Do we have "secret" "bundles of nerves" — pressure points — which, when struck with a particular Karate move, kill us?

Wikipedia is skeptic but see this History Channel documentary (only the first minute is really necessary for the claim): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1-4LqEIP0o

What I dispute is the existence of pressure points that when manipulated with specific Karate moves cause death without deadly force. I do not dispute that there are sensitive points in our body, or that there are deadly Karate moves.

Are "Touch of Death" moves fiction?

  • There are certainly a few places where relatively little pressure can make a strong person jump half out of their skin. Done it and been done to. Some are more effective than others and some are easier to hit than others. None that I know are really disabling and most are very hard to hit in the chaos of a sparring match much less a full on fight. Mar 13, 2012 at 23:49
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    @dmckee I know. And testicles. :-)
    – Sklivvz
    Mar 13, 2012 at 23:52
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    @Sklivvz the mammary glands are also pretty sensitive Mar 13, 2012 at 23:54
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    Not sure about killing, but "The celiac plexus is often popularly referred to as the solar plexus, generally in the context of a blow to the stomach. In many of these cases, it is not the celiac plexus itself being referred to, but rather the region where it is located. A blow to the stomach can upset this region. This can cause the diaphragm to spasm, resulting in difficulty in breathing—a sensation commonly known as "getting the wind knocked out of you""
    – vartec
    Mar 14, 2012 at 10:59
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    Note that the History Channel should be renamed into the HerpDerp Channel. The pressure points are probably safety measures installed by ancient aliens so they could knock us out if needed...
    – Lagerbaer
    Mar 14, 2012 at 21:35

1 Answer 1


Do we have "secret" "bundles of nerves" — pressure points — which, when struck with a particular Karate move, kill us?

The answer appears to be "no", although the research is inconclusive.

Dr. Michael Kelly has researched the legendary "Dim Mak" martial arts death touch, and, according to this video, it appears that his primary theories are that the supposed "death touch" effects were likely applications of pressure upon the carotid sinus.

Another possible explanation presented in the video (Death Weapons of the East, part of the History Channel's Ancient Discoveries series) is an attack on the spleen. If the spleen is damaged, it would undergo internal bleeding, until it ruptured, at which point it would potentially lead to rapid death, possibly days after the initial injury.

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    According to the Wikipedia article, the literal translation is "press artery": Dim Mak (simplified Chinese: 点脉; traditional Chinese: 點脈; pinyin: diǎnmài; literally "press artery"; Jyutping: dim2 mak6), alternatively diǎnxué (simplified Chinese: 点穴; traditional Chinese: 點穴)
    – ChrisW
    May 21, 2013 at 15:18
  • Erle Montaigue on Dim Mak says that the following are dangerous techniques which you must not practice on your martial arts students: a) concussion by blows to the head; b) upward strike to jaw causing head to throw back and pinch the spine; c) attacking the carotid sinus, i.e. the carotid artery, which can be fatal if damaged; d) attacking internal organs such as the spleen. A more contentious part of his message may be that by striking nerves you can evoke the same body reaction ("if the gall bladder is in pain it will cause low blood pressure") as if a corresponding organ had been attacked.
    – ChrisW
    May 21, 2013 at 16:48

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