Thursday, February 27, 2020

Hapkido Knee Fighting

This article was originally published in Martial Art Masters Magazine, September 1994
By Scott Shaw

            Close contact fighting has always proven to be one of the most complicated situations a martial artist can find himself in. The reason it is difficult to rapidly and successfully defend yourself, once your opponent has moved closely in on you and possibly taken a hold of your clothing, is because in close proximity your available counter strike techniques become very limited.  First of all, there is not enough distance between your body and that of your opponent’s to effectively kick him.   And, with the exception of the uppercut punch, your punching defense is limited to wildly thrown roundhouse punches which at best will make contact with the side of your opponent’s head.  There is, however, an effective method to close contact In-fighting which many martial artists do not fully investigate or develop.  That method is the use of the knee as a powerful striking weapon.

            The knee strike is an excellent close proximity fighting tool.  This is because there is not much space needed to make its attack effective. 

            A knee strike takes no advanced training to perform. There is, however, certain limitations to the use of the knee. Therefore, we must fully explore the science of knee fighting to first gain knowledge of what not to do, before we can understand what the knee can effectively accomplish.

            The knee is one of the most sensitive joints on the human body.  It is quite easily damaged. When you strike with the knee, it is very important you do so in the proper manner.  For if you perform a knee strike improperly, you stand the chance of injuring your knee instead of defending yourself successfully.

            Your knee should always be bent when you attack with it. By bending your knee, you not only isolate its impact point but keep it from bending unnaturally against itself; tearing your ligaments, cartilage, or in more severe cases, breaking your knee altogether. 

             A knee strike should never be delivered in a side-to-side format.  This is to say, never attempt to impact with the side of your knee.  The side area of your knee joint is very sensitive and your lower leg can easily be sent in the opposite direction of your upper leg if you incorrectly attempt to strike with it in this fashion.

            The part of your knee that should be used as a striking weapon is the upper part.  Reach down to your thigh and follow your upper leg muscle to the point where it meets the knee bone; this is the ideal strike point for knee attacks.

            A proper knee strike is accomplished by rapidly lifting your knee up and into its target. The power of the knee strike is initiated at the hip, and is driven forward with the muscles of the upper leg. 
            The first strike point most people think of when utilizing a knee attack is the opponent’s groin.  This is, in fact, a good location to aim for, especially if your opponent has grabbed you in a straight forward choke hold or similar frontal attack. In this type of attack, your opponent’s groin region is easily accessible and a powerful knee strike can make instantaneous contact and lead you to victory in the confrontation. 

            Though the knee can virtually strike any location on your opponent’s body, given the right set of circumstances, there are several location which are ideal knee strike targets; they are: the groin, the ribs, the kidneys, under the opponent’s jaw, and to a lesser degree, the inside of the opponent’s upper leg.  The time to strike at these various targets is only dominated by the type of encounter you find yourself in.

            One of the most important thing to remember when using the knee as a weapon is, you should never use your knee to strike at a location on your opponent’s body where you have to travel to.  This is to say that the knee strike is not an ideal long distance reaching weapon; as is the case with the various punching techniques and many of the traditional martial art kicks.  This is due to the fact that the very elements that make the knee an ideal close contact weapon, makes it inefficient in distance applications.  

            The knee cannot reach out as does the arm or leg.  As well, if you leave the knee in a “Cocked-to-strike” position and attempt to launch yourself, at a distance, in towards your opponent with the momentum you can gain from jumping off of your non-knee kicking leg, you not only leave yourself in an off balance position, but you will be leaving your body open and exposed to powerful attacks from your opponent, as well. Therefore, the use of the knee as a striking weapon should be limited to close quarter “in-fighting.”

            A well placed knee strike is dominated by two factors; one, is it an easily reachable target and the second, will the strike you make with your knee have the debilitating affect on our opponent you desire?  If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then that is the time to perform a powerful knee strike.

            Now that we understand the basics of the science of knee fighting, we can investigate the best knee fighting tactics in order that we may efficiently and effectively knee strike our opponent in each applicable situation. 

            As previously mentioned, when grabbed in a forward hold, a knee to your opponent’s groin is a very effective defensive measure.  But, what can you do in the few seconds before your opponent has actually taken a hold of you; especially if his intentions are obviously violent and he is moving quickly in your direction? 

            First of all, it is never a good idea to allow an opponent to grab a hold of you, if you have the option.  Therefore, when an opponent is rapidly moving towards you, this affords you an ideal opportunity to use his momentum to your own advantage. This is accomplished in one of two ways. The first method of achieving momentum advantage over your adversary, as he closes in on you, is by deflecting his arms outward, with an in-to-out knife hand block, once he is close enough.  After this deflection has been performed, you can maintain substantial control over his movements by grabbing a hold of his elbow region, once his arm has been blocked.  By first deflecting his arms outward, while allowing his momentum to continue forward, you have opened his body up for you to easily attack him with a powerful knee strike.

            Though this deflection leading to a knee strike happens in a second, with the momentum the two of you have gained by moving towards one another, you can powerfully knee strike him either in his groin, solar plexus, or easily launch yourself upward and deliver a very debilitating knee strike under his jaw.  

The second avenue we can take for an oncoming opponent, who is either attempting to grab or strike at us is to deflect his extending arm inwards, with an out-to-in forearm block. Once his arm has been deflected, you should maintain a controlling hand on his elbow, so he cannot perform a secondary strike at you with say a back fist.  By performing this type of block, you allow your opponent to continue through with his own forward motion. Thus, leaving his forward ribs or back exposed to an easy counter attack with your knee. 

            In this case, if it is most effective for you to strike at his ribs, you simply allow his motion to continue as you guide him down by taking control of his extended arm, as your knee powerfully meets his ribs.  If you choose to knee strike his kidneys you can simply deflect his arm and allow his developed momentum to continue him moving forward, slightly past you; thus, exposing his back to your powerful knee attack.

            As the key to all successful defense is to strike your opponent before he has the opportunity to strike you, knee fighting is no different.  Therefore, now that we understand how we can easily open our opponent’s body up for knee strikes, let’s evaluate how we can effectively maintain control over him, while we are accomplishing a debilitating knee attack.

            Whenever you are going to use your knee as your initial form of self-defense, in close contact In-fighting, you must do two things.  First of all, as we now understand, the knee is not a good weapon at a distance. For this reason we must keep our opponent from retreating or moving back out of the way of the effective knee strike range. The most efficient way to accomplish this is to take a hold of him in order to keep him from moving out of the range of your impending knee strike.  Secondarily, once you have set yourself up to knee strike your opponent, you must keep him from powerfully counter striking you in the process of your knee attack. To do this, there are three areas of his body you must become very aware of; they are: his arms, legs, and head.

            If you control an opponent’s elbows, you can effectively control his entire body.  Thus, as we have learned in the previous examples of deflecting any grabbing or striking attack on the part of our opponent, we should either leave our block in place at his elbow level or grab his arm so we can keep him from launching any secondary hand strike.

            As no rule holds undisputed for all fighting situations, maintaining an elbow block or grasp while continuing through with your knee assault may not always be possible.  If elbow control is not feasible, the secondary locations that you should concentrate your attentions on to give you added control over your opponent is his shoulder or wrist region. 

