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I learn a Martial Art called Shorinji Kempo. The emphasis of this art is on wrist and fine joint Manipulation and strikes to 'vital points'.

Whenever I answer a question relating to these areas I am asked (not unreasonably) to explain how I know these techniques work.

"Vital points" is a difficult issue because of the unfounded claims made by 'alternative medicine' practitioners such as acupuncturists. While in effect this usually means striking the solar plexus at an upward angle or flicking the eyes with the tips of the fingers the use of the term "vital points" can also extend to points on the carotid artery on the neck or even just 'a place on the arm that is painful if you apply pressure "like so". It is rare that we actually, for example, strike to the side of the neck for safety reasons (although it is certainly less dangerous than giving someone concussion which some other martial arts are quite happy to do). There is a video where this is done https://youtu.be/vSkD7BPpVK4 but as it is done by an instructor on his students (and not by competitors in an octagon) many users here suspect that the people shown are merely acting.

Wrist locks I thought would be an easy subject. But here too other users ask for evidence that they are practical for take-down purposes. It doesn't help that there are plenty of examples of aikido practitioners (the most famous practitioners of joint locks) being defeated by other martial artists. Indeed, those times I have been to aikido dojos I have seen little that is practical, and it's easy to see how this can be taken as evidence that this form of technique is inferior to others (such as judo throws).

However even when I link video of a basic technique that I can do myself other users here (you know who you are but I'm not trying to continue the discussion here) claim that the clip is a fake, with a martial artist falling for no good reason. https://youtu.be/0P16QY-CHRM or https://youtu.be/qpPFwBdyMZg

Clips showing these against martial artists from other styles are impossible to find because there is no culture for entering competitions of other styles and such competitions ban many of these techniques in any case.

When I looked into entering such competitions myself for example Judo bans these techniques and BJJ does not permit them for low grades (below blue belt). Other styles of Jujitsu also seem to have this approach. UFC style MMA permits these techniques but as this is practiced without a gi and also permits striking techniques opportunity for wrist locks would be minimal and in any case I see no reason to risk concussion over this.

Most of the people on this site seem to be in a different country (I am in the UK) so we can't meet in order to film sparring match.

I wouldn't usually particularly mind leaving this sort of thing unresolved, but since SE aims to be an authoritative source of information this seems very problematic to me as it is, as I see it, spreading misinformation.

So as stated in the title, the question is what would I need to show to have techniques of this kind accepted as viable in 'real life'? Is there any substitute for competition footage in cases where the technique is banned in competition?

  • I'm not sure why this is in meta. This is a fine main-site question. – Dave Liepmann Jan 21 '16 at 19:13
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I've said this before and I'll repeat: most accepted is not the same as correct. You don't need to convince everyone, you simply need to provide an answer that is useful to the person asking the question (and presumably anyone else who might have the same or a very similar question).

The best way is footage and studies. Luckily for you, there's a pretty big world of joint manipulation on video, and there's also a lot of police and security testimony about which ones work and under what conditions. Pressure point work is much more iffy and full of chicanery, but find the best evidence you can.

Second, describe, in detail what your experience is making the technique work or where it doesn't. People can compare it to their own experiences, and/or try it out themselves and see if that works for them.

You don't have to make anyone accept your answer. But a good answer will at least provide sufficient information that people can apply it or have directions to research to learn/apply it in their future.

If you can make techniques work reliably under stress, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. They can try it out or not.

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Specific Approaches

Plenty of methods exist for proving the efficacy of techniques.

When I looked into entering such competitions myself for example Judo bans these techniques and BJJ does not permit them for low grades (below blue belt).

So go to a BJJ gym, instead of entering a competition, and try it on the blue belts there. As the question in question notes, you might not get a friendly response if you don't tell them you're liable to wristlock them. But there should be at least one blue, purple, brown, or black belt willing to let you try. Bringing a camera seems a bit much until you've been training there at least a few months, but you can still prove it to yourself.

Other styles of Jujitsu also seem to have this approach. UFC style MMA permits these techniques but as this is practiced without a gi and also permits striking techniques opportunity for wrist locks would be minimal and in any case I see no reason to risk concussion over this.

