Pressure Points and Experimental Protocols

eyebeams

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I've been giving this some thought for a while.

Pressure point strikes and their effectiveness have been something of an issue in ken/mpo circles. I'm not talking about smacking somebody in the throat or naughty bits. I'm talking about the touch/sequenced knockouts that have become a signature part of some forms of Okinawan martial arts (or at least, those arts as they've been taught recently) and now, EPAK.

There's an old tradition in martial arts of fakir-style "magic" tricks and deliberate deception when it comes to demonstrating the merits of a technique. Some arts gave these as a matter of policy. Others simply seem to rediscover the tricks over time, or may be engaged in self-deception.

I recently downloaded a demonstration of an EPAK instructor (for the purposes of this post, it isn't important who) doing "knockouts," but in at least one case, slowing the video shows the "knockout" victim tuck and reach the floor to break the fall. Many of you might know that one of the most dangerous parts of a knockout comes from hitting your head on a hard surface without the body providing any brake, so I suppose this is a relief. But it's not a knockout.

Decsriptions of these techniques are invariably obscured by pseudoscientific or vague Chinese Medicine-related claims, and I'm starting to be of the opinion that these trendy techniques are becoming stagnant and their curriculums have not really been tested very well.

So I have an idea and a question: In the interests of martial "science," what protocols would you set up to test how well a technique works?

We need to remove:
* Observer bias
* Cooperation
* Cheating by any party
* The plecebo effect

Here are some ideas:
* We experiment with two groups of martial artists. Half of them will be downed by a knockout technique. Half of them will be downed by a "placebo" technique. Both groups will be told that they are going to xperience a "pressure point knockout." Test subjects wear something on their head that both blinds them and makes it difficult to apply force to the head (to avoid just slamming somebody in the head).

* The above, but we use a group of non-martial artists as well (determines by interview)

* The above, but we mix placebo and actual techniques with groups who have *not* been told what to expect.

Naturally we need injury waivers and competent medical professionals on hand. But would it be too dangerous? I argue that since pressure point advocates often demonstrate "knockouts" safely, it would not. The problems would include:

* Cheating by a martial artist striking the head or neck with with enough force that this would cause a knockout anyway, regardless of sequencing.
* A plant willing to take a fall
* Independent verification of knockouts

What are your thoughts?
 
C

Crom

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I think it could be done but would need substantial resources and organisation, perhaps as a study for a doctorate (Physiology or something?). I don't think that this is something you could do with your mates down at the dojo.

Further safety could be added by conductiong the thing on thick mats, would negate head injury on landing whilst having no effect that i can think of on any other aspect of the experiment.

I suppose it depends on the dangers of inducing uncosciousness on someone, i don't know what they are but it can't be a good thing for the body especially with the mechanism being used being poorly understood. Perhaps, if we have any on MT, someone with a medical background could elaborate ?
 

Kembudo-Kai Kempoka

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eyebeams said:
I've been giving this some thought for a while.

Pressure point strikes and their effectiveness have been something of an issue in ken/mpo circles. I'm not talking about smacking somebody in the throat or naughty bits. I'm talking about the touch/sequenced knockouts that have become a signature part of some forms of Okinawan martial arts (or at least, those arts as they've been taught recently) and now, EPAK.

There's an old tradition in martial arts of fakir-style "magic" tricks and deliberate deception when it comes to demonstrating the merits of a technique. Some arts gave these as a matter of policy. Others simply seem to rediscover the tricks over time, or may be engaged in self-deception.

I recently downloaded a demonstration of an EPAK instructor (for the purposes of this post, it isn't important who) doing "knockouts," but in at least one case, slowing the video shows the "knockout" victim tuck and reach the floor to break the fall. Many of you might know that one of the most dangerous parts of a knockout comes from hitting your head on a hard surface without the body providing any brake, so I suppose this is a relief. But it's not a knockout.

Decsriptions of these techniques are invariably obscured by pseudoscientific or vague Chinese Medicine-related claims, and I'm starting to be of the opinion that these trendy techniques are becoming stagnant and their curriculums have not really been tested very well.

So I have an idea and a question: In the interests of martial "science," what protocols would you set up to test how well a technique works?

We need to remove:
* Observer bias
* Cooperation
* Cheating by any party
* The plecebo effect

Here are some ideas:
* We experiment with two groups of martial artists. Half of them will be downed by a knockout technique. Half of them will be downed by a "placebo" technique. Both groups will be told that they are going to xperience a "pressure point knockout." Test subjects wear something on their head that both blinds them and makes it difficult to apply force to the head (to avoid just slamming somebody in the head).

