Recently I did a small experiment on the brachial stun. I hit myself on the side of the neck with considerable force, trying to replicate a disorienting effect. What happened was that I felt a jolt sent through my body down to the legs, but no obvious incapacitating effect.

I am wondering how much force is needed to execute a brachial stun, and if it actually works on the vast majority of people.

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    So, rather than post an answer, I'll just give this general advice. First, don't practice this at any force with partners. Too dangerous. Second, the amount of force you should use in a real self-defense situation is the amount of force you CAN use and not put yourself in jeopardy. So go hard, as hard as you can without getting yourself off balance or open to attack. And it still has no guarantee of working, as this has been shown not to work on many people in many situations. It just depends on the person you're doing it to, and their unique physiology. Feb 12 at 20:57
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    To add to what @SteveWeigand says, generally you are also doing this on someone that is unsuspecting and not braced. That makes a big difference.
    – JohnP
    Feb 13 at 14:11

1 Answer 1


I really have my doubts about this particular technique. If we are talking about striking the 'brachial plexus' it's a large nerve cluster covering most of the neck and shoulder that connects the arm muscles and nerves to the spine.

However several things to note. It's a pretty big nerve cluster, but most of it is under the muscles on the neck. Hitting muscles is usually not a good tactic in martial arts because the pain this causes is fairly superficial. Hitting the side of the neck seems unlikely to do anything much for this reason.

Shorinji Kempo (a martial art with something of a speciality in nerve attacks) does not even list this as a target. They have 138 distinct targets, many of these are on the neck but these muscles on the side of the neck are not considered a target in themselves.

What they do list as possible targets are several points on the back of the spine. Some of these are on parts of the brachial plexus

NB. I really don't think you should go hitting yourself there. The spine is a fragile thing and nerves even more so.

Another part of the neck that really does cause disorientation when hit is the carotid artery. My guess is that this is usually what is going on when people say they are doing a 'brachial stun'.

The internal carotid artery can be damaged, but this is very dangerous and requires pushing your finger an inch or two into the soft part of the neck to attack.

Don't do this either, my instructor randomly fainted several times over the course of the next month after this technique was demonstrated on him

The external carotid artery is often used as a target for strangles. I have been taught a method of striking this the vagus nerve on this artery to cause a stun. Though there are some people on this site that contest this techniques efficacy.

Even just touching this point is very uncomfortable. I would usually show my training partners in class where to find it by touching it with my smallest finger. In all honesty I don't know 100% that you can cause a stun by striking it because I haven't ever had a chance to try this. But on the balance of probability it seems not just plausible but likely that this would cause a large effect of some kind.

The bottom line is the neck is a very fragile part of the body. You are lucky you didn't hit anything important.

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    Another warning against self-practice, while it's not reliable enough that you could use it for actual defense, it is possible for a sharp impact to any major artery to accidentally cause a clot, that can go places in the heart and brain that are not good. Heck, a thrombosis anywhere in the body and have major health effects, so it's probably best not to risk the possibility of doing that to yourself. Feb 13 at 0:28
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    Another n=1 - One time I compressed my carotid using a couple of fingers on one side of my neck only (While sitting). Within a second or two I was already going sort of woozy and incoherent. Very dangerous and dumb. :|
    – JohnP
    Feb 13 at 14:13
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    Actually, the brachial stun does not target the brachial plexus. Instead, it targets the vagus nerve which is closer to the surface. Also, the carotid artery is buried about 1.5 inches under the skin, protected by muscle. So I doubt that it is the main target of the brachial stun (not to mention I got that jolting effect when I missed the carotid artery). Thanks for the answer anyways! (^-^
    – user11733
    Feb 14 at 10:30
  • @JohnP I had the same experience as you (tried the same experiment and nearly blacked out). But a nerve strike is very different from a strangle, so...
    – user11733
    Feb 14 at 10:32
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    The vegus nerve is attached to the carotid artery. @VesperX The external carotid artery is actually quite close to the surface. But it's best reached from the front of the neck not the side. I don't see any reason to do this from the side as it's basically an unreliable way to hit it.
    – Huw Evans
    Feb 14 at 13:58

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