It's not clear to me what a gi has to do with it. Combat SAMBO might be an option if you absolutely need a gi while allowing strikes, but you'd have to check their rulesets to see if wristlocks are allowed. But if you're saying that allowing strikes makes opportunities for wristlocks minimal, then I'd say you're already in major agreement with many of your interlocutors.

Most of the people on this site seem to be in a different country (I am in the UK) so we can't meet in order to film sparring match.

Try posting on Bullshido.org; they have members all over and at least used to have a philosophy of meeting up for things like this.

The General Problem

The generalized issue here, at least for me and I believe a few others of similar mind, is that we encourage pressure-testing techniques not for us in the context of discussion, but for anyone's own practice.

I trained wristlocks weekly for about nine years in a context relatively similar to yours. I catalogued the various kinds, I tried them against "resisting" but generally compliant partners much as you describe in your own practice, I taught them. I still believe there's a place for wristlocks, but I see their role as relatively minor compared to other skills, and their reliability for purposes such as throwing or whole-body control to be more limited than most of their proponents admit. I discovered these things through pressure-testing these techniques and others and I think you might find that same process useful.

The specific issue that I think you are running into (e.g. here and here), is the difference between uke-tori training and actual uncooperative practice. The difference between the two is monumental. Simply put, evidence gained from an uke-tori scenario is not evidence at all, because every element of the interaction is governed by each person playing their designated roles of technique-applier and technique-receiver.

  • The issue with no gi situations as opposed to those where you are wearing a gi is that most of the best wristlocks are defenses against grabs. I'm not going to try to grab a hand in a live fight. Its just not an optimal move. Similarly if my opponent is trying to hit me I would use striking techniques before even trying to grab. In any case, I am not going to risk brain dammage over this. – Huw Evans Jan 22 '16 at 15:57
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    Regarding uke/tori training versus uncooperative practice, see this person's disillusionment with Shorinji kempo. – Dave Liepmann Feb 8 '16 at 11:22
  • The video he links to is an interesting one. There is basically no-one else in shorinji kempo who can do this to this extent but that is not compliant training. My own instructor knew that guy and learned a lot from him which he is passing on. The thing that you don't seem to realize is that this is not at all like aikido training in that you are not expected to 'feel' the correct way to do the technique. Rather you learn the balance breaking methods and then they will work. This guy started at what 9 years old? He was probably only learning locks for 3 years or so starting at 15/16. – Huw Evans Feb 8 '16 at 14:01
  • In any case, I have found out a good friend has started MMA. So it looks like I should be able to show you some wrist locks applied in that context before long. – Huw Evans Feb 8 '16 at 14:03
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    A) that is 100% what I mean when I say compliant training no matter how you slice it. B) if your friend is a noob, then wristlocking him and claiming victory in an MMA context would be...unconvincing – Dave Liepmann Feb 8 '16 at 14:54
  • I'm going to have to check when he started it's true. If it's too recent then there's no point in posting it. I'll spar with him either way in any case. – Huw Evans Feb 8 '16 at 14:57
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    I would advise sparring with more than just your friend. Let him bring you to class to spar with the other students too. – Dave Liepmann Feb 8 '16 at 15:13
  • I'll think about it. As I said though so far as I am concerned if I prove my point sparing with some guy and suffer brain damage sparing with another I loose. – Huw Evans Feb 8 '16 at 15:17
  • 1) Someone who hasn't sparred with facepunching has no standing to make any claims about their ability to execute techniques in self-defense. 2) I think you may be overstating the brain damage involved in MMA sparring. It's not like you lose 10 IQ points from one light session, or even ten. See martialarts.stackexchange.com/a/999/347 – Dave Liepmann Feb 8 '16 at 16:06
  • Sparing with facepunching as you put it is one thing. Full contact MMA is another. Of course I have been punched in the face, I have also been outright winded by a kick and had my shoulder joint wretched. I'm fine with that. I'm just not prepared to risk brain dammage over an argument on the internet. A single strike to the head could result in permanent mental health problems completely defeating the point of self defense. – Huw Evans Feb 8 '16 at 16:15

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