* The above, but we use a group of non-martial artists as well (determines by interview)

* The above, but we mix placebo and actual techniques with groups who have *not* been told what to expect.

Naturally we need injury waivers and competent medical professionals on hand. But would it be too dangerous? I argue that since pressure point advocates often demonstrate "knockouts" safely, it would not. The problems would include:

* Cheating by a martial artist striking the head or neck with with enough force that this would cause a knockout anyway, regardless of sequencing.
* A plant willing to take a fall
* Independent verification of knockouts

What are your thoughts?
For the record, let me state that I am new to the pressure point sequencing in kenpo, as per Doc Chapels applications. It would be convenient for all if these techs only worked in enclosed scenarios, with willing participants.

Problem is this: I've only been at it a very short time, and have already used the techs to TKO guys with no exposure or expectation. Details currently witheld pending civil liability concerns.

Additionally, a newbie I brought out to meet Doc merely watched the stuff, got TKO'd himself, and has since been using several of these "dirty little tricks" on his gaggle of room-mates. He has told them nothing of his experiences with it. Not built expectations. Just misaligns them while rough-housing, then gives them a firm little "punkt" on one of the 5-6 spots he recalled from watching Doc. Clever boy actually managed to remember some of the sequencing for onesie-twosie stuff as well.

A thought for the interested: SL4 KO's do not aim for states of unconsciousness. Rather, they are geared for a state of PMD...physical/mental disassociation. A TKO...you know you have feet, but can't quite find them. You know the floor is there, so you reach for it...but the sense of perception about where you really are in relationship to the floor is deeply distorted. Comically, I view it as "already dead, without the sense to lay down".

I have a different idea for experimentation. Social Scientist Robert Cialdini, PhD, of Tempe, conducts his experiments on unknowing public persons, via the use of confederates...graduate students aiding him in perplexing the public. Why don't we do the same? Let's have the deepest skeptics learn some points and sequences, then go to clubs and pick a couple fights. If the SL4 stuff don't work, you always have your grab-&-beat kuhroddy to fall back on, then you can run for the exit before the bouncers catch you for the coppers.

While I appreciate your ideas, and have vocalized similar myself, there are some things that are not reasonably testable. I doubt there will be any grand test with a 1,000 S sample space. Doesn't mean you can't come by, pick up some experience, and see for yourself if it works by trying out on an unsuspecting public; heck, you can even pick and choose based on some perceptual generalizations (i.e., dress differently, wrong ethnic background, carry themselves like they're probably punks, etc.). Just make sure you run faster than the copter...they catch most everybody.

Regards,

Dave
 
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eyebeams

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For the record, let me state that I am new to the pressure point sequencing in kenpo, as per Doc Chapels applications. It would be convenient for all if these techs only worked in enclosed scenarios, with willing participants.

Problem is this: I've only been at it a very short time, and have already used the techs to TKO guys with no exposure or expectation. Details currently witheld pending civil liability concerns.

Additionally, a newbie I brought out to meet Doc merely watched the stuff, got TKO'd himself, and has since been using several of these "dirty little tricks" on his gaggle of room-mates. He has told them nothing of his experiences with it. Not built expectations. Just misaligns them while rough-housing, then gives them a firm little "punkt" on one of the 5-6 spots he recalled from watching Doc. Clever boy actually managed to remember some of the sequencing for onesie-twosie stuff as well.
The trouble is that strictly speaking, these are anecdotal experiences, not demonstrations of a trend of effectiveness for that technique. People in the thick of a fight do not always attribute the correct cause to the effect. Everyone has, at one time, seen somebody slip and another person claim to have unbalanced him/her or vice versa. Plus, as I said before, there are plenty of cases where the final part of a sequence might be able to do it. A shot to a major blood vessel can produce rapid hypotension, for instance, no matter what you activated beforehand.

Incidentally, I've read one report of something like that at a Ryukyu Kempo seminar. The non-student there didn't get a "pressure point knockout." He was hit really hard in the back of the neck (which still didn;' knock the guy out, but certainly knocked him down).

A thought for the interested: SL4 KO's do not aim for states of unconsciousness. Rather, they are geared for a state of PMD...physical/mental disassociation. A TKO...you know you have feet, but can't quite find them. You know the floor is there, so you reach for it...but the sense of perception about where you really are in relationship to the floor is deeply distorted. Comically, I view it as "already dead, without the sense to lay down".
It eally depends on whether the other person is honestly trying to continue, or is sucumbing to suggestion, as most people will in certain structured social situations.

