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Pressure Point

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Mook: What the hell are you doing?
Lone Starr: The... Vulcan neck pinch?
Mook: No, no, no, stupid, you've got it much too high. It's down here, where the shoulder meets the neck. [points]
Lone Starr: Like this?
Mook: Yeah! [passes out]

The practice of pressing a certain point on a person's body to achieve a certain effect (can also be multiple points in quick succession, or multiple points simultaneously). The most common effect is to paralyze the target or knock them unconscious. For knocking someone unconscious by the less subtle method of a strong blow to the head see Tap on the Head. For the more lethal version see Touch of Death.

In martial arts, can overlap with Ki Manipulation, as ki/chi flows in the body are supposedly the underlying mechanism of both pressure points and acupuncture according to certain Eastern practices.

Pressure points are also handy if you are trying to avoid someone's death. When trying to stop severe bleeding from one of the extremities, applying pressure to the right area (typically farther up the limb near a joint) can significantly slow the flow of blood to an extremity, allowing time to dress the wound and seek medical care.

Although rarely portrayed in a realistic fashion, the existence of pressure points is decidedly Truth in Television. There are many points on the body that are particularly vulnerable such as nerve clusters, joints, blood vessels, the windpipe, the eyes and the groin. Striking with enough force or applying sufficient pressure to these areas can cause anything from pain and discomfort to severe structural damage and death, though said pressure typically exceeds greatly the classic finger-pinching shown in media and is much less reliable that it might sound.

