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A persistent tale in martial arts is that one can strike an unfortunate other on the nose in such a way that you drive the cartilege up into their brain. Is this possible?

I think some points to consider are:

  • Is there a path from the inside of the nose to the brain that doesn't pass through bone?
  • If not, could the cartilege penetrate any intervening bone?
  • Is the cartilege in the nose long enough to reach into the brain before the hand propelling it stops against rim of the nasal cavity?
  • Is the cartilege attached to the skull in such a way that a blow could send it into the skull?

The reasons I doubt the claim are that:

  • I've never heard of a boxer suffering this injury, despite millions of fights and training sessions containing billions of punches having occured.
  • I've taken an upward travelling kick to the face that broke my nose, and the cartilege just stuck out the side! :-)
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Have you read Ender's Game? –  FracturedRetina Apr 24 at 2:33
    
@FracturedRetina yep, but only after posting this question. And I don't consider it to be a medical text, as such. :-) –  Grimm The Opiner Apr 24 at 15:15
    
You should consider getting a custom username, seeing how you have a derpload of rep. –  FracturedRetina Apr 24 at 19:59
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@FracturedRetina I was thinking of calling myself 'user1158693', but it was already taken... –  Grimm The Opiner Apr 25 at 9:28

1 Answer 1

up vote 31 down vote accepted

From FightingArts.com, Martial Arts Myths & Misconceptions - Pushing The Nose Bone Into The Brain,

You cannot drive the nose bone into the brain. It cannot be done by any martial arts blow, and never has been done.

Furthermore,

The sheer mechanics of accomplishing this are daunting. First, there is the crista galli, a thick, smooth, triangular piece of bone that projects from the bone that forms the roof of the nasal cavity (cribriform plate). Though there are small openings in the cribiform plate which allow nerves to pass through, they are not large enough to allow a mass of splintered bone to enter the brain case, nor are they direct conduits to the brain.

Additionally, Ezine@articles states in The Nose Bones Into The Brain Martial Myth,

Unfortunately, it is a myth and it is not possible for a blow to the nose to drive bone fragments into the brain. The nose contains mostly cartilage, not bone, and there's no direct way for this cartilage, or any small nasal bones that fracture into pieces from blunt trauma, to penetrate into the brain. It just can't happen.

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Now, about that five-point-palm exploding-heart technique..? –  Grimm The Opiner Oct 23 '13 at 7:32
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Definitely true. –  Articuno Oct 23 '13 at 22:52
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Thank you for this answer. I am a fan of modern Mixed Martial Arts and find myself debating traditional/mystical martial arts enthusiasts occasionally who bring up these types of myths. With over 100 years of professional boxing and approx 20 years of MMA in the record books, a lot of these fighting myths can finally be put to bed. –  Graham Oct 24 '13 at 13:14
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I like how that's unfortunate. –  giorgian Apr 24 at 15:16

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