Pressure points are one of the most widely misunderstood concepts in martial arts. Many different legends have been repeated over the years regarding secretive and lethal techniques. There is nothing mystical or magical about the existence of pressure points or their application in self-defense. Pressure points are nerve clusters, frequently around major muscle groups, that when struck or grabbed can cause the nearby muscle groups to spasm in a painful manner. While there are many different ways of getting to them in a self-defense situation, there are a few steps to make it easier to find them when you need to.
Pressure Point Strikes
Locate each pressure point. There are many different nerve clusters throughout the body. Start with the soft tissue directly under the chin, the muscles right at the base of the neck near the top of the shoulder, the nerve clusters in the very front of the shoulder next to the pectoral muscles, and the solar plexus at the base of the breastbone.
Practice using a mirror. Take two fingers and lightly press against each of these areas until you can locate them comfortably. You'll know you've located the right spot because each location is extremely sensitive to pushing or impact pressure.
Make a fist with one hand. Bend the middle knuckle of your pointer finger out so it protrudes from the front of the fist with the thumb bracing it underneath. This will be used for practicing knuckle strikes. You then drive the point of the knuckle into the targeted pressure point.
Decide how to strike. Most strikes can be done with a regular fist but some pressure points are small enough that a knuckle strike is more effective in hitting the appropriate nerve areas. When training or sparring from a close distance, use the knuckle strike to jab into the clusters that you found in the mirror. When using a sparring partner, be very careful because a hard strike to these areas is very painful and can be disabling.
Practice in a mirror throwing these types of strikes at short range. Don't use knuckle strikes from a long distance because they are only effective on soft-tissue areas of the body. If you miss and strike a hard surface like the skull or the breastbone, you are likely to break a finger. From longer distances, use a regular fist.