Compare Attack Its Weak Point, with which it can overlap. If the concept of pressure points pop up in video games, you can expect damage done to them to be a Critical Hit.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The core of Kenshiro's Hokuto Shinken style in Fist of the North Star is the Keiraku Hikou (Meridian Channel Hidden Points), used for a large variety of effects up to and very often including making Your Head A-Splode. If you happened to contact a hit from Kenshiro, there is (almost always) only one outcome: You Are Already Dead. Occasionally, he's been tripped up by his enemies being too fat to effectively reach the pressure points (luckily, Hokuto Shinken comes with a technique explicitly for this scenario) or by them having their pressure points completely flipped around, in the case of Souther.
    • Also there are apparently 708 of them, with effects ranging from sudden paralysis to curing muteness to suddenly allowing one to read other languages (possibly justified, as that message had been written by early Hokuto Shinken practitioners and could have just been a code that could be read only that way). Granted, on occasion, Kenshiro does use them to cure a disability, namely with Lin and Airi.
    • Episode 25 of Excel♡Saga parodied this into the ground, where hitting the pressure points turned one into a chibi.
    • Parodied as well in a minisode arc in the anime adaptation of Yo-kai Watch with Komasan as Kenshiro. His pressure point strikes changed age, switched genders, altered behaviors (like turning one into a woman obsessed with eating long curved objects) and conjured entire sets for victims to act out melodramatic storylines. It climaxes in the final confrontation with the villain, played by Jibanyan, where their strikes slowly convert them into each other before they fuse into Jibakoma.
      "You are already squished, zura."
  • Naruto:
    • The Hyuga Clan utilizes a variation of this by striking certain points in their opponent's bodies through the use of their clan martial art, the Gentle Fist. It works through precise calculated blows and channeling their chakra. By doing so, they can weaken or completely neutralize their opponent. Since these chakra points have to be hit with extreme precision to work and the natural variations in human biology mean they won't be in the exact same spot on each person, the Hyuga clan's X-Ray Vision is required for this particular fighting style to work.
      • Neji Hyuga is a prodigy of this to where he self-taught himself the two strongest techniques of the Gentle Fist, with one of them, the Eight Trigrams Sixty-Four Palms, allowing him to make a series of quick strikes to completely disable an enemy by locking down their chakra. Unfortunately for him, he was fighting Naruto, who proceeded to use the Kyuubi's chakra instead to force them open for a Heroic Second Wind. His cousin, Hinata, also utilizes this, though she is more defensive in her usage than him.
    • Earlier in the series, Haku used senbon to strike pressure points. His aim and knowledge were such that he could put a person in a near-death state while in the middle of combat.
  • Used in Ranma ½ by Cologne, Happosai, Ranma, Shampoo, and Doctor Tofu, sometimes for the standard unconsciousness result, but usually for really weird effects:
    • Happosai uses one to make Ranma cry buckets of tears when he needs them for a potion ingredient.
    • Cologne uses another to make Ranma's skin super-sensitive to heat so that he can't use hot water to reverse his transformation curse.
    • Combined with a special formula of shampoo (no, really) can be used to induce Laser-Guided Amnesia with the added benefit of preventing the victim from ever relearning whichever facts were suppressed from memory.
    • Also combined with moxibustion to sap Ranma's strength and make him weaker than a toddler.
    • Happosai also used it as a full-on therapy to turn a sickly, bedridden child into a Life Energy-draining accomplice, who was stuck as a child because of it, but regains her true adult body upon absorbing Battle Auras or Ki Manipulations. A similar therapy can seal away this power, but the location of the pressure points make it a dicey proposition.
    • Tofu has one which can be disguised as patting someone on the back, which 30 seconds later causes the victim's legs to stop working.
    • Ranma occasionally uses them, or tries to use them, for example on Miss Hinako mentioned above, on Ryoga while in the girls locker room, on Kuno to knock him out, and on the dojo destroyer.
  • Bongchim Na in The God of High School practices traditional Asian medicine and teaches Mori to use the body's pressure points to bolster his physical abilities, stop bleeding, and reduce pain & fatigue. However, the first time Mori attempts it he ends up temporarily paralyzing himself.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: In the qualifying round of the Festival Tournament arc, we see Evangeline keeping a combatant incapacitated with one finger in the back. Apparently just to show that, yeah, she doesn't just know a hundred lethal spells and how to magically enhance her physical power to rip-people-in-half levels... she's a master of esoteric martial arts too, which makes sense, as she's Really 700 Years Old and needed something to fill the time, plus martial arts allowed her to be lethal even if her powers were sealed.
  • In Saint Seiya, Gold Saint Milo of Scorpio bases his entire Scarlet Needle fighting style on pressure points, which strike the opponent in the same configuration as the Scorpio constellation. In addition to irreparable damage to the nerves and the senses, the victim gushes blood from the strikes, and the final blow, Antares, is fatal. Impossibly enough, though, it's possible for Milo to save even an Antares-ed foe by pressing yet another pressure point, stopping the blood flow and letting them regain strength.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Vivian uses this on Grandpa Moto, crippling him. She threatens to leave him like that unless Yugi duels her. After she is defeated, she reverses the damage.
  • Dufaux from Zatch Bell! uses the Answer-Talker to identify pressure points that will help unlock the heroes' true potential. It works well enough to invoke Heart Is an Awesome Power and a dose of With Great Power Comes Great Insanity in the Plucky Comic Relief.
  • In Pani Poni Dash!, Suzune attempts to keep Otome small by hitting her pressure point for stunting growth, but always hits the pressure point for diarrhea instead. (It remains uncertain whether either one works, though.)
  • Ethan Stanley in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, practices Kalarippayattu, an Indian martial art, through which he has learned out incapacitate or even outright kill his opponents by striking specific points called Marmam, which he states served as the origin for pressure points used in other martial arts (since Kalarippayattu served as an originator for most other Eastern martial arts styles). Also of note is Chikage Kushinada, who shows that she can use pressure points to control Ukita (one of the weaker members of the Shinpaku alliance) like a puppet without him even noticing.
  • Ultimate Teacher: Ganpachi incapacitates a whole classroom of people by using his speed to press two points in their leg that causes a painful cramp.
  • The Stone Masks in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure can turn humans into vampires by puncturing an exact combination of points in the brain.
  • Toriko: "Knocking" is the art of striking specific nerve points in a target's body to paralyze them. It's normally done with special "Knocking" guns that inject needles into the targets. "Knocking Master" Jirou and his grandson Teppei are skilled enough to perform Knocking with their bare hands.
  • Yau-si in Banana Fish is a skilled hand-to-hand fighter, but prefers to incapacitate his opponents without a fuss by delicately poking them with acupuncture needles, paralyzing them or depriving them of their senses.
  • Kiyomori Yamanoue from Gamaran, also known as the Lord of the Doom Fist use a similar technique, involving hitting the enemies nerves with his extremely strong fingers, causing paralysis. He usually does it on the enemies' limbs to prevent them from moving before he can unleash his secret technique. It's shown that said paralysis lasts for at least one day.
  • Dragon Ball Super introduces Hit, the greatest Professional Killer in Universe 6. By combining pressure point strikes with the ability to freeze time for 0.1 seconds, he's able to defeat Vegeta without breaking a sweat (though he remarks that Vegeta is the first person to live through his attacks). Of course, he is forced to apply more effort and force against Goku, as well as up his time trickery capabilities.
  • SPY×FAMILY: In Chapter/Episode 4, Yor Forger uses pressure points to stop a rampaging cow. She claims that she learned about them in yoga class.

