A pressure point (Japanese: kyūsho 急所 "vital point, tender spot"; Chinese: 穴位; Telugu: మర్మ స్థానం Marma Sthanam; Malayalam: marmam; Tamil: வர்மம் varmam) in the field of martial arts refers to an area on the human body that may produce significant pain or other effects when manipulated in a specific manner. Techniques of attacks on pressure points are called Hyol Do Bup (Hangul: 혈도법; 穴道法) in Korean martial arts and kyūsho-jutsu (Japanese: 急所術) in various styles of Japanese martial arts.
The concept of pressure points is present in old school (17th century) Japanese martial arts and is claimed to have an even earlier history; in a 1942 article in theShin Budo magazine, Takuma Hisa asserted the existence of a tradition attributing the first development of pressure-point attacks to Shinra Saburō Minamoto no Yoshimitsu (1045–1127).
Hancock and Higashi (1905) published a book which pointed out a number of vital points in Japanese martial arts.
Exaggerated accounts of pressure-point fighting appeared in Chinese Wuxia fiction and became known by the name of Dim Mak, or "Death Touch", in western popular culture in the 1960s.
While it is undisputed that there are sensitive points on the human body where even comparatively weak pressure may induce significant pain or serious injury, the association of kyūsho with esotericist notions of qi, acupuncture, or reflexology is controversial.