Exclusive Interview: Evan Pantazi – The Pressure Point Picasso (pt. 1)


And saliva.

(Lots of it.)

That’s what flooded out of the mouth of a dude I saw getting knocked out by a vital point strike when I was 13 years old.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.

It was the coolest frickin’ thing I’d EVER seen!

The instructor just lightly struck his opponent on three points (calf, spleen, temple), and the spastic collapse of the attacker was as frightening as it was awesome.

Ever since that day, I’ve been intrigued by the effectiveness of Kyusho-jutsu (vital/pressure points).

In fact, I’ve even used it myself.

(But it’s dangerous: The last guy I knocked out actually lost parts of his memory.)

Yet, few people seem to understand the huge advantage of knowing Kyusho.

It’s weird, really.

I mean, think about it:

Can you imagine spending 30, 40 or 50 years practicing the physical techniques of Karate, but almost no time researching the internal physiological functionality of human anatomy in order to cause maximum effect with minimum effort?

If you just adjust your aim a little bit, you could literally have 10x the effect.

That’s what Kyusho is.

And that’s why you need to know it.

(Especially if you’re a certified Karate Nerd™.)

Actually, I think Kyusho should be mandatory study for every serious black belt.


With that being said, today I’ve decided to shed some light on this fascinating, dangerous and ancient – yet still highly debated – topic of vital points, by interviewing one of the world’s leading experts on the matter:

Sensei Evan Pantazi.

Sensei Evan Pantazi

As a veteran in the field, sensei Pantazi is unquestionably one of the most sought-after experts of Kyusho worldwide – having authored dozens of books, videos, DVDs and software – while boasting 350 affiliates in 35 countries immersed in his scientifically based Kyusho system.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is as close to a “death touch” expert you’ll probably get.

Cool, right?

But, as you’ll quickly see, Pantazi sensei operates from a mindset of humility, openness and knowledge – even though he’s probably caused more people to faint than the Pope.

So, read closely as I reveal my chat with Evan Pantazi – The Pressure Point Picasso.


(And kids, don’t try this at home, mmkay?)

Here we go:

J (Jesse): All right, let’s take it from the beginning: What is “Kyusho”?

EP (Evan Pantazi): “Kyusho literally means “Vital Point(s)”, and is the Japanese term for something that has been in existence for millennia. It can be traced back into India (called Marma), then to China (where they call it Dim Mak or Dim Hsueh) and then to Okinawa and Japan (Kyusho).

There are many obvious vital points on the body that everyone knows; like the eyes, throat, temples and others. However, there are far more internal vital points that are not well known and were hidden from many martial artists until only recently in history. Basically, they can be broken down into two main categories of physiological structure; Blood and Nerve related.

These formerly secret points on the human body where discovered by the ancient cultures for both healing and martial purpose, as they relate and can control the functionality of the body.”

J: Right. Various spots on the human body can be manipulated for specific effects – like healing or hurting. But what role has Kyusho played in the history of Karate, exactly?

EP: “Kyusho, or the study of the vital points, is the backbone of many ancient martial arts like Karate, and was historically transmitted via written and personal instruction. In the case of Karate, the personal instruction modality was, and still is, the kata.

These old patterns of movements hid the vital targets as they honed the weapons, the motions and muscle memory to access and utilize them. The instructor could teach a kata to many people, yet not teach the actual targets to anyone they deemed unworthy or untrusted – and thereby keeping it hidden.”

J: You believe there are “hidden” techniques in kata?

EP: “I believe Kyusho was a keystone of the older styles, and can logically explain even the stranger movements of kata, that most conclude are just a “stylistic” physical action. By studying Kyusho under a qualified instructor, the practitioner can begin to fully understand his art and open the infinite potential for themselves that lies within.

One kata, like Sanchin as example, can be a complete martial art by itself when the Kyusho is understood. This seemingly short “body conditioning” kata can be used for any attack, or even in ground fighting, once the Kyusho or vital points are known and involved.”

J: In other words, when it comes to Kyusho, the lessons of a kata – once understood and applied correctly – transcend the boundaries of said kata and can be applied to numerous situations. That sounds awesome! So, why isn’t Kyusho more widespread in modern martial arts?

