Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pressure Points-Myth or Reality?

While browsing the local Library book/video sale I came across a copy of Paladin Press' "One Strike One Kill" by Vince Morris. Most of the material was the bunkai/pressure point combat applications of Kata and contend that the Kata are a road map to pressure point location and sequence to activating them.Most of the material I've seen by George Dillman followed a similar concept and made the same assertions.
George Dillman is probably by far the most well known & prolific exponent on pressure point fighting in the World as well as being a very controversial figure. Nonetheless, Mr.Dillman retains a very large following and has for a very long time.Most pressure points experts talk about "meridians" or pathways through which chi/ki/qi/xi(energy) flows and can be disrupted through activation of these pressure points.Although these points are not acupuncture or acupressure points,they follow the same basic theories or general concepts in Ancient Eastern Medicine.
If you look at most charts of these points you will notice that they coincide with the pathways of the nervous system and that in itself does peak my interest.In Western Medicine,this "energy" may be what We describe as a Nerve Impulse(Wavelike progression of chemical and electrical disturbance along a stimulated Nerve). Nerve Some "meridian" theories talk about blood AND energy flow & that muddies the waters a bit and "Pressure Point in the West usually refers to any area where an Artery runs near a bone,so that when pressure is applied to the Artery pressing it against the bone,bleeding can be controlled. The nervous system is essentially a biological "electrical system" and perhaps these electrical transmissions are what they called "chi" etc.Some systems say "meridians" are merely nerve pathways and labeled to the internal organs they correspond with.Main Nerves are connected with other major Nerves through smaller Nerve networks/connections they call junctions(I'd call it a Nerve Cluster)[also see "Neuroglia"]& it is on these junctions where the pressure points are located.They believe energy(electrical signals?)travel a certain way & route and that you can 1.stop the energy or 2.speed up the energy or 3.Send it back along the same pathway.Energy flowing down the arm along one main Nerve & would flow up Via another.The energy would cross to the other one by these junctions/connections where the pressure point is located and the energy can be disrupted at that point.Therefore,it could be said that the "downward energy path" major nerve would be located directly opposite of "upward energy path" from where the pressure point(crossover) is located. I don't think anyone disputes that there are various anatomical weak areas of the Human Body and there are areas(generally Nerve Clusters) that are pressure sensitive(induce pain) or induce a reflexive reaction(involuntary response).
When you choke someone out, you are simply cutting off the Carotid Arteries. If you Strike someone in the Carotid it will also sometimes render them unconscious since there are receptors there that are pressure sensitive & designed to regulate systemic blood pressure(a feedback loop). I do feel there is probably merit and much to investigate when it comes to the idea of pressure points, but there is also a lot of nonsense, mysticism and outright frauds. George Dillman is claiming he can perform "No Touch Knock Outs" and to me this sounds a little too far out there to be real.National Geographic planted an Investigator in one of Dillmans classes for their "Is it Real" special which aired on the History Channel. Dillmans student was unable to knock out the plant with a no touch K.O. Dillman had a list of excuses to explain the failure,none of which portrayed Him in a very favorable light.That doesn't mean Dillman has absolutely nothing to offer, but does make me skeptical just as I would be with any Instructor.There are many elements of the Dillman system I actually like and find useful.
I do think there is something to the idea of the true Bunkai of the Kata.I trained in Traditional Martial Arts for years and the explanation for the Kata Movements never made much sense.There is SOME reason why they designed those movements that way.Most originate in Okinawa and the Okinawans taught Karate to the Japanese.The Japanese were an invading/occupying country so it would make sense that the Okinawans not show them the true meaning of their Karate Movements or reveal pressure points.
Much of the pressure point fighting methods I've encountered are complex and I don't see how they could be applied in a real situation and I remain very skeptical of many of the claims of some of the exponents.I've encountered many Instructors over the years claiming pressure point knowledge and how they could disable me with only a few taps on various points,but none worked on me.There are various claims of "Dim Mak"(Death Touches) and things that resemble vulcan nerve pinches, but I have yet to see anything that will kill or disable a Man that Science cannot readily explain or excessive force is not required.Some of these pressure point experts say three points(usually quarter sized)must be hit to cause a knockout or they must be hit in a certain sequence or that one sets up another.If that is the cause,then the method would not be very practical & nearly impossible to apply in a real conflict,so I would go another route for SHTF situations,but there is nothing wrong with the study of these theories and concepts .Still, I always remain open minded to the possibility that there may be more there that I have yet to understand and just because something is not understood,doesn't make it untrue isn't real.There is still much Mysticism surrounding pressure point theory just as there always is regarding something not yet fully understood(at least by many people) and perhaps one day as technology progresses,these theories will be definitively proven to be fact or fiction.I know some are legit and valid(and are currently widely accepted)and there are probably more that are real,but some are most likely nonsense.And remember it's not a matter of believing in or adopting every thing an Instructor teaches, but just perhaps a few techniques, concepts or ideas to add to your own personal system. One big question I've always had is why aren't these pressure points accidentally activated in other various sports & activities resulting in bizarre spontaneous knock outs.Dillman asserts that the sequence of activation has to be combined with the proper angle etc.If it's that complicated and that applies to most pressure point techniques , then I don't see how it can realistically be used against a resisting opponent and I would still think it would happen at least periodically.
So, are pressure points real? I think the answer to that really boils down to your definition of what constitutes a pressure point.
Further reading........