In my last article I covered pressure points of the arm. In this article I will discuss points on the rest of the body. I understand that there are about 108 pressure points or tsubos used in the martial arts. Great! I can easily memorize the location of just 108 points, right? Not so fast there, cowboy. Just knowing where the points are located does not mean you can use them in a fight. Points must be struck at the proper angle and direction and at the proper depth in order for them to be truly effective.
The use of these points, regardless of the mechanism that causes them to work, is an in depth study that is not just limited to remembering where the dots are located. Some points can only be used if you set them up by the activation of other points. Some points are hard to access due to their location on the body. Some points are effective only if you strike them, others only if you press, rub or knead them. Getting accurate and reliable information is difficult.
Examining an 8″ x 10″ page with the outline of a person on it, covered with dots and a generic description of the point, its location and resultant effects just does not cut it. It is too generalized. In acupuncture the tsubos are stimulated with a needle. Accuracy is a must. In striking the points there is a little leeway but you still need to be accurate and employ the right angle and direction of the strike. How hard you hit is also a factor in determining the effectiveness of the strike.
Another problem is too little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Learning the points then blasting a training partner just to see if it works is not a good idea. Severe and permanent damage can occur and death is a real possibility. DON’T HIT SOMEBODY JUST TO SEE IF IT WORKS. You also need to know the revival techniques of restoring energy flow. If you don’t know, don’t do it.
The head is a massive arena for pressure points. Even the ear is a cornucopia of pressure points, yea, a microcosm of the entire human body’s points. Let us examine just a few of the more effective points.
Starting at the crown of the skull the following points are available:
1. Governing Vessel 21, 22, 23, 24
Strike is downward toward the center of the head.
Weapon: Hammer fist, elbow,
Loss of consciousness/death can result due to over stimulation of the cranial nerves.
2. Governing Vessel 26
The point is located below the nose and above the upper lip. This is generally used as a rub point. Severe injury can result if struck in a down and inward motion. I’m not going to tell you the position it must be struck from for liability purposes but it will break the neck.
Weapon: Back fist, knife hand, elbow
3. Conception Vessel 24
The point is located below the lower lip, centered on the jawbone. It is struck toward the center of the head and downward.
Loss of consciousness: over stimulation of the cranial nerves.
Weapons: Hammer fist, regular fist, knife hand
4. Conception Vessel 23
The point is located above the hyoid bone. If struck with sufficient force death is instant. It is one of the eight magic points. If you break the hyoid bone and it severs the Vagus nerve the heart and lungs stop working.
Weapon: knife hand, regular fist, ridge hand, spear hand.
5. Gall Bladder 1
This point is located at the outside corner of the eye. It is the beginning of the Gall Bladder meridian. A strike here can be done from a 45° angle to the head in an upward and inward direction.
Unconsciousness is caused by over stimulation of the cranial nerves. The orbital bone in this area is one of the easiest, if not the easiest bones in the human body to break.
Weapons: regular fist, palm heel, elbow, knee, back fist.
6. Triple Warmer 23
This point is also located at the outside corner of the eye. It is struck at a 45° angle to the head in an upward and inward direction. If this point is used in conjunction with GB 1 and the strike is from rear to front of the skull it may dislodge the eyeball from its socket.
Unconsciousness is caused by over stimulation of the cranial nerves.
Weapons: Regular fist, palm heel, elbow, knee, back fist.
7. Gall Bladder 14
This point is located just above the center of the eyebrow. It is struck with an inward direction to the skull.
Loss of consciousness is a result of over stimulation of the cranial nerves.
Weapons: regular fist, palm heel, elbow, knee.
8. Gall Bladder 3
This point is located one inch in front and one inch up from where the top of the earlobe joins the skull. This is the thinnest part of the skull. There is no known resuscitation technique for a temple strike. You get to go to the hospital and have holes drilled in your head to relieve the pressure from a ruptured temporal artery.
Weapons: regular fist, single knuckle fist, palm heel, elbow, knee.
BACK OF HEAD
BASE OF SKULL
1. Gall Bladder 20
This point is located bilaterally on the outside base of the skull. Also known as the Plane of Willis. It is the flat spot at the base of the skull. It is struck at a 45° angle inward and upward to the center of the head.
Unconsciousness is due to overstimulation of the cranial nerves.
Weapons: Hammer fist, elbow, regular fist, Willow Leaf Palm (cupped palm), back fist.
2. Triple Warmer 17
This point is located behind and below the ear in that little grove behind the jawbone. Some authorities indicate that this is an extreme death point. It is utilized with both strikes and presses. If you strike this point from rear to front there is a good possibility of dislocating the jaw. It is best pressed with a single knuckle fist. Grind back and forth as you press inward to the center of the skull.
Loss of consciousness is a result of overstimulation of the cranial nerves.
Weapons: Regular fist, one knuckle fist, back fist (open hand strike).
3. Bladder 10
This point is located bilaterally on the spine below the skull. Strike inward to the center of the head.
Loss of consciousness is due to over stimulation of the cranial nerves.
Weapons: Palm heel, regular fist, elbow, Willow Leaf Palm.
4. Governing Vessel 17
This is the occipital notch. Strike this point in an upward and inward direction.
Loss of consciousness is due to the overstimulation of the cranial nerves. A strike here may also cause a severe concussion.
Weapons: Willow leaf palm, palm heel, regular fist, elbow, knee
1. Stomach 9/10
These two points are struck at the same time. They are located over the carotid sinus on the medial anterior portion of the neck.