EP: “In recent times, society has had less need for this type of study – as well as more laws that prohibited bodily damage or loss of life even under physical attack, and the martial arts have begun to trend away from life-and-death or weapon combat into more sport and exercise based activity. So, the real inner information is not really pursued as much as the trophy.

Another reason why Kyusho is not well known is that the science almost became extinct, as the real old bushi [Jap. “warrior”] died out. Luckily for us and future generations, the information has resurfaced – but it will take time spreading it as more qualified instructors with measured skill and lineage are developed. Thanks to the internet though, Kyusho is now internationally known of, but more time is necessary to become the norm.”

J: But, if Kyusho truly is as dangerous as it seems, maybe it should just be kept secret? I mean, should “regular” Karate people even learn these “dark arts”?

EP: “Well sir, I do not view any Karate-ka as “regular” – since they seek a higher degree of personal development in their life, in our modern society, which sadly is a fading goal. However, I do understand the question and feel that anyone that devotes their time to an endeavor should do it fully.

As example: Most martial artists today spend decades of their life in practicing and researching the physiology of a punch, kick, grab or manipulation of the human body – but not the physiology of the body functionality itself. They give little thought or effort to the vital areas, inter-relationships or anatomical structures that most efficiently accomplish these skills, or can, in reverse engineering, incapacitate the same functionality of an opponent.These structures or components are one in the same, and inseparable, yet most seek just the cause and not the effect – or how to cause a specific effect. So if you are a true Karate-ka, and you strive for deep understanding, Kyusho fills the void in that study.

Is it for everyone? No. Just those that seek the full scope of Karate, below the surface.”

J: Amen. Going back to kata: I think many people would love to understand how vital points can be discovered and applied through analyzing the movements of kata. Could you elaborate a bit on the relationship between bunkai and Kyusho?

EP: “Sure. First of all, bunkai can be interpreted as a breakdown of the motions of a particular kata; so that the postures, movements and transitions can be understood or practiced to handle certain applications under assault.”

J: Correctamundo.

EP: “Now, many of the moves in kata are “odd” to say the least. They have no potential to really defend a practitioner with muscle force in either defense or offensive actions. However, when the practitioner understands that these moves are descriptive motions on how to properly attack or manipulate an opponents weaker anatomical structures, i.e. Kyusho, the moves are no longer “odd” – they become validated and valuable.

What’s more, is that you can methodically practice these actions, targets and angles of attack with full force each time you work a kata, even if there is no training partner readily available.”

J: And that’s why kata exists in the first place!

Old-school Okinawan Karate has tons of unique movements, absent from modern Karate. Kyusho could provide the key.

EP: “But the true wonder is that when you begin to involve Kyusho in your kata, your bunkai becomes infinite and only limited to your thoughts. As each small action in a kata can be directed at any Kyusho target, this grows the potential of bunkai to exponential possibility.

An example, and please forgive me for talking about a personal experience here for a bit: I went on a instructional seminar tour one year that spanned 16 countries. I used only one move that is seen in most kata, and was able to teach 162 unique applications – only made possible through understanding and using Kyusho as the keystone of the bunkai, and letting your mind open to all possibilities.

This connection between bunkai and Kyusho can be made for any move, from any kata, by any individual.

Kyusho opens your full potential.”

To be continued in part 2.

Stay tuned.


