In more than 35 years of training I’ve been hurt many times by pressure point attacks.
Instructors and training partners have poked, prodded, gouged, and pressed their way into many nerve clusters all over my body.
These pressure point attacks hurt like hell when someone shows them to you, but you’d be a fool to rely on them in a real fight.
Here’s a video in which I break it down why pressure points are totally unreliable in real life situations.
Here’s the thing…
Many of these pressure points work great in the dojo when you’ve got a calm and compliant partner.
But in a real fight, once the fight or flight reflex kicks in, and tons of adrenaline and norepinephrine get released, then pain resistance goes through the roof. What worked great in training no longer has any effect on your attacker whatsoever.
True story: I once attended a robbery at a jewellery store where the owner had been shot with a handgun. The bullet went in through the front of his thigh and came out the back.
Despite this severe injury he was still upright, coherent, and even able to hobble around on his injured leg!
Now do you really think that your pressure point attack is going to be more effective than a gunshot?
No matter how much you train your finger strength you’ll NEVER be able to push your thumb through an attacker’s limb the way that bullet did.
In the heat of the moment the jewellery store owner was still able to function, so relying on a magic pressure point attack to drop your opponent is the height of folly.
In fact it doesn’t even need to be a life and death situation to get enough adrenaline to give someone crazy levels of pain resistance.
Sparring and competition also create an adrenalised environment, which is why they are both excellent training in learning to deal with and using adrenaline dumps, even if your focus is 100% on self defense.
Now let’s be clear: I’m talking about those pressing, gouging, poking style of pressure point attacks; targeting your strikes is still very important!
You can knock someone out by punching them in the forehead, but you’re much more likely to KO someone (and not break your knuckles) if you target one of the three best knockout points on the head as opposed to punching where the bone is thickest.
But even the most powerful shot delivered cleanly to the exact right spot can fail when the other person is sufficiently hopped up on adrenaline.
Which is why we throw punches in bunches, hope for the best but plan for the worst, and always have a backup plan to our backup plan. And never, ever rely on a pressure point tactic to work in a real life situation!