Fighting Pressure Points for Self Defense

Vulnerable points on the human body are known to most trained martial artists.
Vulnerable points on the human body are known to most trained martial artists.

These fighting pressure points for self defense (often called vital points or vulnerable points) should only ever be used when your life is already on the line. All these atemi targets are dangerous and should never be used unless you are in fear for your life, and you cannot get away.

Pressure points are not for fighting to prove who’s a tough guy so you can improve your social standing someplace. These vulnerable places in the human body can kill, maim or cripple your attacker. Self defense pressure points must be your weapon of last resort; only to be used in a kill or be killed situation.

Pressure points for fighting are only for that no-holds-barred self defense situation where you cannot escape, but if you stay and do nothing, you know the other guy intends to kill you, rape you or put you in a wheelchair — permanently.

If you strike at these vital points you’d better understand you have to disable your attacker(s) fast. If you cannot manage this, you will only make him, her or them more angry at you. You could escalate what might have been just a beating and turn it into  a slaying.

And its going to be a coin-toss who wins.

Normally, whoever gets in the first crippling blow will be the survivor. There is no winner. Those who have done it have told me they just felt sick afterwards. There isn’t any sense of achievement.

I am not an expert on self defense law, but what I am saying here is that somebody dies violently, chances are high that the survivor(s) – and hopefully that might be you – will have to stand trial for the killing, unless the investigating police officers are convinced your actions are clearly justifiable for self defense.

And if the other guy gets crippled or maimed, even if he attacked you first, then you can expect to be hit with a lawsuit or charged with felonious assault — assault occasioning grevious bodily harm. That’s serious jail time if you get convicted.

So this is all or nothing fighting for your life. You don’t ever do this stuff lightly.

Your Self Defense ‘Hit List’ of Pressure Points in the Human Body

Every single blow you deliver has to strike a vital point on your opponent’s body. I cannot emphasize this too much.  Each kick, forearm smash, elbow strike, knee kick or punch has to inflict serious damage on the person you are hitting. If it doesn’t, you may not get a chance to land your next blow because he will probably have flattened you already.

It’s no good hitting a big man in the belly, for example. And you’ve got to smash with all your weight and power behind it. Slaps or jabs won’t will only make him more pissed-off at you. These vital points are not some ‘magic’ push-buttons that switch on a ‘You Win!’ sign and hand you a cupie doll. I think the term ‘pressure points’ is actually quite misleading, because these body parts need to be rendered broken… Damaged enough to make a trauma surgeon shake his head and suck in his breath.

Eyes – jab at them and you can blind your attacker, temporarily or permanently. The eyes are serious vital points; a blind man can’t fight any more and is crippled for life. Use your thumbs.

Ears – Ordinary punches don’t do much good (think of Boxers with ‘cauliflower ears’)… the vital points are inside, not outside! But a solid slap with your slightly-cupped palm can rupture his ear drum, (think two palms to his two ears, as in escaping a face-to-face choke or a front strangle), and you can burst both his ear drums. Injury to the inner ear and the cochlea means loss of balance, and then he can’t fight too well. He will have trouble even standing up. Ear injury can sometimes damage a person’s hearing or balance permanently.

Temples – A blow here can stun or knock out your attacker, but there is a small chance it might kill him too. I have seen people hit full force on the temple with a police riot baton, and be relatively unaffected. Sure they bled, but they weren’t downed. So remember, these vulnerable points for self defense are not reliable every time. And when the person is affected by drugs or alcohol, they often don’t feel any pain.So don’t hurt them; you have got to break their body and render it non-functional!

Just move on to the next target on your ‘hit list’ of vulnerable body targets.

Any atemi blow to the head can kill or do brain damage. Yet a blow to the head cannot be relied upon for a safe knockout. I have seen drunk and angry men take a police riot baton to the temple, at full force, and only get angrier. But I have also seen other men drop like a stone when hit there.

Collar Bone (clavicle) – can be broken by a sharp blow. This means he cannot use his arm on the broken side. A heavy stick or baseball bat can be used for this blow. This won’t kill him either.

Nose – a punch to the nose hurts, but isn’t life threatening. If you break his nose, he’ll have a nose-bleed, his eyes will be filled with tears, which will obstruct his vision. (Martial arts folklore claims the nose can be pushed up into the brain to kill someone, but this is a myth.) You can do the most damage to the nose if you break it from the side.

Adam’s Apple – a very dangerous self defense tactic. This can KILL. The airway collapses like a  can of soda pop, and the person you just hit will choke to death. They can’t breathe, and unless they get a tracheotomy immediately, they will die. This is one of the most dangerous vulnerable points on the human body.

Under the Ear – There’s a hollow here you can push into and upwards with your fingertips to effect a release. You can also smash the side of the neck below the ear with the side of your fist (a hammer-fist), or use an elbow strike or forearm smash. The whole area is full of sensitive nerves and blood vessels and is a  knockout blow.

