Home Pressure Points Attacking The Pressure Points Of The Arms | Part 1

From a martial arts perspective, the pressure points found on the arms are some of the most important points on the human body. During a confrontation, the arms will in majority of cases be the first things coming at you, whether it takes on the form of a grab, push or a punch. By attacking the arms you are not only weakening your attacker, but also setting up his body for further strikes.

arm-pressure-pointsBlocks in Martial Arts

Often blocks are taught only as a deflection or parry of an attack, which is in fact only a small part of their true function. While there are certain instances where motions are purely to deflect or parry attacks, majority of blocks in styles like Taekwondo are in fact strikes to the various pressure points. We are not merely trying to deflect an attack, but to physically incapacitate and rendering that which is attacking us helpless by means of our “blocks”. Therefore, a block can best be described as a defensive-attack to incapacitate and nullify the attacking tool of the attacker, whether it is an arm, leg or any other body part for that matter.

In this article, we will focus on blocking techniques as applied to the pressure points of the arms. In the following quote from the ITF Encyclopedia, General Choi reinforces the point that “blocks” are in fact a form of attack, rather than a deflection of an attack: “by defending an opponent’s striking points skillfully and strongly it makes the assailant give up the will of another attack because of pain or off-balance”

In the ITF Encyclopedia, General Choi identified around 50 vital points which he deemed important from a Taekwondo perspective. The vital points included in the Encyclopedia does not go into much detail. The only arm points identified in the Encyclopedia is the wrist, inner wrist and elbow. As discussed earlier in the series, pressure points are named after the organ to which they relate, together with a number to indicate the imaginary dotted line between these points dictating the directional flow of energy. These points are named after the points used in Traditional Chinese Medicinal (TCM), and detail on these points and their location can be found in any good acupuncture book at your local book store.

In the ITF Encyclopedia, General Choi identified around 50 vital points which he deemed important from a Taekwondo perspective. The vital points included in the Encyclopedia does not go into much detail. The only arm points identified in the Encyclopedia is the wrist, inner wrist and elbow. As discussed earlier in the series, pressure points are named after the organ to which they relate, together with a number to indicate the imaginary dotted line between these points dictating the directional flow of energy. These points are named after the points used in Traditional Chinese Medicinal (TCM), and detail on these points and their location can be found in any good acupuncture book at your local book store.


Large Intestine location
Figure 2: Large Intestine 10 (LI-10) location

Large Intestine location
Figure 3: Large Intestine 11 (LI-11) location

Lung Location
Figure 4: Lung 5 (L-5) location

Pericardium Location
Figure 5: Pericardium 3 (P-3) location

Pericardium location
Figure 6: Pericardium 2 (P-2) location

lower forearm block
Figure 7 - Striking LI-10 with a lower forearm block off a middle section punch

lower outer forearm block
Figure 8: Striking LI-10 with a lower outer forearm block off a middle section punch

Striking Lung with an lower outer forearm block off a single lapel grab
Figure 9: Striking Lung-5 with an lower outer forearm block off a single lapel grab

Striking Lung off a single lapel grab
Figure 10: Striking Lung-5 off a single lapel grab

Striking Pericardium  off a grab using a lower outer forearm block
Figure 11: Striking Pericardium 2 off a grab using a lower outer forearm block

The lower outer forearm block

One of the most basic blocking techniques taught in martial arts is the lower outer forearm block. This is a very powerful block which causes severe pain and incapacitation if directed with the correct angle and direction at the pressure points located on the arms. This block, or “strike” if you like, is very effective in defense against kicking techniques as well, which I will cover later in this series.

In this article, I will be focusing on how to target the pressure points on the inner and outer parts of the forearm, as well as certain points on the top of the bicep using the low outer forearm block. The arm points we will be working on with the outer forearm block in this article are shown in figures 2 – 6

Blocking tool

In the case of the outer forearm block, the sharp outside of the ulna bone (3 - 4 fingers from the wrist) is used as the blocking tool, which easily penetrates through the muscle layers of the forearm and bicep. The Korean name for this blocking tool is palmok, which means the “neck” of the arm.

