Pressure Point Applications ,
Great When They Work

Today the use of pressure point applications is one of the most court defensible aspects of the various uses of force options. A great deal of the credit for this, universally, has to be given to Bruce Siddle and his "Nerve Pressure Point Control Tactics Systems". The people in this system have done tremendous work in scientifically documenting the effectiveness of nerve point applications.

Indeed Mr. Siddle and his team have done so much work on the science behind the use of these tactics that, perhaps understandably, many people, not having the background to know otherwise, credit them as the inventors of nerve point use. Other individuals and groups are attempting to claim credit (and financial well-being) for developing their own “nerve control systems” or for modifying existing systems, again for acclaim and/or gain.

The reality is that the use of acupressure points in healing and combat modalities has been well documented in Asia for over 2500 years and in India for even longer than that. In other words, such nerve access points have been in use long enough to make anyone’s attempt to claim ownership of them quite ridiculous.

That said, it is Mr. Siddle and his team who deserve the credit for bringing this useful collection of defensive tactics theories out of the dark ages. They proved the practicality of the use of (and harmlessness of) pressure points tactically, legally, medically and ethically. They further are to be credited with empowering the rest of us with practical, acceptable court articulation of the use of these defensive tools.

While each of the various “systems” have their own “nomenclature” for the various accessible pressure points on the body we advise against “talking down to the courts” or risking confusing a judge or jury. In courtroom articulation, clarity, brevity and simplicity are essential principles to remember. Thus we advise against numbering systems, lettering systems (combinations of both in particular) and even the use of medical terminology.

Thus we do not refer to “…accessing the infra orbital nerve at the inter-maxillary suture.” Instead we talk about “… activating the nerve point under the nose.”Canadian courts appreciate this and it is a lot easier for the person under questioning to keep everything straight when they stick to speaking in everyday terms.

Additionally, when you are on the stand, you may be facing a tough lawyer who is intent on destroying your credibility in order to get his/her client “off”. Sometimes your adrenaline gets pumping and memory and articulation becomes difficult, YOU are the one who will most appreciate keeping the jargon simple and minimal.

Pressure Points

Diagram for Front:

2. Under the ear
3. Side of the neck
4. Under the jawline
5. Point of the shoulder
6. Outseam of leg/thigh
7. Inseam of leg/thigh
8. Front of the shin (Shin Rake)
9. Top of the foot

Areas to Avoid:

1. Upper lip/Under the nose—Too much risk of being bitten
10. Along the throat line (Jugular Notch, Clavicle Notches)
Public often "sees" these as you 'choking' the subject.
11. Centre Line (Sternum rub would be “allowed”)
12. Solar Plexus

NOTE: Except in lethal use of force applications you will be trained to avoid the centre line of a subject’s body. There are too many vital areas and too much risk of permanent harm when deliberately targeting these areas. Of course, if the situation warrants their use, each of these can be very effective in stopping an attacker and need not result in any injuries let alone lasting injuries.

Diagram for Back:

13. Air pocket stuns/Computer stuns (Base of skull)
14. Tricep tendon
15. Top of the forearm
16. Floating ribs
17. Top of the calf
18. Under the ankle knuckle/outside of foot

Areas to Avoid:

19. Essentially any area of the back, particularly along the spine. Any strike to the rear of the body other than indicated, can cause permanent harm.

Just Because It Works,
May Not Mean You Can Always Use It

Note: We have chosen to discard or omit certain pressure points taught in many other pressure point courses, either due to public perception, or lack of effectiveness as follows:

The jugular and clavicle notches are absolutely NOT chokes, strangles or neck restraints. Nevertheless, we have constantly been faced with the public PERCEPTION that they are. Thus we now avoid all these for core training.

The top of the trapeziums we have always found to be about fifty-fifty as to working at all. That is just not an acceptable number to continue to include these two pressure points. Personal safety is not an area where we advocate gambling.

In today’s society the risk of contracting infectious diseases is always an issue. With this in mind, the risk of being bitten, while affecting an application to the pressure point under the nose is simply too high. This precludes the use of the “c clamp” also.

Types of Application for Pressure Points

Touch Pressure — Usually done digitally (fingertips) however, can be applied using other body parts or impact tools as well. Fingertip pressure is applied directly on the site of a pressure point. Press in required direction until pain threshold (or compliance) is reached or motor dysfunction occurs.

Quick Penetration — Using the digit on the pressure point target, make a quick “jab” approximately ½ inch deep. Do not lose contact with target point or this will become a strike resulting in more pressure being applied than is necessary to control the individual.

Pressure Point Striking — A pressure point strike, known in some arts as “time on target” or “entering energy” because of the technique of pausing for a split second while in contact, differs from normal “bare knuckle punches or strikes” in that pressure point strikes are not designed to cause any harm. Your goal is a temporary disruption in function in order to control. Normally designed and aimed to create a nerve or motor dysfunction in a muscle, it can also be delivered to stun or to disrupt normal breathing.

By comparison, a regular strike is delivered to a target area as quickly as possible and in the words of most martial arts “withdrawn even faster”.

