Thursday, February 16, 2012

High Percentage Shots and Experiments

The nature of life and modern ethics is that there is some stuff we can't, under normal circumstances, know. And it would be wrong to find out. That sometimes leaves us passing along questionable information-- questionable as to source and accuracy of transmission.

One example- a strike to the temple. I have read and heard from uncounted instructors how devastating a strike to the temple can be. Some talk about the skull being thin there, some about the geometry of a flat place on a generally curved skull, some about the trigeminal nerve...

But you know what? I've been hit there. A fair amount. And hit people there. And seen people hit there. And not once did it have any effect whatsoever. Maybe once, but that was with a tool. And sometimes the little blood vessel under the skin bursts and you get a nice, dark, bulging hematoma...

My sources say it is a high-percentage target. My personal experience has it as a near zero.

I only know one striking target that hasn't failed in my experience; and asking around, with the usual caveats (not missing, proper hitting) no one else has seen a failure either, despite size, strength, drugs or altered states of consciousness. One technique... and it's not something you can really play with because relatively severe injuries are common. (And, no, I'm not going to describe it here. Most likely you already know it, anyway.)

I have another small batch that I consider high percentage. But there's stuff I don't know. Got to play with an excellent BJJ instructor over the weekend who commented that a rabbit punch in a certain position wouldn't have an effect. Not that either of us were eager to risk a brainstem/cervical shot to be sure...

Hmmm. There's a target band that I really like. Essentially a reset button for the human brain. It has been incredibly reliable for me. It's also considered deadly force in most jurisdictions. But the mechanism of injury may not be what I think it is. If it is percussion to the brainstem, then the position we were discussing wouldn't matter. If it relies on creating even a minor and temporary separation of the upper cervical vertebra or C1 and the skull, then simply splinting the head against the opponent's shoulder would provide more than enough protection, at least at the only reachable angle.

And the only way to be sure would be to get a bunch of stup... I mean young, healthy martial artists and try it out. Full intention of finding the point (angle, force, position, freedom of action vs. splinting) that transmits the maximum shock to the brainstem.

It's a good core technique. I've given (and received) extremely severe concussions from relatively light force at the right angle. But waiting for the happenstance of combat (especially without access to an institutional memory in the form of thousands of force reports) gets small amounts of random data, often not clearly remembered.

Maybe we need a secret society of lab rats willing to put their brains on the line.

For science.
------------------------------------------
Guest blog post tomorrow. Some author is doing a blog tour.

Port Townsend this weekend, two day seminar + Conflict Communications.

All of March in California, with seminars in Granada Hills, Oakland, Santa Cruz and San Diego.

"Talking Them Through: Crisis Communication with the Emotionally Disturbed and Mentally Ill" is up on SmashWords and Kindle

19 comments:

Toby said...

Not young or healthy, but I am stu... curious enough to volunteer...!

3 days in ICU, plus 2 days on a ward was enough lesson for me on the merits of rabbit punches (yes, I have been hospitalised for other silly reasons also :)

Y'know, I think a great start point would be a 'list'of these 'accepted points', like your example of temple strikes, and (seriously now) see who would be prepared to work through/with what... From a study group viewpoint, answers could just be submitted for dissemination (although that removes the fun part of you getting to hit them)and review/comment...

Had a few brainstem shots as well, with very effective short term consequences, but no (that I can tell) lasting effects, despite the fact my nearest and dearest who knows much on these matters, assures me, they are very, very, very bad for you... Hmmmmmm

For clarification, this is that Toby :)Just in case...

Kasey said...

Maybe instead of giving convicts access to strength training equipment they could spend their time repaying society by volunteering for scientific expermentation?

Charles James said...

While stationed on Okinawa my instructor taught that a thumb into that spot below the throad where it meets the divit at the top center of the ribs was a good control technique.

On ville-patrol around 2AM in the morning while corralling inebriated Marines for return to the camp I had this one guy get a bit froggy.

I stuck my thumb in that spot and navigated him onto his back with consistent pressure .... he just twisted around and got loose with absolutely no ill effects at all.

So much for the foolproof control method/technique.

Ymar Sakar said...

I second what Kasey said.

Ymar Sakar said...

The thing is, there are no magic bullets. The reason why a bat to the temple works when someone's punch doesn't, is because they can't transfer force effectively with that punch. They lacked the intent and the force didn't go in. A bat is thus a shortcut for people who can't get it done otherwise. Which is also why killing people with bare hands was something people gave up on long ago. Tools were faster and more efficient. They didn't need to spend time learning it ,even for those that knew techniques it would only work well for them and they couldn't teach it to others.

Steve Perry said...

Hmm. I accidentally knocked a fellow student unconscious one with a temple hit. Not full power -- he moved in closer than I expected and I tapped a bit harder, but he went out.

Josh K. said...

WTF Kasey...

Josef Mengele is where that thought process leads.

Sigh.....

Randy said...

Head shots can be hard to predict. I've also lost track of the times I've been told about the "one shot" nature of temple, brain stem, or mastoid shots, but my experience of concussion aftermath hasn't been consistent. In high school, I took a heavy coronal-impact concussion, and recall very clearly a few moments of rainbow tinged vision and hearing myself respond in nonsense to the alertness questions. Then all I could/wanted to do was sit down. Alert for a few moments, but helpless throughout.

A couple of years later, a coked up guy at a party sucker punched me right above the ear with a roll of quarters in his fist. The punch looked like it was in slow motion, but I dropped immediately, out cold, helpless.

