Pressure Points 2: Some Observations On Their Use
By Bruce Everett Miller, PA-C
Editor’s Note: This is the second article in a series by Bruce
Miller that describe different types of pressure points and their effectiveness
as well as how to use them. Article 1 was “Going
to the Heart Of Pressure Points: What They Really Are.”
In our last article we talked about some of the reasons why there is
confusion about whether or not pressure points work and why, in my opinion,
some people probably legitimately believe that pressure points do not
work. I broached the subject of the three different types of pressure
points and I promised to provide more examples of these different types
of pressure points and how to tell them apart. I also promised to talk
about some of the limitations of each type and why you would not simply
focus on level 3 reflex pressure points.
Okay, here goes:
Pressure Points Review
Type 1- Pain: most common, but not always
Type 2 - Muscle: may not cause pain,
and can be nullified.
Type 3 – Reflex: least common,
do not necessarily cause pain, but most reliable.
If you remember I gave the fact that the number of available pressure
points in the body decrease with each level. Thus, there are far more
level 1 pressure points in the body than there are level 2 points. Unfortunately,
there are even fewer level 3 pressure points than there are level 2 pressure
Still, even with that limitation (of numbers), why would anyone waste
time trying to use level 1 or level 2 pressure points that may or may
not work when one can simply use a level 3 (reflex pressure point) and
guarantee the end to the fight?
Well, a major reason to learn the entire system is because the location
of level 3 reflex pressure points are such that it is not always easy
to get to them. For example, many reflex pressure points are located
on or close to the center line of the body. And most (real) opponents
will not simply let you walk up and stick your finger or fist into their
centerline. So, when faced with a real situation, you might initially
have to use other pressure points or other techniques so that you are
able to get your hands to the reflex pressure points you are targeting
(to be able to control your opponent or end the fight). Once you get
there, the reality of the fight is all over; but again it still takes
more than one simple answer to end the fight, which is the reality of
So let’s back up a bit. Level 3 reflex pressure points are often
located on the center line making it harder to get to them, while level
1 and level 2 pressure points are located all over the body. Now this
would seem to feed into the rationale of those emphatically opposed to
pressure points. I can hear it now – mostly because I have had
this conversation before: “What if the person is a non-responder
or high on drugs? You could be in situation where you can’t get
to level 3 reflex pressure points. Meaning your whole system is invalid.” Well,
this would be very true except for how we described pressure points to
begin with: as points where you get a reaction. I said that level 2 pressure
points don’t always work, but in this case I think you will see
that if they don’t work, it is okay also.
One of those several special case pressure points that can force the
person to open up their center-line (there are more, this is but one
example) is a kick to the knee! If done CORRECTLY, a kick to the knee
(with follow-through) will cause the person’s knee and butt to
move backwards and their face to move down and forward.
Now again, be aware that this is a level 2 type pressure point and
it can be nullified. How? By tightening the knee. However, the knee
has to be really tight to prevent this from working and frankly it
is hard for your opponent to walk or to move after you when both knees
are being held at maximum contraction.
This concept is VERY important. While level 2 pressure points can be
nullified, this is usually because there is so much muscle tension that
they cannot be rolled. And if there is that much tension, the use of
that muscle group is hard to accomplish so…you get the point (no
Furthermore, the reverse is also true: once you have unlocked the muscle
tension (classically with a level 3 pressure point strike), the muscles
CAN be rolled and level 2 pressure points now work again.
Does it work with a person high on PCP? You bet it does! I have had
personal experience. In this case the person (patient) was very high,
agitated and out to destroy anyone who got close. When he grabbed me,
his arm was very tight but a tap to the gag reflex (usually a finger
quickly pressed into the notch at the base of the throat just above
the sternal notch) loosened up everything allowing me to rake across
his brachioradalis (the muscle just below the elbow on the thumb side
through which runs branches of the radial nerve) and take away his balance.
Once I owned his balance, it was easy to guide him, face down, to the
floor in a controlled situation where no one had to get hurt.
As I have said before, there are no magical answers. There are just
good tools to be used. In my opinion pressure points, used correctly,
are simply such a tool.
In part three in this series I will provide some examples of each of
the three types of pressure points that are used to show you the underlying
About The Author:
Bruce Everett Miller, PA-C, is a 6th degree black belt
in the style of Quan Li K'an and a teacher of Tai Chi which he combines
with his Western medical training as a Physician's Assistant to provide
his own unique perspective on the martial arts. He is a well known teacher,
seminar leader and author who has produced thirteen books and four videos
on various karate related subjects including freefighting, pressure points,
the principles of kata, Acupuncture, and light force knockouts. For more
information on his books, vidoes and seminars see: http://www.cloudnet.com/~bemiller/ . Miller is a frequent contributor to FightingArts.com and his books
and videos on pressure points are available in FightingArts.com e-store
Points” in the book section.