The pressure point “strike” is delivered to the target area and left in contact or “on target” until the full effect, or energy transfer, is delivered to the subject. (approximately ½ second)

The court defensibility of pressure points accessed in these described manners, is very high. Note that we use simple, every day language to describe the targets as opposed to other modalities. Combinations of symbols or medical terminology are sure to confuse the judge and jury, not to mention an officer trying to remember them while under cross-examination. We prefer to keep it simple and keep the credibility high.

While referring to court defensibility, it is worth noting that American defensive systems, including American pressure point courses are NOT favored in Canadian courts. Our courts prefer Canadian systems, especially those vetted through Canadian accredited law enforcement establishments (training colleges) and are much in favor of simple wording and explanations.

Explanation of "Allowable" Pressure Points

As per the diagram for the pressure points on the front:

Under the ear — under the ear, just behind the jawbone

Method of Application: Touch pressure or quick penetration

Direction of Application: Towards the outer end of the opposite eyebrow

Side of the neck — Approximately half way down the side of the neck, in front of the trapezium muscle (in the area also known as the carotid sinus)

Method of Application: Touch pressure, quick penetration, or striking. Not a good site for rolling pressure as this could be construed or actually become a neck restraint. Done as advised, this is NOT a neck restraint.

Direction of Application: 45 degree angle (approximately) or think of following a line from the side of the neck to the outside of the opposite hip.

Under the jaw line — Under the jawbone/chin or “under the tongue.” (Located just inside the jaw line about half way from the ear to the chin on either side.)

Method of Application: Touch pressure or Quick Penetration

Direction of Application: Upwards and outwards towards the teeth (like a hook)

Point of the shoulder — (The front of the shoulder.) In the hollow between the shoulder muscle (deltoid) and the chest (pectoral) muscle.

Method of Application: Striking (quick penetration may be effective on some sensitive individuals, but don’t depend on it.)

Direction of Application: Angled towards the shoulder joint OR angled towards the centre line (depending on the presentation offered by the subject)

Out seam of leg/thigh — On the out seam of the “pants” approximately half way up the thigh. For example, on a male of average height, this area extends from about 4” above the knee to about 6” off the hip bone. It also extends from the front of the thigh around to the rear. It is commonly known as the “Charlie horse” zone.

Method of Application: Striking

Direction of Application: Right angles (perpendicular) to the bone

Inseam of leg/thigh — On the inseam of the “pants” approximately half way up the inside of either thigh. (Also known as the “anterior femoral nerve” because of its proximity to the femoral artery.)

Method of Application: Striking

Direction of Application: Right angles (perpendicular) to the bone

Front of the shin — The bony shin area from just below the knee to just above the foot.

Method of Application: Striking or “raking” (with side of the shoe, or by toe kicking.)

Direction of Application: A strike will be perpendicular to the bone. Raking place the side of the shoe below the knee and slide your foot towards the top of their foot.

Top of the foot — On top of foot about midway (lengthwise) and more toward the smaller two toes. (Don’t get too fussy, it’s a sensitive area. It also extends up closer to the bottom of the shin at the front of the ankle.)

Method of Application: Stomping/Striking/Toe kicking (On bare feet, rubbing)

Direction of Application: Perpendicular/Right angles to the bone.

As per the diagram for the pressure points on the “back”:

Air pocket stuns/Computer stuns — Base of the skull/where the skull and neck join. Note: It is critical that this area not be struck with anything other than an air pocket. Obviously any hard surface striking this region can cause permanent harm.

Method of Application: Cup your hand so that the centre of your hand (the palm) makes a hollow. It is this hollow that will contact the area.

Direction of Application: Using the air pocket in the palm of your hand, strike at the base of the skull aiming upwards towards the top of the forehead.

Tricep tendon — At the base of the tricep, just above the elbow. (Often referred to as the “funny bone” or “the policeman’s notch”.)

Method of Application: Touch pressure or rolling pressure

Direction of Application: Perpendicular to the bone

Top of the forearm — About two finger widths from the top of the elbow joint towards the hand on the outside of the forearm.

Method of Application: (On sensitive persons, touch pressure) Touch pressure in a “rolling” motion or striking.

Direction of Application: Right angles to the bone for touch pressure or striking. For rolling pressure, start at right angles towards the bone and roll towards the hand.

Floating ribs — The last rib on each side, whether from front or back. Try always to access slightly in front of subject’s midpoint at sides.

Method of Application: Rolling pressure or striking

Direction of Application: Inwards and upwards towards the diaphragm.

Top of the calf — On the back of the leg, at the top of the calf muscle, just below the knee where the calf forms a “shelf”. The calf muscle often appears “heart” shaped. The actual target area is the middle of that “shelf” on top of the calf or at a point where the top of the heart comes to a point inside itself.

Method of Application: Striking (toe kicks work well) or touch pressure in a “rolling” motion if the subject is prone so their leg can be squeezed against the ground.

Direction of Application: From top of calf aim towards the big toe. When subject is prone (face down), kneel on top of calf perpendicular to the bone.

Under the ankle knuckle/outside of foot — The name here forms a description of the target area.

Method of Application: Striking, usually with the side of the sole of your shoe

Direction of Application: Perpendicular to the bone (from the outside toward the inside of subject’s foot) and sliding preferably from their heel towards their toe.

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