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When that dull, throbbing pain took hold like someone had taken a sledgehammer to my arm, I forgot to breathe. The sensation shot up to my brain like electricity and shut it down; I couldn't think, didn't even register that my eyes were squeezed shut and my jaws were clenched closed until I heard, "Relax. It'll hurt less if you don't stiffen up." Then my training partner let go of his grip, and everything came rushing back to my senses: the sound of my own blood pumping in my ears, the whoosh of air flooding into my lungs, the smell of the dojo, the sight of dust streaks on the training mat on which I lay.
Sensei said, "There is a nerve in the arm, about a palm's width up from the wrist and near the outer bone." This is yonkyo, and finding the nerve can be tricky because its placement on individuals can vary depending on the size of their palm. Once it's found, though, applying pressure to it in the right way can make for a potent submission take-down. When it's yonkyo day at the dojo, I cringe; and I'm fairly certain that I'm not entirely alone in that reaction. I hadn't realized that a simple nerve in the arm can paralyze the entire body. Like a strike to a pressure point, it could cut off the breath and cloud the vision. It leaves bruises 3 inches across on the length of the forearm. It gives people the paranoia that they've gotten permanent nerve damage. It instills power to give, is painful to receive--and one day I'll get it right and execute a perfect yonkyo on every try.