            By grasping at or leaving your arm in ready position at your opponent’s shoulder level, you can quickly foil any oncoming fist attack while your knee strike is in progress.  The same is true in the case of a grasp at or near your opponent’s wrist.     

            Not only by taking control of your opponent’s arm, once his initial attack has been deflected, do you control his ability to strike at you again, but by controlling his arms you also can effectively guide him to your desired knee strike location. This opponent guidance is accomplished either by using his own forward momentum and passively directing him to your desired knee strike or by forcefully pulling him downwards by his arms, powerfully onto your knee, once you have deflected his initial attack.

            Commonly, in professional kickboxing, knee attacks are launched to the inside of an opponent’s leg.  Though the legs of an opponent should always be monitored in a street altercation, there are two very serious problems with using your opponent’s legs as knee strike focal points. First of all, this type of attack does little debilitating damage to your opponent, so there is virtually no point in using it as an attack zone in a street confrontation.  Secondarily, by moving in that close to your opponent, if you have not taken effective control of his arms, he has the ability to powerfully strike you with his fists or elbows.  Therefore, this is not an ideal primary strike point for knee fighting.

            Finally, in controlling your opponent in order to effectively knee strike him, there is no better source of control than his neck and head region.  This region is easily accessible; especially in the case of close contact In-fighting as your two bodies are already in close proximity. 

            To effectively take control of your opponent’s motions is as easy as rapidly reaching in and grabbing him in a frontal grip by his throat. This type of grab will not only momentarily distract him as to your strategic intentions, but will allow you to maintain control over his movements long enough to powerfully knee strike him in the groin.

            Controlling your opponent’s head is equally easily accomplished. You should go for head control immediately after you have deflected your opponent’s arm out of its forward aggressive motion. At this second, your opponent’s initial attack has been nullified and he is most prone for a rapid and unexpected counter defense.  Once deflected, you can strongly grab a hold of your opponent’s head, with one or both of your hands, and shove it downward, in position, for a jumping knee strike to his face.

            Traditionally, martial art schools have advised that once your opponent has moved in tight on your body, you should attempt to shove him back in order to effectively kick him or deliver a powerful punching technique.  Attempting to utilize this type of defense promises limited results, however. This is especially the case if your opponent has already taken a powerful hold of your clothing or does so in the process of being shoved back.   As we have learned with the use of the properly placed knee, there is not a need to expend unnecessary energy, attempting to shove or grapple with your opponent. Simply deliver a well-placed knee attack and your opponent will be instantly injured.  At this point, if necessary, you can effortlessly continue with further counter attacks.

Copyright © 1993—All Rights Reserved

Friday, September 6, 2019

Finding Your Target

Finding Your Target
By Scott Shaw

In the martial arts, one of the primary things that the trainee focuses upon is developing the skill to accurately see a vulnerable point on their opponent and then deliver a precisely targeted strike to that location. Where as most people who enter into physical combat do so with a wild and undefined barrage of offensive techniques, the martial artist understands that style of combat is not only unreliable but also causes the person who is utilizing it to expend a lot of energy. For this reason, precise targeting is part of the primary curriculum for all schools of martial arts.
Life is not much different from this. Some people, for whatever self-defined reason, choose an individual and then focus a targeted attack upon that person. Look around, you see it everywhere. You see it in the news, you see it in conversations, you see it in internet posting, and you see it in bar fights. What is occurring in all of these cases is that one person has targeted another person and is attempting to overpower them via a precisely target attack.
The motivation for this style of attack can be wide-spanning but the one reality of it is that one person has decided that they should hurt and/or defeat another person. But, as we all understand, the definition of attack is based upon the concept of winning and losing. Just as no boxer or MMA fighter is the champion of the ring forever, this too is the case with the person who instigates attacks. They may win but they will eventually end up the loser.
In the martial arts, the true martial artist always avoids physical confrontations. They say nothing and do nothing to escalate personal conflict. From their training they understand that they posses highly developed techniques of self-defense thus they have nothing to prove. But, the world is not like that. Many people do not want to exist at a level where they understand that each person is their own person and defined by their own reality. Instead, they want to judge, they want to attack, they want to sucker punch, they want to hurt other people so that they will appear to be more than the individual they are attacking. But, are they?
As people living on the path of consciousness, we are the one’s who do not partake of that level of intoxication. But, again, it is all around us—there is no way to avoid it. So, what should we do when we witness it?
Though there is no absolute answer to this question, perhaps the best thing to do is to simply not participate. Do not allow yourself to be brought down to the level of the person who attacks. Do not encourage them. Do not cheer them on. Say nothing, do nothing; that would be the ultimate example of Zen. Or, if you have the ability, create a situation that completely alters the course of the confrontation and redirects it to a positive place. For in the martial arts this is the ultimate level of self-defense, not to fight but to not fight. Just as Bruce Lee so ideally stated in the movie, Enter the Dragon, “I call it the art of fighting without fighting.”
Ultimately, be more than the person who targets other individuals. Make the world a better place by not contributing to or participating in that style of attack. Exist in the space of understanding that each person is who they are and because they are who they are any attack on them is an attack of all of us. Thus, the person who is instigating the attack is doing nothing more then sending everybody who listens to them or is inspired or invigorated by their actions to make the everything worse for all of us.
I believe we all want our life to be better. I believe we all want the everything of the world to be better. How do we achieve that? Never attack.

Copyright © 2019

From the Scott Shaw Blog

Monday, April 1, 2019

The Rank That You Earn

By Scott Shaw

In regard to the martial arts, like I have long said, “If you are referring to yourself as a master, that problems means that you are not.”
I understand that people want position in life. Whether it is martial art rank, job title, or number of follows on Instagram or Twitter, people want to feel as if they are something and appear as if they have achieved something. This has lead people to pursue all kinds of pathways to gain a place in society where they can claim that they are, “A Something.” Some of these pathways have been based on hard work. Other of these pathways have been based upon cooking the books. But, one way or the other, certain people strive towards titling.
But, what does it mean when you get there? What do you do with your position of title equaling power? Do you unleash good or do you unleash harm? Or, is where you have arrived simply a place where your ego is allowed to be stroked?
As I have long tried to explain to people, the term, “Master,” most commonly used with the Korean martial arts, (Sabumnim in Korean), is not well-translated into American English. It is much more akin to Old British English where a school instructor was sometimes called, “Master,” in reference to him being the head of the class. In modern times, the term, “Master,” in association with the martial arts, has come to denote what a person is, “A Master of the Art.” But, are they? Yes, they may have earned rank, either through years of training or purchase, but look at the people who use this term, are they truly a Master? Do they perform every technique perfectly every time? I have watch ballerinas; some of them are masters. I have watched performers in shows like Cirque du Soleil; some of them are masters. But, is some chubby guy teaching a few students at a small martial art studio deserving of this title? I guess that is a personal decision. But, I have always preferred the Japanese term, “Sensei,” which means teacher. But, people want more. They don’t want to just be a teacher. They want to be something grand.
The reason I bring this subject up is that I was asked a little while back why I am not a 9th Degree Black Belt as I have been an 8th Degree Black Belt for so long. First of all, I don’t care about any of that. But, as I explained, I was offered that rank a number of years ago but I turned it down. Then, the other day, I was going through some papers and I found the letter where the head of the organization offered me the advancement. It was dated 2006. Wow! That was a long time ago. I didn’t even realize how long ago that was. Now, even the founder and the head of that organization has passed on.
In any case, I’m not about what I claim to be. I’m not about title. I’m not about presenting an image to the world. I’m just about me being me. I’m about helping and I don’t care about the title I am given as I am helping. Just call me Scott.
The problem with the world is… The problem with some people is… (At least as I see it). Instead of working towards being a helpful version of themselves, they first seek to be a something. They want the title. They expect the respect. Whether a person has truly earned any title they use is forever debatable. But, that is not even the point. If you throw away the title, who are they—who are you? If you throw away the number of followers you have on Instagram or Twitter, who are you? If you are alone and yourself who are you?
People who seek titling, often times get lost in that title. Whether it is in martial arts, at the job, or on the web, people become lost in the projection of who they appear to be. But, who are they really? Are they that title? Or, are they person who is below that title? The person who’s life is only known to a very few (or no one)?
If you are nothing… If you seek to be nothing… Then titling has no hold on you. You can give, you can help, but by claiming the freedom of being nothing you are not bound by what any title describes you to be. Thus, all that you do is done from the space of purity.
Now, I get it… Most people want to be that, “Something.” But, even if that is you, try letting go for a minute. Stop allowing others to refer to you as a something. Stop describing yourself, in your own mind, as that something. How freeing is that?
Let go of titling and you can be anything. Plus, you can be it in the purist sense of the word. As you are nothing… As you claim nothing… You can give everything. And, giving/helping, without taking, (without your ego being stroked), that is the best thing you can do with your life.
Let go of your desire to be a something. Then you are free. Then you can truly help.

