The Overload Principle As Applied to Nerve Motor & Pressure Points

The Overload Principle As It Applies to Nerve Motor and Pressure PointsOur style of Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu was created incorporating the PolicePressure Points System, a set of nerve motor and pressure points specifically chosen by Professor Georges Sylvain (our style’s founder) for their ease of use and effectiveness for law enforcement. There are a number principles that are taught related to their use to make the system’s application more effective. One of these is the “overload principle.”

The basic idea is that everyone’s can take a certain amount of pain when their nerves are affected by strikes or pressure. However, the more the same nerves are stimulated in a short period of time, the more sensitive they become. This principle comes into play in a variety of ways.

Multiple Strikes to Nerve Motor Points

Nerve motor points, as opposed to nerve pressure points, can cause motor dysfunction to the muscles in the area surrounding the point when struck (more info about the differences between the two types of nerve points). Most people are affected by a single strike with time-on-target (leaving the striking implement on the target surface for 3/4 of a second) on a nerve motor point, such as the lateral femoral. But if the person is intoxicated or more resistant to the strike than usual, doing a second strike soon after is more likely to yield the desired results. The first strike causes the area to become sensitized, and the effects are compounded with multiple strikes.

Deep Pressure to Nerve Pressure Points

The overload principle can be similarly applied to nerve pressure points. You usually start with surface pressure only when applying to a nerve pressure point such as the mandibular angle when the goal is compliance. For many people this can be enough on its own to get the desired results. However, if the person is more resistant, you can apply deep pressure using a strong, sharp, invasive pressure to the area for greater effect.

The Overload Principle Compassionately Applied in Training

It’s important to keep the overload principle in mind when training, not just for effective application but also to be compassionate to our training partners. When we do partner training, we typically apply strikes/pressure to the same nerve points repeatedly until we change to a new technique. And because train making enough contact on the points to cause a reaction in our training partner, it is possible to cause sensory overload after multiple applications even when the contact is relatively light. This happened to my demonstration partners a lot when we were shooting the footage for the DVD accompanying my book, When the Fight Goes to the Ground. As you can see in the above “making of” video, the “attackers” in the video had some loooong days.

While my demo partners didn’t have much choice but to grimace and bear it, there are ways to reduce your partners’ discomfort in a training context. After you’ve successfully applied a strike with a little force a few times, it’s a good idea to lower the level of force to touch contact or surface pressure rather than striking contact or deep pressure. That way you can still get the feedback from your partner to ensure accurate target location. As a training partner, you also play a role in this by communicating to your partner when an area has gotten overloaded. Letting them know when to ease up on the contact will make training motor and pressure points much more bearable.

Do you use nerve motor or pressure points in your training or on the job and seen the overload principle in action? If so, please share your experiences in the comments. 🙂

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