Chin Jab

I’ve been reading up this week on the chin jab.  On a previous post, I discussed variations of palm strikes.  The chin jab is also a palm strike, of course, but I want to specifically highlight it and its application.  One of the first places I go to look at combatives techniques is Dennis Martin’s Combatives Forum.  You cannot go wrong with the information here—tried and true, and regularly looking back to the simplicity and efficacy of Applegate and Fairbairn’s techniques.  You don’t have to rely on tremendous skill or accuracy to make these techniques work, which is a huge plus when you are in survival mode.

As its name implies, the chin jab is applied to the chin, with the heel of the palm.  Kelly McCann refers to the hand orientation as “palming a grapefruit.”  The strike comes from below the field of vision, which means you are pretty darned close to your target.  Driving up his centerline (though you can deliver it from an angle and it is taught this way, too), as Dennis describes, move “your body in the strike”, accelerating through the target.  The elbow remains bent, and McCann recommends keeping it pointing down.  He also checks the left arm as he moves in for the strike.  In Kill or Get Killed, Applegate recommends that the fingers of the striking hand be extended to keep the palm rigid.  The blow is most devastating when the chin is more forward, and when the strike is applied more directly under the chin. 

The strike is categorized as pre-emptive, and McCann states that you might use it while the aggressor is talking.  I can imagine this has added benefit—the guy is probably going to sink his teeth deeply into his tongue upon impact.  Ouch.  The main idea is unconsciousness, or the “6 inch KO.”  The chin is a sweet spot for a KO, and Dennis calls it an effective lever for “moving the cranium” and essentially rocking the brain inside the skull.  Whether it actually moves the brain in a spiral, I have no idea, but the end result has been witnessed over and over again.  There is some discussion about the chin jab possibly causing damage to the cervical spine, as well.  Applegate describes the simultaneous action of grabbing the belt with the left hand and pulling the body forward at the moment of impact on the chin, thereby causing neck fracture.

Additionally, Applegate describes another combination: the knee strike to the groin with the chin jab.  This addition is most effective if the chin is protruding far forward.

Think of the chin jab as a surprise, close quarters strike, most likely delivered from a protective fence of some kind (your ready stance, like Jack Benny), or even from what Dennis calls the “listening fence”: feigning that you missed what he said, moving in closer to “hear”, and delivering the blow.  Train it, put it in your toolbox and know that it is field-tested to be brutally effective.


Applegate, Rex.  (1943).  Kill or Get Killed: A Manual of Hand-to-Hand Fighting.  Boulder: Paladin Press.

Grover, Jim.  (1999).  Jim Grover’s Combatives Series: Power Strikes & Kicks, Vol. 1.  [Videotape].  Paladin Press.

Martin, Dennis, et al.  The Classic Strikes.  Dennis Martin’s Combatives Community.  Retrieved May 2009, from



  1. […] More here: Chin Jab « Gutterfighting USA Weblog […]

  2. […] Here is another video clip of Kelly McCann explaining the Chin Jab.  Some downplay its effectiveness, but they thought it was effective enough to teach it to soldiers in WWII.  I often think to myself, “man, this would be really hard to pull off on somebody with a weak chin.”  🙂  Always considerations to make, of course, in any given situation.  I recommend you really play with this technique.  In case you missed it, here is my old post on the Chin Jab technique, in detail: […]

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