  • Andreas
    one proper working theory for Kata. :)
  • Kai-ru
    I must say if I wasn't a long time reader this post would have me rolling my eyes. I am a little sceptical however I am also very intrigued and cant wait to see what secretes may be unlocked in part two. Liver shots for all... Just finished watching Fight Quest: Savate
  • AlexN
    "One kata, like Sanchin as example, can be a complete martial art by itself when the Kyusho is understood. This seemingly short “body conditioning” kata can be used for any attack, or even in ground fighting, once the Kyusho or vital points are known and involved." - that pretty much says it all. Each Kata is a "style" in itself, each tailored to certain body types (and minds). One thing that's not mentioned ( yet ) is the training needed to create the tools to act on those points. Not many people ( sports buffs and skeptics most of all ) take up that kind of work, mostly beacause of unfounded fear and ignorance - which is very funny to me.
  • Fabio
    Jesse, I can´t let you go without telling me the full story: That "the guy lost parts of his memory" thing. How was that? Did the guy recover his memory? And what did you do to get that result?
  • Hi, I'm from India and I have a little knowledge about Marmam or the Indian version of Kyusho-Jutsu. Marmams are mainly found in Kalari(an Indian martial art) and my father used to study it , so one day I asked him about it and he told me a few because he was only taught very little on that matter, most of the pressure points were mostly in the head and easy to access but some were very hard to use, but none the less they were pretty useful and I seem to have learnt a lot about the katas mainly by visualizing the attack points. By the way Jesse-san got any pressure points to teach us?
  • Pj
    I can't help it, but I'm still very skeptical about Kyusho. But on the other hand, I know Jesse-san is not in the bullshit-spreading business. So I'm looking forward to the rest of the interview, so maybe I can become less skeptical. It would be interesting to see some of the common questions skeptics have be adressed in the second part of the interview. Those questions include: -Isn't it just 'the power of suggestion' at work? If the students believe it is real, I can imagine that they really pass out. the mind is a powerfull thing. -Can it be applied, in a real chaotic situation, with a moving target with tensed muscles? -Why don't we ever see these type of knock outs in an applied context? for instance a sparring match, mma, ... not a passive reciever Greetings,
  • First of all to Jesse, thanks for posting this interview. Most (including myself), are skeptical about this in the beginning, but with actual physical involvement and over a decade of medical research I see it's reality as well as it's potential for health as well as martial application. I will be more than happy to answer questions, but I beg your patience as I travel extensively and will be teaching in two countries for the next ten days... I will answer just not quickly. So let's start with PJ's questions: 1. Isn't it the power of suggestion at work? Short answer is No. We touch on this in the next part so I will not elaborate here, but I will say it works far better when it is a surprise as opposed to a stationary KO we have all seen on YouTube. 2. Again answered more in part two but my law enforcement program used in many countries has validated on the street as well as in the prisons, it is preferred over conventional methods of control or emergency response. I will ask one of my affiliates that used it in a prison system to come and talk about it here. 3. I would say 95% of all KO's I have ever seen in these boxing, MMA and other fight venues are on Kyusho targets... even the legendary "Phantom Punch" of Ali vs. Liston was a shot on one... you can tell by the physiological body reactions of Liston. (near the end: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIY9T8zFjAI). These and the rest of say the modern MMA KO's are on these targets. PS what you see publicly, is not what we do privately... yes we do train realistically. Keep them coming.
  • Fabio
    I am still waiting for Jesse´s answer on what happened to the guy he knocked out.
    • Really, it's nothing spectacular: We just sparred, I feinted with my feet and then quickly snapped him in the temple - he fell down instantly with no memory of the last few hours. That's basically it. Scary...
  • Hey together! First of all, thank you for that interresting Interview! I an affiliate of KI and worked in a hig security prison in austria! I am a police officer now and would like to share my experience with you! I have used the KTCP (Kyusho for Law Enforcement) in My everyday work! It helped me a lot as it has a big benefit for us inLEO: - it makes wirk safer for Officers - it makes all the interaction of the LEO dafer for the inmates! What i can tell you about the effectiveness is the following: I used it on inmates, which where highly aggressive and also on inmates that where under the influencenof drugs an medicine! The nerve structure made it possible to controll the person with less danger or his health and of course less danger for the officer! We had a lot of inmates that where extremely trained and had big muscle structures! That made it even easier to get the effects! So: as i can tell from experience, kyusho works and it madr my work safer! Hope i could give some interresting informations for you! If there are any questions, feel free to ask! Max