    Comic Books 
  • Nearly any comicbook martial artist. Here's a few who've done so in the past:
  • The comic version of Kevin from Sin City has the ability to make people go numb with pressure point attacks. It's also implied that this was his method of killing.
  • In Superman comics:
    • The villainess Faora Hu-Ul likes to use these techniques. Since she has Super-Strength, they can even work on Superman, to the point that in "The Great Phantom Peril", Faora's techniques force Superman to run away.
      Lois Lane: Notice the two extended fingers! I think this Faora overcame Superman with a secret fighting technique... One of the Kryptonian equivalents of Karate or Aikido! Not Klurkor — I know that art myself — but some other kind!
      Jimmy Olsen: Of course! She knew the pressure points where she could inflict the most damage!
      Steve Lombard: Come off it, guys — If you expect me to believe one measly little pressure point could — Hey! Owwwwww!
      Lois Lane: I picked up this measly little trick from a policewoman pal of mine! If I used Klurkor or Karate — It would hurt even more!
      Steve Lombard: Okay, okay, I give! Just let go!
    • Superman himself uses these from time to time. When Batman got possessed by a sentient cloud of kryptonite once, Superman pokes him in the side and Batman's body collapses, with the cloud wondering why it can't move anymore. When Superman tried this on Maxima, she was tough enough to shrug it off.
    • Parodied in Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade. Belinda cuts Lena's "Aliens are Evil" speech by poking in her head. Seeing her friend knocked out, Linda demands to know what Belinda did. Belinda claims it was an "ancient Kryptonian memory erasure pressure point" to wipe Lena's mind out. Linda scoffs at the notion, and Belinda admits she made it up on the spot.
      Linda: Why did you do that!?
      Belinda: It's an ancient Kryptonian memory erasure pressure point. By tapping her skull in that precise spot at that exact pressure, I've erased every memory that she had of the last hour.
      Linda: [annoyed] There's no such thing as an ancient Kryptonian memory erasure pressure point.
      Belinda: [shrugging] True enough.
    • "Those Emerald Eyes Are Shining": Shrinking Violet uses a "Durlan nerve-cruncher" to knock Emerald Empress out.
  • Sillage: In one book, Nävis encounters a group of seven hostile aliens. After quickly remembering what species and gender they are, she defeats them using pressure points and groin kicks.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Parody Fic Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space, TuMok of Mars uses the Martian Nerve Pinch, which turns out to be a simple Groin Attack.
    Reaching out with both hands, the Martian grabbed Proton and Buster's testicles and pinched as hard as possible.
    "Because only a Martian would have the nerve to use it," gasped Proton, wincing in pain.
  • One Piece: Parallel Works: Yuki-Rin uses one to defeat Kuro in the "Appenzell Island" Arc.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, Dev-Em strikes a point in Satan Girl's neck in order to paralyze her. Unfortunately, she shakes the effect off in a matter of seconds.
    Satan Girl cried out in pain. <You unmothered little BITCH of a matrix-being!> she yelled. Before she could get out too many more curses, five hard fingers went to a pressure point on her neck.
    They were on the end of Dev's hand.
    <Grab hold,> he snapped to Kara. Satan Girl's body was going limp, but Kara could tell she'd shake it off within seconds.
  • In Facing the Future Series, Maddie's sleeper hold technique is shown further, to the point where Sam wants to know how to do it.
  • J-WITCH Series: Uncle uses this to knock a Lurden unconscious in "The Key". Yan Lin does the same to Hak Foo in "Divide and Conquer - Chaos and Hilarity"; she says that she learned it from Star Trek.
  • Here Comes The New Boss: Elpis temporarily incapacitates Uber with a strike to the liver (guided by Needler's weakness-seeking power), dropping him immediately.note 
  • Here There Be Monsters: During one battle, Mary Marvel pokes two pressure points on Georgia Sivana's body to knock her into unconsciousness.
    Mary looked at her opponent, saw her bruised face, saw her glassy eyes, and held back her upraised fist in consideration.
    She, too, had the wisdom of Solomon. Part of that wisdom included the workings of the human body, and what pressure points could be relied upon to do when touched in a certain way.
    With a movement, she placed herself behind Georgia Sivana, and pressed down hard on two of those points, wrapping her legs about Georgia's midsection to keep her in place. The bad girl struggled for a few moments, but for no more than that. Mary kept the hold on long enough to ensure that Georgia couldn't be bluffing. The girl hung limp in her grasp.

