The Anatomy of a Knockout – A Technical Explanation | Central PA Mixed Martial Arts

The Anatomy of a Knockout – A Technical Explanation

I’ve found five different places on the head that are usually hit when people get knocked out. In order of success rate, they are as follows:

Tip of Chin:

Usually executed via a hook or uppercut/shovel hook. In this clip Rashad really didn’t hit Chuck that hard, it just clipped him perfectly. This is why we always hide our chin behind a shoulder on one side, and the hand on the other. When the tip of the chin is hit, the synapses in the brain disconnect due to the twisting of the brain inside of the skull, thus producing a knockout.

Trigeminal Nerve:

Can be executed via either a Hook, Kick, Knee, or Elbow. Watch in this clip when Tito starts covering up. He is weathering the storm until he turns his head to the side and Chuck gets in through the hole, hitting the trigeminal nerve. This is one of the main reasons we always keep our head forward and not turn it to the side. While it might feel natural to turn your head away from the punches coming in, it usually isn’t the best thing to do. The tip of the chin and Trigeminal nerve knockouts are the most common so they need to be protected the most.
This knockout usually occurs because the brainstem is getting pulled out from the back of the skull which tugs on the back of the brain. This then, like the “Tip of Chin” example, disconnects the synapses.

Front of Chin:

Usually executed via a straight punch. This type of knockout happens less often but is possible. The first example @ :45 does not produce the knockout immediately but the example at 1:55 does =) Like the Trigeminal Nerve, this punch forces the jaw to bottom out against the sides of the skull. This usually disrupts brain activity by shear impact.

Side of Head:

Usually executed via Kick or Knee but harder to get successfully from punches due to the lack in power. Like the Front of Chin, both the forehead knockout and side of head knockout simply jar the brain rather than twisting it inside of the skull cavity, thus producing the knockout.


Usually executed via Kick or Knee.

This is the main reason I want to make sure everyone always has a hand back to their head, shoulder up on the other side AT ALL TIMES! In drilling, pad work, sparring, fighting. Those of you who have been with me for a while know I beat this into the ground. It’s important, and I don’t want anyone getting knocked out. I recommend everyone train good form and technique in the mirror trying to accomplish this goal for as long as it takes. Once it looks good in the mirror look to transfer your newly installed skills to the pads, then sparring and finally fighting. It is important that it is done in this order. Many people ask me after being with me for a few weeks of training “can I spar?” and I reply with “No.” They then say, “it’s okay, I’m not worried about getting beat up” to which I reply, “Neither am I! I just want to make sure your body knows what it’s doing first.” I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard say, “I just got in there and all form went out the window!” It’s because they are missing a step in their training. For instance, going straight to sparring might improve reaction time, strategy, etc. but it may also be installing back technique. In this case it’s only a matter of time before the fighter gets caught by an opponent with better form. Drilling in the mirror and then pad work will help your body learn its newly installed moves, then you can apply it in sparring and fighting.