In some of my recent posts, I referred to nerve motor and pressure points. There were a few questions about the differences between them, which I will address in this post. In the style of Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu, we teach the use of a pressure point system known as the Police Pressure Point System, which was developed by Professor Georges Sylvain, founder of our style.
After a great deal of research, Professor Sylvain selected what he believed were the most effective nerve points for police use, ones that he considered to be most effective on the greatest number of people. These nerve points are divided into ‘nerve motor points’ and ‘nerve pressure points.’
Nerve Motor Points
Nerve motor points are nerve points on the body that, when struck, cause some form of motor dysfunction. The solar plexus, causes motor dysfunction in the muscles that control breathing. The brachial plexus origin, located on the side of the neck, causes a disconnect to the brain resulting in motor dysfunction in the entire body, from a stunning effect to full unconsciousness. The lateral femoral located on the outside of the thigh causes motor dysfunction in the leg making it difficult to use or even stand on temporarily. Beyond motor dysfunction, most of these nerve points are also painful when struck.
Nerve Pressure Points
Nerve pressure points, on the other hand, cause pain as a result of pressure, but no motor dysfunction. The tip of the nose, for example, is made up of a series of sensitive criss-crossing nerves and when you apply pressure on it with a palm, the result is usually quite painful. The mandibular angle, located below the ear, behind the jaw bone, can cause extreme pain when you apply pressure with the tip of your thumb. The lateral thoracic comprises of a series of intercostal nerves located between each rib. When you compress these nerves against the ribs with a knuckle, kind of like playing the xylophone, it can cause a lot of pain.
Below is a couple of charts for reference. The points that are written in black are motor points while the ones written in grey are pressure points.
Some nerve motor and pressure points are easier to use than others, and not all the points are appropriate for use in all self-defense situations. But on the whole, the more your practice targeting them, the more effectively you’ll be able to use them in a real situation. That being said, as Professor Sylvain used to say, some people are just mutants and aren’t effected by certain points due to differences in their physiology. Also, people who are drunk or high are often less affected by nerve points.
This makes it that much more important to be able to use a variety of targets both within and outside the Police Pressure Point System. Nerve points are all well and good, but there are few people who can withstand a solid strike to the groin. And on the flip side, if all you know how to do is kick the groin, you are very much limited in your options if that first strike misses and your attacker starts protecting it.