I have a different idea for experimentation. Social Scientist Robert Cialdini, PhD, of Tempe, conducts his experiments on unknowing public persons, via the use of confederates...graduate students aiding him in perplexing the public. Why don't we do the same? Let's have the deepest skeptics learn some points and sequences, then go to clubs and pick a couple fights. If the SL4 stuff don't work, you always have your grab-&-beat kuhroddy to fall back on, then you can run for the exit before the bouncers catch you for the coppers.
That doesn't work either. I'd say that about half the time, in fights over social status, bith sides argue that they won anyway. Plus, you still have the uncontrolled/anecdotal problem.

I'm not talking about social context. I'm talking about whether the physiological effect of a technique is a real, repeatable physical phenomenon.

Plus, it ain't ethical.

While I appreciate your ideas, and have vocalized similar myself, there are some things that are not reasonably testable. I doubt there will be any grand test with a 1,000 S sample space. Doesn't mean you can't come by, pick up some experience, and see for yourself if it works by trying out on an unsuspecting public; heck, you can even pick and choose based on some perceptual generalizations (i.e., dress differently, wrong ethnic background, carry themselves like they're probably punks, etc.). Just make sure you run faster than the copter...they catch most everybody.
Not sure where your going with this, or why pressure point techniques wouldn't be testable, since the claim is that they produce a physiological effect. Plus, people said the same thing about Chinese Medicine, but good protocols have allowed anyone who does the research to tell what treatments have scientific validity and which do not have confirmed benefits.
 
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eyebeams

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Crom said:
I think it could be done but would need substantial resources and organisation, perhaps as a study for a doctorate (Physiology or something?). I don't think that this is something you could do with your mates down at the dojo.

Further safety could be added by conductiong the thing on thick mats, would negate head injury on landing whilst having no effect that i can think of on any other aspect of the experiment.

I suppose it depends on the dangers of inducing uncosciousness on someone, i don't know what they are but it can't be a good thing for the body especially with the mechanism being used being poorly understood. Perhaps, if we have any on MT, someone with a medical background could elaborate ?
Yeah. It wouldn't be cheap by any stretch of the imagination. Still, I think its popularity has gotten to the point where aiming for these kind of studies is important, especially since some practitioners have branched out into "no-touch" knockouts that looks to be the work of stage hypnosis/fraud. I'm not a full-on supporter of hardcore skepticism, but there are some things that are liabl to get out of hand if they aren't tackled with rigor.
 

Simon Curran

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I understand your scepticism, trust me.

But here is another anecdotal account, last week I attended a seminar run by Dr Chap矇l, and before hand have always been something of an "undecided" as regards pressure point knockouts.
Anywho, towards the end of the seminar, I was "volunteered" to act as a dummy, for what I did not know.
DOC performed the EPAK technique "Lone Kimono" on me with his SL4 flavour, and although the strikes he used were minimalist as regards power, after he was finished, I experienced that I had been hit, but could not do anything about it.
For the record, I have been hit very hard before, but never (to my knowledge) knocked out, and, in fact, have proceeded forward with yet more vigour, the "I've been hit, I'm gonna kick azz" feeling usually takes over.
Once again in this instance the impulse to do something took over, but I was simply not capable, I was fully awake, knew where I was etc. but just got the response from my body "no way mate you can't do nuthin'"

Like I stated in the start, this is just based upon my personal experience, not scientific study, but like they say "Feeling is believing", there reallly is no other way.

Best wishes
Simon
 
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eyebeams

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SIMONCURRAN said:
I understand your scepticism, trust me.
I'm not completely skeptical, actually. Kyushowaza is a big part of the kenpo I study and I have, at times, managed to make it work on a fully resisting attacker (though always combined with grasping techniques -- the line between them isn't absolute). But I think the whole area is basically stuck in a rut because of limitations on analysis.