Copyright © 2018—All Rights Reserved

From the Scott Shaw Blog.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Street Savvy Self-Defense

By Scott Shaw

      At the foundation of any method of effective self-defense is your own ability to read a situation, decide upon the appropriate action, and then implement successful self-defense techniques to keep yourself free from injury.  In your martial art school, you are taught methods of how to encounter the various types of physical attack which may befall you: be it a punch, a kick, or a body grab. It is far better, however, for you to never be forced into a physical confrontation at all.  To achiever this, “The most basic level of self-defense,” you must learn how to read physical and environmental situations and then take defensive action before a physical altercation ever finds you. 

Defining an Attacker
      Perhaps the most disconcerting level of this area of self-defense, especially for those who have been previously attacked, is that there is no one who can teach you a technique which will keep you safe from all physical confrontations. This is in no small part due to the fact that each person who would accost you possesses a different look, a different body language, and an undisclosed reasoning for why they would wish to instigate a physical encounter. Certainly, there are certain types of individuals who you may come upon, who look evil, speak to you with an intimidating tone, or act in a specific manner which you instantly know you must get away from.  In these situation, the decision to walk or run away is obvious. It is the less defined individuals who pose the biggest problem in knowing exactly whom to steer clear of.
      There are countless theories, and the word, “Theory,” is used because that is exactly all they are, about how you should behave if someone with ill intentions comes upon you. Some of these theories tell you to remain calm, in a non-aggressive mode and speak passively to the person, others tell you to be assertive and attempt to back the opponent down. Still others say you should scream or run. 
      When you are accosted, no theory will work. This is because of the fact that each attacker is completely different and motivated by their own set of irrational standards. As is the case with all areas of self-defense, you must confront every situation as it is presented to you, and react at your most effective possible level.
      There are standard rules of common sense which can hopefully keep you free from confrontation. For example, lock your doors and windows, avoid dark isolated locations, don’t place yourself in a dangerous environment -- if hostility is eminent, leave immediately before it has the ability to escalate, if an attacker come up to you in a public place, call for the help of others, and so on. All of these common sense rules can only be applied prior to a confrontation or when other people are in your presence. Often times, attackers will not come upon you in public situations. They will wait until you are alone. In these situations, absolute self-defense is necessary.  You can not think or be concerned about the injurious effect you are having upon your attacker, as they certainly are not concerned with your well being or they would not have accosted you in the first place.

Victim Mentality
      Being a victim is a state of mind. It is what we do with the experience of lose which determines whether or not you become a life-long victim.
      A victim is an individual who has lost an altercations and, thus, the rest of their life is dominated by that experience. Everywhere they go, they are scared and expecting a similar negative experience to again occur.
      The person who is not a victim, may have lost battles in the past, but they realize that life is a step by step process. Though they may not have like the experience of loosing, they have learned what they could from it, become stronger, and have moved on with their life becoming a better and more whole individual. 

Winning and Losing
      You can not win all altercations. Winning or loosing is all a state of mind.  If you learn from your seeming loss, you are, in fact, a winner as you have come to become a stronger, more complete individual. From another perspective, if you have won many confrontations and are constantly seeking to prove yourself in battle, there will eventually be somebody who can beat you. Thus, the conscious self-defense technician never seeks out battle.  If battle is forced upon them, they proceed in the most conscious and effective manner possible.

Remaining Conscious in Battle
      The question often arises, “How does one remain conscious in the randomness of battle?” There are two primary methods to achieve this: partner practice in your dojo and mental visualization. From partner practice you learn, through personal experience, the most efficient method to deal with each style of physical attack. Thus, if you are attacked, you have already worked through the scenario and know how to effectively deal with it. Through mental visualization, you detail in your mind the most effective method to encounter each type of assault, in various environments -- you run the battle scenarios on a mental level and are trained from your mental imagery.
      From these two practices you become a more secure individual as you consciously understand how to defend yourself in all environments and from all types of attack. Once you possess this sense of mental security, you project that mindset to the world. When people encounter you, they experience the inner power you possess. Therefore, they will not thoughtless challenge you to battle, as they know you can not be easily defeated. 
      Learn, practice, and master the techniques of self-defense. Then, project your inner self confidence to the world. This is your best first line of defense.

Environmental Self-defense
      The unfortunate reality about life is that you can be accosted by an attacker in virtually any location, at any time.  Each physical location is unique and possesses its own environmental constraints. Due to this reason, there is no singular method of physical self-defense which will universally protect you in all types of geographic locations. 
      For you to master environmental self-defense you must not only come to understand how to effectively encounter an attacker in each type of environment, but, more importantly, you must take precautionary measures before you ever enter any location -- from these, you will learn how to judge each environment by its own physical parameters and, thus, you will hopefully never place yourself in a situation where physical danger is eminent.

Inside Your Car
      To begin the study of environmental self-defense you can begin by viewing the defining factors of your car. As the car is a common place where confrontations take place, due to one driver considering the tactics of another to be less than applicable, it is a very important physical environment to master in your understand of environmental self-defense.  
      If an attacker rushes towards you and you are in your car, by attempting to get out, you leave yourself in a highly prone position to attack. Not only must you get up out of your seat and generally turn to face your opponent, in which case he can easily strike you to the back or the side of your head before you can confront him, but you also must open your car door and expose one or more of your legs, before you can stand up.
      With your legs on the ground and your body not yet standing, your attacker can powerfully smash the car door against your exposed extremities.  There is virtually nothing you can do to halt this type of attack -- except to hopefully overpower his superior positioning and either get out of the car or get your legs back into your car. By this time, you will probably be injured and your self-defense options will be highly limited. Therefore, it is very important that you fully evaluate your environment before you ever begin to leave your car in a pending confrontation. If your attacker has already rushed your car, do not attempt to get out -- lock your doors, roll up your windows, drive away, and forget the anger which lead you to this unsavory situation.

