I start this Serie of materials
in which I want to discuss about vital organs when we talk about the knife combat. As I say before some basic knowledge in human anatomy is very important when we want to perfect our skills. The Heart
The heart is a muscular organ located in the thoracic cavity. Often described as “pump” the heart is responsible for receiving deoxygenated blood, recycling it through the lungs, and supplying oxygenated blood to the body. The heart consists of four chambers:
The atria: These are the two upper chambers, which receive blood.
The ventricles: These are the two lower chambers, which discharge blood.
A wall of tissue called the septum separates the left and right atria and the left and right ventricle. Valves separate the atria from the ventricles. The heart’s walls consist of three layers of tissue:
Myocardium: This is the muscular tissue of the heart.
Endocardium: This tissue lines the inside of the heart and protects the valves and chambers.
Pericardium: This is a thin protective coating that surrounds the other parts.
Epicardium: This protective layer consists mostly of connective tissue and forms the innermost layer of the pericardium.
It is very important to understand that a blade strike to the heart is not a sure bet for killing. Modern medicine is so advance that stab wounds to the heart aren't as fatal as one may think. But of course that this is depending on a lot of factors. Many of the victims that are arriving to a hospital are saved.
From some conversations that I was having with an emergency surgery doctor that is also my friend during a 10 years period at the hospital where he works, of those with a stab wounds to the heart only 10 % died. This cases prove most fatal when the aorta was damaged. When the heart is injured, stabs to the atria are more damaging than those to the ventricles. Ventricles contract.
Each contraction temporarily staunches blood flow.
Again I remind you that for delivering the maximum damage after stabbing the blade must be extracted, otherwise the blade can function as a seal for the wound.
Blade selection is important. The actual damage will be done largely by the point. There is a trade off between ease of penetration and damage done.
Because the heart is contractile muscle and the ventricle fairly a sphere-like, it will actually seal a small puncture when it contracts, and pressure is highest, and only leak when it relaxes. People have survived hours or days with such wounds.
Ribs provide some guidance / deflection to a blade, but there are still lots of places for a “blade” to slide between ribs. The rib cage evolved to supply structural support to the body, to the contained organs, have the flexibility required to breathe (when the diaphragm is partially blocked), and some minimal protection for the contained organs.
If a person is stabbed in the heart between the ribs the heart can be penetrated. The heart is located between ribs number 2 and six on the left. Intercostal spaces have muscle layers between the ribs, so they can be penetrated by a knife or screwdriver or other instrument. Usually the right ventricle is hit with a stab wound as it sits more anteriorly, but deeper stabs can hit both ventricles. Left intercostal Interspaces 2,3,4,5 are the spaces between which a knife can be inserted and hit the heart. The ribs the bones can only protect if the path of the stabbing knife hits the rib itself, but because the heart is not encased fully by bone, the knife that is inserted between ribs 2–3 , 3–4, 4–5 can penetrate the heart is stabbing knife goes deep enough A knife going deep 4.5 inches between the ribs can penetrate both the right ventricle and the left ventricle which is posterior.
A lateral or anterolateral stab can pass between the ribs and go straight to the heart, as can a vertical stab passing downward from just behind the clavicle or upward from below the ribcage. A sufficiently powerful stab using an ice pick or spike type of weapon, can break through the sternum and go directly to the heart from the front center of the chest.
This is how “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin died. A very large stingray, startled and reacting to Irwin in the way it would defend itself from a shark, stabbed Irwin repeatedly in the chest. At least one stab went to the heart, presumably between his ribs, and caused massive cardiac damage.
Steve Irwin Filming on the fateful day
There are different ways to penetrate and stab the heart but the surest location to strike the heart itself is between the fourth and fifth ribs on the left side of the victim. It’s a shorter distance to the heart if you go between the ribs Keep the knife angled so that the knife points to the victims right. In this way it will plunge the knife into the left ventricle, the largest chamber of the heart and the one with the greatest pressure. . The easiest is to just go under the rib cage at the xiphoid process, and point the knife towards the left shoulder blade.
What are the the best type of weapons for performing this kind of stabs without the risk that the bade will be stuck between the ribs? The answer is for penetration, the spikes and ice picks. But they will not create more damage then a knife's blade that is reaching the heart.
In the next video I explain better 3 methods to access the heart.
Check also the diagrams that I draw so you can have a better visual understanding.