Vital Striking Points

Vital Striking Points
Learn the vital striking points in Martial Arts - most styles will teach these and knowing them should never be under estimated. They could prove to be a life saver in the case of a serious attack against you.

In all there are around 50 core areas in the human body which are taught to be vital striking points, or pressure points. Here, we have listed some of the most vital.

The following points should never be applied in real life, they can prove deadly and are a guideline only in case of a serious attack against you. In many Martial Arts styles you will learn these points and techniques used and how to apply them, however you will never fully carry them out unless required in a dangerous situation, at which point they are incredibly important to know and understand.


Head and neck striking points


Vital Striking Points

Pictured to the right is a diagram of the most vital striking points around the head and neck.


Throat - A strike to the throat can be carried out either to the front middle part of the neck, or the side. Again, this is a hugely risky technique and can result in death. The front part of the neck (larynx), is an exteremely vulnerable area, even for the hardest of all attackers. Strong blows can cause difficulty breathing, rupture of the trachea (windpipe), bleeding and even death if the cartilage snaps. It should only be considered in defending the most severe of real attacks.


Stiking point - templeTemple - A strong blow to this area easily can cause disorientation or unconsciousness instantly. The temple is an excellent striking point in self defense because the shock it can take to the brain. The bone here is flat which means vibrations can be passed straight to the brain. Usually an attacker who recieves a blow to the temple will suffer from, disorientation (punch drunk), unconsciousness, severe pain, and seizures and in extreme cases, death. The best types of strikes for this area are the palm heel, hammer fist, back fist, elbow and knee strikes.


Eyes – Any strike to the eyes themselves can do lasting injury so be you do not use this target when “playing around” with someone. It should be used only when your life is in danger or when under the threat of serious bodily harm. Blindness, corneal scratching or tearing and other types of injuries are possible. The best types of strikes for this area are finger jabs, clawing, stabbing and what some styles call the “chicken beak.”


Base of nose- This is the area at the top of the nose where it meets the forehead between the eyes. It is also a subject of many ridiculous myths. Striking someone in this area does NOT cause the “bone in the nose” to be shoved up into the brain. As with other strikes and points on the head the results are usually due to the shock to the brain. The advantages to using a strike to this area can be the assailant drawing back, eyes watering and/or swelling, bloody nose (often a psychological plus), pain and disorientation. Moderate strength blows can cause all of the above as well as the separation of the cartilage and fracture to the nasal bone. Exceptionally strong blows can cause unconsciousness.


Mandible - stirking point Base of Mandible (bottom jaw - shown right)- This is a fairly easy target to zero in on and can have several desirable results. They can be a simple as snapping the assailant’s head back and putting him or her off balance, pain, clacking the jaws together and breaking the bone or teeth and it can even cause unconsciousness. This is a classic point for a boxer to strike for a knockout blow. There are several strikes that can be affective to the mandible. Palm heel, uppercut and straight on punches, elbows or chicken wrist and just about any kick that comes from the floor up. Possible kicks would include sidekick, roundhouse, snap and lunge.


Hinge of jaw - There is a cluster of nerves that is located below each ear and at the hinge of the jaw. These can be located very easily by finding them first upon yourself. Use your thumb or middle and index fingers and GENTLY apply an increasing amount of pressure in the area. When you hit the nerve center you will know it! With an assailant you can also use the fingers mentioned above. If they are trying to hug or hold you against your will or have you on the ground, you will use the fingers but with a sharp, jabbing motion. It won’t cause lasting injury or break bones but it will often cause the assailant enough pain to if not release you, at least lighten his hold.


Under the jaw- Directly under and behind the point of the jaw is a “V” shaped area. It also has a cluster of nerves that can cause pain to an assailant. To find it on yourself, use your thumb to the inside area and you fingers on the outside surface of the jaw. Squeeze and push up against the bone.


Striking AreasTorso striking points

Solar Plexus - hitting the lower part of the diaphragm (pictured right) can temporarily paralyse this muscle, which controls the lungs. During this temporary paralization, your attacker will not be able to breathe thus preventing further attack and allowing you perform further techniques. A blow to the solar plexus is best carried out as a palm strike or a fisted punch and simply opens the door to allow more moes to be applied on the attacker.



 Limbs vital striking points

Inguinal area - This is the highly sensitive area of the upper, inside thigh and halfway to the knee. There are a large number of nerves that make it an ideal area for strikes. Pinches, certain punches and several kicks can be used to cause pain and even numbing of the leg.



Recommended Reading

I personally recommend this book: Vital Point Strikes: The Art and Science of Striking Vital Targets for Self-defense and Combat Sport .

It is highly extensive in diagrammatic information relating to pressure point training. I highly recommend buying this if you interested in understanding the vital striking points of the human body as it also talks about the science behind each point and how to apply techniques to those specific areas of the body.

A great book for any martial artists or anyone with an interest in self defence and one that should definately be in your collection.

Do you like this article?


Paul Toast's picture

Really cool article on pressure points
ashley's picture

Agree with Paul
RogerTaylor's picture

Perfect, just what i was looking for - i'll show my students this
Nigel's picture

very useful!
Chaleira's picture

Thanks for posting! I haven't seen charts on these in a while, it's always good to brush up and refresh ones memory on this knowledge~
clouddragon's picture

Enjoyed reading that, I have several good books on this which help me explain to students what a certain technique can be capable of if applied correctly. My view on striking opponents is to always hit the nearest available target rather than worry about the effectiveness of certain points so I train to hurt where ever I discharge a strike.
Mikeitup's picture

Hi, I know quite a few points and am trying to learn more and as much as i can about them. In Chow Gar SPM we use dim mak strikes. DIm Mak doesn't mean "death touch" btw. it just means point poking/prodding. dim yuet is prodding/poking cavities. Say Yuet are "death points". we go for points on the head, kneck and arms mainly. some good limb destruction techniques on the arms. i liked the muscle vids.
clouddragon's picture

Dim Mak Dim/Dian "To point/dot and Mak/xue "a hole/vital point or to bore a hole". Applying Dim Mak in a real situation is hard many vital points are covered by clothing. You also have to defend against his strikes whilst trying to locate and strike at his points at the appropriate level of force suitable for the violence being used against you.A mistake could be devastating. It could result in life -for you.
Karate Kitty's picture

Wow Ash, you realy do know how to pull a bunch of information together neatly into an easy to read and understandable article! This was very interesting and I have learnt alot, thanks. The videos were great. Keep it up.
cris donovan's picture

thanks for putting so much effort into putting together a really informative and well constructed piece.
Comrade Sugar's picture

Thank you very much for posting this article. Props for your detail and effort in describing vital points! I am going to try to employ these points in my techniuqes. Once again, thank you for the great article!
Tigress's picture

Gr8 article and most insightful.nw @ lst i kno wc points not 2 play around with
Mantis17's picture

Very informative