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The Mighty Little Pinch For Self-defense

By Christopher Caile

Self-defense isn't always against someone who is trying to hurt you. Someone may grab you to control you, or maybe is just fooling around.

In these situations, and even against a real attacker, one very effective self-defense technique is also the simplest -- a little pinch. Pinches don't permanently injure, but if done effectively -- wow, do they hurt. All but the most determined attacker head for the hills, or at least stop what they are doing and let go.

I began teaching this technique as part of self-defense when a student came to me a few years ago (at the State University of New York at Buffalo where I used to teach Seido karate) and asked what she could do to stop her boyfriend from testing her self-defense skills. He would playfully grab her in some hold, like a bear hug, and say, "now what can you do now?"

She didn't want to hurt him, so she didn't want attack his groin, stomp a foot, or any number of other techniques taught. Left with no tools she would just struggle. As a result, she felt frustrated and her boyfriend thought she wasn't learning anything useful.

I taught her the pinch. "Boy did that work!" she reported back. "He tried a head lock. I just pinched his leg once -- hard. He let go, jumped back and yelled at me. But he hasn't tried anything since."

Just any pinch, however, won't do. You first have to know the mechanics of a pinch and how to grab the skin to make it most painful. You also have to know which areas of the body are most sensitive. Put these together and you have a real weapon.

Mechanics Of The Pinch

Most people pinch by catching skin between the tips of two fingers. The pain produced, however, is reduced by the fact that you are pressing two soft areas together -- the tips of your fingers. Much more effective is to catch skin between the tip of the first finger and the hard surface of the second knuckle of the thumb.

Even more effective, but more difficult to do, is to use as a pinching mechanism the second knuckle of both the thumb and the first finger -- two hard surfaces pressed together.

The skin can be pinched between these two surfaces or it can be rolled.

Here the roll and pinch is demonstrated on a sheet of paper.

Rolled is when, for example, a piece of skin is first pinched between the hard surface of the thumb's first knuckle and the inside of the first finger. As the finger is pulled back toward the thumb's first knuckle, the skin rolls up onto the top of the knuckle.

To get even more effect, once a pinch of skin is firmly caught, you can roll the skin sideways between your two finger surfaces. You can also twist both fingers at the same time -- in an action like you are trying to twist a knob.

Do all these together and you will maximize the pain. You won't permanently injure someone, but often a bruise appears where you have practiced this technique.

Don't try to catch a lot of skin. The less skin, or thinner the fold of skin you catch, the more painful it can be.

The Most Effective Targets

Your pinch will be most effective in areas where the skin is naturally most sensitive. This includes:

The inside and back of the upper arms
The sides of the upper chest near the armpit and sides of the pectoral muscles.
The area around a person's nipples.
The inside of either leg from just above the knee all the way up to the groin.
The lob of the ear.
The tip of the noise.
The fold of skin between the noise and the top lip.
The male genitals.

Practice your pinches carefully. Experiment to see what is most effective and where. Practice on yourself and with a partner, so you can both learn and share the pain and possibly the bruises the next day.

Remember, however, that the pinch works best on people with the most sensitive skin. Also, the effectiveness of the pinch decreases with the intensity of the situation, the presence of alcohol or other drugs and/or the determination of the attacker. So, think of the pinch as a useful tool that is helpful in a lot of situations, especially when you are trying to discourage playful fooling around attacks or against those who you do not want to harm seriously.

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About The Author:

Christopher Caile is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of FightingArts.com. He has been a student of the martial arts for over 40 years and holds a 6th degree black belt in Seido Karate and has experience in judo, aikido, diato-ryu, boxing and several Chinese fighting arts. He is also a long-term student of one branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qigong. He is a personal disciple of the qi gong master and teacher of acupuncture Dr. Zaiwan Shen (M.D., Ph.D.) and is Vice-President of the DS International Chi Medicine Association. In Buffalo, NY, he founded the Qi gong Healing Institute and The Qi Medicine Association at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has also written on Qi gong and other health topics in a national magazine, the Holistic Health Journal and had been filmed for a prospective PBS presentation on Alternative Medicine. Recently he contributed a chapter on the subject to an award winning book on alternative medicine, "Resources Guide To Alternative Health" produced by Health Inform.

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