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Collarbone is a desirable target because it's designed by nature to break easy. (Absorb impact and make falls more survivable.)

I practice a few techniques pakua and tongbeiquan that utilize the forearms, but these styles require extensive internal training, such that they're not practical for most, or in a general sense.

  • What are the most practical ways to break the collarbone, ideally not requiring specialization?

The accepted answer should focus on the applications are most practical and reliable for martial artists in general, but discussion of any techniques are welcome.

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    Give your attacker a bike and wait a year or two. :) – Steve Weigand Nov 19 at 4:59
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    During fights, people often continue fighting with broken bones. They feel it later when they're recovering. The focus should not be on bone breaking. It's fine, but only in the context of your "core" strategy, which is to get yourself to a position where you can control your opponent and deliver damage reliably. If you have that, then you can go for these bone breaks and other things. But personally, I think you'd want to do a KO, submission, choke, or stun and run. Those win the fights. Collarbone breaks don't. My thoughts anyway. But I get that the question bypasses that issue. – Steve Weigand Nov 19 at 17:22
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    @SteveWeigand Indeed. File under "It's not how hard you can hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep going." (I was taught that breaking the collarbone is not a finishing move, but part of longer strategy of attrition.) – DukeZhou Nov 19 at 19:17
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    @Vorac There are two things that stop you from fighting with a broken bone. First is pain. Second is structural stability. During a fight, it's super common for someone to break their bones and not feel it. That's because of the adrenaline rush and the fight-or-flight phenomenon. You'll feel it after the fight, but not as much during the fight. Pro fighters break their ribs, fingers, and arms and still fight. Structure is the real problem. If a bone breaks in a way that causes a loss of structural stability, then you just can't fight even if you don't feel pain. – Steve Weigand Nov 24 at 17:35
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    @SteveWeigand I fully agree. This was a bicycle crash, so nearly zero adrenaline - just loss of structure. To compare, a broken leg hurts a ton AFTER the adrenaline wears off of course. – Vorac Nov 24 at 17:38
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I'm going to get the ball rolling.

  • T'ai chi ch'üan has a technique called "back fist chop", which is usually thought of as a strike to the face with the back of the fist, but can be used, via the back of the forearm, as a collarbone strike.

But it would be hard to do that without significant internal technique, or unless the practitioner is very strong. (Also note that it doesn't work from the outside—the move typically begins from an "embrace ball", where the off-hand has countered a strike or push, and pulls the opponent's arm down while executing the back fist chop.)

  • Hsing I Ch'üan has many strikes that can be used to break the collarbone

Including moves that are similar to back fist chop—fast counter, pull/strike with maximum focusing.

Xing Yi Quan is more practical for most practitioners b/c it works pretty well even without a high level of internal technique. (It's sometimes called the easiest and the hardest internal art—easier to use for fighting earlier, but the high-level fa jin typically takes the longest to attain.)

A collarbone break would typically be Pi Quan, which is often described as chopping.

"Pi Quan belongs to Metal... because the movement of the hand is like an ax chopping."

[Trans: Yang Jwing-Ming, Liang Shou-Yu, Xingyiquan Theory, Applications, Fighting Tactics and Spirit ]

It can also be done with a Pao Quan like motion and stance, moving and striking obliquely with the bottom side of the forearm.

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I have no idea of its practicality, as I've never practiced it in a real-life way, but way back when in my Chuck-Norris-style Tang Soo Do classes (later, Chun Kuk Do), our teacher told us the best way was a double-chop, or double hammer fist to the collarbone in the front on both sides, with the bonus being that you might disrupt the carotid flow enough to cause someone to suffer a brief blackout. In retrospect, it feels more like the description of what an actor might do in a film to signify breaking a collarbone.

I've only every broken one collarbone in my life, and it was by regrettable accident. Another student and I were messing around. They were wearing an exercise band around their ankles (it was used to improve abductor strength through leg raises) and they were showing off how they could hop over leg sweeps. I purposefully feinted one, and then carried through, sweeping both legs (possible in part due to the exercise band) and landed on their side. They seemed OK at first, but I later learned that their collarbone had indeed snapped. I felt incredibly guilty, particularly since the student, while a higher rank, was younger than I was. That said, it was exactly the sort of freak accident that leads to most collarbone injuries, and the fact that he didn't realize until much later that it had broken indicates that this is not generally a fight-ending injury.

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