    Films — Animated 
  • Tai Lung in Kung Fu Panda uses pressure points to paralyze his victims. (The same technique was also used on him by Master Oogway in the Flashback.) Used in a more comical fashion when a misplaced acupuncture needle causes Po to make a funny face... and maybe stop his heart, because Mantis can't get to the correct pressure points due to Po's fat. This ends up as a Chekhov's Skill since all the fat insulating him renders him immune to Tai Lung's attack.
  • In How to Train Your Dragon, our Badass Bookworm hero Hiccup accidentally discovers through playing with his Dragon friend Toothless that you can render any dragon unconscious with a single finger by pressing an acupuncture point on their necks between the aorta and the larynx.
  • In an earlier version of Turning Red, the original plot with Mei's cousin Leo involved the use of these being an alternative way to turn back human.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Mel Brooks' Spaceballs, the hero is infiltrating the Big Bads' flagship. He tries the Vulcan Nerve Pinch on the guard, who asks our hero what he's doing. The hero tells him straight up, at which point the guard corrects him. "Like this?" "Yeah...."
  • The Operative in Serenity (2005) does this to paralyze people preparatory to executing them with his sword. It doesn't work on Mal because that nerve cluster had to be moved by the surgeons because of a war injury. Mal realizes what the Operative was trying to do though and plays along until he can catch the Operative by surprise and deliver a paralyzing blow of his own.
  • The Princess Bride. In The Film of the Book, Fezzik uses a Vulcan neck pinch to render Buttercup unconscious.
  • In Kill Bill, there's the "Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique", which is used by Pai Mei in the backstory to slaughter an entire temple because one of its members accidentally insulted him. Specifically, when Pai Mei nodded at him, he didn't see it and respond. It was later taught to the Bride, who used it to... well, kill Bill.
  • Mr Miyagi in The Karate Kid knows a couple. Enough to help Daniel go from near crippled to being able to compete in the final showdown.
  • This becomes a major plot point and Chekhov's Skill in 3 Ninjas.
    • And, oddly enough for that movie, realistically in that kids actually had to forcibly strike the points in question.
  • Sean Connery's thumb-fighting technique in The Presidio.
  • The eponymous Kiss of the Dragon was an acupuncture version performed by Jet Li right at the end of the film.
  • The American International Pictures Beach Party movies had a running bit that started with Bob Cummings' anthropologist character using a mystical finger touch to the temple to incapacitate doofus-bad guy Eric Von Zipper, making him freeze like a statue. This happened to him through most of the movies, often self-inflicted.
  • Our Man Flint. Flint does a Vulcan neck pinch on the Galaxy agent supervising Gila's hypnotic indoctrination and several others as well.
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Both Jade Fox and Li Mu Bai use pressure points in their first skirmish—Jade Fox to completely paralyze the Butt-Monkey guard in place, and Li Mu Bai to reverse the effect. Li Mu Bai's skill at this is apparently so well known that he can hold people at bay with a finger, and they treat it as if he were holding a weapon on them.
  • In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Spock nerve pinches a horse on Nimbus III.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness: Subverted; Spock uses the Vulcan nerve pinch on Harrison, but all it does is cause him considerable pain.
  • The comedy La Grande Vadrouille has an interesting approach to a neck chop. When characters of Louis de Funès and Bourvil are locked in a cell, they call a prison guard and shout "Heil Hitler!" raising arms in a Nazi salute. Turns out, the salute is a perfect position for neck chops from both sides, and a soldier answering "Sieg Heil!" isn't expecting it. Of course, they didn't care about the guard's survival.
  • In The Raid Redemption, Dagu uses a folded thumb jam to the side of a mook's neck to incapacitate him.
  • Used by Vincent Price to incapacitate a chauffeur in The Abominable Dr. Phibes.
  • Professor Sutwell from Beach Party can hold his own in a fight with bikers because he knows the Himalayan Time-Suspension Technique, which involves pressing the victim's temple a certain way with his finger, causing them to be frozen in place for hours.
  • In the campy Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, a member of the Fabulous Five grabs a mook's wrist in a painful restraint hold, carefully removes his own glasses, then grabs the mook behind the ear and squeezes to knock him unconscious.
  • Jungle 2 Jungle: Mimi-Siku takes out a mook with a poke to the neck. Michael tries to imitate him, but it has no effect on his opponent, so Mimi-Siku has to take him down with a Groin Attack.

