Ten Pressure Points that can be useful in martial art practice
The use of pressure points has a long history originating in Chinese medicinal practices including acupuncture, which uses needles to stimulate the points. These points are spots in the body which energy flows through. They can be detected not just by pressing a point and feeling a sensitivity, but also with modern scientific tools. Sometimes they can get blocked, which is what healing modes such as acupuncture and forms of pressure point massage aim to resolve. In our martial art practice we do learn some healing applications of Pressure Points. (Pressing on a point can be helpful; a needle is not required.) We also learn some pressure points that can augment our physical self defense techniques as they tend to be especially painful to the touch. Some even have useful effects on the body such as rendering an arm unusable for a short length of time (not a permanent effect).
While knowing which pressure points can be painful to strike, press or rasp can be helpful, it is important to note that this is not a practice that can be counted on for results; if a person is in a very altered state due to alcohol and/ or drugs, they will not feel pain if a pressure point is pressed. About 10% of the population doesn’t feel them any time (if it is a point which has a special effect, like the unusable arm one, the effect will still work even if a point is not felt when pressed). So, Master Pearson advises us to think of Pressure Points as one tool in our toolbox, to be used along with all our other tools, not counted upon as a self- defense technique unto itself.
1. Gall Bladder 43
Gall Bladder 43 is a good spot for stomping, if you have an opportunity while executing a technique to stomp on the foot, especially if grabbed from behind as in a bear hug. I can only imagine that it would be especially painful if given a stomp from the heel of a high heel shoe.
2. Gall Bladder 31
Another point along the Gall Bladder meridian, Gall Bladder 31 is easy to find on yourself by standing with your arm hanging at your side. The point your lowest finger touches, as shown in the picture, is GB 31. Try pressing it with your finger. Master Pearson has a mean kick that uses this point as its target.
3. Lung 1
Lung 1 is half way between the bump of your clavicle by your neck, and front of your armpit, the spot right where your arm meets your body. A strike to this point has a strong effect on the whole arm on the side which is struck. Master Pearson has advised that it may be difficult to hit this point exactly, so a strike with a larger surface area is advisable here.
4. Lung 5
Lung 5 is on the thumb side of the arm, just inside the elbow crease. This one is great for use in conjunction with joint locking techniques.
5. Heart 3
Heart 3 is located also inside the elbow crease, but on the pinky side. It is also useful in conjunction with joint locks, especially wrist locks.
6. Triple Heater 3
Triple Heater 3 is another point, this time on the hand, that can be pressed while executing a joint lock to increase effectiveness. Try pressing on the point between the hand bones as shown in the diagram below. Also try with the hand twisted in joint locked positions.
7. Large Intestine 4
Large intestine 4, also shown in the diagram above, is located in the webbing between the thumb and pointer finger. This point can be painful to press on, which could be useful while doing techniques when you have a grip on the hand. It is also commonly used therapeutically to help relieve headaches which are not caused by sinus congestion.
8. Stomach 12
It looks complicated, but this point is not hard to find. It is in the little hollow spot behind the clavicle near the neck. It can be useful in conjunction with takedowns. We practice grabbing a person’s shoulders from behind and pressing this point with the fingers. This can function as a takedown.
9. Triple Warmer 17
Triple Warmer 17 is the hollow spot behind the earlobe. Try putting a finger on that point and pressing. It can be very effective. When I first learned about this point many years ago from Master Pearson he said that rubbing on that spot on one side makes you more awake, while on the other side it makes you more tired. I found that to be very interesting, that it would have such opposite effects on the different sides of the body.
10. Stomach 3
Stomach 3 is located on the bottom of the cheekbone, directly below the pupil when the eye is looking forward. You can press up into the cheekbone and feel how sensitive that spot is. This spot is also useful for headache and toothache relief.