Entering Your Car
      If you are approached by a potential assailant as you are attempting to get into your car -- the car, itself, can be an impending factor to keep the attacker at bay.  If you see him approaching, keep the car between the two of you. If he begins to move around it, you move in the opposite direction. Though this may appear as a child’s game, by forcing him to remain at a distance, you can ascertain his intentions and hopefully call to your aid other individuals in the area. 
      If out of frustration he attempts to superseded your movement and jumps over the hood or trunk of the car, this is the ideally time to deliver a powerful first strike to him as he is coming off of the car. As he will be off balance due to his exaggerated movement, he will be ideally prone to your striking technique.

      In physical confrontation which take place outdoors, you possess a very important advantage for effective self-defense -- that advantage is space.  In an outdoor situation you can move if you are accosted. This does not necessarily mean to run, though this may be your best defense. What it does mean, however, is that you are not required to stay boxed in a stationary location as is the case with interior combat.
      An attacker rushes in at you -- by moving backwards or sideways, out of his path of attack, his initial offense is foiled. At this point you can launch a powerful counter attack or just quickly leave the site of the altercation altogether.
      The most important thing to keep in mind when defending yourself from an attack which has occurred outdoors, is to keep moving. Each time the assailant attempts to punch you, step back out of his path of attack. If he attempts to grab you, move away. If he does take a hold of your body or your clothing, immediately free yourself from his grasp in the most elementary way possibly -- usually just by consciously pulling free. Thus, he will not have the opportunity to substantiate his grasp.
      You must remember that any attacker is highly adrenalized. As such, his energy is quickly expended. As long as you can keep him away from you, he will be burning excessive amounts of energy and you, remaining relatively calm, will maintain your energy surplus. Thus, like the competent boxer who allows his opponent to chase him around the ring using up his energy, you too can conserve your energy and counter attack when your opponent is worn out and drained.

The Alley
      It is often detailed that you should back yourself up against a wall if you are attacked in an outdoor location. This is especially case if you find yourself in a narrow outdoor placement such as an alley.  The belief is that by backing yourself up to a wall, your attacker or attackers can not come around behind you. Though there is a logic to this form of self-defense, the biggest down side to it is that once you back up against a wall, your movement is highly limited and your attackers can close in on you and strike with multiple attacks.  Additionally, your defensive blocking techniques are highly restricted, with your back against a wall, as you can only move effectively from side to side. If you attempt to push out from the wall, you then must meet the blows of your attacker’s head on. 
      For these reasons, moving against a wall should only be employed when it is to your advantage. This situation would occur when your attacker is rapidly rushing in at you -- by side-stepping his attack, redirecting his aggressive energy, and guiding his face or body into the wall, you will have then save yourself the necessity of striking out at him, as you have used his own force to cause him to powerfully impact the nearby wall.
      In virtually all other cases, it is to your advantage to keep moving if you find yourself accosted in a walled outdoor location. Even if your movements must be linear, due to the confined configuration of the space, your attackers will still need to chase after you to grab or to strike at you. As the case with a more exposed outdoor location, if you are grabbed immediately pull free, if a punch is launched, step back out of its path -- keep moving until you are free.

Up Against the Wall
      There is the attack scenario when the initial altercation occurs when your back is already against a wall. In these cases, immediately strike to a vital point on your attacker, such has his knees. his groin, his throat, his eyes, his temples, and so on -- then immediately move off of the wall.  From this rapid style of self-defense, you may have foiled the attacker’s intentions. If not, additional self-defense can be employed as necessary. 

      ATMS have become a very common place for individuals with ill intent to accost would-be victims. Though most ATMS now have video surveillance, this has not seemed to halt these attacks, as criminals knows it takes several minutes for the police to arrive. During this time, they can rob their victims and in some cases injure or kill them. Knowing this, you must be very cautious when ever you go up to a ATM. 
      The obvious first line of ATM self-defense is only go to ones located at indoor locations, such as in supermarkets, convenience stores, shopping malls, and so on. If this is not practical then use an ATM in a well lighted, highly populated outdoor location. 
      The second level of ATM self-defense, even at the previously described inhabited locations, is to check your environment thoroughly. Visually scan the area for shady looking individuals before you get out of your car or walk up to the machine. If you see an individual who looks out of place, you should never give them the benefit of the doubt, as it may cost you your life. Instead, leave the location, go find another, safer, ATM.
      At times, you may have viewed the area and surmised that there was no apparent danger. As you are beginning your ATM transaction, someone walks up behind you. 
      Many ATMS now have mirrors so you can see the approach of other people.  These are an important tool of ATM self-defense.

      One of the primary fundamentals to successful self-defense is to encounter an individual face to face. With this, you can quickly ascertain their intentions and see if attack is eminent. 
      If you are alone at an ATM and someone comes up behind you, immediately turn around to face them.  If it turns out that they are only waiting to use the machine, smile at them and all is well. If, on the other hand, they intend to rob you, then your self-defense can instantly begin and you will possess a more clearly defined ability to emerge victorious.

Your Money or Your Life
      An important factor to calculate into any self-defense scenario is that if all the person who has accosted you wants is your money or your jewelry -- give it to them. Too many people have needlessly died attempting to fight over a few dollars which can be replaced. Though being robbed is certainly not right, dying because of a robbery is never necessary.
      The other case to consider is that many attackers possess no value for human life and they may take your money and then injure you, as well. In these situation you must defend yourself to your utmost, defeating them by any means necessary. 
      As each situation is different, there is no method to define what a specific criminal has in mind. To this end, you must read any altercation you find yourself involved in, make your own judgments, and defend yourself as you feel necessary.

Bus Stops, Subway Stations 
      Many people travel by means of public transportation. Whether this is motivated by environmental consciousness or due to financial constraints, locations such as Bus Stops and Subway Stations have become a hot bed for criminal activity. This is primarily due to the fact that potential victims are there waiting. Thus, they are not only available for attack but are stationary targets.
      The obvious preliminary self-defense strategy at these locations is to check your environment before you enter it. If you are alone and there is a person or persons present who you feel look suspicious, leave the station.
      In is an important first step in environmental self-defense that when you enter a new location, you do so in a stealth mode. Do not flamboyantly walk in, see trouble, turn, and leave. For if you have entered and a criminal has taken notice of you, they may well follow your exit. For this reason, study an environment with each step you take towards it. See everything, before it has the opportunity to see you. 
      For obvious time constraint reasons you may not always be able to walk away from a location of public transportation once you have arrived. If this is your case, and you must remain even though you have taken notice of potential danger, stand back in a position where the suspicious person or persons can not see you. Once the bus or subway train pulls up, rapidly move towards it and get on. In this way, you have not given a potential attacker the time to formulate and execute their assault.
      When you are awaiting publication transportation placing yourself in a well lighted, populated spot is clearly your first choice. You must keep in mind, however, that many crimes take place while bystanders watch and do nothing. This is a sad fact of modern society. Though screaming and asking for help is appropriate, you must immediately launch into your own self-defense, if you are accosted, even in a public place -- as this may be your only chance to defeat an attacker.  

