Eye poke

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An eye poke, eye jab, eye stab, eye strike or poke in the eye is a strike at the eye or eyes of a human or animal. It is typically made with the fingers which may either be forked to jab both eyes or held together, like a bird's beak, to strike with force and protect the fingers from damage.[1][2] The attack became better known among the public due to its use in comedy; the idea of using it to entertain was likely invented by the vaudeville duo of Joe Weber and Lew Fields.[3]


In sporting events, a losing fighter will sometimes break the rules, and poke someone in the eye leading to the fight be ended as "no decision," thus preventing them from taking a loss.[4] Some events try to prevent eye poking by having fighters wear gloves with webbing over the fingers.[4]

Self defense[edit]

In a street fight situation, when one's opponent may be trying to inflict serious harm, martial arts expert Kelly McCann advises that the eyes should be a "persistent primary target".[5] An eye poke needs little power to be effective, and it can stop even highly determined attackers. If the hand is kept at an approximately 45° angle to the opponent's face during the strike, there is less risk of hurting ones fingers, and even if they do not connect with the eye, the palm can impact on the opponent's face.[5]


The eye poke was a signature move in the slapstick antics of the comedy and vaudeville act The Three Stooges, who mastered the technique. In reality, the Stooges poked each other on the eyebrows to avoid actual injury.[6] The form of attack was well known among children who watched the show.[7][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mike Young (2006), "The Eye Jab", Martial Arts Techniques for Law Enforcement, p. 60, ISBN 9780804837941 
  2. ^ Darren Levine, John Whitman (2007), "Eye Strike", Complete Krav Maga, p. 32, ISBN 9781569755730 
  3. ^ Epstein, Lawrence J. (2004). Mixed nuts: America's love affair with comedy teams : from Burns and Allen to Belushi and Aykroyd. New York: PublicAffairs. p. 34. ISBN 1586481908. 
  4. ^ a b Holden, Eric (2012-08-05). "How Should the UFC Address the "Eye Poke" Issue in the Wake of Wagner Prado's Fight at UFC on Fox 4? Fan's Look - Yahoo! Sports". Sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  5. ^ a b Combatives for street survival , by Kelly McCann, Black Belt Books, ISBN 0987501764, (2010, second edition) p 126
  6. ^ Loren W. Christensen (2000), "The Three Stooges Technique", Fighter's Fact Book, p. 134, ISBN 9781880336373 
  7. ^ Baran, Stanley J. (1980). The viewer's television book: a personal guide to understanding television and its influence. Penrith Pub. Co. p. 74. ISBN 0936522003. "Many of us (and our children) who grew up watching "The Three Stooges" learned the two-fingered eye poke and the defense against that tactic" 
  8. ^ Atkins, Larry (June 21, 1999). "Three Whoops For The Three Stooges". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 

Further reading[edit]