  • Tintin
    Very interesting article. Any recommendations for reading material on the subject?
  • Thanks Max I appreciate the validation...there is more in part two on this subject as well as Officer endorsements at this page: http://www.kyusho.com/tactical/ just one last post before leaving for the airport, I will answer more questions when I return.
  • Jeff
    I googled Evan Pantazi and have a question. Has he trained in kyusho with anybody reputable ? All I could find was that he’s a 6th Dan under George Dillman.
  • Mr Pentazi do you have any pressure points for people who don't know Kyusho-jutsu
  • First to Jeff; I did train with Dillman, even got to 7th dan (turned down an offer of 8th) as I saw what was happening. I have trained and trained with most of the higher levels in Kyusho... your google search did not turn up current or enough info for you. I have also been involved inso many medical and scientific studies researching Kyusho (far more than any other reputable source).. By the way who do you infer is reputable? Shankar, it is so difficult to just off the cuff give you a point without knowing how you move, your aptitude or style to make it worthwhile to you. Two suggestions: One go to www.kyusho.com there is decades of information there, even great ways to learn. Or how about you tell me what your style is or what you deploy in fast competitive sparring, fighting, training more than other others so I could refine a suggestion?
  • Mr Pentazi I study Shotokan I'm from the JKA so we focus a lot on basics and kata. Kumite is not being focused on most of the time.I'm of medium build, about to be 13(I won't misuse the stuff, Seriously!),Muscular for my age, I've also got an aptitude for almost any martial art(If I've got the focus).By the way I've tried your website, but I can't afford it, too costly for me(India's a poor country even for the Middle class!). No worries if you can't explain.
    • About my style of fighting, I use explosive strength and I tend to focus a lot on close quarters,For example chokes and locks.I focus a lot on practicality and katas for ideas
  • Shankar, if you work with chokes a lot then I suggest a study of the structures under a point called ST-9. That said, do not get too caught up in the term "Pressure Point", they are anatomical structures that we are after not magic points. As a matter of fact Kyusho is not acupuncture points... but I leave that for a longer discussion. Another target to look at is mentioned in part two of this article as (LI-18), but don't think point, learn what is underneath. And for the record it seems you may have skimmed through the website, I have been online giving away a ton of information since 1995, if you can not find information it is because you have not looked deep enough... and this is why more do not understand Kyusho, they did not look into it deep enough. The deeper you look the more profound Karate is... do not be satisfied with superficial understanding or skimming through, this takes dedication, research, arduous hours of practice, hey isn't that part of the discipline of Karate? Disclaimer: We use point names for ease of communication as Kyusho is not pressure points... that is one of the main issues and confusions.
  • Thank you, but do you have some one touch KO points because I avoid groundwork(can't seem to find any judo classes over here!)and things tend to get very violent when I fight(not that I don't like fighting!he he).
    • Most Kyusho targets could cause altered states of consciousness. But it is more than just knowing a target, it is knowing how to use it and what it does... Not to mention what it really is. You see two were already given, yet instead of studying them you ask for more. Knowledge and skill are two different things. One is in your head, the other in your hands.
      • Karate_Fighter
        I am thinking about leaving a George Dillman licensed instructor because he said I never made contact on his face with a punch because I was in a hypnotic state. I replied by saying that I felt his fuzzy beard. He said just focus on the martial art drills if you don't want to get punched in the face. I am quite disenchanted with instructor and I am thinking about switching over to an reality based self defense system based on isshinryu karate. If a person is skilled why does he have to put up a front? I am pretty sure the kyuosho master can kick my butt; however, he has too many delusional ideas.
        • Karate_Fighter, I got kicked out of DKI for trying to bring the reality in... actually best thing that ever happened. We train Kyusho in spontaneous drills as well as sparring, fighting, ground fighting as well. Pardon the cross reference Jesse San: http://www.kyusho.com/delusional/ I applaud your sense of reality and wish you well.
  • Vinh_Diesel
    what is the difference between karate kyusho jitsu and jujitsu's atemi waza? Also, how can you take a person seriously if he believes in no contact combat.
  • Vinh_Diesel, Atemi is a means to temporarily distract or stun the opponent to set up for another technique or finnish. That is why everyone already knows about Kyusho targets as the grips, the pressure points, are all used by so many. The real difference is that Kyusho is a finish unto itself... not weakening or preparing for the finish.
    • Charlie Hayes