Environmental Determinants
      The savvy self-defense technician learns to use what ever environment they find themselves in to their own defensive advantage. Thereby, making all landscape and physical objects their ally and not a hindrance to emerging unscathed from a physical altercation.

Outdoor Determinants
      There are numerous environmental determinants which should be evaluated if you find yourself in an outdoor confrontation. For example, are you on a hill?  If you find yourself on a hill, it is to your advantage to place yourself in the higher stance, above your opponent.  From this, you will possess the superior positioning, where he must travel uphill to you.  Powerful, low level kicks can be effortlessly unleashed at him, from this position, with easy access to his head and upper body region. This upper positioning placement is also important if a confrontation is taking place on stairs.
      If you find yourself at the lower level in the encounter and exchanging places with your attacker is not possible, then your best strategy is to move downhill, away from him, and make him come to you. As he will be required to move in a descending fashion, he will be off balance.  You can take advantage of this by striking him as he moves in on you with a powerful punch to his groin, knee, or shin.  You can. additional, quickly take him from his feet by grasping his forward leg, at ankle level, and rapidly pulling it downhill towards you. Once he is on the ground, a secondary counter attack can be successfully unleashed.

      A similar style of movement orientated environmental fighting can take place in smaller locations such as bars or rooms where you have space to travel. Though you are much more confined in these interior locations, by continually moving away from your attacker, not only does he becomes drained of energy, but he may become frustrated, as well. A frustrated attacker is easily disabled.
      If you find yourself engaged in a close contact indoor fighting situation and movement can not be your first line of self-defense, then immediately striking your attacker to one of his vital points is a viable first line defense. These strikes can be substantially aided by picking up any near by object, such as a bottle, a glass or anything with weight, and striking him in the head with it. Though this may seem less than sporting, if you are being attacked by an unknown assailant, your survival is the only desired outcome. Thus, protect yourself by any means necessary.

Available Weaponry
      One of the key factors to environmental self-defense is to use whatever is at your disposal to secure your victory in the confrontation. As you did not instigate the fight, there should never be a second though about this process.
      There are untold objects at your self-defense disposal if you are targeted by an attacker.  There is your back pack or purse to hit his with.  The hot coffee from you cup thrown in his face. There are your keys to put between your fingers to punch with, your credit or ATM card which can be used for slashing across an attackers face. Sand or dirt from the ground can be picked up and thrown in your attacker’s eyes. Doors can be closed on his arms. Doorways can be used to retreat behind, concealing your oncoming punch.  Nearby flashlights, lamps, pipes, boards, trash can lid can be used to block or strike with. Even a rolled up newspaper can be used to strike at an attacker, momentarily startling him as you launch a counter attack.
      In all self-defense situations, use the environment to your advantage.  Train yourself, as you walk down streets or enter unknown rooms, to study what elements are at hand and could be used to aid in your defense. See all landscapes and objects as a friendly helper to keep you safe.

Copyright © 2018

Friday, June 29, 2018

To Ki or Not to Ki

Here is a first draft for one of my early, previously published articles on Ki. Hopefully you can find the information useful.

By Scott Shaw

     Since the Asian martial arts began to be integrated into western society, the concept of Ki has been one of the most hotly debated topics. Does it exist?  Will it give an individual superhuman power?  Or, is its just a bunch of hocus-pocus? 

     This ongoing debate over Ki has left many western martial art practitioners in a continued state of question. This lack of definition is enhance by the fact that Ki and it usage is oftentimes referenced by Asian born instructors. Yet, many of these instructors never discuss how an individual can come to consciously interact with this ancient understanding.

     Certainly, Asian martial art films have fueled the fire by detailing that the practitioner who knows how to tap into Ki possess unmatched power and the ability to overcome even the largest opponent. But, perhaps that is the sourcepoint where the true understanding of Ki has truly been lost. Ki is not just a metaphysical protein shake that provides you with added adrenaline to allow you kick the butt of somebody you don’t like. Ki is an energy which is much more subtle than that. But, its mastery is a complex and complicated subject that takes focused understanding to comprehend. In this article some of the understanding of Ki, what it actually means, how it is actually developed, and how it can be used will be discussed. 

Ki in the Korean Martial Arts
     Martial artists continually hear about the mystical power of Ki energy and how people who have mastered this science possess superhuman strength and can debilitate an opponent with a single touch. Though Ki is continually spoken of -- in most Korean martial arts dojangs the ancient techniques designed to harness this amazing energy are completely absent. There are, however, other systems of self-defense, such as Aikido, which teach their students the components of Ki understanding from the beginning stages of their training.

     It can certainly be understood that a novice student must master the physical elements of their body before they can hope to move forward into successfully incorporating the much more subtler aspects of internal energy. Yet, even among the Korean systems of self-defense that, by their very name, supposedly embrace this knowledge, very few instructors teach their students the methods of harnessing Ki.

     As the ever-evolving worldwide martial art culture has continued to move forward with exchange and integration of varying systems of self-defense, it is important that students of even hard style martial arts come to embrace the understanding of Ki.  From this, they make themselves not only more complete martial artists, but more well rounded human beings, as well.

The Foundations for Ki
The understanding of Ki was first documented over two thousand years ago in Chinese during the Warring State Period. A text written entitled, Huang Ti Nei Ching Su Wen, described Ki as the Universal Energy that nourishes and sustains all life. It flows through the universe and thus, through each individual. An abundant, non restricted, flow of Ki in the body allows one to remain healthy; while a diminished or impeded flow of Ki in the body lead one tgo illness. From China this knowledge was passed onto the Korean Peninsula is approximately 200 B.C.E.

The reason Ki is helpful to one’s self defense is two fold; first of all, the Ki practitioner understands how Ki energy flows endlessly throughout the universe and will enter the willing, unhindered body in unlimited supply.  From this, the martial artists become a conscious participant of this unyielding strength and energy.  Secondarily, the advanced martial artist understands how Ki progresses along the meridian pathways of the human body.  From this knowledge, the Ki practitioner possesses the ability to strike an attacking opponent in vital Pressure Points,  (Kup Sul in Korean) and disrupt the flow of Ki energy in his body.

Physical Strength verses Ki
     Physical strength is not a universal strength.  Thus, it should be unnecessarily feared. Physical strength, such as heightened muscle development, is a process of body enhancement that is easily achieved by prescribed physically orientated weight lifting exercises.  This type of strength development is, however, quickly lost when the exercises are discontinued. Muscle development is, therefore, a temporal form of strength.  The individual who develops internal strength through the use of Ki, on the other hand, never loses his understanding of how to effectively access Ki. Thus, this form of internal strength and energy is always available to him.
Understanding Ki Energy in the Human Body
     Ki flows through the human body along invisible circulation channels known as Meridians. There are a total of twelve Primary or Constant Meridians in the human bodyC. Two other Meridians pathways exist, known as secondary Meridians.

Pressure Points
     Kup Shul, Pressure Points are precise access sites along a Meridian. These Kyusho when properly stimulated by Acupuncture or Acupressure enhances the flow of Ki along a specified Meridian.  Thus, exacting pressure to Kyusho aid the body in recovering from Ki blockage or Ki deficiency.   

