The Ancient Techniques of Acupressure


Black Belt Magazine - November, 1977


Most knowledge about methods of natural medicine was acquired first through objective experience. For example, one can observe the automatic reaction of a person who bumps a knee on a table. The natural reflex is immediately to place the palm of the hand on the injured point along with tightening of the lower abdominal area. Like wise, when a person complains of a headache, sore throat or stomach ache, their hand usually is placed on the affected area.

(In treating a concussion resulting from a fall, the technique in the picture may prevent loss of consciousness by applying pressure to area right below the nose.)

Even in primitive times, there were people of sufficient intellectual development who had the necessary factor of curiosity to observe these natural reactions and arrive at conclusions based on their observations. And through the accumulation of generations of experience, a rudimentary system of natural medicine was devised.

Durring these times another approach to learning about the human body also was being taken. The study and practice of martial arts was an important part of life then, since conflicts between individuals and groups often were decided in hand-to-hand combat. The development of martial arts led to the study of increasing a warrior's internal power through psycho-spiritual techniques of meditation and what we now call "ki" development. The ancients saw the human body as a miniature replica of the universe around them. And they reasoned the mysteries of the world could be unravelled by studying the workings of the body. These two approaches began to merge.

(In treating aches and pains of the cartilage and joints in the knee area, the technique in the picture shows where pressure is applied three times - five seconds on and five seconds off.)

The martial artist discovered that finger pressure at one point on the body could cause a disabling injury in another part. The medical community observed similiar effects of applying the palm, or finger pressure, to points distant to the point of pain and obtaining relief. And both groups reasoned there must be a connection between various parts of the body other than physical. The martial artists eventually brought objective experience to support this theory.

(In treating a pained elbow joint, the series of photos on this page illustrates the position of the subject's arm and each of the places where pressure is applied three times, five seconds on and five seconds off.)

As mind-control practices were perfected, the martial artists began to experience the movement of subtle energy forms within the body. This movement of energy seemed to follow definite pathways identical in each person. From the combination of theory, objective experience and practical application, a foundation for the development of acupressure and acupunture was laid. This system became more scientific and exact as research proved concentrated stimulation of energy pathways increased the effects of the technique.
Various points in the skin were more sensitive to pressure and had a greater influence on the movement of energy along the pathways, called meridians. Use of sharp instruments, such as sharp stones, cat claws, wooden needles, and later, metal needles to "prick" these points aided the ability to control and increase the effects of the techniques. And when enough practical experience had been accumulated, charts were drawn to record the location of the meridians and sensitive points thereon.

Medical Applications of Acupressure
Acupressure generally can be defined as acupunture without needles. The same theories and techniques are followed, but application is less precise and somewhat limited to less serious problems. The practice lends itself more easily to self-administration, making it suitable for first aid treatement.

Based on the theory of a balance of opposites, acupressure is composed of concepts relative to each other-um and yang, dark and light, hard and soft, high and low. One concept cannot exist without the balance of opposites.

The body is seen to be in a healthy state when all these factors are in balance. When the balance is upset, either through illness or injury, acupressure is used to restore it by controlling the flow of ki through the meridians. Using pressure at joints along the meridians, energy is increased at one point and decreased at another.

(Because the back spine is important in controlling the whole human system, the series of photos on this page illustrates how stiffness in the upper back is treated, where pressure is applied in the same five-second intervals.)

Acupuncture should be practiced only by doctors qualified to do so, becouse using needles to stimulate the acupuncture points causes greater changes in the flow of ki through meridians, for better or worse.
Acupressure can be used by the layman to cure minor illness and injuries. Some conditions that can be treated include headache, stomach upset, pain in or around the eye, hiccups, colds and fever.

Techniques
The body is divided lenghtwise into two equal parts, with 12 meridians on either side and two in the middle. There are 354 acupressure points on each side and 52 on the two central meridians. There are five methods of stimulating acupressure points without the aid of instruments (needles). These are: One finger press, three-finger press, thumb press, pinch, palm (for extension of ki).
Self-acupressure can be used on a daily basis to promote continued physical and mental health. Taking a minimum of time to establish, a daily program can be learned easily by anyone. Some may question how pressing different points on the skin can improve mental health, but part of the answer is obvious. Any improvement in th physical condition brings a more relaxed state of mind. Second, the exercise works by speeding, faster than normal, the circulation of ki through meridians. This brings more life energy to vital points from the power source below the navel, the dan jun. And since this ki power is the energy behind everything that moves, it also must stimulate the mind, since thought is also movement.


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