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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 reliable.

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 points.

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 pressure points.

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 pun intended).

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 principles.

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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: . Miller is a frequent contributor to and his books and videos on pressure points are available in e-store under “Pressure Points” in the book section.

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

pressure points, kyusho, vital points, pain pressure points, muscle pressure points, reflex pressure points

Read more articles by Bruce Everett Miller, PA-C

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