  • 1Q84: Aomame can detect a specific nerve at the bottom of the neck. When this spot is stabbed with a thin needle, the victim immediately dies. This method of murder leaves only the tiniest pinprick and the affect looks much like a heart attack, which is how Aomame has been able to murder two men without alerting the authorities.
  • Discussed in Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper trilogy, being about a medieval police force. It's a variant of Tap on the Head called the "nap tap"; a precision blow to the chin delivered with a baton. Goodwin's is legendary.
  • There was a Nancy Drew Files mystery in the late 80s that used this as a plot point. The culprit turned out to be a masseuse who could pinch people unconscious.
  • The Action Service men from The Day of the Jackal know a pressure point behind the ear that causes unconsciousness, probably the same one from the Star Trek example below.
  • Most Chinese Wuxia stories and anything adapted from them will have characters who are masters of this. Effects range from numbness to muteness to instant death to being put in suspended animation.
  • Scout, the Weak, but Skilled Padawan in Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, is a master at these, striking arms to make them go numb and tingly. She also has a perfectly centered grab on the carotid triangle that makes targets black out within ten seconds, though that's less of a "pressure point" and more of a Choke Hold.
  • Appears in Encyclopedia Brown in a story where Bugs Meany demonstrates his "judo" skills, including a pressure point knockout. Encyclopedia Brown points out that it's faked because the targets went stiff and fell backward, but human physiology causes someone rendered unconscious while standing on flat ground to naturally go limp and fall forwards.
  • Artemis Fowl: Butler occasionally uses these to great effect.
  • In the Remo Williams "Destroyer" novels, Remo and Master Chiun are absurdly expert at this, as they are at all martial art tropes. One extreme case has Remo grabbing a criminal pilot by the neck and manipulating nerves with such dexterity that he's able to "puppet" the man's hands and feet to land the plane against his will.
  • Various badly-written action-adventure novels from the 1970's and 80's would have an ill-defined "nerve ganglion" in the neck that the hero would strike to immobilize someone.
  • In A Ticket to the Boneyard, one of Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder novels, the villain, James Leo Motley, knows various places on the body to apply pressure to cause intense pain.
  • In the Warrior Cats book Path of Stars, Slash's rogues use a technique that involves them hitting exactly the right spot on a cat's limb to temporarily numb it and gain the advantage.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • The Vulcan nerve pinch, which is apparently effective against the vast majority of humanoids and some non-humanoid aliens. As an interesting bit of history, the origin of the pinch came from Leonard Nimoy's insistence that Spock would not perform an aggressive karate chop to subdue an opponent from behind. Demonstrating on William Shatner, he showed the director that this new technique would be convincing enough on screen. Although it was never explicitly explained onscreen, the ability was, according to Leonard Nimoy in his autobiography, supposed to combine a precise attack on the target's anatomy with a telepathic jolt to explain why the technique was so fast and reliable. Which doesn't explain why non-Vulcans such as Data are occasionally shown to use it. Presumably, the writers of that episode were under the impression that it simply required more precision than a human could match, which would, of course, be no problem for the android Data whose physical abilities are superhuman in every way.
      • In the episode "Journey to Babel", it's revealed that in ancient times Vulcans used a different (though possibly related) neck grip as their standard method of execution. While modern Vulcans are opposed to violence and no longer execute anyone under any circumstance, the old martial arts have not been forgotten and Vulcans are still trained in the old martial arts. Vulcans trained in such martial arts like Sarek can kill with a single touch.
    • The Vulcan Mind Meld uses this trope as well (at least in the Original Series), manipulating nerves and blood vessels in the face until the subject is in a relaxed state and therefore open to the Mental Fusion.
    • Also, in "The Way to Eden", Tongo Rad used his knowledge of human anatomy to knock out an Enterprise crewman by squeezing the nerve pressure point at the back of the jaw, just under the earlobe (Truth In Television, though it causes great pain and delayed unconsciousness rather than instant).
    • Star Trek: Enterprise reveals that Vulcans also use pressure points for neuropressure.
  • In an episode of The Wild Wild West, Jim West renders a female villain unconscious by pressing a pressure point in her back.
  • This was one of Xena's big talents. Her favorite was a neck poke that cut off oxygen to the brain as an interrogation method.
    • Parodied in one episode when Gabrielle tries it, but it has no effect even though she poked the guy in the same spot that Xena usually goes for. In the final episodes, Xena teaches Gabrielle how to do it for real.
    • The assassin Sinteres specializes in these techniques, to the point that he makes a guy's brain explode.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Survival", the Seventh Doctor paralyzes a bullying physical education instructor by pressing a finger on his forehead. Also a standard "Venusian karate" tactic of the Third (and occasionally later) Doctors, with several variants: jabbing two fingers into the chest, two fingers on the back of the neck, little finger in the throat and so on.
  • Natsumi of Kamen Rider Decade has the Hikari Family Secret Technique: Laughing Pressure Point, which makes the victim laugh and is used as an alternative to the anime-style Megaton Punch (since Natsumi is our requisite Tsundere female lead. Originally she used it when protagonist Tsukasa was too much of a Jerkass. And sometimes when he's completely blameless. And sometimes on innocent Yuusuke. And sometimes on Kaito. And sometimes on her own grandfather.
    • It even turns out to be a Chekhov's Skill, since in the Den-O story arc it helps get the Imagin out of Tsukasa and in the Kabuto arc it reveals the Worm that's impersonating him. In the Grand Finale movie, when she becomes a Kamen Rider herself, it's even turned into a full-on special attack!
  • In an episode of NCIS , Ziva uses her Mossad interrogation techniques to obtain information about a kidnap victim. Although what actually happens is mostly left to the viewers' imaginations, the woman being interrogated is at one point convinced to answer a question because the threat of death later is not as scary as Ziva tweaking her shoulder now.
  • Spoofed in an episode of The Goodies entitled "Kung Fu Capers": Reading from a book of martial arts instructions, Graham delivers a large number of light taps and pokes to various spots on Tim's body. After several seconds of nothing happening, Tim suddenly spasms and jerks back and forth before collapsing unconscious.
  • The Avengers (1960s) episode "The Living Dead". Emma Peel applies pressure to two points on the neck of a female guard's neck to render her unconscious.
  • Used in Diagnosis: Murder. Jesse's father needed him to calm down, so he put a comforting hand on his shoulder. When that didn't work, he increased the pressure. Jesse protested and folded up. The unconsciousness lasted long enough for them to drive out of LA and for his father to have a long discussion, and there are no obvious side effects.
    • Of course, Jesse should probably consider himself lucky his father didn't just choke him into unconsciousness like he did to Steve...
  • Subverted on the Red Dwarf episode "Legion". When Kryten needs to render the other Dwarfers unconscious as part of a plan, he suggests using an "Ionian nerve grip" on Rimmer, assures him he won't feel a thing - and then hits him with a vase. Since Rimmer is now a nigh-indestructible Hard Light hologram, he proves impossible to knock out anyway.
    Rimmer: That's not an Ionian nerve grip, that's smashing me over the head with a vase!
    Kryten: There's no such thing as an Ionian nerve grip! Now stand still while I hit you.
  • In Sherlock, Charles Augustus Magnusson of "His Last Vow" doesn't use physical pressure points, but knows the personal pressure point (as in, dirty blackmail secret he can press on to get results) of every major person of importance in the western world.
    • He also knew John was very important to Sherlock and Mary, and that Mary was important to John. Luckily, he didn't know Sherlock was one for John, but he knew Mycroft's pressure point was Sherlock.
    • Moriarty also knew that Sherlock had three pressure points: John, Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade, since he threatened to kill them, but since John also offered his own life in the episode "The Great Game" he somehow figured that Sherlock was one for John.
  • Night Court. When two squabbling groups of Trekkies are hauled into court, one Original Series Trekkie threatens a Next Gen Trekkie with a Vulcan Death Grip until Bull grabs their shoulders and makes them wince in pain. "How about the Bailiff Bull Grip?"