     Ki stimulation of a specific meridian is commonly understood to aid in adding Ki flow to a specific meridian of the body; additionally, if these Kyusho are impacted with a precise and specific offensive strike they can also hamper the flow of Ki in an individual.  This is where the martial artist begins to utilize Ki in the realms of self-defense.

The Basis of Ki Self Defense
     For the martial artists to effective utilize Ki at will, he must be able to readily access this universal energy. To achieve this possess an astute mental focus, developed through meditation (munyum) and an expanded understanding of how Ki interact with the human form.  

     Ki Gong, (Ki skill) is the first step in obtaining the ability to consciously focalize your Ki energy for external use.  Ki Gong is initially accomplished by concentration on your Center Point. The Center Point is generally referenced, in the martial art world, by the Japanese term, Hara.

The Center Point
     The Tanden, (Burning Place of Energy), is the center of balance of the human body. It is additionally the bodily location where Ki energy congregates.

     The Tanden is located approximately four inches below the navel and extended two inches in each direction from this central point. This bodily location is the source point of all usable Ki in the human form and is, therefore, a highly revered bodily location. 

     The martial arts practitioner who desires to utilize Ki energy efficiently must first define this location.  This can be readily accomplished by performing the Center Point Defining Exercise and the Opening and Closing Exercise.

Center Point Defining Exercise
     Stand with your legs separated, approximately even with your shoulders. Allow your knees to be slightly bent.  Your feet should be pointing forward, in a natural pattern.  Bend your elbows slightly. Extend the fingers of your hand naturally straight. Do not tighten the muscles of your hand, but allow your fingers to be semi relaxed and naturally separated. Bring your two hands in front of your Center Point Separate your thumbs from your forefingers; allow them to form an inverted triangle with approximately one inch of separation between both of your thumbs and forefingers.

     Once you have achieved this stance, close your eyes and breathe slowly, yet deeply. Allow your breaths to go deep into your abdomen. Once you achieve a relative state of calm, after approximately ten natural breaths, begin to visualize the location of your Center Point.  

     Now, pivot your wrists, until your open palms face upward. Bring your fingers together and allow then to point towards one another. Breathe deeply in through your nose, as you visualize your breath entering your body in a golden flow through your nose and finding its way to Center Point. As you perform this exercise, bring your hands slowly up your body, accompanying your breath, until they reach your chest level.   

     Once you have taken in a full breath, hold it in naturally for a moment. Embrace its golden essence and power as it congregates in your Center Point.  Now, release it; pivot your palms over to a downward facing positioning and allow the golden breath to naturally leave your body.  See it flow from your Center Point in a golden flow and exit through your nose. Witness this as your hands travel downwards to their beginning positioning.

     From this exercise, the exact individual location of your Center Point will clearly come into focus and you will develop the ability to easily direct Ki throughout your body, from it. You should perform this Center Point breathing technique at least ten times, any time you need to refocus your body, mind, or Ki energy.

The Opening and Closing Exercise
     The Cosmic Mudra of Opening and Closing Exercise not only focuses the mind on the location of the Hara but additionally is a movement meditation as it focuses the movements of the body with the human breath, thus forming a conscious link to the meditative mind.

     To perform this exercise, stand with your legs separated, approximately even with your shoulders.  Allow your knees to be slightly bent. Your feet should be pointing forward, in a natural pattern. Bend your elbows slightly, allowing your arms to fall naturaly at your side.  Extend the fingers of your hands naturally straight. Do not tighten the muscles of your hand, but allow your fingers to be semi relaxed and naturally separated. 

     Close your eyes and begin to observe your breath as it enters your body naturally. Observe the in-flow and the exhale of your breath for a few moments. When you feel comfortable in your standing positioning and your mind has become calmed, begin to visualize Ki entering your body through your breath in a golden flow. Witness it entering through your nose and progressing to your Hara.  With each in-breath, see the golden flow of Ki enter your body, filling your Hara with Ki energy. With each out-breath witness the expelled Ki engulfing your surroundings in a golden flow of Ki energy.

     Now, bring your hands up into prayer positioning in front of your face. Observe three complete breath cycles of golden Ki energy entering your body. As your exhale your third breath, bring your hands above your head, allowing your thumbs and your first fingers to touch; your other fingers are extended naturally.  With your next golden Ki filled in-breath, mentally say the Mantra, “Om,” as you circularly bring your hands down, uniting your thumbs and first fingers again in front of your Hara.  With the out-breath send your hands above your head again. With each new in-breath, repeat Om, as your hands travel in front of your Hara. With each out-breath direct your hands above your head.

     This exercise should be performed approximately ten times a day as a method to define the location of your Hara and to link your body and mind with cosmic infinite energy.   Once your Hara is clearly located, this exercise can then be performed as a movement meditation to consciously link your body and mind with the universal Ki force entering your body and congregating in your Hara. 

The Four-Phase Ki Breath Exercise
     Once your Hara is clearly defined, you can take Ki Kokyu ho, (Breath Control Practice), to the next level in order to consciously link the intake of Ki to your breath.   Begin by being seated in Seiza, Kneeling Posture. Focus your mind by watching your natural breathing patterns for a few moments.

     You will now begin the technique known as the Four Phase Breath Control Exercise. The Four Phase Breath Control Exercise is accomplished by first, inhaling deeply in a continuous flow through your nose. Allow the intake of your breath to be silent. Never force the intake of breath; this only causes resistance from the body. As in the previous Aum no Kokyu Exercise, visualize Ki entering your body in the form of golden light, with each in-breath.  Allow the breath to fill your lungs. Witness the Ki breath reaching to your Hara and illuminating this region.

     Once your intake of air has been naturally completed, allow this Ki breath to remain in your body. Do not exhale it immediately. Instead, witness the Ki, in the form of golden light, emanating from your Hara and engulfing your being.

     When you feel it is time to exhale, do not allow the Ki breath to leave your body in a broken flow. This disrupts the natural pattern of Ki. Guide your breath to exit in a natural consciously continuous motion.

     As your breath exits your body, visualize any impurities your body may possess leaving you with the exhalation.  All which remains, is pure golden Ki light.

     Once you have completely exhaled, do not attempt to immediately refill your lungs. This may take a bit of practice, for many people panic from the initial feeling of oxygen emptiness. Instead of immediately breathing, feel how light your body has become from the absence of air.  Observe the emptiness and the purity it possesses.  When it becomes necessary to breath, do so. Allow the consciousness of Ki, to again enter your body.  

     The Four Phase Breath Exercise can be used, simply as described, to enhance Ki visualization and circulation in your body. When you first begin to use this Ki breath control method, allow each phase to last approximately five seconds, or whatever amount of time feels natural to your body. At the outset, do not attempt to hold any phase longer than you feel comfortable with, as this can cause you to disrupt the natural flow of Ki in and out of your body and may even cause you to pass out. As you continue with your further development of Ki energy, however, you will find, due to the increased amount of Ki energy circulating throughout your body, the time period of each phase of this breath control will naturally increase until each phase may last as long as one minute.

     Ki orientated Kokyu ho, (Breath Techniques), such as the previously described, Aum no Kokyu and the Four Phase Breath Exercise instructs the subconscious levels of your mind that Ki enters your body through breath.  Thus, through breathing in a prescribed manner access to Ki is unlimited. From this understanding, the martial artist brings his body and mind to a new level of cohesive interrelationship with universal Ki energy.

