Understanding how the body works is key to being able to defend it appropriately. The reason it is important to understand how the circulatory system works, and where the major arteries and veins are, is key when defending against edged or sharp weapons.
For our purposes, there are 3 major groupings we need to be concerned with:
Neck & Throat
|Major: Carotid Artery||Major: Jugular Vein|
Hands up is an important concept, as this is how you protect your head and neck. When it comes to bladed weapons, a well place slash or stab could severe your carotid or jugular, causing you to bleed out in as little as 6 seconds. These are also the blood pathways being cut off during a rear naked choke. Empty handed we mostly have to worry about being hit in the head or face, but with blades with cannot forget to protect the neck and throat as well.
Arms & Shoulders
|Major: Brachial Artery
Major: Subclavian Artery
Minor: Radial Arteries
|Major: Basilic Vein
Major: Subclavian/Axillary vein
Minor: Radial Veins
These locations are general targets of stabs and are usually the targets of individuals who have a fairly good grasp of offensive knife tactics. The brachial artery and its pairing veins run under the bicep and armpit, these are typically easy to defend as they are quite deep; though a well placed, targeted stab could cause a quick and fatal blow. Also, the subclavian artery and matching veins are located just under your clavicle (collar bone). Stabs to this region could also target the heart and lungs, depending on the length of the blade. As these targets are closer to the neck, a missed “ice pick” style attack to the head could slide lower and end up in one of these fatal areas. We also have our radial arteries and matching veins, which run in the soft tissue of the forearm. We often think the radial artery will be a fatal wound if cut or slashed, but generally (barring extreme damage) bleeding can be stopped with good, direct pressure. Nevertheless, in the presence of a blade you should avoid exposing the soft sides of your arms and palms.
Legs & Groin
|Major: Femoral Artery||Major: Femoral Vein|
Much like the arteries and veins in your neck, the femoral artery and vein can be disastrously fatal if they are slashed or severed. The good news is that they are deep in the tissue and hard to reach most of the time. The bad news is, if they are severed, it can be exceptionally difficult to stop the bleeding without immediate, advanced medical attention. Because of this, we choose to avoid exposing the fermorals as much as possible when a blade is out. This is one of the many reasons we prefer a low line sidekick, as opposed to a front kick, when dealing with knives. Although both can be acceptable options.
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