Martial Arts Myths: High kicks don’t work in the street

“High kicks don’t work in the street” is another one of those blanket statements that has been making the rounds for decades on end now. Many people still say this today so I wanted to tackle it in this installment of my “Martial Arts Myths” series (if you haven’t read them already, here are article one and two.) As usual, I’ll try to explain my reasoning and back it up with examples. That’s why I included a lot of videos in this post, to make sure you can see all the factors involved.

Without further ado, let’s jump right in and get to it.

High kicks don't work in the street

High kicks don’t work in the street…

High kicks don’t work in the street

To avoid confusion, let’s start by clearing up our terms a bit concerning this statement. When people say that high kicks don’t work in the street, they usually mean the following:

  • The kick is aimed at the head of a standing opponent.
  • The kick is used in a non-competitive, self-defense context like a violent assault in the street or any type of physical altercation between two people.

So we’re not talking about kicking a downed opponent in the head. Nor are we talking about a muay Thai or MMA fight.

Now that we’re clear about what exactly is on the table, I’ll just cut to the chase and say it right away:

The statement that high kicks don’t work in the street is a myth.

I’ve done it.

Friends of mine have done it.

A truck load of other people I know in passing have done it.

Even more people I don’t know have done it too.

All of us have used this technique and it has worked for us. There is no denying this. Therefor by virtue of this fact alone, the “high kicks don’t work in the street” thing is a flat out myth. Now before you go thinking I am advocating everybody starts using high kicks extensively for self-defense, hold your horses. I said no such thing.  What I did say is that I (and a bunch of others) have done so, which doesn’t mean you have to try and do the same thing because there are conditions involved. Conditions that determine if you will be successful when throwing that high kick or not.

Let’s take a look at them. [Read more…]

Martial Arts Myths: Death Touch

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

Perhaps the most famous Death Touch master ever?

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…]

Martial Arts Myths: Chi projection

I recently placed a video on my Facebook page that showed some of the nonsense that gives martial arts a bad reputation. That triggered the idea to write a series on Martial Arts Myths.

Why? Because no matter how hard you squash those myths, like cockroaches, they crawl from under your foot and multiply once again. I don’t think we’ll every be able to eradicate them so that leaves educating people, hence this article and the following ones on other myths.

That said, let’s start by defining our terms.


Martial Arts Myths: Chi projection

I don’t think it’s necessary to define “martial arts”, we’re passed that stage. A “myth” however can be defined as “any invented story, idea, or concept.” In other words: a lie, an untruth.

The concept of “chi” is more difficult to explain. The most common translation is “vital energy” though that is not entirely accurate either as in the ancient Chinese world view ghosts existed and had “chi” too. “Energy” might be a better translation but that doesn’t really work either for Western minds as science has a solid classification for the different types of energy we can measure. So we’re a bit stuck here.

“Projection” in this case means transferring the “chi” without physical contact.

Bringing all this together, here’s the the claim some people make:

There exists a skill that gives you the ability to transfer “chi” from one person to another in a combat or self-defense situation, without making physical contact.

Supposedly, you can learn to control your chi and then throw it across a distance at an attacker to incapacitate him. They call this chi projection, kong jin (empty force), ki power and a host of other names.

It’s all the same thing though: a myth.

Here’s a typical demonstration: [Read more…]