Loss of consciousness can be explained by several mechanisms. Pick one.
a. Striking two points on the same meridian can cause unconsciousness.
b. Disrupting the blood flow to the brain. A strike can cause backpressure that the brain cannot handle and unconsciousness ensues.
c. Below the carotid sinus is a bareceptor that monitors blood pressure. When struck with sufficient force it sends a message to the brain that the blood pressure is too high. A message is then sent to the heart to slow down or stop and the result is unconsciousness.
Weapons: regular fist, one knuckle fist, knife hand, spear hand, elbow.
2. Large Intestine 18
This point is located on the leading edge of the Sternocleoidmastoid muscle about half way up the neck. This is a good grab point for Spirit Throw and Japanese Full Nelson.
Weapons: regular fist, one knuckle fist, elbow, fingertips.
This is not an all-inclusive list. There are a multitude of points in this region of the neck. These are just the ones I use on a regular basis.
1. Conception Vessel 22
This point is located at the top of the sternum in the notch. The strike to this point is done with the fingertips generally inward and downward. It is fairly safe to press this location but strikes can be serious.
Loss of consciousness is caused by trauma to the trachea.
Weapons: Fingertips, single knuckle punch.
2. Conception Vessel 15
This point is the solar plexus. It is called the solar plexus because of its central location. Organs affected would include heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and stomach. Breaking the xiphoid process can lacerate the liver and cause internal bleeding, which if not treated, can be fatal.
Loss of consciousness is from trauma to the above named organs. There can also be a loss of motor function.
Weapons: regular fist, single knuckle fist, elbow, knee, ball of foot.
3. Conception Vessel 4
This point is located about two inches below the umbilicus (belly button). It is struck in a 45° downward direction. If struck with sufficient force you can cause an opponent to soil their shorts.
Loss of consciousness is caused by trauma to the small intestine and bladder.
Weapons: regular fist, palm heel.
4. Spleen 21
This point is located in the medial lateral portion of the rib cage. An easy way to find this point is to place two fingers under your nipple and trace a line straight around to the center of the rib cage. If you locate this point on a partner and press on it with a single knuckle fist you will get a substantial reaction.
Loss of consciousness results from trauma to the lungs and associated nerves. It will also shut down the lungs, stop breathing and circulation.
Weapons: regular fist, one knuckle fist, heel, palm heel, elbow, back of hand/wrist, knee and just about anything else you have!
5. Stomach 28
This point is located two finger widths below the nipple. Strike this point in a downward angle of 45°.
Loss of consciousness is cause by trauma to the lungs and associated nerves. You may also break some ribs in the process.
Weapons: regular fist, single knuckle fist, palm heel. Knife hand, front kick (kick them in the knees first!).
6. Liver 13
This point is located on the tip of the 11th rib. An attack to this point is from a 45° angle to the body and downward at a 45° angle. If struck in an upward motion with sufficient force to break the rib (and they break easily!) the blow can be lethal if it lacerates the liver.
1. Governing Vessel 15
This point is located on the spine between the shoulder blades. Attack this point in an inward direction.
Loss of consciousness is a result of trauma to the spinal cord, aorta, heart and lungs. A heel stomp as in Rear Reverse [ Ushiro gyaku a.k.a. Wellington Sheep Hold] can be fatal.
Weapons: regular fist, elbow, palm heel, heel, knee.
2. Gall Bladder 25
This point is located over the kidney just below the rib cage. This is a nasty point to get hit on all by itself. Used in conjunction with a GB 20 strike produces a knockout that I can personally attest to. Strike is done from a 45° degree angle to the body from the rear.
Loss of consciousness is a result of trauma to the kidney and associated nerves.
Weapons: regular fist, shin kick, roundhouse kick, elbows, back of hand.
3. Governing Vessel 3
This point is located on the tip of the coccyx. Attack this point in an upward motion.
Loss of consciousness is caused by trauma to the entire spinal cord.
Weapons: front kick, knee strike.
1. Gall Bladder 31
This point is located medially on the outer thigh. It is located over the Ilio-tibial tract of ligaments and the vastus muscle. This is a favorite target for kick boxers and when kicked properly can cause the leg to quit functioning.
Weapons: Shin kick, knee, regular fist.
The knee has a multitude of points on and around it. A solid side thrust kick will hit something!
2. Spleen 10
This point is located on the inner thigh about three inches above the knee. Strike inward toward the center of the leg and downward. This will cause the knee to collapse. I have heard of ki sickness being caused by kicking this point with the ball of your foot.
Weapons: knees, instep, shin, heel, regular fist.
3. Bladder 57
This point is located at the juncture of the gastrocnemius muscle and the Achilles tendon. The point is attacked from the rear of the leg to the front. According to the Bubishi if this muscle is split it causes dementia.
Loss of consciousness is trauma to the tibial artery and nerve.
Weapons: side thrust kick, front kick.
There are a multitude of points on the foot but accessing them in the dynamics of a fight is not likely. A good stomp to the instep can do wondrous things to the attitude of an opponent.
The last point I want to indicate out is Kidney 1. It is located in the center of the foot. Ashi Katsu is performed on the left foot. By slapping this point vigorously you may be able to quickly restore someone about to faint. I can personally attest to this as I used it on my team sergeant, who was about to faint, after getting shots prior to going to jungle training in Guam, 1985 (watch the trailer on my website).
This is by no means an inclusive list. These are just the points I use in my martial art. There is much to learn in applying the Kyusho techniques to the various arts. It requires study of not only TCM but also western medicine, physiology, physics, anatomy, and a great deal of practice. It requires the conscious effort during practice to apply the principles to your techniques and a concerted effort to make the art your own. The study of the martial arts is a harsh mistress, but worth it.