Pressure Points 3: Types Of Points
By Bruce Everett Miller, PA-C
Editor’s Note: This is the third
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”, and
article 2 was “Pressure
Points 2:Some Observations On Their Use.”
In our first 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 in my second article I made some observations about their
In this article we will cover examples of the 3 different types and
particularly we will show at least one example of each type. Please be
aware that I have chosen points which will show you the underlying principles.
Therefore don’t just take this one example of each type as the
only point. Instead, use that principle to unlock the other points of
the body. I will also talk about some of the limitations of each type
and why you would not simply focus on level 3 reflex pressure points.
Level 1 Pressure Points
Level 1 pressure points are the most common pressure points there are.
These are the types that people generally think of when they think of
pressure points. In short, Level 1 pressure points are those pressure
points that REQUIRE pain (their effect) to make them work.. NOTE that
does not mean that every pressure point that you stimulate which hurts
is a level 1 pressure point. Sometimes level 2 type pressure points will
also hurt when they are stimulated. However, the difference is that level
1 pressure points REQUIRE pain to work whereas level 2 pressure points
do not require pain to work but may hurt when stimulated.
A perfect example of level 1 pressure points is an arm bar or wrist
lock. These can have dramatic effect on your opponent but in some non-responders
you can actually break the bones before they will feel much if any pain.
Now I will freely admit that the real effect of a level 1 pressure point
is the reaction the opponent’s body exhibits when he feels the
pain. Suddenly he stops trying to attack you by other means and tries
to deal with the pain that is being produced. In fact, this is the intent
of level 1 pressure points: to cause this body reaction. But please be
aware that the pain itself is only a vehicle to get you to the point
that the opponent concentrates on the pain or cannot function due to
Also be very aware that if the person does not feel pain, then you are
not going to be able to do what you want. In our last article we gave
an example of a kick to the groin. We admitted that it caused pain in
most people but in a small subset it does not. In those people who do
not care about the pain whether from training, drugs or mental illness,
level 1 pressure points are close to worthless.
So how can you tell? Well, mostly you find out by experimentation. Because
level 1 pressure points are very common and located all over the body,
you can try striking a point on the way in. If the person responds, it
tells you something, if not it still tells you something important.
Another level 1 type of pressure points are the edges of bones. A classic
example is the shin kick. Most people know this already but most have
never stop to think about the fact that you only have to run your foot
down the edge of the shin (or any other bone edge) to cause sharp pain.
If the person is not drugged, high or mentally ill, then they are most
likely going to have a very pronounced reaction. Again, though it is
the reaction you are looking for, your end goal is not simply the pain;
for the pain will go away quickly once you stop. Be prepared to use the
reaction in advance and you will have a great tool.
There are ways to make the bone pain last longer. And there are also
organ (more than you would expect), tendon, muscle, nerve and other types
of organs that can be stimulated to cause level 1 pressure point reactions.
The full rules of level 1 pressure points are laid out in my book Pressure
Points: The Deadly Touch (sold in FightingArts.com’s E-store).
Level 2 Muscle Pressure Points
Instead of hitting, try this one: Use a knuckle fist to run downward
(quickly) on the muscles just lateral to the centerline of the chest.
When you simply punch people, what you will notice is that they back
up, but most of the time they still hang on with most of their strength.
However, when you run a knuckle fist or eye of the phoenix (a fist with
the first knuckle extended) quickly down their muscles, they not only
back up but also move their hips backward, bend their knees (a little)
and drop their weight downward. While most of the time they still have
their hands on you there is very little strength in their hands. By the
way, it also brings their face closer to you.
I will freely admit that this effect may not last long in a determined
opponent and you can only count on about 1/2 of a second before they
will begin to regain their composure (and strength in their arms), BUT
a half second is a relatively long time if you are prepared to use it.
