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Pressure Point Fighting, A Medical View

Pressure Point Fighting and DIM MAK A MEDICAL VIEW:
by Erle Montaigue March 1988

N/B Photos to be added!

There are certain techniques which most responsible martial artists tend to keep secret until a student is able to understand them and only use them responsibly. However, in modern times, certain people have been travelling the world revealing many of these very dangerous pressure point fighting techniques to all and sundry with many inexperienced martial artists going home and trying it out on their younger brother or mother etc. I say inexperienced not only in the physical sense where the student is just not up to using these techniques properly but also inexperienced in medical knowledge. This leads to dangerous situations where people are trying to emulate pressure point fighting techniques which they might have seen someone else perform at seminars etc, and not knowing the medical implications, can cause great damage to his or her training partner.

With this in mind I have decided to impart some of the small knowledge which I have accumulated over the years on the dim mak medical theory so that inexperienced martial artists will know more about why this pressure point fighting art works and perhaps think twice about using it in practice. I will also reveal some of the more dangerous pressure point fighting points and explain why the knock outs work when attacking with medium pressure to certain points far from the head or chin.

In revealing this information on pressure point fighting, I too am in breach of martial responsibility. However, I feel that it is necessary at this stage so that more injury does not happen through inexperience and general lack of knowledge about pressure point fighting. It is my hope that most young martial artists and some oldies will use this information wisely and also tell about it responsibly, really stressing that it is very dangerous and will kill. Better that we have people killing others in times of dire need rather than going home and hitting Mum on the carotid sinus in the wrong way and killing her because some person at a seminar said that it was not dangerous.


Firstly, it is dangerous to knock someone out regardless of how it is done. We lose a few million brain cells every time we are knocked out.

We, most of us know that a strong percussion anywhere near the head or chin, face etc. will cause knock out. This is because these areas are vital to human survival and when knocked, the brain simply causes the rest of the body to faint thus saving all of the energy and blood for the affected area. This is the first and most basic of the pressure point fighting techniques. This is why boxers are knocked out etc.

The second method relies upon the chin being pushed back to cause pressure upon the spinal column causing a momentary blockage of information from the central nervous system to the brain and so the body is unable to do things, so we have another knock out.

The third way involves striking certain groups of muscles causing the muscles around the lungs to contract violently thus taking the air away from the lungs. This is termed a restricted air dim-mak point. For instance if I strike someone in an upward way against the scapular muscles then the lungs will be restricted. See photo No.1 for the first attack and defence. I attack to his inner wrist points to cause the mind to think that the whole body has been hit and at the same time I strike at the 'mind point' on the side of the chin where the jaw joins and just back a bout a quarter of an inch. This is a 'special point' in acupuncture and is on no particular meridian. This alone will cause knock out and serious internal damage. Then, if I'm really keen on overkill, I should attack to his rear with that same palm in an upward manner as in Photo No.2. This in Taiji is called 'stroking horses mane.' This was defence against an 'open' technique where I am in danger of his other hand. I can perform the same air restricting dim-mak using a 'closed' technique. I now take his attack using a hinge block (in Taiji) to attack his colon points on his upper forearm. Photo No.3. This alone will cause the body to exert extreme low blood pressure thus knocking him out, but more on this method later. I can now attack with the same technique with my left palm across his pectoral muscles and cause the lungs again to be restricted through muscle spasm. Photo No.4. I can of course attack to these points outright by taking a simultaneous block and attacking with a palm straight into these points.

The fourth way is a much more complicated pressure point fighting method and requires some medical explanation. This is where we cause the brain to think that something has happened when it really hasn't. The brain reacts to cause other physical things to happen and we end up with extreme low blood pressure which can, if it becomes too low cause heart attack. I will also add here that any acupuncture point when struck with enough force will cause a knock out. But it is not safe. Any acu point which is struck will be greatly over stimulated and cause the associated internal organ to be damaged. Acupuncture points are there for healing or for killing so use them with great caution. A little pressure is OK for healing but increase that pressure and you can kill.

So, we have little things in our body called baroreceptors. Baro meaning barometer and receptor meaning something that receives information. These little bits of us register either hi or low blood pressure in the body. We have them around the aorta but the main one that we are concerned with is in the neck and is called the carotid sinus. This thing is a small dilation (expansion) at the beginning of the internal carotid artery just above the bifurcation of the common carotid artery to form the internal and external carotid arteries. The common artery is the big one from where the other two branch out, one going to the brain, eye, forehead and nose. The external branch supplies the mouth, face, nose, pharynx and part of the larynx, some of the back of the head and some of the dura matter, (brain stuff).

The sinus lies just under the sternocleidomastoid muscle (the big one going up either side of your neck) at the level of the upper margin of the thyroid cartilage. (Adam's apple). Sensory fibres (afferent) from carotid sinus baroreceptors run through the carotid sinus nerve of the cardioinhibitory centre of the medulla.

If blood pressure within the aorta or carotid sinus rises suddenly, it stimulates the aortic or carotid baroreceptors. The result of such stimulation is a reflex slowing of the heart thus lowering the blood pressure. This is how we maintain a normal blood pressure.

