Pressure Points

In the study of martial arts, practitioners do not focus just on increasing the "brute strength" of their strikes, but also on the target of their strikes to maximize the impact, and to achieve specific outcomes. There are several types of pressure points, each of which is applied differently, and each one creating different effects. Some of the principles are discussed below:

Dim Mak

Dim Mak (dim mak means touch of death although dim mak rarely results in death) is a secret fighting style (also know as “Dim Mak points”) used by the ancient Chinese using pressure points and qi to neutralize opponents. Dim Mak can be deadly if not used right.


Some pressure points produce pain when struck, pressed or rubbed (depending on the point itself). While the distraction of pain might offer sufficient advantage in a fight, additionally the body has a reflex whereby it reacts to pain by moving away from it. Martial artists can make use of this minimal effort. Applying pressure to the collar bone from above will cause the subject to move downwards, whereas poking them in the gap between the ear and neck will make their body want to move upwards. Pressure to the shoulder causes that side of the body to move back. A jab to the abdomen in the middle of the stomach will cause some people to twist around away from the pain. A rub down the back will cause the body to move forwards. Some points react more violently to pain from changes in the pressure (rubbing) rather than constant pressure. Grabbing between the bicep and fore arm (other side of elbow) push down violently with your thumb to make them kneel in pain and can't control their arm.


The baroreceptor in the carotid artery is pressure-sensitive, allowing the body to control the blood flow into the brain. Pressure against this region will "trick" the body into thinking that blood pressure is too high and thus will constrict and lower blood pressure—which can cause blackout. Striking veins and arteries can also cause them to shut or tear, both of which will definitely cause black-out and possible death if not treated immediately.


There are certain areas which are likely to lead to a break if struck properly. This includes the "floating ribs", the philtrum, and the top of the skull.


There are joints that when struck, can be hyper-extended and even completely torn apart. This is a technique which can cause permanent damage and disfiguration to one's opponent usually focusing on the elbow and the knee. There are two types:

* Brute force: This takes advantage of the vulnerability of the strike point, thereby causing the damage.
* Golgi organs: A relatively gentle strike to the Golgi tendon at the back of the elbow, for example, triggers a reflex which immediately relaxes that tendon allowing the elbow to bend more easily in the wrong direction. If this is immediately followed by a solid strike to the elbow joint, the elbow can be broken with significantly less effort than through brute force.

Brain shake

The brain is a very sensitive organ. It floats in a fluid (cerebral spinal fluid) and balances on a very flexible spine. Certain techniques can actually shake the brain in a way which causes black out. The most commonly taught technique involves a strike just below the occipital ridge, at the correct angle in the correct direction. Other areas that are susceptible to such techniques are the temples and the top of the skull.


Some believe there are energy channels which flow around the body through acupuncture meridians, and an attack will impact the flows, and thus impact the body. This is called "chi", "ki" or "qi" in East Asian cultures and "Psi" in some western areas. Traditional Chinese medicine theory is based on the idea that specific pathway lines called meridians exist on the human body, along which are found many hundreds of acupressure points. Acupuncture is the most well known use of the meridian system. Pressing, seizing or striking these points (or combinations of points) with specific intent and at certain angles can result in either heightening or diminishing qi circulation in the body, according to this theory.

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Author's Bio: 

This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Acupressure. The Official Guide to Acupressure is Michael Blate. Author, lecturer and natural health educator, Michael Blate has spent most of his life researching and sharing acupressure and other "self-health" methods and traditional spiritual teachings from around the world.

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