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I have been studying pressure point striking lately, and in particular those that immobilize limbs, such as striking the femoral nerve.

I feel it important to understand how to defend against such strikes, and more specifically, if struck for example in the femoral nerve, what to do in order to get the limb mobile again as fast as possible.

I am not sure if this is heading more towards neurology than martial arts, but is there a specific massage technique or other technique that helps the body to recover from pressure point strikes faster?

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It sounds like you're talking about the scientific form of pressure points (as opposed to pseudoscience involving "chi meridians"), namely spots on the body which allow for direct stimulation of nerves and muscles to cause a great deal of pain or sometimes even muscle paralysis. As with defending any vulnerable part of your body, the key principles are a) to attempt to avoid being struck in these vulnerable areas and b) if you can't avoid or block the attack, move to reduce the amount of force exerted. I have heard people talk about building up muscle over pressure points to prevent being targeted, but most of the common points are targeted because they're at junctures where there physiologically is no muscle or other extraneous tissue to prevent targeting the nerves.

As for recovery, as with most aspects of martial arts involving continuing to fight while in pain or injured, it really comes down to conditioning. In many aspects, a pressure point strike is no different from "hitting your funny bone" in your elbow. You might immediately drop something in your hand when you strike your elbow like that, but for the most part, you "shake it out", grimace, and continue to do your usual task, compensating for the lack of fine control by relying on routine. As with most conditioning, I would caution that it's essentially a way of training yourself to work through injury, which requires injury in the first place, and training yourself to ignore pain can be a bad idea since pain is part of how our body informs us that something is wrong. Repeated or prolonged trauma to the nerves can cause permanent damage, as anyone who has suffered a prolonged pinched nerve can aver.

Lastly, some pressure point techniques don't so much focus on attacking the nerves, but the muscles, causing them to knot up. They tend to require more force and be less targeted, but this is essentially what you're doing when, say, you drive a knuckle into the thigh of a caught leg. In that case, as with any muscle cramp, keep moving and keep the blood flowing. Anecdotally, some people have success in dealing with cramps by striking the affected area, but more broadly (cupping your hand or just slapping it) to confuse the body into not focusing on a single area of trauma, but this might be more "bro science" than anything else.

TL;DR
- Avoid getting hit in vulnerable areas if you can
- If you can't avoid getting hit, try to reduce the amount of force
- If you do get hit in a pressure point, keep moving and rely on your muscle memory to carry you through movements
- If you feel it is absolutely necessary to train against pressure points, train under those conditions, having someone compress your nerve and then attempting (slowly at first!) your usual movements so that you get used to working through the pain or loss of feeling.

  • Great answer. I may post this as a separate question, but one of the possibilities I was considering is whether something like acupressure (if known well) can rapidly heal the pain/immobility of pressure point strikes. However since acupressure is a widely contested area there is probably no black and white answer as to its effectiveness. – FrontEnd Dec 10 '15 at 10:17
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The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program initially included an element called Body Hardening. It involved hitting the location of primary nerves. The Radial and Ulna nerves, Femoral and Sciatic nerves, and abdominal strikes for the Celiac Plexus. The result was that, after repeated impact over a long period of time, the nerve would become damaged, such that an impact of a given area, while felt, would not hurt.

Long-term issues with this method. I have numbness in my extremities, and pain throughout my body. So while the method worked, I would not recommend it. Have you tried running?

Experience: 1st Degree Black Belt - MCMAP, Years of Service 2005-2015.

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While pressure points may exist as sensitive spots on the body that can aid in both fighting and healing, touching or pressing on them probably can't kill you. Still, use pressure points as a way to help relax your muscles, reduce tension and stress, and overcome painful headaches. http://www.medicaldaily.com/truth-about-pressure-points-which-ones-can-kill-you-and-which-ones-are-just-myths-316528

However, it's not that easy in real life or actual competition to do this.

If you start a fight and exchanging blows with a capable opponent; I believe that it would be difficult (but not impossible) to find pressure point targets. Just think when you are sparring against somebody of equal skill, it can be difficult landing a blow on their torso (which is a large target), never mind finding a very small pressure point to hit. Furthermore, when you have just had an adrenalin dump, your fine motor skills do not work as efficiently. For this reason, many people advocate concentrating on developing your techniques (regardless of style) so that you are fast and powerful and you will hurt your opponent wherever you hit them. Read more http://bunkaijutsu.com/2010/06/does-pressure-point-fighting-really-work/

When people demonstrate these, it's almost always with someone who is a willing partner. Very different then on the street or in an Ring. One should be very critical with the internet about such kind of things ex. there is a youtube video where a MMA guys fights a KI master: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEDaCIDvj6I

In most of those demonstrations there are "promoting" partners involved for increased dramatic.

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There are massage techniques that will help you recover from these points. I have a book next to me full of techniques like that. you need acupressure points as follows: ST-35 + M-LE-16 BL-54 GB-34 SP9+ST36

SP10+ ST-34

(just google acupuncture points. they are basically the same)

According to "Essential Anatomy for healing and Martial Arts" by Marc Tedeschi

This is a book by a hapkido practitioner but also used by just about everyone I know who studies shorinji kempo (the style I learn)

Edit* sorry femeral nerve. That's on the leg, the ones I gave were an arm release now corrected

  • Yes "acupressure" is what I was looking for. Thanks for that – FrontEnd Dec 10 '15 at 10:10
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    @frontend i recomend that book in that case. its about the only one to put the points in the right place. you can also get an electronic sensor to help find the points. however take this with a generous pinch of salt. you can do amazing things with accupressure but people make rediculous unfounded claims about it. It will not help with infections, asthma or the like. stick to using it to treat muscle pain and headaches. – Huw Evans Dec 10 '15 at 11:06
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  • I agree its not really documented. I put this down to the fact that many practitioners of acupressure claim it can do things it can't. but i know these work. we use them often enough for there to be no doubt. – Huw Evans Dec 10 '15 at 13:22

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