Does Pressure Point Fighting Really Work?

This is an area that you will see debated from time to time with people for and against it.  Some claim that pressure points make your techniques ultra effective, whilst others claim that in the heat of the moment you will not have the accuracy to find the point whilst somebody is trying to hit you at the same time.

So who’s right?  Well in my humble opinion, the truth lies somewhere in the middle and it depends on the circumstances.

If you start a fight 6ft apart, close in, then exchanging blows with a capable opponent; I believe that it would be difficult (but not impossible) to find pressure point targets.  Just think when you are sparring against somebody of equal skill, it can be difficult landing a blow on their torso (which is a large target), never mind finding a very small pressure point to hit.  Furthermore, when you have just had an adrenalin dump, your fine motor skills do not work as efficiently.  For this reason, many people advocate concentrating on developing your techniques (regardless of style) so that you are fast and powerful and you will Continue reading “Does Pressure Point Fighting Really Work?”

Soto Uke (Outside Block) & Related Kung Fu Techniques

I have written in a previous posting about how I believe that Karate’s Soto Uke was probably based on an instinctive human reaction and developed by the masters of old.  In the following video sequence we demonstrate some applications for Soto Uke, whilst also looking at Chinese Kung Fu movements that are almost the same.

Note:  The block called Soto Uke in some styles is called Uchi Uke (inside block) in other styles.

Bearing in mind that much of Karate’s original bunkai has been lost, and that Karate is largely based on Kung Fu, it is good to look at similar Kung Fu movements and how Kung Fu practitioners apply them.  By looking into our roots we can learn more about our own style and read across from what the Okinawan masters probably learnt from the Chinese masters.  The Okinawan masters would have adapted the movements to suit their own physiques and needs, which is fine as the Chinese masters did exactly the same.  That is why there is such a vast array of Kung Fu styles.

When a beginner looks at different styles of Kung Fu, Karate, TKD etc., they see lots of differences.  However, the experienced practitioner sees many similarities.  This why we are able to learn from each other, to increase our knowledge and understanding of our own style, without necessarily having to study other styles in depth.

We hope you enjoy our video:

Bunkai: Heian Nidan/Pinan Shodan (Won Hyo, Chum Kiu)

In the clip below, we look at some applications from the opening sequence of Heian Nidan/Pinan Shodan/Won Hyo.  We don’t say that this is necessarily the best or only interpretations for these moves, it just our take on it.  Although Heian Nidan and Pinan Shodan are in effect the same kata (just named differently in different styles) and Tae Kwon Do’s Won Hyo pattern is closely based on it; Chum Kiu is essentially quite different.  It is the second form from the Wing Chun Kung Fu system.

However, some of the moves in Chum Kiu quite closely resemble the opening sequence of Heian Nidan/Pinan Shodan, although is performed quite a  bit more tightly.

Is this surprising to find such similarities?

Not at all.  Tae Kwon Do is largely based on Karate and Karate is largely based on Kung Fu.  The nearest part of China to Okinawa (where Karate developed) is Fukien Provence and it is known that White Crane Kung Fu was particularly popular in that area.  Wing Chun Kung Fu is based mainly on the Snake and the Crane, so there is a common lineage.

Anyway, we hope you enjoy our short video:

Soto Uke (Outside Block)

Firstly, lets define which block we are talking about.  What Shotokan Karate (my style) calls Soto Uke (Outside Block, because it comes from the outside), some other styles call Uchi Uke (Inside Block, because it travels to the inside).  I am talking about the block that starts from just by the ear and travels inward across the body (same direction as the hip rotation), stopping roughly in line with the opposite shoulder.

Although in many Japanese and Korean martial arts we were originally taught that Soto Uke is for blocking a straight punch aimed at our body, it has become more and more obvious that is an unlikely.

Firstly, most people outside of the dojo/dojang, do not usually attack with straight punches, it is usually haymakers.  As we are more likely to be attacked by a thug then another martial artist, why do we train so much for an attack that we are not likely to be attacked by?

Secondly, even if we were attacked by another martial artist, how often do use a Soto Uke in sparing.  We virtually never use is because it is too slow to be used as a block.  It is fine in a pre-arranged sparing routine, but is extremely difficult to make it work when the attacks come at random.

Conclusion: it is quite useless as a block when used in the traditional manner.

Anybody who has been interested in alternative bunkai for any time, will probably have seen the humble Soto Uke use for other purposes, such as arm-locks or close in striking etc.  This will be covered later in subsequent postings.

However, for anybody who still thinks that the primary function of a Soto Uke is to block a straight punch to the torso, should have a look at the video below.