  • Some martial arts in The Breaker make extensive use of these.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Dr. Sam Sheppard, the man whose life inspired The Fugitive, went into wrestling in his later years. As he was a trained surgeon, he had in-depth knowledge of the human body, including where all the pressure points are, knowledge he used to his advantage in the ring. His Finishing Move, the Mandible Claw (later used by Mankind), was said to activate a pressure point under the tongue that paralyzes the opponent and induces intense pain.
  • There are pressure point-based wrestling moves, like the Tonga Death Grip (where the wrestler pinches a point in the opponent's throat and somehow chokes him) and the Asian Chokehold (where he thrusts a thumb on his opponent's neck to cut his blood supply). Those exotic finishers were popularised by Killer Khan, Mr. Fuji and Meng, whose Asian gimmicks made them supposed to know about it. And of course, there's the infamous Finger Poke of Doom.
  • Fred Yehi uses these to a degree, although his target areas tend to be rather odd, like the knees, or a specific part of the lower back.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Pressure Points and Pressure Secrets in GURPS work by "tearing or crushing organs and nerve clusters with lethal precision." Both are considered cinematic skills, although an early edition of Martial Arts stated that GMs could keep an open mind about the former in a "realistic" campaign. On the other hand, the second one is so powerful that the game gives a word of caution about its potential Game-Breaker status.
  • Several Fu powers from Feng Shui are meant to simulate pressure point attacks as shown in kung fu movies. Dim Mak and Lightning Fist from the Path of the Hands of Light ignore armor and Toughness respectively, and the healing path of the Path of the Healthy Tiger, which includes Healing Chi, which uses pressure points to heal, Flow Restoration, which negates the effects of harmful chi powers on you, Point Blockage, which is the classic pressure point paralysis move, Shadowfist, a truly nasty move that trades a permanent reduction in Chi and Fu for a permanent reduction of an opponent's Martial Arts skill and the loss of one Fu power of the attacker's choice, and Storm of the Tiger (which requires mastery of both the healing and counterattack paths of the Tiger style), which uses twice the Chi you spend to deal out serious damage and quite admirably replicates the killer pressure point moves you see in a lot of kung fu movies.
  • Many other games will have some sort of pressure point-related abilities if Eastern martial arts are featured. Modern game like Spycraft? Spirit and Vital Points Basics, Moves, and Mastery—even lets you heal a comrade. Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game RPG? Of course; it even mentions the 'Dim mak' below. Escape into Dungeons & Dragons? Enter the monk, who can kill you (or at least make you save versus dying of getting smacked with a special ability) with a touch since 1st Edition.
  • "Nerve Strike" is a fairly stock martial arts maneuver in the Hero System. It inflicts only a relatively small amount of damage (equal to a plain old punch by an average STR 10 adult, in fact) not boosted by strength, and that damage is stun-only; however, unless the target wears rigid armor or has some other suitable form of knife- or bullet-resistant protection, their regular physical defense that they would otherwise get to apply against stock punches and kicks won't protect them at all. (Characters in a more cinematic game may of course take actual attack powers that are then justified as some sort of pressure point attack, Nerve Strike is simply what even "realistic" martial artists who know a relevant style can easily have as part of their repertoire.)

