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Vital Targets – Why Pressure Points Just Don’t Work in a Real Fight
A history of experience
It was the early nineties; I was a young martial arts student who was raised with the idea that there really was such a thing as a “magical death touch”. It was all over the pages of martial arts magazines, books were written about it, it was a fad, and Jean-Claude Van Damme even made a movie about it. I remember watching the movie “Blood Sport” starring Jean-Claude VanDame. He played the real-life character Frank Dux in the autobiography Mr. Dux concocted to make himself famous. It was the story of a Westerner who trained in the mystical arts of “Death Touch” or “Dim Mak” and became the first champion of an ancient tournament in which death matches were sanctioned. It was and still is very interesting to this day. As a youth martial artist I knew then; That’s what I wanted to be.
I had been studying martial arts and wrestling for several years when I was introduced to the late Master Stan Hart. My teacher and dear friend the late Master Royal Seymour wanted me to attend a seminar with him, where secret and forbidden strikes and points would be taught using the traditional karate form or kata. When we arrived, I was told I couldn’t be in the room, because I was too young and didn’t have a black belt. Master Seymour was on an intimate level with Master Hart and convinced him to at least allow me to observe. The sessions lasted all day and were completely closed to the public. I felt honored and privileged just to be allowed to watch. Master Hart was the world’s leading expert in the arts of Hakuda and Hakushu; and highly decorated Master of Ryu-Kyu Kempo. He studied with world-renowned author and pressure point guru George Dillman. Dillman and Master Hart were both direct students of Taika Oyata, whose family art was today’s Shurite / Ryu-kyu Kempo. I watched and paid close attention to how Master Hart teaches and demonstrates knock out strikes by simply touching or tapping specific areas of the anatomy. I carefully learned the grips and grips that Master Hart would apply to his students demonstrating excruciating pain. I knew then that this is what I wanted to learn and apply to anyone. If only he had accepted me as a student.
Almost a year passed and I was still not allowed to do more than watch this training. Whenever Master Seymour and I returned from this class; I will immediately ask him to do a technique on me. Often they didn’t work on me. However there was an advantage to seeing; I was learning. Class after class I would watch and then become a punching dummy after class and yes I would even practice on Master Seymour. Master Seymour took charge of teaching me the training. Finally Master Seymour went to Master Hart and explained that I was learning and he was teaching me. He was able to convince Master Hart to allow me to participate in the class. I became the class dummy. The only thing Master Hart won’t do is knock me out. I was very young. I was still not allowed to introduce techniques. I had what is known as a Uke. Basically they used to throw away. For the next two years I learned the technique by beating up with Master Seymour and Master Hart.
After two years of beatings I was told I could finally participate fully; However, he refused to give me a rank or certificate in arts. As time passed and Master Seymour assured him of my diligence in training; Finally he accepted me as a full student and I got a rank after the first training session. Over the years I learned pain points, disabling points, knockout points, recovery points, herbs and more. I have seen points applied time and time again. I have implemented these techniques many times and many have implemented them on me. I have also seen many of these techniques fail. I could see a pattern. Some techniques worked on some and not on others. I also noticed that we never did direct training. We always trained these techniques under predetermined and choreographed attacks. Although not impossible to apply in a live fighting or grappling situation, I found many of the techniques difficult.
Years passed and I joined the army. I began to learn military combat that didn’t focus on small pressure points and mystical targets. I noticed the efficiency of learning these techniques and how easy they are to learn. I participated in a no holds barred battle; Actually “Bloodsport” and I couldn’t execute any of these techniques. In fact there were no champions highly trained in these mystical pressure points. All pressure point experts were missing. As the years passed and I did more research into why these methods didn’t work, I began to look for my answers.
Why pressure points don’t just work in fights
1. In a fight the heart rate can exceed 180 beats per minute
When the heart rate reaches or exceeds 180 BPM, we lose all fine motor skills and function. Studies have shown that expert pianists cannot play tunes after a simple treadmill workout where their heart rate exceeds 180 bpm, which is by design; When the heart rate reaches certain levels, blood flow only goes to the areas needed for the fight or flight response. Thus the body is capable of extreme physical feats. Only large muscles needed for running and fighting receive blood. In most only gross motor function is present. It is very difficult to hit small points on the body. Even the brain goes into survival mode.