In my twenties I was involved in a car accident that launched me out of the (open) driver's window and into a perfect Judo-style ukemi landing (evidenced by the pattern of scars), but not without taking a hit or two on the head somewhere along the way. Woke up in the hospital the next day with no idea why I was there. I don't remember anything at all about the weeks preceding the injury, and even parts of that year. Sense of balance was intermittent for weeks, had some seizures. But according to a witness, I immediately got to my feet after landing, and began attempting to gather up the debris that had flown out of the car with me. In spite of the severity, it sounds like I was still able to function at a higher level immediately afterward than I could have after either of the lesser concussions. As a neuropsych doc told me, "concussions are funny- one concussion plus another concussion doesn't mean two concussions, it might mean 10x the effects of either one...and that might take time to show up."

Anonymous said...

We are beginning to cross the line on ethics. Not a good idea to endorse animal cruelty (in this case humans). A better scientific approach would be to use something like a robot or crash dummy. It could measure the exact amount of force required to achieve the required result. You have not considered long term effects on the nervous system and skeleton. If you live long enough to develop Parkinson's, severe arthritis of the spine, etc., then you will understand. This is the "you pay later" plan.

Josh K. said...

How about try what you think will work. Don't get hung up if it doesn't. If your lucky enough to get a secound try, try donething else you think will work.

There are no guaranties in life, well one your not going to get out of life a live.

Josh K. said...

Correction:
donething = something

:-(
Josh

Daniel Ford said...

People get in cars all the time and smash into each other in weird ways at high speeds. Is there anything relevant to be gained from that dataset?

You'd have to spend a lot of time isolating variables, but maybe you might get a better answer to your question of what sort of impact causes what sort of trauma.

Anonymous said...

Autopsies could provide valuable clues. There are ones on boxers that went down in the ring and never got up again. Same with contact sports like football. But they are wearing safety equipment.

Anonymous said...

Autopsies could provide valuable clues. There are ones on boxers that went down in the ring and never got up again. Same with contact sports like football. But they are wearing safety equipment.

Wim said...

For Kasey:

http://www.amazon.fr/Art-sublime-ultime-points-vitaux/dp/2908580810/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329662826&sr=8-1

The claim is that the pressure points were tested during WWII on POWs. I have no idea if this is true or not. That said, one of the co-authors, Mr. Plee, is a big name over here and I doubt he'd write bullshit or try to con people.
I don't know if there's an English translation though.

Randy said...

Plee's work has to be taken with a pretty healthy grain of salt; he was writing based mostly on hearsay during the period when "exotic" Asian martial arts were becoming popular in Europe during the early 1950’s. His sources here are unsubstantiated claims from several 1930's era Shotokan karate practitioners. A few young instructors, including the “founder’s” son, were approached by the Japanese military & kempetai to provide karate instruction to officers & soldiers, which they did. Some claimed (then denied, then claimed again) to have been given access to POW’s for testing of techniques. As Japanese versions of karate were marketed to Westerners, rumors floated that the Shotokan techniques were “field tested” on Chinese & Allied POW’s. I have no doubt that many Chinese prisoners met their end this way, particularly in the case of Nanking, but records regarding Western POW’s are scarce.

While there are substantial records of medical experimentation, torture and almost playful abuse on POW’s, there are only one or two documented incidences (available in English at least) of POW being killed with an empty hand attack.
On the other hand, there are plentiful examples of Japanese officers using POW’s for sword practice, having contests to see who could behead the most in an afternoon, in a row, at once, etc. Bayonetting of POW’s was popular among soldiers, and a common way to dispose of prisoners. One of the accounts reads like a description of an afternoon of golf with a friendly pro, except in this case it was a commanding officer showing his men the finer points of beheading and chastising them for being timid.

The only account of an empty hand strike that I was able to come across involved an American airmen who was hit with an arrow but not killed; a lieutenant with experience of “yawara” (an early name for striking arts in general, in some cases karate) was called up to finish him off with a shuto/knife hand into the neck. In the same account, an attempt to kick a man to death is detailed, which was apparently unsuccessful, leading him to be finished off by sword.

There are older accounts that Plee an others mention (Indian princes experimenting on servants to derive “vital points,” etc.) but they are purely anecdotal at this point. My issue with his writing on the topic is that he doesn’t distinguish myth, rumor and fact very well. Given the general trend throughout most of modern history of using prisoners for experimentation (Kevorkian, 1985 is a particularly good review), this sort of experimenting has undoubtedly occurred, but nailing down the exact history can be tricky. I also have a feeling that in most martial arts circles, information based on such experimentation is scarce.


The Kevorkian review:
Kevorkian, J. (1985). A brief history of experimentation on condemned and executed humans. Journal of the National Medical Association, 77 (3), 215-226.

Peter Steeves said...

I've had some awesome hits to the temple (the one with a 6' staff in Japan was easily the most effective in putting me down fast).

And I've been hit in the rear quarter position on my neck to flip me forward onto my back - gave me one heck of a "reset" too!

However, I personally know somebody who did prison time after killing a guy who had just hit him hard in the back of the head with a baseball bat - so we can't ever imagine we "know" the outcome of some technique we try.

And, that person I visited in prison was a very close personal relative, so Kasey, I can't really go along with the experimentation idea.

Kasey said...

I need a sarcasim emoticon

RXian said...

In my limited experience, I've found that striking the back of someone's head with the planet has a 100% "end the threat" success rate.