I have a new acronym for you to use… TAPE

I like acronyms better than initialisms because they are sometimes easier to remember. And for those who do not know the difference, because there are more of you than I thought, here is how they are defined by dictionary.com. They use the Random House Unabridged Dictionary as their base, which I didn’t know until I began writing this post.

acronym [ ak-ruh-nim ] – noun – a word formed from the initial letters or groups of letters of words in a set phrase or series of words and pronounced as a separate word, as WAC from Women’s Army Corps, OPEC from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or LORAN from Long-Range Navigation.

initialism [ ih-nishuh-liz-uhm ] – noun – a set of initials representing a name, organization, or the like, with each letter pronounced separately, as FBI for Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The acronym I have developed is in relation to the teaching of pressure points. Kyusho (pressure points) is a large part of my martial arts study and teaching. I recently became aware I teach points in a way where I categorize the importance of what I want my students to know. I base it on what I consider the most important aspect of the point and then work my way down to what I consider the least important. Don’t get me wrong, truly what I consider the least important aren’t listed in the acronym TAPE, so maybe I should clarify these are the top four things I think people should know, but in the order I think people should know them.

Besides the name, the most important thing people should know about a point is where it is located. Let’s call this the Target. Pressure points are areas where pain can be entered into the body. If you are going to study kyusho, you should probably know where a point is. When I was developing the acronym, by accident really, I originally didn’t include this part because I was assuming we had established where the point was. But since my wife didn’t like the APE acronym, I had to come up with something else. Location was an obvious choice, but LAPE just doesn’t sound right, and as an initialism, it’s too close to LAPD. Rory Miller suggested Target, and thus, APE became TAPE.

The next most important part is how to Activate the point. To enter pain into the body a pressure point can be hit, rubbed, or touched depending on how the nerve is positioned. There are some points you can be activated multiple ways. Along with the activation part also comes knowing the direction of activation. Which direction do you strike, rub or touch a point to get the proper dysfunction or reaction you need?

Those are the top two things you need to know regardless of which kyusho method you follow. For me and how I teach I also consider knowing the Polarity of each point. A point can be considered either negative (yin) or positive (yang). Knowing the polarity of a point will give a practitioner a better understanding of how to activate a point more effectively.

Lastly, I include the Elemental value of the point. I teach some elemental theory, but it is more the icing, not the cake. As a student clarified, “So if I want an A+ I would need to know this.” Yes. Though I don’t focus on the elemental as much as I used to, I do believe in being a well-rounded kyusho martial artist, especially if you are an instructor. Therefore you should probably know at least the base elemental value of each point.

For the TL;DR people, you should know the TAPE for each pressure point.

  • Target – Where is the point and what is its name?
  • Activation – How is the point activated?
  • Polarity – Is it considered negative or positive?
  • Element – What is the primary elemental value

For the most part, I have always taught points this way, however, not consistently, just check out my Kyusho Korner episodes. But I definitely have been organizing and teaching points this way the last couple of years. And I just realized I could acronymize it a month or so ago. If you find this works for you as you learn or teach kyusho, Please USE IT!

Play – Have Fun – Be Good To Your Uke