The Encyclopedia of Kenpo defines pressure points as "Vulnerable nerve points on the body that take little pressure to cause weakness, partial paralysis, or excruciating pain." Missing these nerve points while performing a technique will result in it not being effective or requiring a lot more force than necessary. It is mainly for this reason that a student finds a technique does not work, and will then blame the technique for not working, or the instructor for showing a technique that does not work. It is also for this reason that the student should ask questions, as there may be only a slight difference in movement between a technique working or not. When a technique does not work, you should ask why before discarding it.
While practicing, missing a pressure point will just result in the technique being hard to apply, but out in the street it will mean your defense will not hurt a great deal, and may only serve to annoy the attacker, who will then attack again with more power. In the files below are discussions on where the pressure points are over the body and examples of counters which use them, but there are a few basics to understand first - 1. the two different purposes of using a pressure point and 2. the three different applications of force on a pressure point.
When a movement has been learnt, experiment with using that with the three types of force application - eg, the lower block can be a strike, a press or a rub.
1.Purpose of pressure points.
There are two main focuses for using pressure points:
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