Advanced pressure point theory
To enhance your pressure point strikes you can manipulate the yin/yang
forces that exist in the body to create (or amplify) an imbalance to
generate varying results.
One theory suggests that you should meet forceful (yang) attacks with
yielding (yin) defences & visa versa. As an example; against a hard
driving punch attack, a simple side step & parry (redirecting the
force) is a very basic explanation of putting one aspect of yin/yang
theory into perspective.
Yin/yang points can be “short circuited” to create weaknesses in the
body. E.g: latching onto the wrist points effectively “shorts” 3
positively charged meridians with 3 negatively charged meridians.
It is not always effective to strike 1 yin meridian followed by 1 yang
meridian as this still leaves 5 paired meridians in balance. However,
if you were to strike several yin (or yang) meridians in succession it
will then leave an imbalance in the body, of yin & yang. Don’t forget
that the body needs to be in balance to work efficiently & to function
When a meridian is struck or activated it indirectly sets the entire
network of its respective polarity on alert –it seeks to “rebalance”
itself & makes the relevant associated meridians/points viable targets
(eg: striking a lung (yin) point, makes all other yin points
Remember: the meridians that run around the body are paired (according
to element type) into yin/yang “circuits”.
A final point to make about yin/yang theory is that the body responds
to various strikes in certain ways. A yin response is where the
body folds up as a result of a strike & a yang response causes
the body to arch backwards. This can be an important factor as we can
formulate a successful series of strikes by having the knowledge of
how the body will react to a specific strike & what the likely
reaction will be, enabling us to plan the successive strike(s).
Five element theory
All of the 12 main meridians are linked with an “organ” or a “bowel”,
with the triple warmer & the pericardium meridians being associated
with the heart.
The constructive cycle & the regulatory cycle
are two of the most important pressure point theories that are
applicable for the martial artist (the regulatory cycle is also known
as the destructive cycle).
In a similar principle to the yin/yang theory, the body’s elemental
system needs to be balanced to function correctly. For example: due to
manipulation/illness/diet etc., the FIRE element becomes “unbalanced”,
then this can “overfeed” the EARTH element & this, in turn, has a
cumulative effect down the line for all the other elements
Remember, meridians are not only paired up as an elemental pair, but
also as yin/yang (which is required to
make the “whole”). They not only work together, but they oppose each
other to create a balance. If we attack one of these meridians it will
affect its paired elemental partner AND cause an imbalance in the
Building on this, as an example, if we were to defend against a punch,
side-stepping & parrying then finishing with a counter; we could
strike to a point on the LIVER (LV-14) meridian, following up with a
further strike to a point to (the now weakened) GALLBLADDER (GB-20)
This example works because you have struck a yin (WOOD) point
followed up by a strike to its yang counterpart, on the WOOD
Using the construction cycle
By attacking a pressure point on a meridian, it causes an energetic
disruption in the element that it feeds. E.g: By attacking a WATER
meridian, this will affect the WOOD meridians, due to the fact that
the WATER element’s ability to regulate an even flow of energy to the
WOOD element has been affected.
The construction cycle & directions of attack
As a general rule of thumb, attack yang meridians WITH
the flow of energy (forcing more energy through to the next
element in the constructive cycle) & attack yin meridians
AGAINST the flow of energy (this creates a “back-flow” of energy &
will deplete the next element in the constructive cycle.
Using the regulatory cycle
Any time that we create an energetic imbalance in a meridian, we also
create an imbalance in the meridian that is regulated by the meridian
that has been struck. E.g: If we use the example given above &
initially strike the WATER meridian, using the regulatory cycle
instead of the constructive cycle, we would next strike a point on a
FIRE meridian (as FIRE is regulated by WATER).
Final points on the 5 element theory
If we strike the pressure points on the meridians according to the
“general rule of thumb” mentioned above (i.e: the directions of
attack), we can enhance our next strike by knowing where the greatest
imbalance will occur to give a superior effect than striking pressure
points at random.
Once the principle is understood, of causing a disruption to the
natural energy systems of the body has a cascading effect on all the
other elements, then more complicated (& effective) techniques can be
devised to enhance the effects of your strikes & grapples.
This can be further enhanced by applying knowledge of yin/yang theory,
chi flow & quadrant theory.
The body can be viewed as being divided into 8 sections (vertically,
horizontally & front to back) & the head is further dived into these
same 8 quadrants.
Simply put, quadrant theory states that the further away from the
initial strike or point of attachment the follow up strike is, then
the greater the damage or effect will be.
Cross-body techniques are a very
dangerous form of striking. These are strikes that hit corresponding
points on opposite sides of the attackers body.
Elemental body types & the effects of P.P.’s
The more muscular an opponent is, the closer to the surface & more
vulnerable his/her pressure points are to manipulation. If facing an
overweight attacker it may be wiser to attack areas that are not
protected by layers of fatty tissues e.g: knees, leg points, lower arm
points, neck & head points etc. Although when striking pressure points
in a self defence scenario you should use a good amount of force to
penetrate to the inner layers of the body tissues (this also has the
effect of causing mechanical damage if the p.p. strike fails).
Clothing can affect the manipulation of pressure points. Thick, padded
clothing has the same effect as an overweight attacker. Light clothing
has little effect.
Everybody is susceptible to pressure point attacks/manipulations on
all the different meridians, but individuals are more resilient to
attacks which are directed towards their associated constitution types
i.e: WOOD body types have strong WOOD meridian properties (e.g: LIVER
& GALLBLADDER), so are more resistant to attacks to these meridians,
therefore you would be better to attack other meridians to have a
The 5 elemental types;
FIRE: Has reddish face, small pointed
head, curly hair or not much hair & small hands. Tend to walk fast &
are quick, energetic & active.
