In Martial arts, some people easily accept legends, while other dismissed legends completely without looking into them. Sometimes legends have more truths in them than people think. The key is to look at the legends logically with a skeptical mind but still entertain the possibility that it could occur. For us to do this there is a branch of forensic science that deals with reconstructing an event using small amounts of information. We have two stories which to look at both are about the same person.
The stories (oral tradition):
While drinking in at a teahouse in the Tsuji district of Naha, a Karateka, Arakaki, accidentally bumped into a larger man who insisted on fighting. When Arakaki tried to apologize, the man pushed him down the stairs and became even more furious when Arakaki rolled to avoid injury. The man jumped down and grabbed Arakaki by the arm and tried to punch him in the face.
When the larger man exposed his armpit, Arakaki drove his toes deep into the attacker’s armpit. The man dropped unconscious. Six month later, Arakaki read an article which told of a large wrestler who died after taking an injury from “some Karate expert” in a teahouse in Tsuji district some time back.
We do not get any symptoms for this encounter but we do get a powerful technique applied to a specific anatomical site. What we do get is that the fight happened and the man died six months later. We are also told that the man died of an injury from a “Karate expert.” With the population of Naha at about 75,000 it seems that he would have known if another Karateka had fought someone around the same time he did.
Still, there is another story that gives us symptoms that while on a different site, the same technique was used. When Arakaki’s brother wanted take a kick from his brother. After enough pestering, Arakaki kicked his brother in the thigh. That night, the brother ran a fever, developed a blister, and needed surgery. The question anyone should ask, are there anatomical structures that are similar in the armpit and the thigh to make the same technique kill, the answer is yes.
Severe pain that last a long time and can cause fever which require surgery or lead to death in days to months, are specific symptoms specially when they all come together after trauma. In the groin and armpit there are only have a few places where this can occur.
If one looks as a picture of the armpit, one can easily find the Axillary Artery which is wrapped by the main nerve plexus to the arm called the Brachial nerve plexus. In the leg there is a triangle where we find the femoral nerve wrapped by the femoral nerve. Both arteries are superficial as is evident as they are areas where a pulse can be felt. (To see image of cadaver artery click Here)
There are two conditions which can lead to death or require emergency surgery that affect these areas, an aneurism and a pseudo-aneurism. What is interesting is that both can present with similar symptoms. The question becomes if trauma can cause these conditions.
A study on leg trauma needing emergency treatment found that the cause, “…was blunt trauma in 13.6%…Associated injuries included vein injury in 45% of cases, nerve injury in 16.4%…”(Ender et al). The question remains if it can cause this in the armpit, or Axilla in medical terms, and become life-threatening 6 months later?
One Clinical case study found a traumatic pseudo-aneurism that, “…six months of injury with a progressively growing mass in left Axillary region and neurological deficit. Ultimate management of the lesion was surgical…” Interestingly, this is the same time period of Arakaki’s attacker. Pseudo-aneurisms are, “…usually encountered after penetrating or blunt trauma to the axilla…” (Dympep et al)
People suffering from this type of injury, “…[t]he usual presenting complaint is a mass near the site of the trauma that is pulsating, painful, and warm.” This seems to be what Arakaki’s brother was complaining about in his thigh, which has similar anatomical structures, including a major artery. “…[P]seudoaneurysms due to penetrating or blunt trauma are seen in patients of every age and at any location…” (Dympep et al) The condition matches the symptoms that the brother showed.
Some may wonder if this is life-threatening or self-limiting and what is found is that “Pseudoaneurysms can be life-threatening due to rupture and bleeding. Therefore, pseudoaneurysms are considered an emergency…” (Sueyoshi et al)
There is a real possibility that Arakaki’s legendary toe kick used in certain body sites can cause a delayed death. Based on the symptoms that Arakaki’s brother developed and the similarities it is likely that both he and the attacker obtained either aneurysms or pseudo-aneurysms that compressed the nerve bundles.
Medically, it is possible that the true “Dim Mak” were not based on magic or energy but anatomical sites such as the ones that Arakaki struck. This does not suggest that all “Dim Mak” points are real but that there may be truth to some of them. Each site must be investigated independently to confirm or deny the possibilities.
- Ender, A. Topal, Mehmet Nesimi Eren, and Yusuf Celik Lower extremity arterial injuries over a six-year period: outcomes, risk factors, and management Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2010; 6: 1103–1110. Published online 2010 December 3. doi: 10.2147/VHRM.S15316.
- B Dympep, S Khangarot, and N Hadke An unusual presentation of traumatic pseudoaneurysm of axillary artery mimicking soft tissue tumor J. surg. case rep. 2012 (10): 17 doi:10.1093/jscr/2012.10.17 published online October 1, 2012
- Eijun Sueyoshi, Ichiro Sakamoto, Kazuaki Nakashima, Kazunori Minami, and Kuniaki Hayashi Visceral and Peripheral Arterial Pseudoaneurysms American Journal of Roentgenology 2005 185:3, 741-749