    Video Games 
  • The Elder Scrolls series has the recurring in-game book, Night Falls on Sentinel, in which an assassin named Jomic describes various pressure points to a potential client, and boasts about how he can exploit them to kill someone with a light tap on the head, or knock someone out without leaving so much as a bruise. The 'client' in question turns out to be a knight with a warrant for Jomic's arrest, who quickly subdues him and decides to use Jomic's own pressure points to torture him.
  • Naturally, this comes into play in Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise. Kenshiro starts with the ability to use powerful Secret Techniques by stunning a foe, then hitting a pressure point. Partway through the game, he learns Perfect Channeling, which lets him dispatch mooks in a single hit by properly timing the Action Command while stunning them. Throughout the game, Kenshiro also uses his knowledge of the Hidden Meridians to accomplish various feats in sidequests and story events.
  • How Thane Krios kills krogan in Mass Effect 2.
    Top approach, double-strike to eye ridge, slide down between blinded target's rising arms, precision nerve strike to throat, secondary nerve strike to counter blood rage, quad-kick to bend target, grip each side of skull, running leaping spinning neck-snap. Alternate: Bomb.
  • This is basically what's keeping the Dark Dragon asleep in Mother 3; when all seven needles are pulled, the dragon awakens, and, depending on the heart(s) of the one(s) who pull(s) them, either destroys the world, or recreates it into a paradise.
  • Pokémon:
  • The Monk class in World of Warcraft learns a technique called "Touch of Death", which the flavor text describes as using anatomical knowledge to inflict mortal damage.

  • Fist of the North Star is parodied in this Manly Guys Doing Manly Things strip, where Kenshiro has taken a job as a McDonald's cashier. When a customer orders a number 4 combo, rather than process her order he instead uses his Hokuto Shinken to sate her hunger saying "You're already fed." The guy performing employee evaluations has no idea how to score that.

    Western Animation 
  • In the American Dad! episode "The Boring Identity", Stan kills a guy by pressing several pressure points to rupture his heart.
  • A Ki Manipulation example: Ty Lee from Avatar: The Last Airbender hits on pressure points to block the chi of her opponents and paralyze them in combat. She can also use this to disable the Elemental Powers of benders for short periods.
    • The Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra, has these techniques become the weapon of the enemy "Equalist" faction. Their leader, Amon, even learns how to permanently strip bending powers using it. Or so he claims. He actually does this with very advanced Bloodbending.
    • Also in Legend of Korra Lin once goes to an acupuncturist who uses metalbending to insert a dozen or so needles at once, somehow the chi unblocking process causes her to relive memories of her split with her sister.
  • The Batman: The Animated Series episode "Day of the Samurai" revolves around a martial art called Kiba no Hoko (The Way of the Fang), which uses precise strikes against pressure points. Batman's foe Kyodai Ken managed to learn its most fatal technique, the Oonemuri Touch. Batman defeats this technique by finding Kyodai's training dummy and noticing a specific point that was struck often and protecting that point on his own body by means of a metal plate under the Batsuit.
  • In Ben 10: Omniverse, Khyber uses a "Haphestan nural grip" to bring down his prey.
  • In the Carmen Sandiego episode "The French Connection Caper", just when Coach Brunt was about to crush Carmen to death by bear hugging her, Shadow-san suddenly stuns Brunt unconscious with the Vulcan nerve pinch, saving Carmen's life.
  • Parodied in an episode of Codename: Kids Next Door: Numbuh 3 tries to take out henchmen this way, but only succeeds in relieving some neck strain, with Numbuh 5 having to do the job and telling Numbuh 3 to knock it off after the third attempt.
  • One episode of Danny Phantom shows that Maddie knows how to do this.
  • Duckman knows a variation of it but it only works on the prostate.
  • The Vulcan nerve pinch is parodied in a Futurama episode where the Planet Express crew end up in a death-match with the cast of the original Star Trek. Leonard Nimoy tries to see if the "Vulcan nerve pinch" actually works but tries it on Bender, a robot and thus lacking nerves, who doesn't even flinch. In another episode, the robot cop URL does this to a criminal and says "Spock you out".
  • Green Lantern: The Animated Series: Saint Walker goes toe-to-toe with Razer and Razer can't land a hit. Then he hits a single pressure point on Razer's neck and instantly paralyzes him.
  • Uncle from Jackie Chan Adventures did this to many a Mook in the first season. He even did this to Captain Black when he wouldn't heed his warnings about attacking a magical demon Big Bad.
    "Who else wants a piece of Uncle?!"
  • In Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, several characters, most prominently Po and Mantis, can hit pressure points to inflict paralysis and other effects. In one episode, Taotie invents a vehicle that can use incredibly accurate acupressure to make victims do virtually anything and uses it to manipulate Po, Shifu, Monkey, Crane, Mantis, and Viper until Tigress destroys it. Also, samurai clam Kira is shown to use pressure point techniques.
  • At the end of the Phineas and Ferb episode "Raging Bully", Ferb uses the Vulcan nerve pinch on Buford.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Big Macintosh knows just the right one to treat Granny Smith's muscle spasm.
  • Played for laughs in The Simpsons episode "Mayored to the Mob", where Homer acquires the skill of disabling people for half an hour using the Spock touch. Promptly he applies this technique on his family members just for fun and even on himself in order to skip the 30 minutes waiting time until supper. Though in Homer's case, he whacks his head on the kitchen table as he falls down.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012):
    • Master Splinter uses this to calm down and discipline an overreacting Raphael. Later in the episode, Raph himself uses the technique to paralyze a powerful, rampaging mutant.
    • Splinter later combines with some qi manipulation to purge Karai from the brainwashing slugs Shredder created.
  • Total Drama:
    • At the start of the race to the cast trailers in "Monster Cash", Harold chops Trent between the shoulder and the neck to incapacitate him so Harold can get ahead.
    • Both newcomers, Sierra and Alejandro, show that they know how to make a body collapse in "Anything Yukon Do, I Can Do Better". In first class, Sierra gives Cody a non-consensual foot massage while he's asleep and when he wakes up he tells her to stop. Hearing this, Sierra ominously asks if Cody knows that there's a spot between the tarsal bones through which a person can be temporarily paralyzed. She presses her thumb into it before Cody can get his foot back. In economy class, Owen freaks out when the Total Drama Jumbo Jet seems to be crashing. Not willing to put up with it, Alejandro grabs his shoulder near his neck and squeezes. Owen goes out as a light.

