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To preface this, I'm a writer with an already weird search history and fascination with martial arts and penning fight scenes, so please bear with me.

I've seen videos of people either hitting themselves or getting hit in the body to – albeit stupidly – show off their abs, boasting that it doesn't hurt them at all.

I guess my question is, even if this doesn't take your breath away, wouldn't it still agitate your nerve endings and create a stinging sensation? Or does that somehow not count?

And my other question is, since the abdominal wall is technically just meaty padding like the kind you wear over your torso in martial arts classes but 'built-in', wouldn't it still be possible to hit someone hard enough to wind them even if they are prepared for it?

If I were to write a fight scene, I doubt anyone would know or care, it'd likely just be, 'John Doe punched Billy Bob hard in the stomach, and Billy Bob gasped and doubled over, the end', but this is the sort of thing that keeps me up at night.

EDIT: Another question was suggested to me, and it did partially answer the question, but I'd still be open to feedback. That question was more focused on the solar plexus region than other parts of the midsection. Also, I changed the order of the tags to better reflect the question, if that means anything. I hadn't realised it would be labelled as the first tag to anyone who sees it. This isn't just a question on kicking.

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    Does this answer your question? Solar Plexus: how to reinforce it? Commented Apr 8 at 18:09
  • It does somewhat, thank you. But I meant in general. Is it only getting hit in the solar plexus that causes this sensation of becoming winded? Or is it anywhere in the midsection? If I wrote a scene in which someone competent punches a fit individual who isn't necessarily a martial artist somewhere just above their belly button rather than all the way to the top of their abdominal wall, would they be able to shrug it off, or would it still be considered an effective strike in reality, for example?
    – Alex Wang
    Commented Apr 9 at 1:28
  • Is this about a single blow, or a drawn-out slugging match? Commented Apr 9 at 13:01
  • Robbie, both, I suppose. More detail is always good.
    – Alex Wang
    Commented Apr 10 at 0:18

3 Answers 3

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Is it possible to still wind someone even if they brace their core muscles?

Yes. If you think about someone relatively weak bracing their core muscles, and a much stronger person hitting them, the person hit can still be winded. Strength matters.

wouldn't it still agitate your nerve endings and create a stinging sensation?

When you get the wind knocked out of you, you worry you are going to die while your body reacts involuntarily as you struggle to breathe and don't have complete control of your body anymore. When you get hit in general, it hurts (stings), but you can still basically function normally. Some people cannot tolerate pain, but you would a expect a trained fighter to continue.

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Chop the trunk and the tree will fall Repetitive strikes to the body do slow down fighters.

In boxing we see this tactic employed time after time, though usually a fight ending bodyshot is unseen by the recipient, even a well conditioned fighter is affected by the bodyshots they are prepared for - and those are "just" punches to a person trained to absorb them thrown by someone of a similar weight.

If you add a bigger weight differential, less padding on the fists (or add a weapon/use a kick or otherwise increase the power) then of course the damage will be greater - there is only so much protection yours abs can provide (would you expect them to stop a bullet? a knife? - obviously if you up the danger enough abs alone will do you little to no good)

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  • Cheers. So is it essentially down to just becoming 'pain drunk', so to speak, and unable to continue fighting coherently due to that? You mentioned even a well-conditioned fighter being affected, so is this just the stinging I mentioned in my original question – which I've also heard described as a stabbing pain – or do they also get winded, even by these punches they've been trained to absorb? That's the bit that confuses me – what is the response exactly? I'm just curious as to what conventional means can bring about that greater damage, aside from just what the damage entails.
    – Alex Wang
    Commented Apr 9 at 0:45
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There is very little muscle in front of the solar plexus. This really is the whole point of hitting someone there. Anatomically the human body is always weak and there is very little that can be done to reinforce it. You can put a little muscle on there with core exercises but it's very slow compared with putting muscle on anywhere else.

That said the solar plexus (suigetsu in Japanese) is a very small area. Hit it too high and you hit the rib cage instead. Too low and you hit the abdominal muscles. In addition, strikes to this point are much more effective at an upward angle. This is why some styles have a big focus on hitting accurately and not just hard. Hitting this point on a moving opponent takes a lot of practice but it can be done.

The effect of a hit is that it make breathing harder and also causes an involuntary collapse of the knees. I took a hard hit to that point once and literally ended up sitting in seiza a moment later.

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  • I appreciate that, but what about other areas of the abdomen? It seems the general consensus is that unless you strike directly to the solar plexus, though difficult, that's the only way of incapacitating a foe short of a prolonged series of withering strikes. And if that is the case, fair enough. I'll use that in my fight scene descriptions. But I still haven't got an answer on whether the general sort of pain in the abs from strikes, outside the solar plexus, is more a stinging/stabbing, or if a bit of wind still gets knocked out of them. So that's my one remaining question really.
    – Alex Wang
    Commented Apr 10 at 1:41

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