      Not to contradict a much more experienced person, such as Sensei Pantazi, but I found an old book in my primary school (elementary school in the US?) when I was about 7.* This was nearly 60 years ago. It was a Kodokan Judo text book, with an Atemi Waza chart at the back. Most of the targets were obvious anatomical structures, eyes, throat, temple, groin, etc. but the book emphasised that this was for higher level Judoka - as finishing techniques for real fighting! The author said they had "no place" in modern Judo, but were included for the "sake of completeness." In addition, a number of Judoka have said the same thing. Where aikido might use a strike to destabilise for a throw, Judo can throw someone - hard, if you wish - and then use a strike to deliver the coup de grace, rather in the way we see some Karate demos finishing with a strike to a prone assailant. *Just to be clear, we go to school younger in the UK than in the US. Even in the 1950s/60s, proper school began at 5 and kids now go to Nursery at 3 and Reception at 4. Due to disability, I began what would now be called "Nursery" at 2 years and 9 months and had a good reading age by 6. (I read Tarzan of the Apes at 7 and also attempted Dracula - not a good idea. This is not to show off, but just to indicate that I could read the Judo book. To my shame, I used the basic idea, although not any of the dangerous targets, to get out of fights with a much bigger friend - digging fingers into soft areas around his joints, etc.
  • I am totally blind and I study Kyusho and Karate as well as other martial art forms. I Have found Mr Pantazi's methods invaluable and learning about the vital points alongside the physiology of the human body is a must for any serious martial artist.
    • Well sir, thanks for taking the time to pursue Kyusho... it is not as most would think; that you need to target a precise "Pin Point" area and in a situation it would be improbable. The reason we stress hands on training (besides the obvious) along with health remedies, energetics training and yes even intimacy, is due to the tactile skills built up over time. Yes you can target even with strikes without looking at the target, this is crucial in grappling, ground fighting and multiple person assault.
      • Evan, thank you for your response. I have enjoyed following your videos on YouTube and it is an honour to have you reply to me here. I have just recently started learning how to grapple and using my skills I already learned in karate and Kyusho alongside a ground martial art such as Brazilian jujutsu seems to make for an interesting combination of mixed martial arts. Keep up your good work sir as you are an inspiration.
  • surfside
    I purchased one of your DVDs which I enjoy. But the techniques you apply are from a static position with the training partners just standing in front of you. It would have been nice to see how these techniques would be applied in a sparing type scenario since most fights involve people moving and not remaining static. Do you have any DVDs that would encompass something like this?
    • First thank you for the support of the DVD... which one did you pick up? You need to understand that these DVD's are not the way we train, they are a tutorial on the various aspects of Kyusho. Working in sparring, high stress attack and or mass attack (which we train only in classes), does not teach anything. These levels are also not for a beginner trying to figure Kyusho out or learning how to apply it. Please also understand the ramifications of full out Kyusho,we tap as light as we can to save the Uke from major trauma. For our testing criteria the practitioner needs to notwork a full out KO, but what we call a level 2 KO, where the body collapses and the consciousness is severely altered. But I understand that this raises many questions... so let me post two old videos from my YouTube channel of our second level instructors during multiple attack. Peter Pinard of Claremont-Ferrand, France: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEslzTt-Q8o Daniel Obon of Taipei, Taiwan (this also depicts a few criteria of attack): https://youtu.be/GAHgjQdbpaE You will also note, that not all go magically down, but this is great as you need to know and keep going... even if you miss. These are also a few years old and our training is at an even higher level now... but still maintaining our 100% safety record. Please feel free to ask any other questions that may arise.
      • Sorry that all mashed together... please cut and paste the YouTube videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEslzTt-Q8o - https://youtu.be/GAHgjQdbpaE
  • John
    I would like to know if George Dillman is a conman with his not touch chi act? Are his students brainwashed? Can you Evan Pantazi do the same being a 7th dan under him? Thank you for your time.
    • John
      I also saw a video somewhere of how he got close to Muhammed Ali (I think it was) and from then on he got publicity. He could still be a legitimate martial artist, and still use foolish demonstrations to get publicity and students, who knows... It's a crazy evil world, among other things..
  • Mike
    Here's Jack Slack reviewing some of Evan Pantazi's work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8v-5joxRNLw Here's a couple top notch breakdowns from Jack Slack on vice: http://fightland.vice.com/blog/wushu-watch-how-to-grapple-without-ever-grappling http://fightland.vice.com/blog/wushu-watch-advanced-ways-to-get-stabbed-to-death Jesse, and Evan what do you make of Jack's reviews?

Leave a comment