Pressure Point Fighting: A Secret Guide to the Heart
of Asian Martial Arts
by Richard Clark
Tuttle Publishing 2001, 194 Pages
Reviewed by Jeremy C. Bays
point fighting, vital points, dim-mak, hyel-dul, and
kyusho-jitsu are all words used to describe the methods
of attacking vulnerable locations on the human body.
If you have been involved in the martial arts over
the past several years, you will have noticed that
a new trend is creeping into the world of combat science.
Many seminar instructors around the world are preaching
the gospel of pressure points, and how they apply
to the martial arts. Rick Clark is a leader in this
movement to educate martial artists about pressure
points and their use in the United States and abroad.
Rick Clark has been practicing the martial arts of
Judo, Karate, Taekwon-do, and Arnis since the early
1960's. He brings these many years of experience as
well as a love for research into his new book "Pressure
Point Fighting: A Secret Guide to the Heart of Asian
In the preface of the book Clark writes, "you
will not find anything in this book that has not been
written elsewhere before." Why then would I recommend
that you purchase this book? The answer lies in the
presentation of the material. Rick Clark has taken
the complex and confusing world of vital points and
stripped it down to a basic idea; "It does not
matter why it works, it only matters that it works."
This pragmatic approach stands in marked contrast
to many of pressure point teachers who either ground
their teachings on the science behind their work.
On one hand, there are people who claim we should
follow the ideas and teachings of Modern Western Medicine,
neurology and science. They state that we live in
a society that uses this paradigm to explain our medical
care so we should stick to the science that we have
developed to explain the functions of our bodies.
On the other hand, there are the people who claim
that we should use Traditional Chinese Medicine's
concepts of qi (or energy flow) which embodies a holistic
approach to understanding the science of pressure
points. They make the argument that the original founders
of the martial arts system lived and worked under
this paradigm and therefore we should resort to the
science that they developed to explain the functions
of the body.
Both schools of thoughts contain strong arguments.
Mr. Clark also explains the basic ideas and principles
from each orientation. He then goes on to state his
opinion which is "hit them at their weakest point"
The opening chapter is devoted to explaining Mr.
Clark's "Core Principles." These are ideas
and concepts that you can apply to your study of the
martial arts. For example, Targets of Opportunity,
Out-of-the-Box Thinking, the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple
Stupid) concept and many others. With a basic understanding
of Clark's world view, you can then apply these principles
to the study of your own individual art. One does
not have to change styles of martial arts in order
to use vital points to gain an advantage. You are
encouraged to find the vital point information hidden
within the style that you are presently studying.
The next section of the book deals with various applications
to movements found in the kata of Chinese, Korean
and Japanese fighting arts. Professor Clark uses the
katas as a blueprint for his vital point techniques.
He states that kata contains vital point attacks and
will show you the correct angle and direction to activate
these points on the body. The movements and techniques
are presented with charts of the various vital points
being used and where they are found on the human body
so it is easy to follow along even if you do not practice
the form that he is working with.
Mr. Clark's book concludes with detailed printed
lists of the various vital points and their locations.
Also presented are various lists of vital points from
several pre-WWII and post- WWII authors. Clark states
that the knowledge of vital point usage in karate
and other martial arts was hidden from the public
view after World War II. The charts in the back of
this book serve as proof for that theory. Some of
the these charts are from books that are quite rare
and many have been out of print for several decades.
So, if you desire to expand your martial arts knowledge,
or have felt that there was something missing in your
studies, I would recommend Clark's book. What he portrays
is not art or style specific, but is something that
can be used to expand the effectiveness of virtually
any martial art.
About the reviewer:
Jeremy Bays is an experienced martial artist and
writer who hold a black belt in Chun Do Kwan Taekwon-do,
Chinese Kempo jiu-jitsu, and is currently working
in Kali and Jeet Kune Do. He lives in Farmland, Indiana
with his wife and two daughters.
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