I though I would share this paper - I hope you enjoy it
“Kyusho: The Body Beautiful”
Written By Sue Robson For Shodan Grading
Kyusho Canada ©
Have we unlocked the secrets to Karate’s “Pandora’s Box”? Are we certain that in disclosing what we have uncovered that it will be used in the way it was intended? Who will be responsible for the proper use of this great knowledge?
As with all great discoveries or developments, we must all be held accountable to the public when it comes to utilizing the knowledge we possess and to how it is shared. Kyusho is no exception.
For many years, even centuries, the mysteries surrounding karate have echoed. Many a folklore and many a legend were created because of the absence of complete understanding of the principles of Kyusho. Many men became the heroes of legends for merely possessing the knowledge that seemed magical to others. In many ways this theme still prevails among would be martial artists and movie buffs of today. It is not unusual to see surreal representation of martial arts in the cinema world. We have only to look at the latest releases like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “The Matrix”, and others to see what the lack of understanding concepts can be expanded to become overshadowing reality.
Here’s where we step in for a reality check. In many styles of karate there has been evidence of specific points of attack indicated by the various forms or katas practiced. The actual body of knowledge that accompanies it has been lacking. Many are still struggling to understand the practicality of form application or bunkai. Pieces or segments of the puzzle are still lacking. This becomes even more apparent once introduction to Kyusho is experienced.
All at once, Judo, Ju-Jutsu, Goshin Jutsu, Karate, Tai Chi and other studied arts become part of the same body and not a separate entity as had been insinuated previously. For many years I had suspected that there was much more to the arts I had been studying but I could barely put a finger on it. Kyusho turned me on to the proverbial light.
We all know that in the documented research of many read martial artists such as Patrick McCarthy, Mark Bishop, Peter Urban, Bruce Tegner, George Dillman to name a few, the use and application of pressure points have always existed. An old text called the BuBishi contained many caricatures depicting the location of certain points and how certain techniques guide you to them. Because the BuBishi is such a closely guarded secret, only certain excerpts of the text have been published. It is also believed that several copies of this text still exist and boast no author to accredit its controversial existence. Some say that it originates in China with its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine, others that it was nothing more than a student’s written perspective of a master’s teachings. Nonetheless the information contained therein is considered to be quite valuable. It is not so much what is written that has value but that which is suggested.
This study of pressure point involvement in karate called Kyusho, is an art that should be considered inseparable from all styles of martial arts. Applying the concepts of Kyusho along with kata, is discovering the natural unity and similarity that all karate styles possess. When one experiences or sees how Kyusho works, one discovers what has been missing from their training. The ease, the effectiveness, the underlying power of such simple techniques reawakens the reasons we all have plunged into the depths of the martial arts.
Regardless of the reasons a person becomes involved in martial arts, they will find that the union of their particular style of practice along with Kyusho will be of great benefit. Like a treasure map solved, the human body possesses pathways, channels, and key points of interest guiding the enthusiast on the road to discovery. The hills, the valleys, the recesses, the mounds, the inner and the outer avenues carefully camouflage the sensitive zones, the treasure trove.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the body is divided into channels called meridians. There are twelve regular meridians qualified with a certain organ (lung, large intestine, stomach, spleen, heart, small intestine, bladder, kidney, pericardium, triple warmer, gall bladder, liver) and two extra ordinary meridians characterized by states (conception, governor). Regular meridians are assigned phases equating them with elemental qualities. There are five elemental phases: Wood, Earth, Water, Fire, and Metal. How they act upon each other will determine a sequence of activation to be utilized for self-defense or for healing. There are also desired times of day when certain meridians are particularly sensitive. Each one of these channels is riddled with points we associate to nerves. Where these nerves end, intersect or split identify a pressure point. To most, this would seem like such a minute area to manipulate that accurate targeting could seem impossible. In reality, the actual activation of the point can occur in a radius of about the size of quarter surrounding the point. It would be simplistic to believe that this is all that is required to achieve a desired result. In fact there are a number of aspects used in unison, in conjunction or singularly to affect the body and achieve a desire reaction. Looking at the world around us, we note that most things are complimentary or opposing in equal measure creating a natural balance. This is called the Yin/Yang principle, the balance of opposites. When these notions are applied in principle with pressure points, complimentary aspects are used for healing, opposing aspects for self-defense, ultimately destruction. It is the unbalanced state that determines the effectiveness of an action on a pressure point. Add to this the amplification rule of three (staying on the same meridian), the intensity of will (intent), the penetration of life (breathing), the song of the wind (sounds) and the brilliance of light (color) to discover the magnitude with which each action will result in an equivalent reaction. The possibilities are astounding. All of these facets are an integral part of what most martial artists take for granted in the forms they repeatedly train in, kata.
