How can I learn combat pressure point striking? Part 1
Many of you who practice in the martial arts, have an inner longing to learn how pressure point striking to the human anatomy works. Many have expressed the hope of acquiring the knowledge by one source or another. Many students from around the world have tried almost every resource out there to harness the abilities needed to perform some type of results, not only in the Do Jo but also in a combat situation. Many have tried learning points from books, video tapes and DVD’s, some by pressure point charts and other types of equipment to help in the process of learning but most if not all of them finally get lost in the maze of product buying. Many have asked me straight out, “How do you learn how to strike pressure points?”. My students and I over the years have endeavored through our website pressurepointkarate.com to help your brothers in the arts to learning the striking points in a way that can quicken the learning process. We hope to continue to do so.
Lately I have been thinking about how to make your learning process even faster. One of the ways I could possibly help the student to quicken the process is to review for them the Books, DVDs and also web sites, that are availabe to see what they have to offer. I do not mean to aggravate any authors of products but just point out to the students, the shortest way to their goal. For example, everybody has seen a promotional advertisement on TV or in a magazine on a movie but after going to the theater you found that the ad you saw was the best part of the movie? Books maybe advertised the same way and after buying it and reading it, you may have found it was not all it was cracked up to be! In many of the books that are currently on the market, you may have already found that they may, in some way, be a little lacking in the process of depicting the realities of a true pressure point combat strike, profile. They may work in a Do Jo and not in the street. But if there is one product out there that would help you, I’m sure you would want to know its name wouldn’t you? That answer may save you not only a lot of time but also a lot of money. I will first address the book market, then I will go on to web site’s and finally to tapes and DVD’s. Are they really worth it? You be the judge!
Can I learn pressure points from a book?
In the book market today, you can buy several books on the subject of pressure point striking and although they offer a inner view of the mysterious art, they in general, tend to make more of a mystery of the subject than to clear it up!
The first booklet on pressure point striking was introduced from china and translated into English on the art of Dim Mak by James S. H Lin, and refined over the years. Although the book covers a great deal of knowledge, the art work is very poor and show in some cases the weapon to strike with, methods, techniques, depth, and direction has been left out giving little more than a glimpse into the total process. When Bruce Tegner wrote a book called, Nerve Centers & Pressure Points in 1968 which for its time was pretty good as far as showing the elements of striking the basic vital points by showing the basic attack process and the type of hand weapons use to perform the basic attack. But once again, the book treated the subject as if you copy the picture and read the information, even a novice can do it. Again methods and techniques as well as training methods had been left out.
Later Myung Cill Kim, wrote a book called Acupuncture for Self Defense, which shows many of the basic pressure point & strikes, and displays some of the uses of hands as a weapon. It was a better application than books printed previously, but still lacked methods, techniques and training methods. Up to this point in time, although the books printed were showing basic strikes used in Karate combat, they were attempting to show the majority of elements needed to perform the act of striking a pressure point. They didn’t show the techniques and methods as well as training. The ground work had been laid for students of that day.
My commentary on all the early books are as follows. The early books and booklets did show you the hands and foot weapons used to strike the basic vital points that they were showing you, but lacked the methods and techniques that generate the differing types of power used for the individual strikes shown. The positioning of the body for the pressure point strikes are shown and gives a student some indication of how and when a strike would be used. The pictures and art work were very poor in those days and the notes on the strikes were shallow and incomplete. But, I need to say that all future books that will be written would do well to take note of these early pioneers, what they did accomplish also what they did not!
Today we have a variety of books that deal with the pressure point striking arts. And like the earlier writings they also have high and low points too. The first written by George A Dillman entitled Kyusho Jitsu. This book is again a basic book of single strikes, extracted from kata. It is well written with better pictures and centers on the pressure point aspect of the art. It shows proper placement of the body for the attack and how the pressure point strike would be used in a given situation, much like the earlier book by Bruce Tegner but with better pictures and well described points. The down side to the book is, as in the earlier Tegner book, was that the methods and techniques for generating power to perform each strike was not shown. Also it gives the reader the idea that you force the attacker in to a receptive position. That philosophy only works in the Do Jo with two man sets and rarely works in combat. Once again training methods as well as techniques and methods for the individual attacks have been left out giving the idea to the reader that there are none!
I have a personal story about this book I can communicate to you. One day at my Do Jo, a student brought to class George Dillman’s first book Kyushu Jitsu. He was a first year student and as we all looked through the book the students all got very excited over the book and wanted to use it in our study in the Do Jo. Under student pressure, I agreed to use it for a period of time to go through the book step by step. We did. Although I was sure of the outcome, we stopped all other activities and went into the book. In about three weeks, all the students were totally lost. The book seemed to make simple strikes more complicated. The students found that they learned faster by exploring there Kata and talking about it with me and each other. It has given the student “the where” but not “the how”. In defense of this book, it is one of the better books out there as far as good writing and illustrations. Dillman’s second book was even more complicated than the first as a whole. The Kata Naihanchi analysis was only fair. There have been other Dillman books printed with about the same attention to detail.
The Bubishi is an ancient Chinese manuscript having been introduced by two writers, one named Patrick McCarthy and the other George Alexander. Each writing with there own interpretations, McCarthy’s writings being the better of the two. The book has about 14 pages that deal one way or another with pressure points. The other 195 pages deal with topics such as history, philosophy, medicine, and basic fighting techniques. These two books are understandable if you know the points to begin with but to the student these two books have little to no value.
Erle Montaigue is a master of the soft style martial arts like Tai Chi and has written several books on the subject of pressure point striking. They are all well written but may be difficult to interpret to the hard styles like Karate or Shaolin, unless you have studied hard and soft styles of martial arts. If you are a practicing Tai Chi or Baguazhang player or a student of the soft system of Martial arts, these books are a must read! Also I must say that Erle Montaigue is in every sense a true Master of the pressure point arts. I say this because I know him as a true gentleman kind hearted and giving.
The final book I will comment on is The ancient art of life and death by A. Flane Walker and Richard C Bauer. The high point of the book is writing in appendix eleven. In it is a very well written index of all major meridians and their combat points. For the most part, the weapons used to perform the point srikes are not included as well as methods and techniques. There are no training methods at all. The rest of the book is just okay.
All other books on the market, which I have looked into are not worth mentioning in this article. The above books that I have commented on for the beginner pressure point karate student have little value. They are like looking at a map in a way, they may show you where you want to go but you can’t drive a map there!!!
Is there something you can learn from a book? Yes, but will you learn how? Maybe if you have an IQ of 265, but for the rest of us the picture is bleak. So to answer the question, Can I learn pressure points from a book? My reply would at this time be “No”. The books to date are all incomplete. There is much more to be written as many of you already know.
A note to future writers. A totally instructional book capable of depicting a total art in the case of combat pressure point striking, has not been written – yet! That book would be very valuable to many people!!! The closest writer to that goal would be the series of books written by Master Erle Montague. He has made the most serious attempt to date.