Aikido's Pressure Points
The return of Pain/Pressure Points on the body.
By the very sound of the words, Pressure on a Point of the human body that creates pain, the simplicity of the words should not be the point of contention, what is though is the effect and ability to apply these pain techniques with a high rate of efficiency?
Not unlike the beginner of Aikido who must be corrected constantly to work within the known effectiveness of techniques, we have those who have "tried" to use points of pain beyond their Aikido lessons and failed.
The point of this intellectual exercise was to increase the efficiency of Aikido by using or being aware of more variations within our aikido practice besides a push, shove, throw, or pin ... the physical aspects that open other possibilities?
So, I return to the original question, with an adendum.
Besides the pressure points in our physical manipulation of Aikido, should we teach/learn the bodys meridians for both healing and knockout purposes while observing the tenents of Aikido's harmony?
(Put into not so pretty terms, should we depend on what we teach in Aikido today as other arts find ways to neutralize basic aikido then add knockouts?)
I see some of Aikido's techniques in the Wally Jay Jujitsu I keep in my back pocket, and now with Wally Jay's son Leon teaching pressure points with jujitsu I see the guys/gals learning pressure points doing the almost exact mirror movements of Aikido people but the Aikido people going nite-nite because they don't see how to use or counter pressure points!
I really was looking for points of view or experience with using what we already have in Aikido ... and/or employing safe standards for health concerns that may be at risk from applying the same technique class after class which results in minor physical pain but middleaged organ damage?
If I'm reading you right, you have some good points. I would agree that if the style has something, we (or at least I) ought to learn it.
When I did Muay Thai in my university, essentially there were 2 groups. There was the main group, and then a side group that went at things a lot harder and in more detail later. This way, those who wanted to or were able to could go in deeper and harder could, but those who couldn't or wouldn't weren't forced to go too far beyond their capacity.
In Aikido, whenever possible I work with higher ranks after class to go a bit harder (this is encouraged by my sensei).
I suppose it would be up to individuals to find sempai to work with to go the extra distance, or to go straight to the sensei.
I think it is very important to know any variations on how people may attack you. What has suprised me is the only explicit pressure point in aikido seems to be in yonkyo. I've often wondered why this is so, especially as so many of the techniques are ideal set ups for pressure point attacks. Although I'm no expert myself, I was chatting to someone who does shiatsu, and they were saying that the point for yonkyo (along the heart meridian) is often used to relax people who are stressed. Possibly this is why yonkyo is retained above potential knock-out or lethal points.
When we do striking practise, I always mention 'vital areas' to strike, just so people are aware of areas which they have to protect. However (except for some obvious ones around the neck, and a couple on the arms and legs) I think many pressure points (especially combinations) are hard to strike effectively with a vigorous and mobile attacker.
Groups and chords
I have referred to George Dillman's group for pressure point studies, but then again he is associated with local dojo's even though there are others who teach them.
If you find the book by Mark Tedeshi, it has some pretty good pressure point and meridian charts for under twenty dollars. Looking at the instructional material, or charts, you will see areas that have groups of pressure points on one meridian, or pressure points grouped in particular areas of the body, in striking these groups with the correct angle, direction, and with the proper form of activation you could go beyond knockouts into the realm of internal shutdown and if not corrected, death.
Hence, concerns for striking particular areas of the body. Some of the oldest knockout techniques of our grandfathers day, clubing or pistol whipping did indeed hit some of these multiple areas on the head, neck, and facial area.
Many times, Atemi for Aikido addresses one or two pressure points to create pain, but don't go farther to understand the knockout possibilities, or immobilizing our opponents with these little buttons of pain.
Maybe we should look at Aikido as part of a larger Martial Arts puzzle to be researched and put together for our own edification.
The answer is out there, but how many pieces will it take to find them?
Warning - George Dillman and his students are not taken seriously by expert Kareteka (see recent thread on e-budo.com)
Pressure points are often talked up, but as pointed out on the above thread, are useless if you can't get to the point of applying them.
A hyped up aggressor will ignore pain from a pressure point (or even from a nasty wrist lock - ask any police officer).
From an anatomical point of view IMHO pressure points fall into 5 categories
1. Flat edges of bone eg shins, ribs and arguably yonkyu in the wrist. Painful but not crippling
2. Deep muscles - such as the forearm, biceps or thigh - no flasher than the dead leg or charley horse you gave each other at school
3. Nerves - eg the lateral peroneal nerve as it wraps around the neck of the fibula. British police have been whacking this for over a hundred years to cause foot drop and prevent a criminal running away. Other examples would be the brachial plexus where striking the big nerves can cause a paralysis of the arm.