EARTH: Has darkish complexion & fat
bodies, large head, large belly, strong thighs & wide jaws. Tends to
be of a calm disposition.
METAL: Has broad, square shoulders,
triangular white face, strong built body & walks slowly &
WATER: Has a round face & body, soft
white skin. Spine is longer than average. Tend to be slightly lazy.
WOOD: Has a darkish face, slender body &
fairly broad shoulders. Strong bones & sinews, straight back.
Major pressure point targets
A number of pressure points are situated such that a “cluster” of them
can be struck at once to give a greater effect than striking just an
individual point. Examples of these are; the GALLBLADDER cluster of
points on the forehead (GB-13, GB-15), the junction/crossing of
GALLBLADDER & LIVER meridians on the ribcage (GB-24, LV-14) & the
HEART points on the wrists (HT-4,5,6 &7) etc.
Pressure points most commonly associated with loss of consciousness;
Head points: BL-10, GB-13 to 15, GB-20, SI-18, ST-5, ST-7 & TW-23.
Neck points: LI-18, SI-16 & 17, ST-9 & 10 & TW-17.
Striking to the chest & abdomen areas;
These tend to cause trauma to internal organs & produce disruptive
effects on the nervous system. This subsequently affects cranial
nerves & can result in shock & loss of sensory & motor functions. In
turn, this can lead to loss of consciousness & control of the
breathing functions (which can lead to circulatory failure & death
unless breathing is restored).
Points relating to cardiac irregularities:
CV-17 (conception vessel) & KI-23 (left side, over heart)
(CV-17 positioned over sternum)
Points relating to disruption of the respiratory functions:
LU-1, ST-17 & PC-1 (also ST-16, ST-18).
Located below the navel;
These points can cause trauma to the small intestine & bladder
affecting blood vessels & nerves in the abdomen, can result in shock &
loss of motor functions: CV-2 to 6
Inguinal crease (inner crease between groin &
Potential of trauma to a variety of nerves, blood vessels –powerful
blows can cause loss of consciousness: SP-12, LV-12
Upper & lower leg points & knees;
Weakens the legs & loss of mobility (dead leg points): GB-31, GB-32
Causing pain, impair mobility or dislocating the kneecap: SP-9, SP-10,
Causing trauma to nerves, arteries –weakening the leg: SP-6, LV-6
(shins), GB-41, LV-3 (on foot)
Striking the arm points
In many ways the pressure points located on the arms are the most
important. The meridians of the HEART & LUNG travel down the length of
the arms & these organs are affected by working on the arm pressure
points. From a combative perspective, these arm points are very
important, as they are the most easily attacked targets. As an
attacker reaches out to strike or grab you, he/she stretches out the
nerves in the arm as it extends towards you & tenses. This makes the
pressure points vulnerable to attack.
In general, striking or manipulating pressure points on the arm causes
some other target to become vulnerable. Therefore, the arm points are
used as set-up points, even though striking the arm points alone can
be enough to negate an attacker’s ability to carry on an attack.
Generally, pressure points are the size of a 5 pence piece & once
struck/activated they remain active for brief period of time
(immediate results last for 20 minutes or so), allowing them to be
manipulated with greater effect & less effort. One reason why certain
moves in the patterns perform a double strike to the same place is to
reinforce this key point. Once a point has been struck, if it is
immediately followed up by striking to the exact same spot, you can
achieve double the effect with half the effort (this principle can be
applied again if it is struck a 3rd time & so on).
Pressure points can be made more effective & more exposed if the
limb/body part is stretched first before striking. Whether this is
stretching an arm straight & rolling it over to strike the arm points
following a wrist grab attack, or lifting an arm up & twisted to
stretch & exposed the pressure points that lie the length of the
With certain hair types, various pressure points lose their
effectiveness. These are points that are found on the scalp. Naturally
bald men have less receptive p.p.’s in the bald area (as the nerve
endings are perceived as being “dead”), also they are not so easily
manipulated. To work these points, you need to grab & support one side
of the head as you rub/roll your knuckles into the scalp. With
opponents with hair of a length that can be grabbed, if you grab a
handful & twist your fist into it so that your knuckles roll into the
scalp, not only do you affect the surface, but the roots of the pulled
hair affects the pressure points that lie under the surface layer.
Safety tips for practising pressure point
Practice under a qualified instructor.
Do not practice actual striking of p.p.’s for more than
15 minutes per week.
When training, do not work both sides (only strike on one side of the
body in any individual training session).
Do not actually apply cross-body techniques.
Do not work p.p.’s on partners over 40, or with
health problems (esp. heart problems).
Only use 5% power maximum when striking
pressure points. A light blow is sufficient enough to see a reaction.
If a strike is going to be demonstrated that could result in a KO
(even if it is only a momentary “black out”) have an assistant(s)
stand behind the demonstrate to catch them.
The total effect on the disrupted energy flow after striking p.p.’s
lasts for about 72 hours before it resolves itself. We can take steps
to minimize any lingering effects after a training session.
A basic rule used for energy restoration is “hit to disrupt energy,
hit again to restore it”.
However, this restoration technique differs as you will use the palm
to firmly slap the target p.p. & you only use half the force that was
used to strike with initially. Then massage the area, preferably in
the direction of the energy flow.
Used when stunned or knocked out. As above, we use a strike to revive
the stunned person. Sit them down, place cupped hand under the chin &
slap the “wake up” nerve at the back of the neck at the top of the
spine (make sure that you support the head as you do this), but on the
OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE HEAD that was struck, then rub.