Back of the Neck – Where the spine joins the skull. This can stun your opponent and knock him out. A hard blow can break the neck, severing the spinal cord which will paralyze or kill him. The neck is another of the more vulnerable points of the human body.

Sternum – This is the center of the chest, covering the heart. A really heavy blow, such as from an ax kick or a stomp, can kill directly. It is very, dangerous indeed.

Solar Plexus – is one of the great vulnerable points for self defense. This is the area, centered, at the very top of the stomach area, yet just below the sternum. All boxers know that a good punch here can ‘wind’ an opponent. It shocks the nervous system so the person cannot breathe, and he will be gasping like a fish out of water. The effect only lasts for a minute or so, but that gives you plenty of time to damage the next vital target on his body. It is a good target for an elbow strike.

Floating Ribs – These are the short ribs at the side of the body. They are very sensitive to finger or knuckle pressure, so are great to force an attacker to release you from a bear-hug or whatever. A hard blow can break them, and there’s a slight risk of puncturing a lung.

Testicles – These are the best-known vital points on a man’s body, so most men protect their groin pretty instinctively, especially if they have been in a fight or two. But a good whack here will still put a guy down on the ground and out of the fight. Just remember there can often be a six second delay before the wave of pain and shock hits him. In a serious fight for your life, you want to hit them so hard that the scrotum bursts and the testis are ruptured.

On a side note, it is also very painful for a woman to be kicked or hit in her groin. A hard blow to the crotch will usually drop her to the ground immediately… just like a man. The groin is a sensitive area.

Knee Caps – These are very vital points, because the patella (kneecap) dislocates very easily. And if it breaks in two, the person you hit will have trouble walking for the rest of their life. Surgeons just remove a broken kneecap. They don’t heal. The most usual attack is  a small circular kick to the knee cap (dislocates or breaks the patella). This is a crippling injury.

Breaking The Knee Joint -But if you kick the knee joint from your opponent’s side, you can tear apart the whole leg. Smash one leg in, towards the other leg. If he cannot bend it when your blow hits him, with your full body weight behind it, his leg is gone at the knee.

End of fight. Hello hospital.

The Ankle is another excellent place to get a bone fracture that will stop your attacker. Like the knee, you can do the maximum damage when your kick (or blow with a stick) comes from the outsite, smashing one leg towards the other. If your opponent has all his / her weight on that foot, it will suffer maximum damage.

Your attacker cannot do too much to you, at least not easily, if he has a broken foot and cannot even stand up. But beware of a possible foot sweep!

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5 thoughts on “Fighting Pressure Points for Self Defense”

  1. I just want to refute a couple points, one being the nose. A hard upward strike to the point of the nose can and caused death. While the nose is not bone, it still can shatter and those shards can then be driven up to kill. The military still teaches this technique and has for a very long time now.

    The other point I want to refute is about the knee cap being broken and then not healing. My left knee cap was broken in two and without screws, pins or wires or any other artifical devices was repaired to full strength and stability. A surgeon used part of my fibula powdered along with a stabilizing agent to make the powder in to a paste. I was then placed in a cast, followed by a total immobilizer for several weeks. After that time, my knee cap was totally and 100% repaired and healed. That was back in 1994 and this is 2012 and I have never had any further troubles with it.

    1. Hi Tom. I’ll approve your comment although I am not convinced about the nose strike being fatal. I put the question directly to Tim Larkin, the ex Navy SEAL who teaches Target Focus Training, and he told me the nose strike is a fallacy… and that is something I have been told several times before by people I trust. But since I have never terminated anybody with extreme prejudice, I am not in a position to tell you anything more first hand. Your experience of having a kneecap heal is great, and I am happy for you. But it is still an excellent way of crippling an opponent — even if it heals later on some occasions! Thanks for taking the trouble to add to my site, and best wishes! David Harvey.

  2. the inside of the thigh is great too, it won’t break anything if you kick there, and the opponent won’t be able to walk kick or support his body weight very well on that leg

  3. I have been practicing martial arts for more than 45 years. Defending yourself is what all animals and humans do when we are provoked or attacked. There is no time to get your self defense note book out and look up what move you need to do when your opponent does this or does that to you. Just do what your animal instinct tells you to do. Strike the eyes, testicles,knees,liver, kidneys throat, or stump the instep of your opponents foot. Just do it! Your life is beautiful and you need to do whatever it takes to stay alive! This is not a fight where there is a referee there to make sure no rules are broken…there are no rules! Many years ago I knew a girl who spent 10 years to achieve a black belt in judo because she was physically attacked. The same girl was accosted years latter by another attacker and instead of using her judo on him , she hit him In the throat with the edge of her school book and knocked him out cold!
    You only have about 3 second before your attacker attacks you, kill or be killed.
    I’d rather deal with the court system than deal with being 6 feet under!

    Sincerely ,

    1. She is also fortunate her strike did not kill the guy. Some countries, such as the UK and Australia, seem to be more concerned about the well-being of the criminals than their victims or would-be victims! Her attitude saved her. I suspect she got that fighting spirit and self-confidence from her decade of constant randori on the tatami mats.

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