This post is part of the series Mysticism in Oriental Medicine

Other posts in this series:

  1. Acupuncture in the Media (Current)
  2. Qi in Media


When the Bride struck Bill with the five point exploding heart technique many movie goers thought it was a great way for a bad guy to fall to some ancient martial arts technique. People familiar with these kung fu films knew the technique was based on Dim Mak, a method of using pressure points to damage ones opponent. The points that Dim Mak uses are usually similar, if not identical, to those of acupuncture.

So wait, is your acupuncturist a trained assassin? Well no, acupuncturists don’t wear black masks and strike you with needles in the middle of the night. Many acupuncturists familiar with martial arts and the points used in kung fu flicks by Jaune Claude Van Damme and others.  How could they not be as this is one of the most popular ways their art is portrayed.

So how accurate is the portrayal? Dim mak is, for lack of a better term, is the malpractice of acupuncture. The points acupuncturists use are based on human anatomy. The points on the neck that a karate master strikes to knock their opponent unconscious are used by acupuncturists to help calm the mind and help insomniacs sleep. Points on the arms or legs that disable a limb in media are used by acupuncturists to relieve carpal tunnel syndrome. However there is no acupoint combination I am aware of which mimics the technique of the Bride or from the anime Fist of the North Star. Acupuncture does work on the nervous system and, if used improperly, could damage a person. That stated there are points which often clear sinus pressure or headaches immediately and even a few that can restore consciousness. These points are based on sound anatomical reasoning and are not reliant on eastern magic. Acupuncturists train for years to ensure that they do no harm and that their patients benefit from such care. As such it is important that anyone claiming to be an acupuncturist be properly trained and credentialed before practicing this art of health.

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