Now, here is the rub: If we are able to in some way cause this carotid sinus to think that high blood pressure is present, then the brain will cause the pressure to drop but because there is no high blood pressure, we are instantly dropped because not enough blood gets to the brain. We are able to cause this to happen with a medium strike to the carotid sinus area. The more on target one can be, then less strike force is necessary to cause knock out. However, we must strike through the carotid artery in order to get to this sinus and herein lies the danger. Apart from the danger of stroke from low blood pressure, we also have the added danger of seriously damaging the inner wall of the carotid artery which can slowly disintegrate and perhaps we will die some days later in our sleep from heart attack.

The pressure point fighting strike necessary for this to happen is an inward strike, pushing in onto the carotid artery and sinus. See photo No.5. Here I have used a knife edge to do the damage but we are also able to use just the tips of the fingers to dig into this area and attack the sinus. In some ways this way is better as the smaller fingers tend to get to the sinus digging under the carotid artery not just barrelling through it but both are dangerous. I have in the past caused some of my students to become quite dizzy from a light poke to this area. I do not do it now however in the light of the dangers which have been told to me by professor McCleod of the Sydney University Medical Dept. If you attempt to just strike the outside of the neck with a knife edge you will of course do damage but with a much harder strike and so this is actually more dangerous. This is where irresponsible acts by martial artists in demonstrating these pressure point fighting techniques without showing how they are done will cause damage. Someone will go and try them and, not working, they will try harder and harder.

Here Is Another Medical Secret In Pressure Point Fighting:

We are told that other things that will cause this low blood pressure are, the cold sensors in the skin being activated or sudden intense stimulation of pain receptors in such visceral structures as, the gall bladder, uterus, (Lie behind the parietal peritoneum and extend from the kidneys to the posterior surface of the bladder. This is where the urine is collected for excretion etc. Any attack to this area, kidneys, lower abdomen will cause knock out) or intestines can cause such slowing of the heart that fainting may result.

That's what the scientists say. And here's another rub, the scientists either do not know anything about or do not wish to know about the acupuncture points on the body. There are so many intestine, small and large on the arms, shoulders and back and kidney and gall bladder points from the feet upward to the head that striking any one of these points causes the body to think that the actual organ has been struck and so we are able to knock someone out by striking to for instance colon 10, a point on the upper forearm as shown in photo No.6. You are able to attack this point with a block or with an actual strike of a finger grab. The power however is not just a touch, we were not made that fragile! A certain pressure must of course be used and it goes without saying that a person must first of all know how to fight and get in before he or she is able to use these points anyway. the striking of these points to cause knock out will however cause damage to the internal organs through over stimulation.

We just heard that if the gall bladder is in pain it will cause low blood pressure and there is a point on the foot just to the side above the toes called gall bladder 42, this point when struck with a heel stomp will cause knock out to occur.

The fifth way to cause damage by using points is to actually attack the points which refer to important organs such as the heart. We do not have to attack to the heart itself to stop it from working. Once again there are points on the arms which will cause great heart damage and these points should be avoided at all costs other that mild stimulation. Heart 3 if attacked with 'Play the Guitar' (from Taiji) will cause great internal damage. Upon being attacked we simultaneously attack the outside of the wrist and using the thumb knuckle, attack this point just on the inside of the arm and near the elbow crease. See Photo NO.8. We can further cause damage and knock out by then re-slapping the wrist area and using a fa-jing (explosive energy) technique to attack the mind point on the side of the face. Photo NO.9.

However, here's another rub, these points must be attacked in the right direction and penetration in order for them to work. For instance the 'mind point' must be attacked with an inward strike. So although it looks just like a back fist which would normally strike straight in, it is actually a twisting fist which causes the pressure to go in towards the brain. The attack to the heart 3 point must be going towards yourself and away from the person you are attacking so there is a slight hooking of the thumb upon impact to draw the pressure back. There are points on the chest which will kill but if they are attacked straight in will only cause superficial damage, breaking of bones etc. But if the strike is made in a downward motion to affect the flow of energy, then death will occur.

I will finish once again by warning you not to try these points in an actual self defensive way with power as they will do damage to your students. You can find out where these points are by simply pushing and poking around on yourself or on your sister, or mother, or father and watching them jump when you find the point. But only use very light pressure as you don't know what inner ailments are there. For instance there is a point called kidney 5 which is used for healing period pains among other things but that's what it is famous for. Now if you grab this point and squeeze heavily and your sister just happens to have her periods, at the most you will cause great internal damage and at the least will cause her to just sky high and perhaps kill you upon return. This point is used when we leg sweep. Never in our Taiji katas do we leg sweep. Try it when someone has a rubber pair of joggers on and standing on an asphalt surface. You just can't sweep the leg without breaking it. No, we are actually attacking to the k 5 point on the Achilles tendon. For instance if we block an oncoming attack with the peculiar hook from Taiji, thus attacking to the wrist area again and step in with our right heel, you will notice in any Taiji form, the foot is placed down coming back slightly towards you. Photo NO. 10 shows the attack and initial block. I now step around and as I attack to the Conceptor vessel point on the chest just between the two nipples in a downward stroke, my right heel attacks to his k 5 point as I throw him to the ground. Photo No. 11 and 12.

In closing I hope that you will be somewhat responsible and at least have some more knowledge of pressure point fighting and what happens when someone is struck in the neck in a certain way and why the knock out occurs even to other parts of the body but it is a fairly powerful strike. I have never seen anyone who is able to just touch and cause knock out with pressure point fighting.

In the very least it is my hope that most of you will now check out your old dusty medical texts and look a little more at the acupuncture theory and points. In this way we will all learn more about the most important part of the martial arts, that of healing, far more important than damaging with pressure point fighting.