    Real Life 
  • Pressure points are omnipresent in martial arts and self-defense classes, often in the form of joint locks, precision strikes, and the good old Groin Attack. Some schools of Japanese jujutsu make use of a wide range of points called kyusho, used to induce a person to be more compliant or cause enough pain when struck to induce an individual to discontinue hostilities, and police forces are also taught to use them in control methods. However, pressure points are decidedly not an exact science: there's a considerable amount of variation in location and effectiveness between individuals, and they are frequently ineffective on someone who is in an altered state of consciousness, drunk or on drugs, has a large amount of body fat or muscle mass, has trained to be resistant to them, or is simply that tough. All of this means that the most effective application of these techniques is ironically after the user has the opponent already controlled in more practical holds and positions, where he can still exert dominance if pressure points fail; a fighting system or gameplan solely based on trying to hit the points with no control or setup is fundamentally condemned to be less effective than brute force, as in striking or grappling, or even not effective at all.
  • The liver is a popular target in boxing, kickboxing and Muay Thai, as enough strikes to it can leave an opponent believing he is going to die for some minutes before he recovers normally. Mixed Martial Arts champion Bas Rutten was especially skilled with those, to the point he used to incapacitate opponents with just a well-placed knee or punch to the liver. As the liver is where the body sends toxins to be broken down, hitting it causes some of those toxins to be surged back out along with a good amount of blood, putting sudden and serious stress on the body's system. (Kidney strikes are equally dangerous for a similar reason.)
  • Your funny bone. Actually, it's the ulnar nerve that's located near the elbow, but if you happen to hit it... OWWW! It is definitely not funny.
  • The celiac plexus, or solar plexus. A sharp blow here usually doesn't affect the plexus itself (although it certainly can), but rather it causes a diaphragm spasm and abrupt exhalation i.e. "getting the wind knocked out of you".
  • Certain weapons like the Kubotan are specifically geared to hit pressure points in a fight. Derivatives include the "tactical pen", a regular pen with a body of hard metal and a dull spike at the tail end, and some kinds of flashlights with a very pronounced set of crenellations on the business end.
  • Acupuncture is therapy through pressure points, and acupressure actually uses pressure on those pressure points, therefore affecting the aforementioned nerve clusters, joints, and blood vessels. There is, however, serious doubt over whether "traditional" acupuncture actually exists, with the same effects manifesting whether or not the "meridians" are the areas touched or poked.
  • Technically speaking, you can knock someone out by pinching them. If you're able to obstruct their carotid arteries, they can go out within seconds. However, because this involves briefly interrupting the blood supply to the opponent's brain, it's very easy to accidentally overdo it and cause permanent damage or death if you don't know what you're doing. Needless to say, Don't Try This at Home.


Leo Destroys Ra's al Ghul

Gonna need the Lazarus Pit for that.

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Main / GroinAttack

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