Martial Arts Tips – Fighting Using Pressure Points
Kyusho Jitsu or the art of using pressure points or vital points is the subject of this article. You can guess that by the title, eh? There are about 108 pressure points used in the martial arts. The points can correspond to the Meridians of Chinese Medicine, Yin/yang, Times of the Shichen, elements theory, or they can be related to the location deremios” point to of blood vessels and nerve channels. Does it matter how you classify the location of the point as long as the technique works? It might if you are a martial arts purist. If you are a brawler or a street fighter it may not be quite as important.
On the human body there are about eight magic points in which if struck properly can cause instant death. I am not going to discuss these points for obvious reasons. I don’t want to be responsible for some twit trying to kill one of their classmates by using one of these pressure points.
From what I have learned from various sources is that the pressure points can be divided into two basic categories: rub points and strike points. Some points are both. It is also necessary to understand the angle and direction the point must be struck to be totally effective. It also matters how much penetration is required to activate the point. With some points just a touch will activate the point where others require a substantial amount of force to use.
Locating the points is relatively simple. Find where the blood vessels or nerve channels cross over a bony area or are close to the surface and that is where a Kyusho point is likely to be found. Using an acupuncture chart also is helpful in locating the points but is somewhat overwhelming. There are several good books available that show the points. One of the best I have found is The Art of Striking by Marc Tedeschi. There are excellent pictures and diagrams of the points in this book and several other texts by Mr. Tedeschi. He also does a good job comparing several different arts and their respective techniques. Another excellent reference is The Bubishi, the Bible of Karate by Patrick McCarthy. They should be in your library if for nothing else but as reference to the points.
Now that you have a pictorial reference and a good description of the points how do you go about learning them? You can get a list and a magic marker along with a willing subject and commence drawing dots in strategic places. This is a very hard way to learn the points and remembering them and makes your partner look like he has some kind of pox. Been there, done that. Doesn’t work so well. A better way is to get a list of your techniques, perhaps from your kata, or perhaps of the lists of jujutsu techniques if that is what you are studying. For self defense such as Krav Maga or Haganah you have lists of the techniques used. With the techniques in hand and a willing partner not so covered with dots you can proceed to learn the points. Select a technique, see where that technique hits or grabs and find the corresponding pressure points. Use that method to learn as many points as practical. I have found that we pretty much use the same points doing all of the techniques that are basic to our system. We use the Dan Zan Ryu technique lists, Shotokan karate kata, and Haganah lists. At about 4th kyu and above the techniques are practiced with immense control but at full speed and with resistance. Lets you find out what works in a fight.
For a basic introduction to the techniques, grab your partner, or punch or kick as you have been taught and note where those locations are on your partner. Easy on the contact. Getting blasted in the nose really cuts down on enthusiasm. Once you have located a half dozen points then you can begin to memorize their location using the techniques as a prompter. You may have to do some research to discover the angle and direction of the strike or press but you now have a good start in getting the points. Note: Do not actually strike the points just to see if they work – they can be lethal or crippling. Pressure point practice should not be done more than 15 – 20 minutes per week.
I had an instructor once. I respect him highly for his accomplishments and his abilities. But one time he mentioned that the pressure point stuff did not work. Then he commenced to teach strikes to pressure points. With about 600 – 700 pressure points located on, at, or near the surface of the skin it is hard not to grab or strike a pressure point. The question is will that point produce an effect if struck or pressed? The trick is to hit the specific points in a fast paced and dynamic situation such as a fight. Not all pressure points work the same on all people. Some folks are more sensitive, some are less sensitive when you strike or grab a pressure point. Best to have a back up plan and to utilize it. I teach 1 – 5 strikes, throw the opponent to the ground a hard as possible then finish them off with some type of constriction.