In this post, I’ll continue from the previous installment and will discuss another one of the common martial arts myths: Death Touch. It is also known as, Dim Mak, Dian Xue, Pressure Point Striking and a bunch of other fancy names. If anything, this is a martial arts myth that is a bit harder to prove or disprove than the previous one. Primarily because the concept of death touch is not entirely black or white in how it is interpreted by practitioners across styles and lineages. As a result, I have to be more general in how I approach it while still looking at what I deem to be the most outrageous nonsense. It also means not everything is black and white, but if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you…
That said, let’s get started.
Martial Arts Myths: Death Touch
Let’s first try to get a functional definition of what Death Touch is. For the purposes of this article, here’s how I describe it:
A secretive set of skills and techniques that allow a practitioner to knock out, injure or kill somebody with seemingly effortless techniques by targeting specific points on the body.
Let’s look at those things in order:
- It is secretive because there are all sorts of claims as to where some people learned it (“secret masters” is a recurring explanation) but also because there is pretty much no scientific basis for some of the claims they make. So they tend to shroud what they do in flowery and vague language.
- It’s not just one technique or skill-set but a bunch of wildly different ones, depending on which system you look at. Some are all about specific techniques, others are about types of strikes and still others take into account the seasons…
- The results practitioners aim for are usually temporarily incapacitating an opponent (pain, numbness, etc.) or a full knock out. Some claim the ability to kill somebody by hitting a specific point.
- Effortless power is another hallmark: it often looks like the practitioner isn’t really hitting all that hard but his victim drops unconscious to the floor.
- Finally, there’s the aspect of targeting very specific, vulnerable points on the human body. Sometimes these points are based on anatomical weaknesses (nerves, arteries, etc.) other times they claim to use acupuncture points or other systems of schematizing those points.
You might want to include other elements here and that’s fine. This is just a working definition for the purposes of this article; it isn’t meant to be read as gospel.
Does that Death Touch thingy work?
Well, yes and and no. Like I said in the beginning, it depends on how you define and view it. Let’s first look at the bullshit and then at how you can make it work for real. Here’s a list of what I feel is nonsense, a waste of time or even dangerous: [Read more…]