But here is another anecdotal account, last week I attended a seminar run by Dr Chap矇l, and before hand have always been something of an "undecided" as regards pressure point knockouts.
Anywho, towards the end of the seminar, I was "volunteered" to act as a dummy, for what I did not know.
DOC performed the EPAK technique "Lone Kimono" on me with his SL4 flavour, and although the strikes he used were minimalist as regards power, after he was finished, I experienced that I had been hit, but could not do anything about it.
For the record, I have been hit very hard before, but never (to my knowledge) knocked out, and, in fact, have proceeded forward with yet more vigour, the "I've been hit, I'm gonna kick azz" feeling usually takes over.
Once again in this instance the impulse to do something took over, but I was simply not capable, I was fully awake, knew where I was etc. but just got the response from my body "no way mate you can't do nuthin'"
Unfortunately -- and don't take this the wrong way -- seminar participants are probably at the top of unreliable observers. However, whether this caused effective disassociation would be easy to test, just by seeing if the subject actually moves to break their own fall. This is one of the hallmarks of a questionable pressure point technique. I'm also of the opinion that some of this stuff *does* drive people down, but more because of attacks on balance and structure instead of point activation (though again, the classical relationship between these elements and kuysho is vague -- can't speak for EPAK, though).

Remember: Folks -- smart folks -- have believed claims about things like empty force, charismatic healing and chi materialization. Social and psychological influence is real, and reliable enough for who trades to have grown out of it.

Like I stated in the start, this is just based upon my personal experience, not scientific study, but like they say "Feeling is believing", there reallly is no other way.

Best wishes
Simon
I think there is another way. It just requires cash, people and care. My question is really not about this or that technique or experience, but whether, aside from cash, people and care, anything else would be needed to scientifically judge these techniques?
 

Simon Curran

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eyebeams said:
I think there is another way. It just requires cash, people and care. My question is really not about this or that technique or experience, but whether, aside from cash, people and care, anything else would be needed to scientifically judge these techniques?
I don't take it personally, don't worry.:asian:

Like I stated previously though, I didn't get KO'ed as most know it whereby I fell down out of it etc.
I just experienced a lack of bodily association, by that I mean I couldn't really control my movements properly, several minutes after the incident, I was asked to close my eyes and put my index fingers together out in front of me, and, despite my honest attempt (I felt OK by that point) I could not (much to the amusement of all others present...:) )
I have attempted the same thing since, and have no problem doing it, so it was just that time.

I do agree with you that it would be good to see some scientific study into it, but I am forced to believe my own experience until other evidence presents itself.

Thanks for the exchange.
Simon
 

DavidCC

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My Kempo instructor also teaches Kyuhso thorugh Kyusho International. So I have seen a lot of thsi stuff happen right in front of me (or even on me).

I'm naturally skeptical and once I learned about faking chi tricks (unbendable arm etc) I really dismissed that whole category of activity.

But dangit if I haven't felt some things that I can't explain any other way.

"knockout" might not be such an accurate term.... some people are knocked unconcious but usually it is more like "stunned". PMD for sure. I've never been completely KO'd but I have felt very out of touch with my surroundings. And I've been able to create that same effect in others under some conditions.

So I am still skeptical, I only believe what I can see... so I've seen some things and now I believe them.
 

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SIMONCURRAN said:
I don't take it personally, don't worry.:asian:

Like I stated previously though, I didn't get KO'ed as most know it whereby I fell down out of it etc.
I just experienced a lack of bodily association, by that I mean I couldn't really control my movements properly, several minutes after the incident, I was asked to close my eyes and put my index fingers together out in front of me, and, despite my honest attempt (I felt OK by that point) I could not (much to the amusement of all others present...:) )
I have attempted the same thing since, and have no problem doing it, so it was just that time.

I do agree with you that it would be good to see some scientific study into it, but I am forced to believe my own experience until other evidence presents itself.

Thanks for the exchange.
Simon
For the record I have this on video and still pictures.

Hey Simon when I get to work I will mail you a few.

C
 

Simon Curran

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SION said:
For the record I have this on video and still pictures.

Hey Simon when I get to work I will mail you a few.

C
Thankyou sir, I am looking forward to seeing it from "the other side":asian:
 
B

Black Bear

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eyebeams, welcome to the board. I posted here about a year ago:

http://martialtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13613

describing an experimental protocol for no-touch knockouts. It resolves the problems of independent verification, and the various forms of cheating you described.

As for not telling participants what to expect, this would not pass muster because of the principle of informed consent. However, if they do not know if they are double-blinded as to their assignment to the placebo or experimental groups, this will control for the problem.

Indeed, seminar participants make poor study participants because they have an emotional investment in believing that the stuff works (because they paid good money for it). Ideally they should be excluded from the study altogether, though they could be included if they are studied as a separate subgroup, and randomly assigned to the conditions within that subgroup (ie. equal number of seminar participants in either group and their numbered file is identified in some manner to indicate they are from a seminar).
 
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