Monday, February 10, 2014

Bubishi A Close Look Redoux Part 11

Subj: 36 Vital Points (Bubishi Part 2) - LONG

Part Two: Vital Points

Victor-san made some important observations when he noted that both the Alexander translation and the McCarthy translation make use of different sets of 36 vital points, and that by cross referencing other texts (Yang, Montague, etc) found that they too had different sets of points. I too have found differing opinions on the 36 points. It seems as if nearly every system or teacher has their own set.

However, looking at my 3 "source" Bubishi:

Otsuka Tadahiko (Miyagi-Higa-Izumikawa-Ichikawa-Otsuka lineage)
Tokashiki Iken (Miyagi-Higa-Fukuchi-Tokashiki lineage)
Mabuni Kenwa (Itosu-Mabuni lineage)

the only one that shows the diagram for the 36 points was again the Mabuni version. Thus once again suggesting that not all Bubishi versions are alike <G>

Anyway, my view on vital points is that they should not be viewed as a silver bullet that reduces the sweat equity in training. To me they are but another tool in the box, but they should be implicit in the basic techniques (which in turn comprise the kata). With this in mind, I'd like to share my own musings on the Bubishi and vital point striking.
First of all, Tokashiki Iken tells us that the Bronze Man diagram Bubishi gives not only the location (name) of specific vital points, but also general anatomically vulnerable zones as well (Footnote #1).

It is interesting to note that the two Miyagi Chojun lineage Bubishi I have personally seen also do not include the Shichen diagrams either. The 36 Points and the Shichen only seem to appear in the Mabuni lineage version that I have seen. Nor do the Miyagi Bubishi versions contain the "hand/foot postures (kata?)" found at the end. Speculate if you will, I just thought it an interesting point.

After all, there are several "versions" of the Okinawan Bubishi :-) (Footnote #2)
Next, as you have all no doubt noticed by now, the Bubishi text itself gives NO explicit instructions on how to attack the vital points it describes. The commentaries by the translators, however, often do go into detail about the striking processes and effects.

This, I believe, helps in facilitating the information. I, as do many others, believe that this work was an anthology of sorts, a kind of training journal, compiled by one or more individuals. If this is indeed the case, then it was probably written by someone with prior knowledge of the phenomenon, as a kind of reminder. This journal or personal log seems to have then somehow gotten handed down from teacher to desciple.

Anyway, on to a "quick" section on the 36 vital points. I looked in several books on vital points, and 36 is a number that keeps cropping up everywhere. I would like to give you all a couple of lists of vital points for your reference. However, no indication shall be made here of how to attack these points...

These lists are from "Orthodox Dian Xue for Real Combat" by Sato Kinbei. Sato Sensei, one of Japan's most senior authorities on the Chinese boxing traditions, gives us the following lists for the "36 fatal points" and the "18 Non-fatal Points." The descriptions are meant to be general and not "too" involved with the anatomical jargon.

"36 Shaolin Fatal Points"

1. Coronal Suture (GV 20)
2. Frontal Fontanael (GV 24)
3. Temple (GB 3)
4. Ear (TW 21)
5. Bridge of Nose (BL 1)
6. Philtrum (GV 26)
7. Above Adam's Apple (CV 23)
8. Carotid Area (St 9)
9. Side of Neck (SI 17)
10. Back of Neck (GV 15)
11. Occipital (GB 20)
12. Suprasternal Notch (CV 22)
13. Between Eyes (no normal acupoint associated here)
14. Sternum (CV 17)
15. Xyphoid Process (CV 15)
16. Solar Plexus (CV 14)
17. Umbilicus (CV 8)
18. Midline of Abdomen Below Umbilicus (CV 6)
19. "Tanden" (CV 4)
20. Anterior Midline Below Umbilicus (CV 3)
21. Midline of Abdomen, just above Pubic Area (CV 2)
22. Above Nipple (St 16)
23. Nipple (St 17)
24. Below Nipple (St 18)
25. Femoral Artery (Sp 11)
26. Tip of 11th Rib (Liv 13)
27. Side of Abdomen (Kid 13)
28. Testicles/Prostate Nerve (CV 1)
29. Side of Upper Spine (BL 13)
30. Side of Upper Spine (BL 15)
31. Side of Lower (BL 23)
32. Lower Spine (GV 4)
33. Side of Lower Spine (BL 24)
34. Side of Upper Spine (BL 14)
35. Side of Med Spine (BL 52)
36. Thumb Side of Inner Wrist (Lu 8)

"Shaolin 18 Non-Fatal Points"

1. Small Finger Side of Inner Wrist (HT 7)
2. Center of Inner Wrist (TW 5)
3. Elbow Crease (LI 10)
4. Small Finger Side of Forearm (SI 7)
5. Above Point of Elbow (TW 10)
6. Center of Inside Wrist (PC 7)
7. Outer Thigh (GB 31)
8. Outer Hip Area (GB 30)
9. Side of Knee (Liv 7)
10. Above Innner Ankle (Sp 6)
11. Below Knee (St 36)
12. Back of Knee (BL 40)
13. Calf (BL 57)
14. Inner Ankle (Kid 3)
15. Outer Ankle (BL 60)
16. Above Inner Knee (Sp 10)
17. Knee-cap (no regular acupoint associated)
18. Sacrum (GV 2)

Well, I probably bored you all again! Sorry ;-)


#1. Tokashiki, I. (1995) "Okinawa Karate Hiden Bubishi Shinshaku"
(Secrets of Okinawa Karate: A New Interpretation of the Bubishi).
Naha: Privately published. Tokashiki Sensei is the head of the Okinawa
Gojuryu Tomari-di Karatedo Kyokai (Gohakukai), and studied under
Fukuchi Seiko and Nakasone Seiyu among others. His work is available
only in Japanese.

