I would like to first thank all of you for creating and supporting the most literate, thought-provoking, and comprehensive martial art site on the net. I feel this thread in particular will stand as your crowning achievment- intelligent discussion, respectful disagreement, and educational passages on science and history- all underlined by a common quest to learn more. BRAVO!
I am reluctant indeed to wade into this stream and risk slowing its current, or diverting it to less fruitful pastures- if you feel this is the case, please, ignore me! I'll catch up later! That said, here is my question...
I have always held the technology of kyusho/dim mak to be the highest level of non-spiritual study in martial arts, and as such, have sincerely tried to incorporate whatever information I could scrounge up on it into my training. Thanks to this site and the links mentioned above, I have been exposed to more and more info, leading into more and more complex realms. (The increased complexity exists whether you want to use Western medical science and terminolgy, or TCM models, so I'm not too concerned with endorsing or excluding either system.) However, with every new piece of info I find, I'm constantly faced with asking myself, as I am sure many of you are: "How much do I REALLY want to know about this?" Don't misunderstand me- I am not talking about being lazy or content with less. I'm talking about HONESTLY evaluating the rewards that I have accrued from all the hours spent digesting the terms and theories and charts. What have I REALLY gained? Yes, I have gained in becoming more precise in hitting target areas, and for making sure my techniques follow the logical and natural reactions of an opponent when struck this precisely. Good- these are important standards to be sure, and up until now, I have felt that my time has been more than adequately been repaid. But now, what more can I ask of kyusho? Death touch? Delayed death touch? One hit KO's? Light hit KO's? Sure- these are attractive skills which would make me feel that I am a complete, knowledgable martial artist. Unfortunately, one can't REALLY train such skills- one can only SIMULATE them and must therefore trust in some model, be it Western or Chinese, to tell you what works and what doesn't. You must believe. You must have faith. Naturally then, it is now more difficult to evaluate what the rewards are for all of your study. And naturally, people want to set up tests to garner some tangible proof that what they believe in is true. But, before we argue about the validity of the most recent tests of kyusho, I would like to question the "ancient tests"- the ones run by the masters of OLD. How was this important body of knowledge formed? When were these deadly skills authenticated? I have struggled to find an answer. Here's why...
It is very common to hear people claim that their art is "combat tested"- certainly kysho is no exception. But where exactly WAS this combat? I'm hoping someone out there is a better student of history than I am and can shed some light on the methods of warfare over the centuries in Asia. But, it has been my impression that battles were mostly fought with weapons, not bare-handed. And in most cases, shields and different styles of body-armor were in use. When you're wielding a cudgel, sword, axe, or spear, precision isn't exactly all that important. Ever see Braveheart? Where then was the "field test" of kyusho? Where was the subtle movement and bare-armed precision?
I have read more than once, that kyusho was developed by experimenting on prisoners of war. This is not hard to believe, as both the Germans and Japanese (and God knows who else) ran various experiments on prisoners as recently as WWII. If this is true, and various cycles and points came from such experiments, are these really valid? Presumably, the prisoners would be restrained and unable to fight back, and were probably weakened from lack of food and water. Under these circumstances, I'll bet you could punch some people on the kneecap and knock them out! I have no doubt that you can kill a person many different and elaborate ways when they're hanging like a piece of meat with their arms tied.
Where else might have these techniques been tested? It is generally agreed upon that the martial arts training of old was a far more privleged pursuit than it is today. Learning to fight in a world without guns MEANT something. It is usually associated then with royalty, the military, temples, or along secretive family lines. The population at large had no real training. So, any story about some great, old master who fought this guy and that guy, and could clear a bar with one hand, was fighting untrained fighters! This is akin to picking a white belt out and telling him to try and stop you as you let him have it! Is this a fair test? I'll bet I could make a lot of intricate techniques work against an untrained drunk.
So, where then are the reasons to put one's faith into these advanced skills of kyusho that no one can actually PRACTICE? Sure, it makes some sense to draw faith from the demonstrations given by instructors such as Dillman, but are such demos ever under COMBAT conditions? The subject is always standing passively- relaxed and waiting- ready to RECEIVE energy, not produce it. Not unlike, I imagine, a weary, untrained prisoner chained to a wall! And again, don't misunderstand me- I'm not saying you can't hit kyusho points in a real fight, or that techniques from kata would never work on the street- I count on BOTH happening. But, the real "test" isn't made against a willing classmate, an untrained drunk, or a docile captive- it's made against a strong, unwilling, combative attacker who has made it his only intention in life to hurt you. And since it is intention that guides one's chi, that same chi that you use to make your strikes more effective, is the same chi that the attacker's using to fortify himself AGAINST those strikes. What kind of test can reproduce those circumstances?
One more interesting note: Contrary to popular opinion, Jigaro Kano did not "water-down" jiu-jitsu. At the time of his training, many of the "deadly" and advanced jiu-jitsu techniques could not be practiced in class for obvious reasons- sound familiar? Instead, they were SIMULATED. Kano, a discouraged student, thought it was more valuable to practice less harmful techniques the way they would REALLY be executed, than just go through the motions of the "deadlier" moves. His students, if my source is correct, were able to consistently dominate the jiu-jitsu students, and eventually, Judo quickly replaced Jiu-Jitsu as the rage in Japan. Isn't it clear that they dominated NOT because of their choice in technique, but because of the character qualities that they developed from ACTUALLY PRACTICING EXACTLY what they would do when fighting another person? I'm not suggesting we all go take Judo, but certainly there's a lesson here.
I'll say it again: I'm a believer in kyusho. And yes, I have absolutely benefited from spending time studying it, and will continue to do so. But, I am starting to feel a limitation on how far I'm willing to go in pursuit of the "super-skills"- the upper-levels where practice isn't possible beyond imagination and suggestion. And I certainly don't mean to show any disrespect to you Pantazi Sensei, for you have always been patient and generous in your exchanges with me on your forum, and I hope I can continue to ask for your insight and guidance. I just want to figure out how to best spend my training time... and to make an intelligent choice as to where I put my faith. I would gladly welcome any thoughts or responses that may help me do so. For now... well, I haven't put away the application to Accupuncture school yet! Thank you all.