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First defense to self-defense

By Katy Mattingly

Eye Strike

The first strike uses your hands to strike an attacker in the eye or the eye region. Some of my students have heard rumors about driving the attacker’s eyeballs out of the sockets. Never fear; we will not be learning any such technique. There will be no gouging, no plucking, and no blinding. The primary goal of the eye strike is to put the attacker into defensive mode and to create some space between you so that you can plan your next move. You’re unlikely to hit your target perfectly, and, even if you did, there is sufficient space in the socket to protect the eye.

Your fingers are very slightly curved so that your thumb is tucked inside and the tips of your fingers are touching each other (figure 3.1). Include all of your fingers, and do not pull them back toward your palm.

The Eye Strike (figure 3.2) is a very quick jabbing motion. Practice it now against the palm of your hand. Use both the correct and incorrect hand positions. Do you notice the difference in power? Can you feel how much stronger the technique is with all of the fingers supporting each other? Gently aim an Eye Strike at the bony sinus areas surrounding your own eyes. Push just a little harder and then a little harder yet. Did you notice something? You do not need much force at all with this strike to create discomfort and recoil.

Figure 3.2 Eye Strike


  1. Begin in protective stance


  1. Form hands into Eye Strike position
  2. Strike toward eye region
  3. Shout NO!


  1. Bring hands back quickly to protective stance
  2. Repeat if necessary

Starting in protective stance, practice the Eye Strike several times at your own speed.

Practice 20 repetitions, shouting no with each one.


Pulling away from the attacker during the attempted Eye Strike.


Hold your protective stance and lean into the strike slightly. At the end of the strike, your arms will still be slightly bent, not fully extended.

This is an excerpt from Self-Defense: Steps to Survival.

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