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Pressure Points

Today we will discuss the facts and myths of weak points in the human structure called pressure points. A pressure point is essentially a nerve center. A struck nerve will cause searing pain and often disable your opponent. Knowing where to a hit a person and how to do it most effectively is a very important skill to have. You can be strong as an ox but a punch to the body and a punch to the solar plexus will have two very profoundly different effects.

Let's discuss the myths first--the touch of death, dim mak, etc. While I am sure somewhere out there in this big wide world, some cult of sick martial artists have learned some crazy shit, this is not the topic of discussion here. This is not a Jet Li movie--you will be using this on the street where someone may try to kill you or in the octagon where someone will most definitely be trying to knock you out. You try some two finger touch master shit, you will most likely be defeated. In the octagon, you will look downright stupid. However, land a ridge hand to the temple or just above the lip or in the bridge of the nose and you will watch your opponent crumble.

The following is an excerpt of an ebook I downloaded. It explains where to strike and how. Some of these moves will get you DQd in the ring, so use common sense. Obviously gouging out an eye is not an option, but in a street fight, it may save your ass. Yes it is a little long, but you have trained hard if you are here (or intend to). Put the time in, gain the knowledge, take the advantage and destroy your opponents.

In medium-range combatives, two opponents are already within touching
distance. The arsenal of possible body weapons includes short punches and
strikes with elbows, knees, and hands. Head butts are also effective; do not forget
them during medium-range combat. A soldier uses his peripheral vision to
evaluate the targets presented by the opponent and choose his target. He should
be aggressive and concentrate his attack on the opponent's vital points to end the
fight as soon as possible.

The body is divided into three sections: high, middle, and low. Each
section contains vital targets (Figure 4-1, pages 4-5 and 4-6). The effects of
striking these targets follow:

a. High Section. The high section includes the head and neck; it is the most
dangerous target area.

(1) Top of the head. The skull is weak where the frontal cranial bones join.
A forceful strike causes trauma to the cranial cavity, resulting in
unconsciousness and hemorrhage. A severe strike can result in death.

(2) Forehead. A forceful blow can cause whiplash; a severe blow can
cause cerebral hemorrhage and death.

(3) Temple. The bones of the skull are weak at the temple, and an artery
and large nerve lie close to the skin. A powerful strike can cause
unconsciousness and brain concussion. If the artery is severed, the resulting
massive hemorrhage compresses the brain, causing coma and or death.

(4) Eyes. A slight jab in the eyes causes uncontrollable watering and
blurred vision. A forceful jab or poke can cause temporary blindness, or the
eyes can be gouged out. Death can result if the fingers penetrate through the
thin bone behind the eyes and into the brain.

(5) Ears. A strike to the ear with cupped hands can rupture the eardrum
and may cause a brain concussion. (i've used this one and while there was no ko, they stopped hitting me...)

FM 21-150
(6) Nose. Any blow can easily break the thin bones of the nose, causing
extreme pain and eye watering.

(7) Under the nose. A blow to the nerve center, which is close to the
surface under the nose, can cause great pain and watery eyes.

(8) Jaw. A blow to the jaw can break or dislocate it. If the facial nerve is
pinched against the lower jaw, one side of the face will be paralyzed.

(9) Chin. A blow to the chin can cause paralysis, mild concussion, and
unconsciousness. The jawbone acts as a lever that can transmit the force of
a blow to the back of the brain where the cardiac and respiratory mechanisms
are controlled.

(10) Back of ears and base of skull. A moderate blow to the back of the
ears or the base of the skull can cause unconsciousness by the jarring effect
on the back of the brain. However, a powerful blow can cause a concussion
or brain hemorrhage and death.

(11) Throat. A powerful blow to the front of the throat can cause death
by crushing the windpipe. A forceful blow causes extreme pain and gagging
or vomiting.

(12) Side of neck. A sharp blow to the side of the neck causes
unconsciousness by shock to the carotid artery, jugular vein, and vagus nerve.
For maximum effect, the blow should be focused below and slightly in front
of the ear. A less powerful blow causes involuntary muscle spasms and
intense pain. The side of the neck is one of the best targets to use to drop an
opponent immediately or to disable him temporarily to finish him later.

(13) Back of neck. A powerful blow to the back of one’s neck can cause
whiplash, concussion, or even a broken neck and death.

b. Middle Section. The middle section extends from the shoulders to the
area just above the hips. Most blows to vital points in this region are not fatal
but can have serious, long-term complications that range from trauma to
internal organs to spinal cord injuries.

(1) Front of shoulder muscle. A large bundle of nerves passes in front of
the shoulder joint. A forceful blow causes extreme pain and can make the
whole arm ineffective if the nerves are struck just right. (unless you strike the joint perfectly, this one could do you more harm than good).

