If there is one word that can sum up what martial arts teach, that is power. The creation and use of power or energy (Chi in Chinese or Ki in Japan) is the primary focus of many martial arts. Breathing techniques, weight training, conditioning exercises, drills, forms, nutrition, and meditation all are ways of generating and directing energy. All masters know that there are two forms of this energy, the yin and the yang, the creative and the destructive.
Martial arts rightly focus on generating creative energy through fitness, self-discipline, and honor. Nevertheless, a martial artist must also learn to master the dark side of the force, the creation and application of destructive energy. The following describes three types of destructive energy, how they work, and where and how to apply them in combat.
All striking techniques generate one of three types of destructive energy: Penetrating, Crushing, and Transferring.
Penetrating strikes focus energy generated by velocity into a small surface that is directed into the body in such a way that the skin and muscle are forced inward and sometimes torn by the impact of the blow.
Anatomical weapons that utilize penetrating energy include fingertip and second knuckle strikes, lunge punches, knife-hand chops, and side-kicks. Examples of weapons that utilize penetrating energy include the spear, sword, and knife.
Penetrating strikes are best used against soft tissue targets such as nerve clusters, and internal organs. For example, if you were to use a Snake Hand strike (the hand extended flat using the fingertips as the striking surface) against an opponent’s chest, it has no chance of penetrating the sternum and a high chance of breaking your fingers. However, if delivered to the throat, it is capable of lacerating the larynx or blistering the carotid artery, both lethal injuries.
To apply penetrating energy requires you to focus through the intended target. For example, a punch to the solar plexus should be focused through the opponent’s body as though attempting to strike the spine rather than the stomach. This helps to neutralize the subconscious tendency to slow down the strike as it nears the target. A simple way to train and test your penetrating strikes is to take an empty cardboard box like the kind your TV or Microwave came in. Then set it on a table and insure there is a clear area all around. Now strike the box using a Snake Hand, Leopard Paw or Phoenix Eye strike. If you can punch clean little holes in the cardboard without the box flying off the table, you will have mastered this method.
Crushing energy uses the weapon’s mass to focus energy over a larger area to rupture nerves and blood vessels and to break bones. Anatomical weapons that use crushing energy include the head butt, elbow and knee strikes, most punches and kicks. Weapons that use crushing energy include the mace, war hammer, clubs, and baseball bats.
Crushing energy strikes are best directed at areas less massive …