KYUSHO [Vital Points]
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Kyusho-jutsu translates to mean pressure point fighting science or art. In general terms, a pressure point is a place where energy can be transmitted most effectively into a nerve or cluster of nerves. It is usually a place where there is a small branch of nerve connecting two or more major nerve pathways, or a place where major nerves join together (a nerve cluster or plexus). This means that when such an area is struck, the pain signal resisters on more than one nerve pathway. Pain entered into a pressure point on the arm for example, might be carried to the brain on all three major nerves of the arm – the radial nerve, medial and ulnar nerves. This is why Kyusho-jutsu requires less power to be affective; the brain receives the signal, which is amplified by the multiple nerve routes.

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The pressure points used in Kyusho-jutsu are the same points used in acupuncture. Acupuncture regards a pressure point as a gate where the flow of vital energy (chi or ki) can be manipulated. The acupuncturist uses these gates to increase or decrease the flow of energy in order to restore a healthful balance within the body. The Kyusho-jutsu fighter uses these same points to disrupt the flow of energy in order to defeat an opponent.

Since the original intent of the founders of Kyusho-jutsu were forced to use these methods against armed assailants, their techniques were intended to kill. In modern Kyusho-jutsu our goal is to defend ourselves and not to kill; therefore our techniques are used to quickly incapacitate our opponents with a knock out blow or a joint attack. We also take the wisdom of acupuncture seriously in our training, and we use the utmost restraint in practicing our pressure point techniques. We do not indiscriminately strike points, lest we inadvertently affect the function of a training partner’s organs. In practice we only tap very lightly on the pressure points. This method is best because it insures that no one is injured, and it helps us train for the accuracy of the technique (the lighter the blow, the more precise it must be to register). We also administer an “energy restoration” technique or Kuatsu, anytime we tap a point.

Hatsumi Sensei has said Koppo is often associated with koppojutsu or bone attacking, and that’s part of it, but now when Sensei talks about Koppo, he is talking about something much deeper. That being said, it’s been very difficult to grasp the full meaning of what Koppo is.
Koppo has been translated as “the knack”, as in the knack of fighting. This translation is good, but it doesn’t convey what the knack is, specifically the knack to which Hatsumi Sensei refers.
The way Sensei has been explaining it, Koppo is the dissolving away of techniques and the elimination of intention. One example that he gave involved several sword schools whose foundation was never having the intention of cutting. This was superior because by not trying to cut, there was never a weakness exposed. The swordsman would move into the weak point of the attacking enemy, placing his sword in the right spot, and due to the characteristics of the blade and the natural movement of the human body, the opponent would actually cut himself.