Another classic effect of level 2 pressure points is the carving motion
found in a lot of Tai Chi moves which causes the whole body to swing
and works even if the person does not feel pain (meaning it works in
most non responders). However, this carving effect is NOT a level 3 response
because it can be blocked by tightening the muscles of the forearm. (See
my upcoming works on advanced subject class for more on carving and slipping … expected
release date OCT 2004.)
The fact is that done correctly, you can stimulate most muscles to have
an effect. However, it can be tricky knowing how to do so. Even more
important than knowing how to stimulate the muscle is knowing in advance
what reaction you are going to get. Remember we said you only have about
1/2 second. If you spend that time observing the reaction, you are not
going to be able to capitalize on it. If you know in advance what is
going to happen then you can make the most of it.
Level 3 Reflex Pressure Points
Here is a perfect example of a level 3 pressure point. Not only does
it work every time (IF you do it correctly) but it does not cause pain.
Please be aware that it does cause an uncomfortable feeling but if you
examine the feeling you will find it is not pain, instead it is a combination
of queasiness and anxiety.
By the way, first I am going to give you the level 3 reflex pressure
points and then I am going to show you how to combine a level 1 pressure
point and a level 3 pressure point at the same time to get maximum effect.
Why waste your time on Level 1 pressure points when I have said that
level 3 reflex pressure points always work? Well, that is true but (1)
I am trying to teach you a principle here of how to “unlock’ an
opponent (a term we use in Quan Li K’An which means taking away
the resistance that people use to fight the effects of level 1 & 2
pressure points) and (2) I am trying to teach you how to think about
combining points and principles for maximum effect.
Okay, the reflex we are going to use is the gag reflex. Now many people
know about this reflex so the knowledge of its existence is definitely
not earth shattering or some kind of secret. However, with a bit of knowledge
here we can make this point a lot more effective for you AND teach you
some principles that apply to many other points.
Okay, the gag reflex point is located on the middle of the lower, anterior
neck, just above the sternal notch.
Now some people will be hesitant thinking that this area is weak and
that you are going to damage the throat by pushing here, but let me assure
you that while pressing here will feel uncomfortable, you are not going
to damage the neck at this location. That is because underneath the point
are rings of thick cartilage.
In order for this to work, though, you HAVE to press quickly. If you
press slowly, then the person can resist because the gag reflex, which
is part of the breathing system, is only stimulated externally by sudden
changes in stimulation (See Advanced Pressure Points: The System of Pressure
Points for more on the 5 different systems – available in FightingArts.com’s
E-store) I suggest that you press with one supported finger in the middle
of the neck at this location.
If you have done this correctly you will see the person back up quickly.
How far he backs up is in direct proportion to how hard and how fast
you push. It is possible to have him launch himself into the wall behind
him with all his muscles.
In order to get even more effect, this time I want you to run your fingers
on the bone edge of the top part of the sternal notch (hard) so that
you are rubbing bone as you press the gag reflex. The bone part is the
level 1 pressure point stimulation and the sharp pain will take away
any resistance he may have had from your finger or thumb entering this
area. Done correctly you should see an enhanced effect.
This is a classic example of how I use pressure points. I frequently
use a combination of such points knowing full well that if the level
1 pressure point doesn’t work, then the level 3 will. If both points
work, then I am even better off as my opponent is not.
Here are some typical types of Reflex pressure points:
1 - Cardiac Points:
they drop the blood pressure. (No, they don’t
stop the heart).
2 - Light force knockout points (vascular and RAS stimulation – see
The Complete Book of Light Force Knockouts for more on this subject
-- available in FightingArts.com’s E-store).
3 - Breathing Points
(points that cause a dramatic decrease in the ability to breathe).
4 - Balance disruption points.
5 - Brain protection points (points that
cause hard-wired reaction designed to protect the brain and have
nothing to do with pain).
Okay, several times in this and the previous article we talked about
muscle points being invalidated when you contract the muscles too hard.
Well, how about a technique that makes a tightened muscle weak and unable
to tighten fully? Welcome to Poison Hand muscle attacks. In the next
article we will compare the muscle attacks of poison hands and those
of pressure points.
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.