4. Very sensitive areas with lots of nerve endings such as the testicles, the bridge of the nose (so painful they can be crippling)
5. Genuinely vulnerable anatomical targets - the carotid plexus in the neck (used by doctors to slow heart rates dramatically), the so-called "solar plexus" which happens to be where you can hit the stomach, the pancreas, the liver and the aorta in one spot (unsuprisingly painful and dangerous), the temporal bone which is very thin and has a large artery running along it and is therefore a genuine "lethal target"
6. My favourite - knockout punches - head shots which jar the brain. These are Dillman's "knock out pressure points". Really a sharp tap on the jaw or the back of the head which any boxer could tell you about.
You don't need any fancy martial art training or special angles to hit these with good effect.
oops, can't count.
Each time I think about this I come up with a new category.
Gee so much for taking you seriously. ;)
In the kata you are supposed to get close enough to tickle the hairs at the back of the head but once I misjudged and hit and once someone else misjudged and hit me. In the latter case I went down fast but was not knocked unconcious. Same with the reversed role. These were both not full force blows and I have never had the guts to ask Shihan how dangerous the technique really is (this would have to be done in Japanese).
In other words - what is the chance of causing serious long-lasting damage when employing this technique.
I have no problem rendering someone unconcious but, legal difficulties aside, would rather that person eventually walk away.
Re: Re: oops
It's been a while since I've posted here and I've also done this particular exercise a few times in the past.
Peter, the area we strike in that kata is on the Occipital Bone, right where the trapezius muscles are attached to the skull.
The area of the brain that this bone covers is responsible for muscle coordination and posture, so I guess that has something to do with the desire to hit the deck when the strike is applied properly (has happened to me too :dead:).
My guess is that the brain in general (esp. the cerebellum) doesn't react too well to being banged around on a regular basis (hence the reason for keeping chin tucked for ushiro ukemi), so I think it would have extremely undesirable effects over time. Probably conditions linked to muscle coordination and even urinary tract issues since it is very close to the Bladder meridian in shiatsu as well.
I guess tickling the back of their head isn't a bad idea after all:D
Hey Larry great to hear from you.
I think it is a given that over time this is a no no but what I really want to know is what is the chance of causing serious injury by using this technique to actually subdue someone.
It really does seem a bit dicey to me.
Hope training in Nihon is going well.
Well from the info I have on this particular point, it appears to be a favourite for assassins who like hatchet and stilletto work.
If applied with enough force it will cause a concussion that will probably mess up the person's lower body coordination for an extended period of time if not permanently.
My preference in that body position would be to take the person down with an ushiro ate (using the forehead for leverage) and apply one finger pressure to the same point on the back of the skull while bringing them down, thereby immobilising their head. I would then keep my finger on the same point to pin after turning them over, face down. (How I wish I could illustrate this.)
Minimal impact, no concussion but still pretty painful and will immobilise if done properly.
Hope this helps.
Re: Assassin point
Training is going real good but that's a given here.
From a training perspective the danger of hitting each other in the back of the head repeatedly is getting a scrambled boxer's brain. Each blow will kill a whole lot of neurons. One or two times doesn't matter as we are losing brain cells all the time but repeated blows will cause slow degenerative damage.
From self-defense point of view I can't thnik that this blow would cause any more damage than a blow to the jaw (it's just that we all have "glass occiputs"). BUT if you knock out anyone with ANY strike you have to make sure their airway is open (ie recovery position) or they may suffocate and die.
Right now I can hardly wait to try Larry's one finger version - I'm a great fan of ushiro-ate techniques. I'm already modifying the grip in my fevered little mind.
I must say that the technique we are discussing is the only one that really gives me pause. I will continue to search out opinions on this one. Appreciate the input.
I've realised I have left out a very important concept - acceleration and decceleration injury.
The brain is in a hard bony cae, the skull, which protects it from direct injury. The energy of a punch is transferred to the skull and therefore does not affect the brain directly.
To cause a knock out you need to impart acceleration-deccelartion ie sudden movement of the whole skull and therefore the brain that suddenly starts and stops.
IMO the most efficient way to do this is with rotational motion - a punch that turns the head to one side or the other (a cross) or upward (an uppercut). This is why it is so important to tuck in your chin to stop this happening. And why the blows to the back of the head work becaue you can't "tuck your head in", or at least you are not used to it (shrugging up the shoulders).
Blows to the back of the head work probably best if you make the head nod.
I think Dillman's knock out points on the jaw and head come from imparting this rotational energy with a quick jab. Possibly with a distracter first, especially on pliant victims in demonstrations.
I think the technique you are talking baout is pretty safe as the occiput is a very thick bit of bone and the brain itself will be protected. Just look after your unconscious uke.
Maybe you Tomiki thugs should wear motorcycle helmets when practicing that particular kata... :)
Peter, what are you smacking uke with in that kata? Is this a knife hand, or is it a forearm smash?
I'm also having some difficulty with imagining what Larry described. Is this (roughly) like taking someone down by going behind them, then grabbing and twisting their head?
I think I understand what Larry is talking about but would probably stick with a classic ushiro-ate in the situation he described (currently there is a sushi chef in the dojo that has yet to forgive me for one well delivered ushiro-ate - didn't tuck his head in). Whenever he slices fish - I get very uncomfortable.
