I've been waiting a while to set up a discussion of this work. Please click on the following and have a read. It'll take a while. You might want to print it out and take your time. Don't worry if you don't understand it all.
Most do not. Just get out of it what you can and then join in on the discussion. www.uechi-ryu.com/five_element.htm
The topic of kyusho (sequential striking of specific points) and tuite (point manipulation in grappling) has generated tremendous interest, great controversy, and quite a few charletans. Whatever you believe, the following items are true.
1) There are "owie points" on the body. If you strike or manipulate these points, you will get a larger effect than if you strike or manipulate other areas (like the top of the forehead).
2) If you hit or manipulate these points in succession, or even simultaneously, you get a greater effect than if you hit or manipulate only a single such point.
3) Many traditional forms are basically recipes for how to get to these vulnerable points and do what you wish with an attacker.
Look ma, no magic. No reason to get your chi all worked up, right?
But.....problem is, the The Bubishi
and other classics that talked about the principles of sequential striking (kyusho) draw from an older understanding of the human body. Many of the authors of this general body of knowledge actually believed in chi and meridians and the science (or pseudo science) that goes with it.
Thanks to a few like Oyata sensei, his student George Dillman, and the many who learned from their teachings, kyusho has become a recognizeable entity to many. Dillman was actually knocking people out on the George Michael Sports Hour in the mid-eighties. (this is after his ice-breaking era). There have been splits in that organization. Out of the Dillman group come the DKI (Dillman's group from which our friend Mr. Pantazi comes) and the DSI (a spin-off group that doesn't talk to the DKI anymore and is heavy on the chi stuff).
Moneymaker sensei and his DSI (Dragon Society International) will show you Kirlean photographs of their heroes and will talk about chi and 5-element theory and yin/yang and the like. www.dragonsociety.com
Dillman sensei and the DKI will basically use the accupuncture nomenclature to describe points, but I get the impression he will just use whatever is necessary to describe things. Personally I think this is a reasonable approach when you aren't completely sure why things work. Lately he's been hanging out with the UPenn people, trying to make some scientific sense of what they do. www.dillman.com
And then you get folks like Bruce Miller. Bruce is trained in traditional eastern massage arts and knows all the language and nomenclature. But he's also a practicing physician's assistant. Bruce and friends have come up with a new martial art (Quan Li K'an) that merges traditional forms with a modern (western) understanding of pressure points and how they work. His site sells low-key (basically he's nonprofit in the book business), low flash material that gives standard anatomy and physicology explanations for where to hit and why it works. www.cloudnet.com/~bemiller/CMEintro.html
You might also want to check yet another kyusho site that someone forwarded to me: www.tardis.ed.ac.uk/~steven/adj/
Some of these folks, like the DKI and DSI, make a good living off of books, tapes, and seminars on the subject. Nothing wrong with that! But to say that there is gentlemanly behavior among all who practice and teach these arts is..well....a fantasy. As Yogi Berra would say, "Deja vu all over again."
"What's the point of all this?" you might ask. Well...if you follow what some in the self-described TCM (traditional chinese medicine) camp preach, you need to learn well over a hundred accupuncture points on the body. Then you need to learn which of the five elements they belong to (earth, fire, water, etc). Then you need to learn about the cycle of creation (order of point stimulation that causes healing) and the cycle of destruction (order of point stimulation that causes harm). You also need to take yin and yang into account. And then when the theories don't quite work (you find a sequence that works but it doesn't follow the rules) well....there are all these qualifiers.... Etc, etc ad nauseum
Understand you do NOT need to know all of this to know a few basic sequences. But if you are one of those pioneers that wants to study kata and discover new techniques, the TCM recipe allegedly shows how to go about this. Once you have "discovered" a sequence in the kata from the rules that seems to work, then you say "Ah ha, I have discovered what the master meant!" Maybe. And you will be able to interrupt their chi and do damage that westerners can't possibly understand. Maybe.
Western medicine (MWM) proponents like Miller have their own approaches. Some who do not know anatomy and physiology claim that his
approach is complicated. Maybe it is. Some say his
terminology (the righting reflex, suprasternal notch, reticular activating system) is out of control. Maybe.
Back to the original post. What Diennes and Flannagan have attempted to do is not trivial. I know of no other work that attempts to take a rigorous approach to actually testing
any of the theories that supposedly kyusho is based on. All I can say is, god bless British law and the people who volunteered to be the subjects for the study. Primarily Diennes and Flannagan tested the concept of 5 element theory and yin/yang. It was never meant to be a be-all, end-all study. It was just designed to follow the TCM theory to point prediction, and test the predicted points against another set that should not
be effective (according to the TCM theory). What they found was....that the points that TCM would have predicted proved to be no more effective
in producing a negative response than a set of points that should have given a lesser effect.
Does this mean that kyusho is bunk? Absolutely not. The DSI has bristled at the study even during the planning stage. "Can't prove something Eastern with a Western science. Can't take a part of the theory out of context; TCM is a wholistic approach." I say nonsense
! But...the study does not
say that Moneymaker and his DSI gang do not know the art of sequential striking. Trust me, you do not want to mess with anyone who knows where and how to hit you.
This is the deal. The "science" that predicts
what sequences work is way
too complicated and has far too many exceptions. As one bright person put it "You can't have a model that has more rules than you have pressure points." The best knowledge is based on the most simple principles. If we really
understood why this stuff works, then we could be better teachers to those students that don't have the power to out-muscle an opponent. And we also would know what not
to do in the dojo to maintain a safe environment.
Sorry if this introduction is long, but I want to bring others who know nothing about the field on board. If anyone wants an unbiased start on this whole subject, I highly recommend reading The Bubishi
by Patrick McCarthy. It is a historical
(not scientific) reference to the art of sequential striking.
I welcome comment and discussion.
NOTE: Thanks to Evan Pantazi and Maurice Libby - both regulars in the kyusho community - for helping me with the details of this post.
[This message has been edited by Bill Glasheen (edited 04-06-99).]