A headbutt is a strike with the head, typically involving the use of robust parts of the cranium as the area of impact. Effective headbutting involves striking a sensitive area of an opponent using the forehead, such as the nose of an opponent. It can be considered a very effective but risky maneuver as a misplaced strike can cause greater injury to the person delivering the headbutt than to the person receiving it.
From French botter = "to kick". Rams are well known for butting with their heads and horns. From this the terms battering ram and hydraulic ram are derived. Many males in various animal species employ butting during courtship.
Headbutts can be used from close range such as from the clinch, or on the ground. They are typically applied to the head of the opponent, since the head is often a readily available target and has several sensitive areas. An effective headbutt can be performed with a forward, rising, sideways or backwards motion; each being effective from different positions.
Parts of the cranium with thick bone and high local curvature make for good weapon areas, and these include the forehead near the hairline, the outboard curved part of the parietal bone, and the occiput. Ideal targets are usually the fragile areas of the head, including the bridge of the nose, the cheekbones, the hinge area of the jaw, the temple, and the top edge of the eye socket.
Hitting the opponent's teeth or mouth is likely to cause mutual damage. The chin of the enemy is also a generally bad position to headbutt unless striking from below up into the bottom of the chin, similar to an uppercut.
Headbutts are generally forbidden in most contact sports, and, if performed, result in penalties and disqualifications. However, it is a strike allowed in professional wrestling, Lethwei and Muay Boran bouts and Vale tudo fights. It is also the primary focus of Eritrean martial art Testa. Headbutts were a commonly used technique in mixed martial arts before the introduction of the unified rules of MMA.
In April 1994, Scottish forward Duncan Ferguson, then of Rangers, received a three-month prison sentence (for being convicted of assault) after headbutting John McStay during a Scottish Premier Division match between the Rangers and Raith Rovers at Ibrox Stadium.
In the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Mark van Bommel was headbutted, this time by Luís Figo in the Portugal vs. Netherlands second round match. However, Figo received only a yellow card this offense. In the final match against Italy, Frenchman Zinedine Zidane infamously headbutted the Italian Marco Materazzi in the chest, for which he received a red card and a subsequent three match ban. The three-match ban had no effect since he had previously announced his intention to retire after the 2006 World Cup.
In the 2010 African Cup of Nations, referee Coffi Codjia was suspended indefinitely by the Confederation of African Football after failing to award a red card to Algerian goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi, who headbutted him during an argument.
Cameroonian Samuel Eto'o playing for Inter Milan headbutted Bostjan Cesar from Chievo Verona on Nov 21, 2010.
During the 2012 Major League Soccer season, Montreal Impact's Nelson Rivas headbutted Philadelphia Union's Antoine Hoppenot in the 68th minute of playing time during the 2-0 win over the Union on August 4, 2012. Rivas was issued a red card along with Union's Jack McInerney.
- Moffatt, Gerald. Headbutts or How to be a Nutter. stickgrappler.tripod.com. URL last accessed February 2, 2006.
- WonderHowTo How to Headbutt like Kiefer Sutherland
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