Pressure point is one of the most important parts of Liang Yi Quan. Liang Yi Quan is an internal style of kung-fu originating in ancient China, with roots in traditional Chinese medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine is an important part of the cultural heritage of the Chinese nation. Developed over the course of more than 5,000 years, the TCM system is unique because of its comprehensive and all-encompassing theoretical framework, diagnostic methods, pharmacology and special methods of treatment including acupuncture, moxibustion, deep breathing and medical massage.Traditional Chinese medicine emphasizes the importance of maintaining the human body’s internal functions, as well as the necessity of building up the body’s resistance to diseases. Treatment by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is thus based on the notion of ‘the regulation of the whole organism’. That is to say, on the idea of balance and ‘self-regulation’.
While modern medicine fights (and tries to ‘conquer’) diseases such as cardiovascular and cerebrovascular tumors, TCM determines the origin of a disease from its symptoms and then decides on the appropriate treatment to balance the yin and the yang of the patient.
Pressure point is based on the theories of yin (negative) and yang (positive), and of the five external elements, which are metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. The yin and yang theory holds that every phenomenon in the universe consists of these two complimentary and yet opposing forces. According to this theory, the human body is also made up of yin and yang elements. When there is a balance between the two there is no illness, but if this delicate balance within a person is disturbed, he or she is sure to become ill.
The theory of the five elements assumes that the material world consists of metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. The theory maintains that the human body is part of the physical world, and that five key internal organs (the ‘internal’ five elements, namely the liver, heart, spleen, lungs, and kidneys) each correspond with one of the five external elements of the universe. In this way, the development and change of physiological and pathological phenomena in humans can be explained in terms of developments and changes in nature. Thus, Liang Yi pressure point is based on this theory that the External Five Elements can be used to constrain the Internal Five Elements.
Jing and Luo of pressure point
Another important theory in Liang Yi pressure point is that of ‘Jing’ and ‘Luo’, a theory which is also the basis of many traditional Chinese treatments, such as acupuncture. According to this theory, the internal organs and limbs of the human body are related and linked by channels (‘meridians’) through which blood and qi (vital energy) circulate. The main channels that run longitudinally are called Jing, while the channels that run latitudinally are called Luo. If there is a blockage in either Jing or Luo, blood and vital energy cannot pass through them. In time such blockages can affect a person’s health. Thus, much of traditional Chinese medicine maintains that clearing a blockage and ensuring the free flow of blood and vital energy is the first and most fundamental step in curing a disease. There are hundreds of points where Jing and Luo cross within the human body. The Liang Yi pressure point system is based on the notion that these points can be manipulated so as to control the flow of qi within Jing and Luo of the human body, and thus can be used to affect a potential opponent or attacker.
Liang Yi pressure point :
Pressure point was a type of secret internal Kung Fu (traditional Chinese Kung Fu is divided into external and internal styles) in ancient China. Practitioners of pressure point can exert a strong force (Jin) to affect specific locations (‘pressure points’) on the human body. Doing so makes an opponent lose power, or causes an injury, resulting in a variety of symptoms. The Liang Yi pressure point system classifies every response to a pressure-point attack according to four variables:
Time: The time in which one feels pain after being struck at a pressure point differs. Sometimes one feels pain instantly, sometimes three days later, and sometimes one week, or even one month after being hit at a point.
Symptoms: After an opponent is struck on a pressure point, the resulting affect will vary according to which particular point has been affected. Potential affects include a loss of general body strength, deafness, muteness, unconsciousness and so forth. The more Jin (force) someone uses to strike a point, the more serious the symptoms will be. There are certain pressure points which, if struck, are fatal (though Master Zhang will only teach such pressure points to disciples he considers of suitable morals and social responsibility). It is also interesting to note that the symptoms of someone struck on a pressure point can often not be diagnosed (or their causation recognized) by ‘Western’ medical methods.
The appropriate way to release the pressure point: Each point, once struck, has a corresponding ‘release’ method which will prevent the symptoms of the strike materializing. Some of these ‘releases’ can only be performed by Liang Yi Quan practitioners, whereas others can be implemented by certain TCM practitioners (for example, those with a knowledge of acupuncture).
The location of the point: There are 108 main acupuncture / acupressure points on the human body. The Liang Yi pressure point system focuses on only 36 of these points. The 12 Jin (a punching style which exerts force in different directions) were created specifically to affect these 36 points (that is, each Jin is designed to affect 3 different pressure points). Most of these points are on the torso (24 points), head and neck (9 points) and arms and legs (5 points).
Jin exercises within the Liang Yi pressure point system
Potential students of the Liang Yi pressure point system should be aware that the first month of all the training options consists purely of practising Jin, until one can strike with the accuracy, speed and technique necessary to effectively manipulate pressure points. It is impossible to effectively practice pressure point techniques without first gaining this basic foundation, so students may find themselves practising individual exercises 4-500 times a day (for each hand) until they are sufficiently proficient. Over the course of their training, as their Jin exercises improve, students will be able to effectively strike pressure points from shorter distances.
Current situation on pressure points in China.
There are 128 traditional Wushu styles in total, each of which can be labeled as either an ‘internal’ or ‘external’ boxing styles. Styles such as Shaolin Quan, Southern Boxing and Hong Quan are classified as external; while styles such as Taiji Quan, Liang Yi Quan (including its pressure point element), Fohan Quan and Pak Mei are classified as internal. Many of the internal boxing styles have a similar philosophical basis to Liang Yi Quan, and also rest on the theories of yin and yang, jing and luo, and traditional Chinese medicine.
Besides the Liang Yi Quan pressure point system, all Kung Fu styles based on pressure points have been lost. Both Taoist and Shaolin Kung Fu pressure point systems once existed, the former being based on the theory that striking different points will have different affects, depending on the time of day or night they are stuck. The abbot of the Shaolin temple recently contacted Master Zhang, hoping to purchase his books on the Liang Yi pressure point system for several thousand RMB. Master Zhang declined this generous offer, as he believes that theoretical knowledge without proper guided training is dangerous and unproductive.
A ‘Western’ perspective on pressure point
For those who are skeptical about the theoretical basis of the Liang Yi pressure point system (which lies in traditional Chinese medicine and the ‘Book of Changes’), there is also an alternative ‘Western’ perspective on how and why a self-defence system based on pressure points is effective. This alternative approach to pressure point Wushu maintains that the human body has inherent weaknesses, which can be manipulated to gain advantage over an opponent.