In the document US Army FM 21-150 Hand to Hand Combat the biceps are listed as vital targets, used mainly to disarm an armed opponent. The problem is, striking the biceps (e.g.with a knife hand / elbow) will work when the muscle is relaxed, but the effect is greatly diminished when the muscle is tensed (try it on yourself, just not too hard). So when is it advisable to target this area, or is it advisable at all?

That is to say, will it work against certain chokes & holds as well as a weapon threat? Or are there othere usages as well?

  • My first thought is that it's not practical. The guy's hands will be up in a protective posture, meaning that the biceps are protected. Or extending a weapon towards you, meaning that their biceps will be towards you. In the latter case, a direct punch might reach them but their reflex will be to bring the hands up to protect their body, which will block. Or if you're grappling, you'd have to be at the exact distance to throw an elbow to hit the side of the bicep, while he's targeting your more obviously hurtable parts. Apr 13, 2022 at 16:53
  • @AmorphousBlob That's an answer.
    – mattm
    Apr 17, 2022 at 12:36
  • 1
    Well, I didn't think it was "scientific" enough, and would garner responses with more specific info like that supplied by the answer below. (I still can't imagine how a knife hand could reach the bicep, though.) I approach it more from the standpoint of my ITF TKD dojang, lots and lots of kickboxy-type sparring but only occasionally a bit of training on exact points to hit. I've never been in a real fight but that type of thing doesn't seem realistic with a typical street opponent wading in with swinging punches. Apr 18, 2022 at 13:13

1 Answer 1


yes it is very much applicable but it's not necessarily the biceps. you could instead go for the inner part of the arm, between the biceps and triceps, where you'll touch directly the humerus, along with the brachial artery and nerve. I have been hit there lightly a few times and mate, as if it wasn't bad enough for the arm to "die", it hurts so much, and it's a very different kind of pain. horrible. the same goes for the armpit (right there in the joint with the arm) and upper ribs. (words cannot describe how mindbreaking the pain of getting a punch or kick in the armpit is)

what you seem to be pointing out is that reflex, similar to a tap on the knee when the quadriceps is relaxed. plausible but in a fight, for sport or self-defence, the body naturally stiffens. that's why such techniques are viable but unlikely. testing on yourself and then on a partner is good, but the real proof of concept is pressure testing, that is, trying to apply a move while your partner is resisting and the least effort they need to make to cancel your technique, the less likely it'll be to apply in an actual situation (again, sports or self-defence)

another option is to knife hand it, just to give that short unbalance and, since your hand is open, grab the muscle or the skin to follow up by a body strike, elbow to the sternum for example. (I thoroughly recommend training grip and pinch strength for any martial artist. a good start is push-ups but holding a towel thrown over the bar). the point of aim would be in the upper part of the biceps, next to the tendons attaching it to the bone, almost shoulders and if you're a featherweight like me, it feels like hitting pure bone. you'll see that part being targeted a lot in chamber blocks, called sen-no-sen in karatê, where you act before your opponent, normally impeding them to either strike or move around

so long text short: if you want to cause pain and play puppets, nah yea mate, sure. if you want to go ninja pressure point, yea nah mate, nope.

all this is from personal experience and studying/watching both the technique and the human morpho physiology. and I hope this is understandable enough to convey the message. sometimes my English simply fails me

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