The Center Point and Ki Self Defense
     Once the location of the individual’s Hara is firmly delineated, all Ki orientated strikes and self defense applications are accomplished by initially focusing on this Center Point. The Korean word, “Ki Hap,” means the meeting together of energy. These terms defines the yell that is associated with the unleashing of all martial art techniques. This expression signals the fact that the practitioner is pulling Ki up from this Hara and then releasing it as any offensive or defensive technique he is unleashing.

Extending your Ki in Self Defense
     The first level of Ki self-defense that must be mastered is how to effectively extend your Ki. By extending your Ki, in a directed fashion, you will add enormous power to any self-defense technique you employ.

Ki Breath Movement Exercise
     Assume a natural standing positioning, breath naturally for a few moments, meditatively observing your breath. Now, perform the Four Phase Breath Control Exercise for a repetition of five full Four Phase Breaths. With your new in-breath, pivot your palms upwards at your waist level. As your new breath comes in, visualize Ki entering your body and traveling to your Hara. As your Ki breath come in, bring your palms upwards until they are at your head level. With the completion of your in-breath, hold them in position for five seconds. Visualize Ki emanating from your Hara and traveling up your body, through your arms to your hands. Now, as you exhale, pivot your body directly behind yourself, invert your palms so they are facing downwards, and slowly lower them to the ground in association with your breath. As you do so, witness the golden Ki energy emanating from your palms.

     This Ki orientated Breath Control in association with movement will initially train your body how Ki can enter and exit your body in association with movement.

Boulder Push Exercise 
     Begin in a standing position, with your hands loosely at your side. Focus your attention and begin to breath very consciously, watching your breath extend downwards from your nose into your Center Point in a golden flow. Once you feel calm and possess a good sense of your Hara, take a new breath through your nose, and move your left leg forward, as if you were about to take a step. Remember to maintain conscious focus on your breath as it enters your nose in a golden flow, proceeding to your Hara. This breath enters as your step is taken. As you step, bend both of your elbows slightly and turn your wrists until your open palms are facing upward, at approximately your waist level. 

     Once your intake of breath is complete, allow the golden breath to remain locked in your Hara.  Feel the Ki energy radiate, as you bring your upward facing palms, along the side of your body, to your chest level. Once at chest level, allow your open palms to turn outward and face in front of you. 

     As you exhale your golden Ki breath, tighten all of the muscles of your shoulders, back, arms, and hands.   Powerfully push forward with your open palms, visualizing the golden Ki energy exiting your palms into a large boulder in front of you.  The boulder moves with the power of your push. As your arms extend, allow your left arm to remain slightly in front, your right arm slightly behind; pushing forward.

     Once your breath is completely exhaled, observe the emptiness for a moment, as your arms remain extended.  Feeling the Ki radiating from them. 

     When it becomes time to take a new breath; breath in, a golden Ki breath and gracefully returning to your original standing position with your hands loosely to your side.  When the breath is complete, feel how full of Ki your arms and hands have become. Allow the breath to naturally exit, feeling the Ki remaining.

     As is it becomes time to take your next breath, step forward with your right leg this time, and perform the same exercise on your right side.

     The Boulder Push Exercise is ideal for focalizing Ki into your arms, shoulders, and hands, when you are anticipating the need to perform strenuous physical movements with them. This is due to the fact, this exercise stimulates the meridians of these limbs, thus providing additional Ki power to them.

     As you practice these two extension exercises, witness how first your upper arm, then your lower arm, and finally your hand and fingers begin to feel more and more strength with each out breath; which travels from your Hara out to your fingers. Experience the strength your hand feels as Ki energy permeates from your fingers.

     Once you begin to feel the power and energy that you have consciously directed from your hand, with these two Ki extension exercises, you can begin to focus and then extend this same Ki energy from any part of your body. Simply focus your mind, concentrate on your Hara and breath your Ki energy to extend from any location of your body you desire.

Extending Ki through the Straight Punch
     As all martial artists understand, at times of self-defense, it may be necessary to aggressively strike out at an attacking opponent. To simply allow the wild emotion of the moment and the force of adrenalin, to guide your defense, you cannot consciously take control of the altercation. For this reason, Spiritual Warrior learns to consciously extend Ki while striking out in times of battle.

     The first form of a forward offensive strike, which most novice martial artists are taught, is how to deliver the Straight Punch. The Straight Punch is a refined punching technique. This is because it follows a very linear path to its target. From this, it is not only a very rapid striking technique, but successfully blocking this style of punch becomes much more complicated, as well.

     The basic Straight Punch is launched from the Front Stance. A Front Stance is accomplished by extending your right leg forward, a couple of feet in front of your rear, (left), leg. Your forward knee is bent and your rear leg remains substantially straight. Your forward foot faces straight ahead and your rear foot is placed at a forty-five degree angle. Once you have achieved this positioning, find a natural balance with approximately seventy percent of your weight on your forward leg and thirty percent on your rear leg.

     Once in the Front Stance, form your hands into fists.  Extend your left hand slightly in front of your body, with your fist parallel to the ground. Place your right hand at waist level, with your fist inverted upwards. 

     As you begin the Straight Punch, slowly extend your right fist forward, directly in front of you. As its name implies, the Straight Punch travels, “Straight ahead,” to its target, which, in this case, is at your solar plexus level, central to your body. 

     As you are performing this forward punch, at the same time, bring your left hand back to your hip level. As your fists travel, they pivot at wrist level; so your retreating fist ultimately rests in an inverted position, as your punching fist finishes its movement parallel to the ground.

     It is important not to practice the Ki orientated Straight Punch fast, as if you were in an actual confrontation. In fact, it is better to perform it slowly in the beginning, as this gives you the ability to consciously witness the entire movement of your punch: how it is extended, how your muscles react, and how you best stay balanced while performing it. From this, you will become much more consciously aware of how your body actually feels as the Straight Punching motion is taking place.

     To take the Straight Punch to the level of a Ki technique, it must be performed in conscious association with your breath. Therefore, settle into the Front Stance and take a few deep breaths, watching the golden Ki breath enter your nose and proceeding to your Hara. Once you are focused, begin the punching technique. As you do so, exhale the golden Ki energy which you have stored in your Hara through your nose, visualize this Ki energy extending from your Hara, up you body and along your arm. As your punch reaches its climax, see the golden Ki energy forcefully extending from your fist into an imaginary target in front of you.

     This type of Ki extension practice is not limited to the Straight Punch. According to your own martial art abilities, you can associate it with any punching, kicking, or grappling technique desired. The ultimate goal of this type of Ki extension training, is to allow you to become very cognitive of the fact that Ki can emanate from your body in any location you desire it. In the case of self-defense, you can, therefore, focus and utilize your Ki; consciously directing it to an exact location on your opponent’s body.

Strike Intercepts Ki 
     There are numerous locations on the human body that will directly access Ki meridian pathways. These Kyusho, Pressure Points can be employed to interrupt the flow of Ki in an attacking opponent. By striking precisely to a Kyusho, you can effectively stop the Ki flow along the specific Meridian pathway you are impacting. Thereby, Ki to the element of the body that specific Meridian effects are halted and your opponent will be hindered in his offensive abilities.

