How effective are body shots?


How effective are body shots?

By: Dale Norfolk elementalkickboxing, kickboxingleeds, bodyshots, boxing

How effective are body shots?

If you want to throw down fisticuffs, fine. I've got Jack Johnson and Tom O'Leary waiting for ya, right here.” - Ron Burgundy

-Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy 20041

As you may or will be aware, boxing – the ability to strike with your hands effectively, or not effectively in some cases. Is part of the whole term Kick Boxing, look its right there at the end after Kick.

Now the Cambridge English Dictionary2 (seems the Oxford English Dictionary seems to want money for definitions now, hmm capitalism), describes boxing as:

A sport in which two competitors fight by hitting each other with their hands

Now again, we have reached those points where, you will be sat there thinking I knew this, you don’t need to tell me this. But my point for today is, that whilst boxing is a sport for hitting with hands do you know what is truly effective and how do you go about it.

There may be as many ways to box and defend yourself with boxing, than there is with the multitude branches of martial arts. So, what we are going to look at today, is an often-overlooked aspect of boxing, body punches.

Now I hear you saying, no no no, the head shot is the knockout, that’s where people go all loopy and drop to the floor like a sack of potatoes. But, that isn’t strictly true.

So, what are the benefits of a body punch and for that matter of fact this applies to kicks as well.

Let’s start with the target area itself, the body.

The human torso, is effectively a roll cage in which your important stuff sits and is protected. Yep, all the stuff you need to be up and walking about, lungs, heart, stomach, liver, kidneys and so on and so forth. All of them churning away doing their little jobs in the processing of liquids, pumping of blood and all those good bits. All lovingly wrapped in your rib cage and connects to your spine, like a grim set of louvre doors. With me so far.

Now we have evolved like this, because it was understood the world is full of pointed objects that could pierce, puncture and jab (see what I did there) all those lovely squishy bits that keep us alive. Therefore, in a sport where the objective is to knockdown your opponent to win, these play a role in this contest.

Punches to vital areas of the body, may result in an immediate knock out and end to the match but more importantly for those who are tactical, repeated shots to the body are cumulative. In that continued hits will reduce your opponent capacity for breath and if you can’t breathe you can’t stand, you can’t stand you are on the floor and again we have a win.

So, let us take into account the bits we want to hit here:

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Abdomen & Rib Cage: In the diagram, shows the muscles and fibres that lay beneath the skin

A lot of the muscles around the stomach and rib cage are set up to aide breathing, which you are going to need to keep you moving around in a fight. Simply put, damage to these muscles and yes, your ribs will lead to not being able to breath effectively and is cumulative as the fight continues.

There is also the possibility of being able to hit the ‘floating rib’3 which can cause a knock down or even knock out. In these kinds of incidents the rib can be cracked and or broken, driving the wind out of the fighter, causing collapse.

Solar Plexus4: Located in the centre of your torso between your abdomen and chest, the actual solar plexus lays deep within your chest cavity.

In a spiritual sense, it is said that the solar plexus is the centre of the bodies Chakra5 and responsible for courage.

Science however notes the solar plexus as a bundle of nerves that are clustered in one place and have an effect of the diaphragm, which aids in respiration. A blow heavy enough to the solar plexus much like the floating rib, will cause an immediate winding and the pain, due to the number of nerves is intense.

Importantly, no amount of muscle building or strengthening will affect the solar plexus or the effects upon it from striking.


The liver is an organ only found in vertebrates which detoxifies various metabolites, synthesizes proteins and produces biochemicals necessary for digestion. In humans, it is located in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen, below the diaphragm.

Closely linked with strikes to the rib cage that can disrupt the liver in its function. My favourite exponent of this if the ‘liver kick’7 used by Bas Rutten8. Much like all systems within the body, when they feel they are under attack, the body shuts down and in the case of boxing, this would result in a knockout or technical knockout9 (TKO) if the opponent is unable to recover.


The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs found in vertebrates. They are located on the left and right in the retroperitoneal space, and in adult humans are about 11 centimetres (4.3 in) in length. They receive blood from the paired renal arteries; blood exits into the paired renal veins. Each kidney is attached to a ureter, a tube that carries excreted urine to the bladder.

Effectively this means, like the liver, they are actively involved in the bodies processing actions, attacking these areas can lead from severe pain, internal bleeding. These punches are hard to deliver in boxing as the kidneys are located toward the back of the torso. But if struck with sufficient force, will cause a potential knock out.

With this explanation of the effects on the internal organs of the body I hope you can see why body blows can be so dramatically effective. That and the superficial tissue damage that can happen during these attacks that will be felt for days be simply the action of breathing.

Of course, the final advantage here as opposed to the classical head shot in boxing is the effects on your own body. If delivered correctly, it is easier on your hand bones, which are very small and fragile, to hit the abdomen than it is the head or skull which is effectively a natural crash helmet.

So, the next time you are thinking of going for that hook to the head or that straight punch to the mush. Please remember he cornucopia of targets that lay less that two feet below.


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Resources – Body shot knock outs – Body shot knock outs 2 – Liver shots in MMA – Mae Geri body shot