(2) Collarbone. A blow to the collarbone can fracture it, causing intense
pain and rendering the arm on the side of the fracture ineffective. The
fracture can also sever the brachial nerve or subclavian artery.

(3) Armpit. A large nerve lies close to the skin in each armpit. A blow to
this nerve causes severe pain and partial paralysis. A knife inserted into the
armpit is fatal as it severs a major artery leading from the heart. (again, not effective in the ring)

(4) Spine. A blow to the spinal column can sever the spinal cord, resulting
in paralysis or in death.
FM 21-150
(5) Nipples. A large network of nerves passes near the skin at the nipples.
A blow here can cause extreme pain and hemorrhage to the many blood
vessels beneath.

(6) Heart. A jolting blow to the heart can stun the opponent and allow
time for follow-up or finishing techniques.

(7) Solar plexus. The solar plexus is a center for nerves that control the
cardiorespiratory system. A blow to this location is painful and can take the
breath from the opponent. A powerful blow causes unconsciousness by
shock to the nerve center. A penetrating blow can also damage internal

(8) Diaphragm. A blow to the lower front of the ribs can cause the
diaphragm and the other muscles that control breathing to relax. This causes
loss of breath and can result in unconsciousness due to respiratory failure.

(9) Floating ribs. A blow to the floating ribs can easily fracture them
because they are not attached to the rib cage. Fractured ribs on the right side
can cause internal injury to the liver; fractured ribs on either side can possibly
puncture or collapse a lung.

(10) Kidneys. A powerful blow to the kidneys can induce shock and can
possibly cause internal injury to these organs. A stab to the kidneys induces
instant shock and can cause death from severe internal bleeding.

(11) Abdomen below navel. A powerful blow to the area below the navel
and above the groin can cause shock, unconsciousness, and internal bleeding.

(12) Biceps. A strike to the biceps is most painful and renders the arm
ineffective. The biceps is an especially good target when an opponent holds
a weapon.

(13) Forearm muscle. The radial nerve, which controls much of the
movement in the hand, passes over the forearm bone just below the elbow.
A strike to the radial nerve renders the hand and arm ineffective. An
opponent can be disarmed by a strike to the forearm; if the strike is powerful
enough, he can be knocked unconscious.

(14) Back of hand. The backs of the hands are sensitive. Since the nerves
pass over the bones in the hand, a strike to this area is intensely painful. The
small bones on the back of the hand are easily broken and such a strike can
also render the hand ineffective.

c. Low Section. The low section of the body includes everything from the
groin area to the feet. Strikes to these areas are seldom fatal, but they can be

(1) Groin. A moderate blow to the groin can incapacitate an opponent
and cause intense pain. A powerful blow can result in unconsciousness and

FM 21-150
(2) Outside of thigh. A large nerve passes near the surface on the outside
of the thigh about four finger-widths above the knee. A powerful strike to
this region can render the entire leg ineffective, causing an opponent to drop.
This target is especially suitable for knee strikes and shin kicks.

(3) Inside of thigh. A large nerve passes over the bone about in the middle
of the inner thigh. A blow to this area also incapacitates the leg and can cause
the opponent to drop. Knee strikes and heel kicks are the weapons of choice
for this target.

(4) Hamstring. A severe strike to the hamstring can cause muscle spasms
and inhibit mobility. If the hamstring is cut, the leg is useless.

(5) Knee. Because the knee is a major supporting structure of the body,
damage to this joint is especially detrimental to an opponent. The knee is
easily dislocated when struck at an opposing angle to the joint’s normal range
of motion, especially when it is bearing the opponent’s weight. The knee can
be dislocated or hyperextended by kicks and strikes with the entire body.

(6) Calf. A powerful blow to the top of the calf causes painful muscle
spasms and also inhibits mobility.

(7) Shin. A moderate blow to the shin produces great pain, especially a
blow with a hard object. A powerful blow can possibly fracture the bone that
supports most of the body weight.

(8) Achilles tendon. A powerful strike to the Achilles tendon on the back
of the heel can cause ankle sprain and dislocation of the foot. If the tendon
is torn, the opponent is incapacitated. The Achilles tendon is a good target
to cut with a knife.

(9) Ankle. A blow to the ankle causes pain; if a forceful blow is delivered,
the ankle can be sprained or broken.

(10) Instep. The small bones on the top of the foot are easily broken. A
strike here will hinder the opponent’s mobility.

I hope you find this information helpful. How to strike them is another story for a pt2 post. Next time you spar, try some of this stuff out and start getting your accuracy together. Effective striking leads to economical fighting. Efficiency is a definite factor in your ability to destroy opponents.

So stay tuned for part 2, which will cover some ways to strike these pressure points. I suggest you develop your own style specific strikes that will be appropriate for you and your sport. While pt 2 can benefit any fighter, I believe it will help people in a street fight best.
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