#2. It is my conviction that the English translations, in an attempt
to provide a more complete picture, have looked at several different
Bubishi to arrive at their conclusions, rather than just presenting
the information contained in one.

Part Three (a): The 48 Self Defense Diagrams (a)

In this, the (almost) last installment of my short Bubishi articles, I would like to take a look at the 48 diagrams, and their possible relation to the kata of Uchinadi (Okinawa-te). Due to the length of this discussion, I will post it in two separate messages.

First of all, where did these diagrams come from? ... I don't know! There is some speculation that they are in some way related to the 32 Long Fist diagrams from the Ji Xiao Xin Shu. Otsuka Tadahiko, in his 1998 book on the 48 diagrams of the Bubishi and comparisons to the 32 Long Fist diagrams, claims that while in the hospital for pneumonia after returning to Tokyo from the funeral of Higa Yuchoku (student of Miyagi Chojun and Chibana Choshin among others) in Okinawa, he got it in his head to re-work his translation of the Bubishi 48 diagrams and put the breakdown of the applications with it. During his month-long hospital stay, he began plotting his book, and reading the Bubishi and the kikoshinsho, when it suddenly dawned upon him that there were 13 diagrams with similar if not identical applications. (Footnote #1)
Anyway, the point of this post is not to speculate on or describe applications to the 32 Long Fist diagrams, but to look at the 48 diagrams and their possible relations to applications to the classical Okinawan kata.

I'd like to list down the 48 diagrams with corresponding kata examples as well as a brief description of how I currently view the principles of these techniques. I would however like to say that these are not the ONLY applications of said technniques or kata, but just given here as a reference example.

Diagram #1: Possible implications from Seiunchin. Patrick McCarthy's interpretation of this technique fit in quite well with the common Uezu Angi application of the first series of Seiunchin. It could also mean dropping the body against a frontal atack and countering to the groin. Otsuka (1998) views this as a takedown off of the scooping block in the same series from Seiunchin.

Diagram #2: Possible Implications from Seiunchin, Naifuanchi, etc. Again, Otsuka views this as an application to a scooping or ridgehand block much like the one from the opening of Seiunchin or even Naifuanchi, etc.

Diagram #3: Possible Implications from Unshu, Rinkan, Kusanku. The first two kata, Unshu being from the Aragaki Seisho lineage and Rinkan from the Nakasone Seiyu lineage, both contain segments in which you fall to the ground and perform kicks. This could also be an application of the drop in Kusanku after the crescent kick.

Diagram #4: Possible Implications from Useishi (Gojushiho), Sunsu, etc. The double spear thrusts could be implying that you first take the head one way and then the other for the take-down as the opponent resists the first one.

Diagram #5: Possible Implications from Kusanku. The circular hand motions in the beggining may be utilized to scoop the kick and take down.

Diagram #6: Possible Implications from Itosu no Kusanku, Jitte. In the Itosu version of Kusanku, as well as in Jitte, this posture is found. Against a rear attack (shoulder grab, punch, etc.), turn deflecting, ride the offending arm down and counter with a backfist.

Diagram #7: Possible Implications from Jion. There is a technique in Jion that involves a punch, upper level block, etc, that might fit this diagram.

Diagram #8: Possible Implications from Seisan, Chinto, Sunsu, etc. The double upper-level blocks can be used to grab the offending arm, to take down. It may be a good idea to kick the opponent to damage him before attemting to force down from this position.

Diagram #9: Possible Implications from Rinkan, Unshu, Kusanku. Similar to diagram #3 described above.
Diagram #10: Possible Implications from Saifa. This is right out of the Gojuryu kata Saifa against a leg-grab, strike the temples, and then twist the neck to take down.

Diagram #11: Possible Implications from Seipai. From the Gojuryu kata Seipai, this is a takedown, followed with double one-knuckle fists to vital areas as a finisher.

Diagram #12: Possible Implications from Seiunchin. Scoop the kick then step in and strike the open groin with a down block before taking down.

Diagram #13: Possible Implications from Pinan Shodan, Pinan Nidan, Itosu no Kusanku, Gojuryu Seisan etc. The pressing block/spear-finger thrust could be a check and throat grab. The thorat grab is also found verbatim in the Gojuryu Seisan.

Diagram #14: Possible Implications from Yara no Kusanku. The "palm block, punch" series, although performed on the other side in the kata, fits this diagram nicely.

Diagram #15: Possible Implications from Mawashi-uke (Tora-guchi). This technique, found in many kata, can represent a groin and throat attack as found here in the Bubishi.

Diagram #16: Possible Implications from Passai, Kusanku, Sunsu. The hands held up could be representative of the "sasoi no kamae" (inviting posture) aka drunken posture (cf Nagamine).

Diagram #17: Possible Implications from Useishi (Gojushiho), Sunsu. Similar in principle to Diagram #4 above.

Diagram #18: Possible Implications from Nisieshi, Unshu, Kururunfa. This technique involves grabbing the achilles tendon and pushing on the inside of the knee to topple the bad-guy.

Diagram #19: Possible Implications from Pinan Shodan, Pinan Sandan, Itosu no Kusanku, etc. Similar in effect to Diagram #13 above, but with a spearing thrust instead of a grab.

Diagram #20: Possible Implications from Passai, Gekisai Dai-ichi, Suparinpei, etc. Any kata where the hands cross in front and then come back to the "post" position could be grabbing and twisting the opponent off balance for the take-down.

(The last 28 diagrams are coming in a separate post.)

Footnote #1:
Otsuka T. (1998) Chugoku, Ryukyu Bugeishi. Tokyo: Baseball Magazine.

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