     Striking to a Pressure Point does not necessarily immediately knock a person out or cause a body part to become instantly numb, as has been propagated by many martial art charlatans. What this type of self-defense does achieve, however, is the interruption of the overall Ki force in an attacker. This type of self-defense may be understood by the analogy of a body part that has fallen asleep, when proper circulation has been cut off from it.

     When applying forced pressure to specific Pressure Point, your goal is not to magically render your opponent lifeless. What you are planning to achieve, however, is both short term and long-term interruption of your attacker’s Ki energy. 

     In the advanced martial arts, a focused Pressure Point strike is initially accomplished by focusing your energy in your Hara, then, as your strike travels towards its final Pressure Point impact point, you expel your focused Ki, with a Ki Ai, and strike your opponent to one of these precise locations. From this, his Ki will be interrupted and you can continue on with additional self-defense as necessary.

Pressure Point Strike Locations
     The Pressure Point which are ideally accessed by a single strike are: the top of the skull, the central forehead, behind the ear, the back of the jaw bone, the central chest, the ribs, and the top of the hand.

1. Top of the skull. This is a Pressure Point of the Gall Bladder, Liver, Bladder, and Governing Vessel Meridians. Striking it disorientates the opponent by interrupting Ki circulation to the brain. 

2. Central forehead. This is a Pressure Point of the Gall Bladder, Bladder, Triple Warmer, and Governing Vessel Meridians. By striking it, you will substantially disorientate your opponent.  This disorientation will last for several minutes, in which time you can leave the scene of the attack or continue with additional self-defense as necessary.

3. Behind the Ear. If you place your finger and feel behind the back of your ear, you will notice a slight protrusion of the bone.  This is a Pressure Point for the Gall Bladder and Triple Warmer Meridians. This Pressure Point additionally affects the functioning of the inner ear.  As the inner ear directly affects balance, striking this location will cause your opponent to lose his balance and become disorientated. 

4. Jaw Bone. The Pressure Point to access on the Jaw Bone is located at the point where the jaw arches; exactly at the point where the jawbone curves and extends out towards your chin.  This Pressure Point also affects the function of the inner ear, and thus, the balance of the opponent.  It is additionally a Pressure Point for the Stomach, the Small Intestine, and the Triple Warmer Meridians. Striking it disorientates your adversary and affects his balance. 

5. Central, upper, chest This Pressure Point is located on the Sternum. (The long flat chest bone, proceeding vertical, joining the ribs). Its exact location is approximately one inch above the solar plexus.  It is a Pressure Point of the Kidney and Conceptual Meridians.  Due to its clos­e proximity to the heart and the lungs, striking it sets the opponent’s breathing off balance.  This sporadic breathing will remain constant for approximately two minutes, or longer, depending on the power of the strike.

6. Ribs. Take the tips of your fingers and follow your ribs from the central portion of your body to the side, while applying slight pressure. You will immediately feel a Pressure Point when you come to the lower side of your ribs. This is the Pressure Point you desire to locate when in combat. This is a Pressure Point of the Gall Bladder, Liver, Stomach, and the Spleen meridians. All of these meridians, in one form or another, affect the flow of blood throughout the human body. By striking to this location, the blood flow of the individual is substantially interrupted.

7. Top of the Hand. Located at the exact center of the top of the hand, in between the hand bones leading to the middle and third fingers. This is a Pressure Point of the Triple Warmer Meridian. By striking it, your adversary’s hand is numbed and its proper function is disrupted.

     It is important to keep in mind when you strike to these Pressure Points you are not attempting to simply win the battle in a one strike victory, as a force orientated martial artist may hope to do by striking to the knee joint or the temples of an opponent. To strike to any of these precise locations, disrupts the Ki flow of the attacker and inflicts momentary pain. 

     When a Spiritual Warrior uses Ki interruption techniques, in the midst of self-defense, he does not posses the time to exactly locate a specific Pressure Point.  The extended time frame such as an accupressurist would have when applying healing touch therapy. Equally, he does not generally have the time to hold a pressure point for more than a few seconds.  It is for this reason, that a martial artist must not only possess an exact understanding of Meridian Pressure Points, to make Ki self defense effective, but also must possess the ability to strike or apply debilitating pressure to them rapidly and precisely.

     As the Spiritual Warrior never enters into battle with the thoughts of annihilating the opponent, these strikes serve as a warning to the adversary of what is to come if he continues his attack.  If the attack does continue, by striking these preliminary strike points, you have disrupted the opponent’s Ki flow to the point where overtaking him in physical combat will be no problem.

Non-Forceful Ki Interruption
     The Ki of an attacker is not only interrupted by forceful striking techniques. In fact, the more advanced martial artist will not focus his defense on offensive techniques, at all. Instead, he will choose to interrupt the Ki of his opponent by far less obvious methods. In many cases, this may be achieved by applying direct pressure to one or more of the opponent’s Pressure Point with a holding or a grabbing technique.

     The first Pressure Point easily accessible in this fashion is found on the inside of the central elbow region. To locate this Pressure Point take your thumb, reach across your body, and apply pressure to the inside of your elbow.   After a moment or two, of pressure, you will begin to feel a strange sensation in your lower arm.  What you have done, is inhibited the flow of Ki along the Lung, Heart, and Heart Constrictor Meridian. By maintaining pressure to this Pressure Point, your arm will begin to feel numb. Over longer periods of pressure, your actual breathing process will become interrupted.

     This Pressure Point is an ideal Pressure Point to locate on an attacker who has grabbed a hold of you.  Of course, this type of Ki self defense is not as instant and dynamic as a powerful striking technique; (which can also be unleashed at this location in the form of a Knuckle Strike).  But, as each self-defense situation is defined by its own limitations, simply by applying focused dynamic Ki pressure to this Pressure Point may be the exact type of defense that is called upon.

     The next self-defense Pressure Point is one located at the forward base of the neck. Take your middle finger; follow the front of your neck downwards until it meets your Clavicle or Collar Bone. Just before this bone ends, at the central region of your neck, apply pressure downwards, as if you were pushing inside, behind this bone.   (Note: this Pressure Point is equally located on both side of the forward neck).  Hold pressure to this Pressure Point for a few moments and your breath will begin to be interrupted.   Held over longer periods of time, the breath is substantially disrupted.

     The third and final of these locations is the Jaw Bone Pressure Point, located where the jawbone curves. This Pressure Point is very close to the one that was discussed in the previous section. Take your fingers and follow your jawbone down from your ear to the point where it arches out to your chin. Now, apply pressure and push in behind the bone. You will immediately feel the Pressure Point 

     This Pressure Point is ideal to apply pressure to when you desire to quietly, yet forcefully shove an attacker away.  As this Pressure Point affects the inner ear, long-term pressure to it, will cause an attacker’s balance to be disrupted.

As you now understand, Ki is a human body energy understanding that takes time, focus, and technique to develop. Though Ki can be randomly accessed by the untrained individual, to put Ki to conscious use takes dedicated focus instigated by the practitioners who hopes to master all levels of human energy understanding. It is for this reason that Ki energy is so commonly misunderstood as few people actually take the time to master is understanding.

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