One of the strategies or tactics that attract many people to the ninja’s martial arts and study of self defense is the use of pressure point attacks. But, most students are not aware that there are different types of these, so-called, “pressure points.” In this article, I will be discussing not only the different types of “points,” but also the best way that each point should be attacked. If you are serious about developing an advanced ability in the art of self defense – whether or not you are interested in Ninja training, then you must be able to see beyond the obvious and use your techniques in more than one way.
I think that the allure with pressure point training lies in the belief that you can just touch someone and you will gain instant control over the situation. But, except in rare cases, the use of techniques that attack pressure points are just that – techniques. The are tools in your arsenal that can assist in making your defense easier, just like any other technique, tactic, or strategy.
The point here is the same that I give students about weapons training. A weapon or trick like a pressure point attack…
…cannot, and will not, make up for lack of skill!
That being said, there are different types of points. These “points,” are known as kyusho (pronounced “cue-show”) in the Japanese art of Ninjutsu – the art of the Ninja. However, the word kyusho itself, does not mean “pressure point.” It means, “sensitive area.”
Each type of point causes a different type of pain and, as such, produces a different type of reaction from your assailant when it’s applied. The primary categories of pressure points include:
1) Nerve centers.
2) Sensitive areas on bones.
3) Weak parts of the human body’s structure.
4) Soft tissue areas
Each type of kyusho is different, both in makeup and in size. Therefore, each one has a “best practice,” or suggested way for attacking it.
For example, nerve centers – the parts of the body most commonly referred to as “pressure points” – can be accessed in two primary ways – depending on the point and the results you’re looking for. Most can be damaged by using pressure and force concentrated on your finger tips. Most of the point can also be struck.
Changing both the pressure, and the direction the force is applied to the point, also changes the reaction that you’ll get from your opponent. This is why it’s vitally important that you know what you’re going to get when you effect the point you’re attacking. Otherwise, you could find that “what you get” is more than you wanted!
As a general overview of the other types of kyusho, here is a guide for each:
Sensitive areas on bones. This includes areas like the top of the sternum at the throat, the ridges around the orbit of the eye sockets, and the bones in the hands and feet, to name a few. While many of these areas can be pressed on, they are best accessed through striking. And, the use of fists that have the fingers formed creating smaller profiles is best. This way, you are concentrating the energy of your strike on the smallest area possible.
Weak parts of the body’s structure. This includes many targets that you probably already know about but, based on the common perception and definition of “pressure points,” you wouldn’t have thought of in this way. These “weak parts,” include the groin, along the inside of the legs (from mid thigh to angles), the nose, eardrums, etc. These targets can be hit, grabbed, and stabbed, depending on the strategy and results you’re looking for.
Soft tissue areas. The body is covered with skin for protection, not only from the elements, but also from the rest of the world. As a result, there are many areas of the skin’s surface that are designed to be very sensitive to touch so that they can act as early warning mechanisms that trigger our muscles to react and cover the threatened area.
I know that may sound a bit confusing, but this is a good example of why my students are required to have a “Grey’s Anatomy” or other good anatomy book. The more you can know about the make-up of the human body, the better able you are to do 2 things:
1) Protect your own weak areas, and…
2) Use his against him!
A few good examples of these weak areas include:
The soft skin on the inside of the upper arms and legs. This can be grabbed and pinched to create a burning pain.
The eyes themselves – can be stabbed, touched or even pierced.
The outer ears can be grabbed, stabbed, and pulled on (careful – they DO come off!)
The side of the face behind the eyes but just in front of the ears. This can be raked with the finger nails.
The placement of many of these weak points and parts of the body could be argued. But, it doesn’t matter what category you put them in, as long as you recognize them as targets, know how to attack them, and are clear about the kind of response you’re most likely to get.