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Friday, February 12, 2010

"Pain Not Important"

Every so often, I'll read something about "pressure points," vis-a-vis martial arts, that makes me go, "Hmmmmm." I did that just tonight.

God knows I don't claim to be an expert. I refer anybody asking for expert blogospheric advice on things regarding RyuTe (the system of martial arts I practice) to Openhand, as he has been in the system far longer than I have, and I have absolutely no intention of appearing to have a level of expertise that I do not. On the other hand, RyuTe is noted for its use of "pressure point," or nerve point techniques, as well as tuite, and the way the two work together, so it's not like I don't have some opinions on the subject.

I'll be brief: my opinion is that you are wise not to make the mistake of thinking that the object of a pressure point technique is to result in pain compliance, that is, for the technique to work because it hurts the recipient so much. Many times it does hurt like the dickens, but that's hardly all there is to it. As Openhand notes here:
Atemi/kyusho (points) vary greatly in their use/application. There are a large number of them, that merely “contact”, is sufficient to elicit a necessary response (which doesn't always include “pain”).
More than once, we've been in class (I guess you can call a group of three to five people a "class") and found that exerting pressure on certain points produced little, or even no pain, but...





A brief story my instructor told me may be illustrative. I don't claim to be quoting anybody here; this is as close as my middle-aged memory can make it.

We were working on a defense against a push, a defense which can be found in the opening movements of Naihanchi Shodan (again: those wishing for more detailed explanations can find much of value in Openhand's writings), and my instructor reminisced that fairly early on in his involvement with RyuTe, he and a number of other people were working that very technique in Taika Oyata's presence. My instructor was having trouble getting the technique to work on his partner, and at length his partner told him not to worry about it, that he could hardly feel anything in his wrist and forearms anyway, he had had the bones in those places broken so many times and suffered so much tissue damage. At about that time, Taika walks up, hears what's going on, and proceeds to lay my instructor's partner out with that very technique, the one that my instructor's partner had mistakenly thought required pain to be effective.

"Pain no important," said Taika, and had them keep on practicing. I assure you, my instructor has no trouble with the technique now.

As I said, I don't claim to be an expert, but my limited experience would suggest that if you have the impression that you need to produce pain with your "pressure point" techniques in order for them to be effective, you might want to think about expanding your thinking a little bit. My limited experience is that if the nerve technique is done correctly, it will work, whether or not any pain is produced.

Don't worry, my feelings won't be hurt if you don't agree.

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