2. Fights are full of adrenaline
In extreme situations our body switches into “fight or flight” mode. Adrenaline spikes and many of our nerve receptors are not sensitive. Dopamine and cortisone, which are naturally produced in the body, are released to help protect your body from pain. Adrenaline acts as a kind of jump start in many situations. There have been several reported incidents of people being shot multiple times in the fighting and continuing to fight the situation. Adrenaline numbs the body and causes many other hormonal changes that make the ability to act and feel this mysterious pressure point strike, if not impossible.
3. Body types are different
I can tell you from first hand experience that these strikes largely depend on body structure and type. The leaner and weaker the body, the easier it is to access nerves and pressure points. Sometimes if a person is muscular or fat, the technique must be executed differently or will not work at all. If a person is tall or short determines the ability to access points. Then there is the genetic factor. Some people have thicker nerve sheaths than others. The bottom line is that you can risk using one of the controversial techniques, but have a back up plan.
Which targets work?
Says the bad sensei from the Karate Kid movie, “If a man cannot see, he cannot fight, if a man cannot breathe, he cannot fight, and if a man cannot stand, he cannot fight.” This evil fictional character was something. I recently had an argument with the parent of one of my karate students. She was interested in why I adopted a more progressive approach to martial arts than the traditional way she had once trained. I was a little pompous and could not resist mocking and belittling those who believed and practiced fiction. “touch of death” and throwing “Chee Balls”. She asked why I had such an attitude towards mystics. I replied, “Because these things are not scientifically pre-oven.” She then brought religious beliefs into the equation by saying that God is not even scientifically proven. She had a point, as many believe in a being that could not be an oven. I assured her that God and faith had nothing to do with our conversation. I began to explain to her that I only taught things that could be pre-oven and demonstrated the work. We talked about important goals. She had no idea of my expertise in this field. I simply explained that I have trained for many years in esoteric striking theory as well as physical and biomechanical striking science.
I explained that there are some things we cannot deny. “If a man cannot see, he cannot fight, if a man cannot breathe, he cannot fight, and if a man cannot stand, he cannot fight.” I will now include some really important goals that are guaranteed to work in any situation:
1. Eyeballs and Sockets T.S
4. Destroying joints by moving them in the opposite way they are intended.
6. Any other soft tissue area. IE eyes, ears, nose, throat, neck, groin and base of skull.
It was designed to create a target body function. The body cannot function by destroying this target.
Taking it from a traditional and mystical perspective
Finally I would like to leave you with some knowledge for the readers. All is not lost. These ancient techniques for hitting and manipulating pressure points are a creation of a more primitive time when mysticism had a great influence on life. I have personally witnessed and taught many of these techniques and seen them work in controlled environments. There is something in it and I am convinced that these arts should be preserved and carried forward as an art form. I strongly believe that the principles behind this training have more therapeutic value than martial arts. I don’t want to roll the dice and rely on faith when it comes to life and death situations. I want to go with what I know will work. Master Stan Hart published an article on FightingArts.com. The title was “So much trouble about pressure points”. This was an article I never knew existed until after his death in 2007. He talks about the practicality or lack of many pressure point attacks. This is something he never talked about when I was training with him. He also created a web page dedicated to the preservation of these types of techniques.
Looking back over the many years I trained and corresponded with Master Hart; I now understand that he never pushed these methods as street fighting or for combat use. He promoted many techniques as purely defensive and reactive measures; Which at one point he himself admits that reaction is not the way to go in a real fight. He always promoted art and had great love and respect for its preservation. Master Hart was very different from his rival George Dillman who was promoting mystical strikes as effective and practical in street or combat situations. There is no doubt that its objective is purely economic.
I teach the art of Hakuda and Hakushu that I learned from Stan Hart himself. I have great respect for the many sciences and arts behind many principles. However, due to the time and effort required to learn these targets and methods, I train only a select few students. When I teach pressure points I make it clear that it is only to preserve an ancient art that was once lost. I focus more on practical martial arts in my teachings today to the general population.
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