Kata is the root of all karate. It is the essence of a defensive art. The relentless practice of kata develops the body, the mind and the spirit in ways many have yet to understand. It is through repeating these patterns that an awareness of body movement both offensive and defensive explodes. Visualization in kata is one of the techniques that help progress a practitioner to new levels. Shedding a different light on how to perform kata also aids in discovering how a body acts or reacts in certain situations. Freedom of expression in kata must be practiced along with the traditional method. Instead of practicing kata with hands closed perform these movements with open hands to discover an entirely new set of options. Envisioning what parts of the body are exposed in a given situation leads to the mapping of Kyusho or pressure points and leads to the creation applications. Kata also helps us identify how a point needs to be manipulated in order to gain a desired affect. For point manipulation to be effective it must follow a set of rules, that of method of activation, angle of attack and direction of attack. Every step can be a kick, a sweep, a trip, a reap, or a throw. Every punch or closed fist means either a grab or a counter to a finger lock. This is thoroughly depicted in the forms practiced. Remember that all is not what it seems to be. Without this realization, kata could be considered a form of rhythmic dance.
As a Goju Ryu practitioner, I can better understand the concepts of the hard and the soft of the style that Chojun Miyagi, its creator, was trying to relay. With the integration of Kyusho in the development of kata bunkai the practice of the various forms come to life. Scenarios are continuously formulated and multiply only with the number of various attacks applied in application. For every single attack, there is a second and a third, that of one or the other or two together. Enhance this with the number of available points to be manipulated and kata will take on a life of its own. When we characterize kata with the principles of Kyusho we discover that perhaps the particular technique we had imagined applying before the advent of pressure point application knowledge, really weren’t effective and had to be reworked within the scope of Kyusho practice. Kata bunkai now takes on a whole new meaning. Not only can you apply the principles of Kyusho to Goju Ryu, but you can also apply the principles of Goju Ryu to Kyusho.
Since Goju Ryu is based on hard and soft technique or solid and fluid technique, it extols the benefits of Yin/Yang theory. When a body or an attack is aggressive or hard the countering defensive move must be fluid or soft. In the same token when an attack is straight and linear, counter with a redirecting circular movement. The ease with which a soft, flowing movement can be made in order to redirect a body part is largely dependent on the knowledge found in Kyusho principles.
Because over the years much of the original flair of Goju Ryu has been lost, either because the forms were not passed on to someone who would continue the practice or whether the main contingent of people who new the style perished in devastating events, it is not difficult to believe that perhaps the relationship between Goju Ryu and Kyusho were erased from the forms.
Perhaps it is because a master was reluctant to teach just anyone the secrets of his trade or his heritage. It could also be that there was a fear of divulging information to someone that might use it against him. It is often thought that the Kyusho aspect of kata is the long lost link to effective technique. This lost link was likely not a deliberate act, but in the process of developing an art that could effectively be practiced by all age groups, a sacrifice was made in order to ensure the complete safety of all practitioners.
But where would Goju Ryu or any other style for that matter be without the reintroduction of Kyusho in practice. It is thanks to people like George Dillman who went against the main stream to delve further into the depths of kata and application, rediscovering the long lost secrets of kata. It was once said that learning karate is like peeling an onion. Each layer introduces a new aspect of the art. Once all the layers have been peeled away you are left with the core. Applying this concept to karate we can envision the layers as being, kata, tuite, jutsu, kyusho, and kiko. Kiko being the core, we all strive toward, total energy displacement.
Now imagine peeling away the layers of skepticism, disbelief, and closed mindedness. Discover the fascinating world of Kyusho and the body beautiful.