You guys really crack me up sometimes... I haven't used my leather gi jacket since I packed up my denim hakama :D and now you want me to get a helment too??? :eek:
Peter, traditional Ushiro ate will work just fine. The reason I use the forehead is initially to redirect the person's balance backward and also to stabilise the head to press the point exactly the way I want to. I think the head allows for a bit more control in an actual application scenario as well.
To jk: If you look at the link that Peter gave, think of the same technique shown, but at the point where the shoulders are taken, the forehead is pulled backward instead. The palm is placed on the forehead. The other hand holds the head from behind, pressing the point with thumb or index finger. I actuallly figured this out watching Aikikai guys train (believe it or not) doing some Iriminage / kokyunage variations.
Oh also, this just in:
I was checking out one of my Taiji Chin na manuals and that point at the back of the head is referred to as Naohu and falls on the Governor Vessel meridian (GV-17 acupressure point) and not the Bladder meridian as I said earlier (though the way we hit it, both meridians are affected due to their proximity on that part of the head). The Chin na recommendation says that striking/pressing this point causes fainting as well as shock to the brain (surprise surprise).
Hope this adds some flavor to the mix.
Strike to back of neck?
If I read you right, you causes two other nerves to be activated, sounds like liver/gall bladder, and struck the backof the neck with the muscles stretched?
Yeah, there are accounts of simular strikes in older texts for Karate that indicate disarming and striking the neck with the head being pulled over to expose the nerve by a hair pull.
Oops? You just touched three pressure points on the same meridian and caused a knockout.
There are a lot of boisterous sensei putting a spin on pressure points, but once they, their students, or anyone they choose (who is physically healthy, not on drugs, or has health problems) has been knocked out by touch, they sing a different song.
Aikido has many, many hidden techniques that can use pressure points if you take the time to find the third point on the same meridian for a knockout. They are not hidden, they are available as you go through nearly all techniques, but you need to study!
If you are hitting muscle groups to get result from a nerve group, you still need to use the correct angle and direction, or a force strong enough to break bones ... which is like using the "sledge-O-matic" to open your milk carton.
Don't be surprised if sensei has some more little treats down the road.
Those little nerve endings do come up a lot, especially when pain or knockouts are involved.
I think three very different things are being discussed re this 'point' on the occiput:
1. pressure on tendons and/or nerves which cause pain, useful only if uke can feel the pain and is willing to react to it...useless if uke's anatomy or drugs in system make him oblivious to pain, or he is willing to tolerate it.
2. blow to the back of the head, causing unconsciousness due to brain damage from the blow...as has been pointed out, and good sized hit will do in most any place.
3.knives can be used, as was pointed out, to 'pith' uke, as in either cut the spinal cord, or if pointing the knife in a cephalad direction, destroy the upper part of the cord and the lower part of the brain, that controls primative function such as respiration.
these three things are unrelated, the pressure on the point alone will not cause loss of consciousness unless uke 'passes out' due to a vasovagal reaction to the pain he feels, again very unreliable and very very uke dependant. This reaction is the same 'passing out' some folks have at the dentist, or if blood is drawn. I do find, however, it is usually the big guys that do this, so it may not be so useless... :D
but i sure wouldn't count on it
Oh hell, Colleen, now you've done it! You've gone and revealed most of the major pressure point secrets! George Dillman is probably going into spasms right now. Thank heavens you kept the secret of the Vulcan nerve pinch to yourself, though...
A good book with more of a scientific bent is Michael Kelly's Death Touch. He demystifies the pressure points by correlating them with medical science (He's an osteopathic physician)
To respond to some of the statments, it is my opinion that if you want to study pressure points to create pain or influence acupuncture points you need to study how the reverse the effects or the healing aspects somewhat as well. Kelly points out that you can cause a vasovagal reflex and drop one's blood pressure-this could be a serious health risk.
My research in the topic and a survey conducted for an indepth treatment of the topic suggests to me that pressure point usage (kyusho jitsu) is applicable in aikido in the application of atemi-waza. However, I don't foresee the "knock-outs and death touch" elements being of interest to or very useful for aikidoka to use on a regular basis-plus they are dangerous. I do believe that the pain compliance aspect is quite effective in helping set up a technique by dropping a shoulder or positioning uke for a throw. It also has use for controlling ukes with locking and pinning techniques. If I ever get the time to finish it I hope to publish and aikido version showing how to integrate pressure point manipulation/strikes into aikido technique without losing the flow.
Just some thoughts. This has been a long-standing interest of mine since it is my belief that the transition from art to street is in the use of atemi-waza and kyusho jitsu.
Dr. John Riggs
Thanks for your reply, Dr. Riggs. Maybe a few more voices will speak up and get this group motivated to increase their studys and understand how much deeper Aikido goes than just physical practice
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