In the Police Pressure Point System developed by Professor Georges Sylvain, founder of Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu, the lateral femoral area is not actually a pressure point but a motor point. The difference is that an attack to a motor point can result in a motor dysfunction when struck, while a pressure point only causes pain. In the case of the lateral femoral area, when attacked, it can result in a motor dysfunction in the leg, making it difficult to stand on or use it. It can also be quite painful.
The lateral femoral is centred on the outside of the thigh, around midway between the hip and the knee, where the nerve is closest to the surface of the leg. The nerve affected is the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (see area in red on the right in image below). Please note that the centre point in which the effect is greatest can vary from person to person, but a strike to this spot within about a 5″ diameter will still affect most people.
In my early training days, when I was young and stupid, I didn’t think that a leg kick using the shin could be as effective as a knee strike. To prove the point to a Taekwondo black belt friend of mine, I volunteered to take a leg kick to the lateral femoral at 50% power. I didn’t fare much better than the fellow in the above video, hitting the ground like a sack of potatoes, gasping in pain. The full story of this embarrassing anecdote is in in chapter 10 of my book, Weapons of Opportunity.
In Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu, we teach the above leg kick, but we also like to use our knees to strike the lateral femoral. Knee strikes to the lateral femoral can be useful for law enforcement for controlling an unruly suspect that is causing trouble while being escorted. It’s nice because it is a low-level force option that doesn’t generally cause injury. That being said, my favourite self-defense technique that uses the lateral femoral is against a side headlock before the attacker gets it fully applied. See the video below for a quick demo (not our greatest film work, but you can get the idea).
If you decide to train strikes to the lateral femoral, or any motor point, it is safest to limit the amount of power you apply on your partners, otherwise you’ll find yourself short of volunteers to receive said strikes. We stick to around 5% power (or less depending on the partner) when training, enough that your partner will feel it when on target so they can provide feedback on target location, but not so much that they’ll experience lingering pain or difficulty using the leg for the rest of the night. This is the amount of power I used in the above video.
One last note on the lateral femoral is that it may not be effective against people who are drunk, high or in the middle of an adrenaline dump. When in these states the responses of the subject’s nervous system don’t always register the effects of strikes to this area. They may feel it after they have sobered up or have come down from their adrenaline dump, but that isn’t useful if you need the effects in the moment, so in this situation, it may not be a great choice.
This video demonstrates the full effectiveness of a strike to the brachial plexus origin (located on either side of the neck). We target this nerve motor point regularly in Can-Ryu Jiu-jitsu in self-defense techniques.
The first time I saw this video was on Professor Sylvain’s (founder of Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu) Police Pressure Points training video, for which I was used to demonstrate the application of various strikes. It continues to be the best example of the effects of a strike to the brachial plexus origin that I’ve ever seen.
We teach a number of striking methods to this area, employing elbows and forearms in a variety of ways. An important thing to remember when striking this location is the use of what we call T.O.T. (Time-On-Target). This involves leaving your strike on the targeted area for ¾ of a second to allow the fluid shock waves to transfer from your striking surface into your target. This greatly increases the effect of the strike to the brachial plexus origin or any other nerve motor point for that matter.
And what are the effects? Here’s a breakdown:
Light strike: Momentarily stuns the brain. (We call this a ‘brain burp’ in training.)
Moderate strike: Split-second knock-out. (I’ve experienced this myself a couple of times in training.)
Strong strike: Full knock-out with a stunning effect that can last for a period of time afterwards (as demonstrated in the video).
What makes a strike to the brachial plexus origin really useful for self-defense is the fact that it is easily court-defensible. This is because it is a non-injurious strike that is considered not to cause any long-term damage. It is therefore seen in the eyes of the courts as a “humane” way of incapacitating an attacker.
So sure, the pimp in the video was feeling the effects of the strike as he eventually walked away, but he was walking away.