has completely messed up the pimp’s nervous system. It’s nearly like he was hit in the head with a baseball bat.

The Misconception: What People Think Happens

The general consensus in the martial arts community is that the brachial stun attacks a nerve cluster called the Brachial Plexus.

This nerve cluster is in the shoulder, and shoots of into the arms. It connects your arms to your central nervous system (brain and spine). The theory is that hitting this spot with enough force completely overwhelms your system.

The brain can’t compute a thousand nerves firing at the same time. To protect itself from the overload, your central nervous system restarts itself. This quick reboot results in the person being struck going unconscious for a short period of time. Just like a laptop or a phone with a malfunction, this is meant to fix the bugs plaguing your system.

Since the nerves targeted belong to the Brachial Plexus, the strike picked up the name brachial stun.

This theory is wrong!

brachial stun wrong theory

What Actually Happens

The Brachial Plexus and its associated nerves are actually too deep inside the body.

These are major nerve links and they are well protected by layers of muscle and skin, along with being in an awkward position. Much of the nerve cluster is inside the neck and the collar. The only way to attack it would be by using a weapon strong enough to make the force penetrate that deep (like a metal rod), or by using something that can pierce (like a knife).
What we saw in the video earlier can’t have anything to do with these nerves.

Rather this is a strike that utilizes the more superficial nerves near the blood vessels in the neck.

In particular there is a nerve called the Greater Auricular Nerve.

It’s more likely that striking this nerve causes the dramatic stun effect.

Given enough stimulation any nerve can be overloaded. Just think of your funny bone. The most annoying nerve in your body, that one inside your elbow. You accidentally bang your elbow on a sharp edge and your whole arm goes numb.

Hitting the Greater Auricular Nerve is much the same, but instead of messing with your arm, it messes with your whole body.

So ideally speaking this should be called the ‘Auricular Stun’.

How Do You Properly & Safely Execute It

This is a move taught to law enforcement. It’s meant to help subdue and control an assailant without hurting him. The idea is to stun the attacker long enough to gain an advantageous position.

For example, in Karv Maga this would mean striking and quickly restraining the assailant with a pin or arm lock, before he can recover.

These are the basics of applying a brachial stun:

  • Strike using either your palm, backhand, outer forearm or inner forearm. Never hit anyone with a chop or the bony part of your wrist/arm. This is the neck we are talking about. Your query could suffer serious injuries from a sharp blow. You want to attack with a flat surface to create force but not damage.
  • Aim for the large blood vessel on the neck just under the ear. That’s where you’ll find the Greater Auricular Nerve.
  • Don’t pull your strike back like you would a punch. Penetration is one of the most important aspects of this attack. Pulling back will mean that the nerve doesn’t receive enough of a shock. At the same time too much penetration could break a vertebra or cause blood pressure problems.
  • This is a Counter. Don’t try leading with an attack like this. You wither need to throw it of a combination or a faint. It’s best used in closed quarter situations, were you and the target aren’t left with much room to maneuver.

You can see a short example of practicing brachial stun:

TIP: I find that you need to hit slightly behind the blood vessel. So more in line with the ear. If you do this lightly to yourself you’ll find that there is a spot where you instantly feel a tingle in your feet. I’m not saying knock yourself out, just for your information.

Our Recommendation

This is obviously not meant to be used in any sort of combat sport.

The Brachial Stun is a legit, one strike knockout technique.

It targets a sensitive area, and I don’t recommend you try using it if you don’t know how much force is really needed.

Basically it’s something you should learn under supervision and only use when necessary.

This move will quite literally turn your hands into a Taser.

Recommended post:

How to Knock Someone Out Without Hurting Them

If you must to knock someone out in a self-defense situation, but afraid of hurting them or may even kill them, then these series of techniques will serve you well.

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Krav maga Instructor - April 20, 2018

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