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! :-)
  • 1
    Have you read Ender's Game? Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 2:33
  • 5
    @FracturedRetina yep, but only after posting this question. And I don't consider it to be a medical text, as such. :-) Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 15:15

1 Answer 1


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.


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.

  • 31
    Now, about that five-point-palm exploding-heart technique..? Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 7:32
  • 4
    Definitely true.
    – user5582
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 22:52
  • 3
    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.
    – GHP
    Commented Oct 24, 2013 at 13:14
  • 33
    I like how that's unfortunate.
    – giorgian
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 15:16
  • @GrimmTheOpiner - or the Buddhist Palm. youtube.com/watch?v=HqFaWv25ix4 Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 21:31

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