10 July 2006

The award for technical achievement in head-butting goes to...

Slate's "Explainer" column suggests how, even if you were scandalized by Zinedine Zidane's head-butting of an Italian opponent late in yesterday's World Cup Final, you can at least appreciate Zizou's technique:
Experts in self-defense and mixed martial arts say Zidane's head butt was a flawless demonstration of the form. He positioned his feet close to his opponent and stepped into the blow, contracting his abdominal muscles to curve into the attack. He was also careful to keep his chin down as he approached, which helped him land the strike with the top of his head as opposed to his brow or face.

Zidane employed a classic "forward head butt," favored by street fighters in Europe and the United States.

Zidane was awarded the "Golden Ball" award after the Final, recognizing him as the player of the tournament. FIFA has not yet confirmed that the award was based in part on style points for his head-butt.

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