But first some explanation!

The video is taken from a F.A.S.T. Defence course.  F.A.S.T. stands for Fear, Adrenalin, Stress Training.  Many people when under the stress of a real life confronation, freeze.  This even happens to high grade martial artists.  F.A.S.T Defence (amongst other things) trains people by taking then into this adrenalised state, then making them respond to overcome the “freeze” reflex that many of us have.    The idea is to provoke the student into an adrenalised state.  They get to respond full power against a “Bulletman”.  That is a man in  padded suit with a bullet shaped helmet, so that he can take blows and kicks full power.  The student does not have to worry about control in their adrenalised state.  There is more to it than just that, and the training is appropriate for both trained martial artists or for people who have never done a days training in their life.  Having done one of their courses myself, I would highly recommend them.

So why is that relevant to us and our Soto Uke?

When people are under that kind of pressure, they often extend one hand forward to restrain their attacker, whilst bringing their other hand back behind their ear, before swinging it round and striking hammer-fist to their attackers head.  This intuitive method, used by untrained people is very close to our Soto Uke (and the Wing Chun whipping punch)!

Could it be that the masters of the past took what is an instinctive human reaction and developed it?  Take a natural reaction and enhance it?  We often hear that modern systems like Krav Maga build on instinctive human reactions and when Krav Maga is adopted by law enforcement agencies around the world (including the FBI and the US Secret Service), then they must be doing something right.

So is it possible that our past masters did exactly the same thing, by building on instinctive reflexes?

We will never know for sure, but I think it is highly likely.  The video below comes from a F.A.S.T. Defence training session, where you will see the student reacting in way described above.  Have a look and decide for yourself if this instinctive reaction could be the route of the Soto Uke.

Warning:  It contains foul language, so check who is around you first:

Professor Rick Clark: Pressure Points

Professor Rick Clark is a specialist in applying pressure points using techniques from the katas/patterns.  He has a very good understanding of both Japanese/Okinawan katas as well as Korean.  When you see his qualifications, you’ll understand why:

8th Dan Ryukyu Kempo

7th Dan Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwan

7th Dan Ju-jitsu

5th Dan Judo

3rd Dan Modern Arnis

1st Dan Hapkido

As well as having one of his books, I’ve had the pleasure to attend one of his courses when he came over to the UK.  He’s a very easy going gentleman who is very approachable and extremely knowledgeable.

 

For more information about Professor Rick Clark and his seminars, his website is www.ao-denkou-kai.com.

Practical TaeKwonDo

Here are a couple of clips from Matthew Sylvester, author of the book, “Practical TaeKwonDo: Back To The Roots“.

In the first 2 clips, Matthew and his training partner are “freestyling” multiple applications to sequences from TaeKwonDo patterns. As you will you see, each sequence has multiple applications.  In the last clip, Matthew focuses on multiple applications for the lower block, giving different applications for TKD and Karate chambering.

Matthew’s qualificatios are :

– 1st Dan Ao Denkou Jutsu
– Senior Instructor Instinctive Kenpo Fighting™
– Level 5 Practitioner Instinctive Kenpo Fighting™
– 3rd Dan Jung Shin Taekwondo
– 3rd Dan OKKO Karate Jutsu
– Level 3 Instructor Nigel Lee’s MEME
– 1st Dan Adam Merton’s Shunryu Kenpo
– 1st Dan Aikoushin Kobujutsu
– Instructor Family Awareness Safety Training
– Level 1 Instructor Jim Wagner’s RBPP
– UK Advisor Jim Wagner’s RBPP
– SIA Qualified Door Supervisor
– Qualified IFUMA Instructor in Chang Hon TKD

You can find out more about Matthew Sylvester at his Facebook page www.facebook.com/mjsylvester.

Iain Abernethy – Bunkai

To start up a blog like this, you can’t get more authoritative then Iain Abernethy.  Iain specialises in grappling bunkai.  Although he is primarily a Wado Ryu Karate stylist, he teaches in a way that it can translate to any style and he takes this into account when teaching.

Iain is a 5th Dan with both the British Combat Association (one of the world’s leading groups for close-quarter combat, self-protection and practical martial arts) and Karate England (the official governing body for Karate in England).  He is in demand all over the World and has a good reputation for being open, approachable and extremely informative.

Here are a few Youtube clips.

To find out more about Iain, visit his website at www.IainAbernethy.com

Iain has written a number of books and DVDs on the subject of bunkai.  In fact this blog takes its name from his book and DVD series entitled “Bunkai Jutsu”; which I can thoroughly recommend.  Iain also regular writes articles for the top martial arts magazines.