I was reading through the TV Tropes entry on Nose Nabbing. They have a few entries on grabbing the nose as an offensive maneuver. Of course, noses are good areas to provoke pain and tearing as anyone bopped in the nose knows, but it seems like it would be a slippery surface to try to grab. Striking would probably be easier, but grabbing might give one more of a chance to neutralize an attacker without permanently damaging them.

Under possible practical variations, I have seen self defense drills include the idea of ramming one's fingers up into the nostrils for the combination of immediate pain and control (and probably the amusing mental image of using your opponent's head as a bowling ball), something which again seems to require more precision than one is going to get during a fight.

4 Answers 4


The only nose attack I would trust, assuming the opponent isn't already immobilized, is to push or pull the nose upwards (that is, towards the eyebrows). This can facilitate a throw (e.g. osotogari with a palm push under the nose, similar to how it can be done under the chin), expose the neck to a choke (e.g. driving the ridge of the hand upward from between the lip and nostrils to expose the chin for the rear naked choke), or hold someone upright (e.g. grabbing the nostrils to prevent someone from tucking into a forward roll to escape a hammerlock).


The nose is basically soft tissue over cartilage. About the only effective method from the front is as Dave says, some kind of impact pushing the nose in or upwards.

Anything else, the nose doesn't really afford a good way to grab from the front. Even shoving your fingers into the nostrils, there is no purchase point for the grab, and the instinct is to pull up and away which will cause the fingers to slide back out.

If you are coming over the top of the head or from the rear, then you can get a different leverage and possibly control the head, but I still wouldn't rely on a "nose grip" for any kind of real control of an attacker.


As an offensive maneuver, it has merit. Just make sure your hands are dry and the opponent doesn't have problem skin. You'll need to exert a lot of pressure to prevent him breaking free. If you can manage to hold the grip, you can make him do just about anything.

Mind you, while it is an effective tactic, it is also one that will infuriate your opponent to the point where he may seriously consider killing you in retaliation. So, tactically good, strategically stupid.


My Taiji teacher points out that pressing the nose downwards from above will cause the opponent to retract the chin. This can be useful in some low-violence situations.

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