Which points to attack

The way in which the attack is orchestrated (i.e. punch, push or a grab), and the attackers reach and level of arm extension will be the decisive factor in deciding which pressure points to target, and whether the lower outer forearm block is in fact the most viable method to defend against this particular attack.

Intent

Intent, together with angle and direction is the single most important factor when determining the effectiveness of a pressure point strike. Intent is simply a chosen course of action that one proposes to follow to reach a predetermined outcome. Without positive intent, you will never get beyond the first stage of learning pressure point fighting. When you strike these points, you must have intent to cause extreme pain or incapacitation. It is intent that will determine the efficiency of energy transference into the attacker’s central nervous system. Intent does not reflect on the amount of power used to execute a block or a strike but is rather a mindset when executing the technique. It is possible to strike and block with intent without the use of much physical force.

Attack from a lower or middle section punch

The pressure points on the top of the arm are easily targeted in case of a lower/middle section punch where the attackers arm is fully extended and the punch is rotated between forty-five degrees and full twist.

The opponent attacks in with a low/middle section punch. The defender steps backwards and blocks the attacking arm by targeting either the Large Intestine-10 (LI-10) (Figure 2) or Large Intestine-11 (LI-11) (Figure 3) on the outer forearm of the attacker with a lower outer forearm block. The LI-10 point is found four fingers down from the elbow crease, between the two main muscles (extensor carpi radialis brevis and longus muscle) as indicated in Figure 2. The defender should ensure that the blocking tool as described above penetrates between these two muscles at a forty-five degree angle. This point is directly linked to the diaphragm, which will affect the attackers breathing in a prolonged fight, and severely impact on his ability to use his attacking arm.

The LI-11 point is found higher up on the forearm on the small muscle on top of the elbow joint (Figure 3) which is also a viable target. This is particularly good for weakening the elbow joint in instances where the attacker ends up very close to you after executing the punch.

The block can be done off both arms, depending on the angle of the attackers punch. So in the instance where the attacker throws a right punch, you could be blocking with either the left or the right arm, depending on the rotation of his punch. The intent must be to utterly destroy and incapacitate the attacker’s arms.

Attack from a single lapel grab

An attacker grabs you with a single lapel grab. This would usually mean that the attackers hand position is in a vertical position (to 135 degrees). In the case where the attackers grabbing arm is largely extended as in figures 9 & 10, the Lung-5 point on the inside of the forearm is a viable target.

The Lung-5 point is a very powerful point, and is found four fingers down from the elbow joint (Figure 4). The nerve ending lies on the radial bone, and the intention of the attack is to pinch the nerve on the bone. When struck effectively the knees will weaken and kick out.

In the case where the attacker has grabbed on and pulled you in close with the arms bent 45 degrees or more (Figure 11), the Pericardium 2 or 3 points on the top of the bicep can be targeted effectively.

When an attacker uses force and or strength to pull you in, this will work to your advantage, as the nerves in the arm stretches into the neck and head. Like a guitar string, the sound signal travels poorly if there is not adequate tension in the string. The tighter the tension in that string, the quicker and easier the sound signal travels up the string. The same goes for the nerves of the body. If there is tension in your attackers arms, the nerves stretch out, which facilitates the signal you input into his central nervous system up to the brain when you strike his nerve. So the greater the tension or stretch in the nerve, the greater the body reaction or incapacitation when you strike the nerve. This is applicable for all nerve attacks.

Pericardium 2 & 3 (Figures 5 & 6) is found on top of the bicep. These points cause severe pain and incapacitation if struck with intent and adequate muscle penetration. If struck well again this will weaken the legs, and cause varying degrees of nausea. I find the point on the bicep works particularly well, even against the most muscular persons.

Try and familiarise yourself with the location of the particular points found within this article, and play round with them, and see whether you are able to get good body reactions. Again, power is not the purpose of these strikes, but being able to get good reactions through correct intent, angle and direction. Through studying these points, you will no longer just be “blocking” and “striking”, but your blocks and attacks will become more target-focused.

References:

Figure 1 – Computer generated graphic (pressure point chart) depicting the pressure points on the arm. Used with permission by Evan Pantazi.

 

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