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A groin attack is a deliberate attempt to cause pain to the groin area of one's opponent. Often used in self-defense, the technique can be quickly debilitating, due to the large number of sensitive nerve endings in the penis and testicles of males, as well as the highly innervated vulva and ovaries of females. A sufficiently powerful blow may fracture the pubic bone of the victim, resulting in physical disability. Circumcised men and women are more vulnerable because their glans lack protection of prepuce. This technique has been popularized as a comedic device on programs such as America's Funniest Home Videos and YouTube.
An attack to the groin is considered to be a "low blow" not only in the literal sense, but is the origin of the metaphor. In a playful attack, or attack in the framework of a sport, a low blow is seen as unfair or improper and is often considered dishonourable. Strikes to the groin are almost universally forbidden in martial arts competitions, including boxing, kickboxing, and mixed martial arts competitions where full-contact strikes are normal and permitted, eventually resulting in penalties and disqualifications. Testicle attacks were, however, allowed until the 1980s in international Thai boxing (Muay Thai) and are still permitted in Thailand itself (though the boxers wear cups to lessen the impact). Many martial arts organizations require competitors to wear protective cups against accidental blows, as do many other sports. Direct strikes to the groin are generally considered illegal in professional wrestling as well, and unofficial rings may consider it shameful, however, in certain "hardcore" matches the rules are relaxed and such attacks are allowed by mutual consent.
In street fighting, a low blow may be considered more appropriate as a self-defense technique. The attack can allow a much weaker combatant to temporarily disable an assailant, making it easy for them to escape. When ones opponent is at close range, a knee attack to the groin is easy to execute and difficult to defend against. It is often, though not always, effective.
Effects on sexes
Groin attacks enacted upon male victims are the most widely known, and people—male and female—are often taught to use the groin attack to discourage potential rapists and other attackers. Such attacks are also used as a form of bullying by both males and females.
Groin strikes are debilitating and pose potential harm to males due to the high sensitivity of the human gonads and vulnerability of the external testicles. The pain associated with testicular trauma travels from the testicles into the abdominal cavity through the spermatic plexus, the primary nerve of the testicles. In extreme cases, a hard strike to the testicles can cause the victim to vomit or black out and can cause the testicle to rupture, potentially sterilizing the victim. There is also the possibility of shock.
In many parts of the world, an attack on the male groin is considered to be sexual assault.
Contrary to depictions in popular culture (in which females are no more vulnerable in their groin than anywhere else), a strike or squeeze to the vulva or clitoris and ovaries will cause considerable pain and can incapacitate females due to the high density of nerve endings in these structures. The pain associated with a trauma to the clitoris travels through the pudendal nerve and travels through the ovarian plexus for a trauma to the ovaries. In extreme cases, the female victim may vomit or black out.
A strike to a female's genitals can be just as damaging and debilitating as a blow to a male. If delivered with enough force, a kick to the female genitalia can drive the highly sensitive clitoris up into the pubic bone, compressing the clitoris between the hard bone and the attacker's shoe. Potential long-term health problems can arise for female targets of groin attacks including nerve damage to the clitoris, the pubic bone fracture because women's bones are thinner (and the bone of the pelvis of women is thinner and may break), hematoma, vulvodynia and rupture of the ovaries (ovarian apoplexy), which will lead to infertility.
In many parts of the world, an attack on the female groin is considered to be sexual assault.
The Old Testament, (Deuteronomy 25:11–12) states the following:
When men fight with one another, and the wife of the one approaches to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him, and puts out her hand and seizes his genitals, you shall sever her hand; you shall have no compassion.
- "Anterior Pelvic Injuries – Wheeless' Textbook of Orthopaedics". Retrieved 28 October 2014.
- Combatives for street survival, by Kelly McCann, Black Belt Books, ISBN 978-0-89750-176-7, (2010, second edition), pp 111, 112, 139–142
- Translated from the original Hebrew, Metzudah Linear Chumash, 1996, page 296-297