One of the topics I’ve been interested in lately is pressure points. I purchased a couple books on the subject from Barnes and Noble and read up on it. What I wanted to find was a complete map listing all the pressure points in the body and how best to use them, so I could experiment on myself with this or that technique and see what happens. I’m still looking. I found a book on Shiatsu Massage and Acupressure and that listed a great many of them, but not all. A number of those listed were on the back of the body and, therefore, more difficult to access, particularly in a fight. I have a black belt in the martial arts, so I know a couple from that endeavor, but I would like to know more. As it happens, I stopped studying martial arts right when we were beginning to learn about such topics as chi and pressure points. I know enough to know both are real, but I lack all but the most rudimentary skill in either.
What is a pressure point? I’m not sure I know how to define it properly. It is a point on the human body where, when pressure is applied, the flow of chi can be interrupted. This can result in pain or relief from pain depending on the amount of pressure applied and the condition of the body prior to the application of pressure. Chi (or a person’s physical life force) is said to flow through meridians that exist throughout the body. Some have equated meridians to nerve pathways in the body. Again, I’m not sure if that is actually the case, or if meridians are something else entirely. I do know that chi can do a number of things that our current understanding of nerve energy does not allow.
Anyway, as far as fantasy literature is concerned, my interest in pressure points stems from my use of martial arts in my novels. I haven’t used martial arts in my novels a lot yet—other than as a general understanding as to how combat works—but I have a character on the horizon, who is essentially a ninja, although I don’t call him that. He has a thorough understanding of pressure points and how to use them; he has even mastered the dreaded “touch of death.” In any event, I wouldn’t expect the “touch of death” to be thoroughly discussed in a book I purchased at Barnes and Noble (if it, in fact, exists … which is a big if) but I did want to find a map of all the points known. Unfortunately, that was not to be the case.
The best way to learn about pressure points remains through a qualified teacher and instructor in martial arts, acupressure, or acupuncture. There’s only so much a book can tell you. But I lack the money for formal training. Besides, I’m not trying to become a master of the arts; I’m just curious. Anyway, they have a unique place in a fantasy world—and the advantage of using them in a fantasy world is that they can be altered and changed to the writer’s preference. The “touch of death” may not exist in the real world, but there is no reason why you can’t use it in a fantasy world. Likewise, other effects can be thrown in; and it will remain believable, because it is, in the end, a fantasy world.