Heart (part 1)

Discuss the medical implications and realities of close quarters combat as it relates to human anatomy and physiology.

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Heart (part 1)

Postby San Soo Sifu » Sun Mar 09, 2014 3:24 am

Dave Lorenson wrote:From: Sifu Dave
To: All
3/21/01

Target: Myocardium (heart muscle)

Effective Strikes: Palms, elbows, punches including one knuckles, knees and some kicks.

Patho-physiology: Why did Grand Master Jimmy H. Woo include the heart in the chart of striking points when it is encased inside the body? For many good reasons.

Even though the heart is protected inside the thoracic cavity, it is still vulnerable to damage. To properly understand this a little anatomy and physiology is very helpful. In basic form I will proceed.

The myocardium (heart muscle) is a muscle that is divided into four chambers. The entire muscle is enclosed inside the pericardium (protective lining). The vessels that supply the heart run along the outside of the muscle until they branch out into smaller vessels as they enter the muscle to supply it with necessary nutrients. The heart beats that anyone feels are a result of the pumping action of the muscle. This pumping action is initiated by nerve impulses (just like any other muscle), but the heart has some unique differences. If there is an interruption in the nerve pathway, the heart may still beat because another nerve center on the pathway may take over sending impulses for the damaged area (this said in very brief form). A nerve impulse is generated to cause the muscle's mechanical action. There are ways to stop this natural action. One - the nerve impulse gets stopped. Two - the mechanical action is stopped. Three - both are stopped.

When the chest is struck in the proper way over the heart, it can actually interrupt the nerve impulse which may cause the heart to stop or to fibrillate (quiver). The result may be temporary or permanent. Also the pericardium (sack surrounding the heart), when injured, can fill up with blood. This will result in excess pressure on the heart. If it continues long enough, the heart's mechanical action will stop even though the nerve impulses continue. This happens because the muscle can't respond against excessive pressure.

There is much more that could be said on this subject, but this should do for starters.
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Heart (part 2)

Postby San Soo Sifu » Mon Mar 24, 2014 3:36 am

Dave Lorenson wrote:From: Sifu Dave
To: All
7/9/01

Target: Heart
(Myocardium - the muscle; Pericardium - the lining; Endocardium - the inside chambers.)

Effective strikes: Palms, elbows, and knees especially. A variety of punches and hammer blows are also quite effective.

Patho-physiology: Interesting to note here, is that this is yet another target organ which is encased in a protective bony shell. Protective, but not impenetrable by force. The Master Designer carefully constructed the physical make-up of man, the crowning point of the creation, with ingenious self-preserving elements. The sternum and the ribs are very strong, but are still woven together in a flexible manner by their joints. This is important, because if the force of the blow is not properly focused the structures will stand up to the pressure by flexing out of the way and bouncing back.

It is important then, if you want to cause cardiac arrest (stoppage of the heart), or cardiac tamponade (filling of fluid between the pericardial lining and the heart muscle), that you strike with a rapid and sharp strike rather than a slower moving push-power strike. The bones are much more likely to break with a quick strike that is focused to move through the target and the internal organs are also much more vulnerable. A good example of the difference between types of damage from strikes can be seen in some of the Bruce Lee footage of 1" and 3" punches. Several times in demonstration he would strike someone and they would fly backward without any serious injury. We need to focus on getting hard contact with little or no push in order to bring about the greatest internal damage.

What actually happens in the heart is that the shock from the strike causes a breach in the neuro synapses which results in failure of the muscle to contract appropriately. The strike may not actually injure the muscle enough initially (although it could cause some deep internal bruising), but the shock is enough to stop the pumping action. Sometimes a fall after a strike like this will be enough to restart the heart's normal function, so you should be aware of this. It is also possible if enough force is used that a portion of the heart or Aorta will actually rupture or do significant valve damage. This is especially true in someone who already has some problems in this area, such as an aortic aneurysm, previous M.I., or other weakness in the heart wall.

This should cover the subject in basic form and again, I am happy to continue dialog about this and look forward to hearing your insights.

Naturally I bring up this issue in the same manner as the others. This is a last resort. To take someone's life is nothing trivial, in fact it has the gravest of consequences. If you need to cause cardiac arrest it is most certainly because you have no other choice but to take the life of the person who is trying to take your own.
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Re: Heart (part 2)

Postby San Soo Sifu » Mon Mar 24, 2014 3:57 am

Dennis Kirby wrote:From: MasterBear1
To: Sifu Dave
7/12/01

Dave,
Great post, you have answered a question that has haunted me for several years. About 10 years ago, I was demonstrating a technique for a student.

Opponent throws a left punch.
Left up windmill block.
Step in front of the opponent.
Right forward elbow to the back of his neck.
Left knee straight up into his heart.

I did this on a student that was a very good friend (and still is, in spite of this incident). After the elbow, I snapped the knee up into the heart, at the time he was bent over. He popped up standing straight up, and then fell straight backwards, very hard. I thought initially that he was joking around. So in typical fashion, I jump stomped him on the heart. It took about 20 seconds, and I noticed he did not respond, and I started to worry. I felt for a pulse and there was one, he got up but was incoherent for about ten minutes. Freaked me out! I thought I had done some real damage, unintentinally. He finally came around, but he later told me he was mentally screwed up for several days, and would have lapses in thought, and then come back. I always wondered if I had stopped his heart with the knee, it did not feel different that other knees that I had thrown, but with the bent over position, and the staight up action of the knee, I wondered. Can you give me your opinion on what might have happened. I do know that if I had wanted to kill him there would have been no resistance, he was definitely unconsious.
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Re: Heart (part 2)

Postby San Soo Sifu » Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:05 am

Dave Lorenson wrote:From: Sifu Dave
To: MasterBear1
7/13/01

Yikes, pretty close call in my opinion. Of course, I wasn't there, but it is entirely possible that his heart did stop from the impact of the knee. Another possibility is that he may have lost consciousness from the shock of the impact without actual cardiac arrest. Either way, the results could be similar.

One thing to note is that people react differently to the same amount of force. Perhaps, he had a propensity for the reaction he had (similar to a "glass jaw" situation).
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Re: Heart (part 2)

Postby San Soo Sifu » Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:13 am

San Soo Sifu wrote:From: San Soo Sifu
To: All
7/13/01

Aim for the lower portion of the pectoralis major, where the muscle meets the "fold of skin" above the ribcage. Between the left nipple and the solar plexus. That should give a Kung-Fu San Soo practitioner a good target reference for the heart.
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Re: Heart (part 2)

Postby San Soo Sifu » Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:23 am

Dave Lorenson wrote:From: Sifu Dave
To: Malakhi
10/1/02

Good questions!

"How effective is punching the heart in the heat of combat?"

It can be most effective depending on whether it is executed correctly or not. The heart can be struck from different angles - some are more effective than others.

"How do you penetrate deep enough through the muscle tissue and bone to disrupt the heart itself?"

With properly placed strikes with plenty of force the impact can directly affect the heart. By the time the shockwave gets to the heart itself it is much more blunt in nature than at the point of impact. One knuckle punches are effective because of this, but conversly palm strikes are also effective, because a blunt strike in the right region also carries quite well through the chest wall.

"Does it revolve around using your body weight?"

Body weight is of course important in striking, but it is much more than just weight. Instead it is proper mechanics. For someone who is lighter, it is even more important that they use momentum, centrifugal force, balance, proper timing, etc to their advantage.

Yes, the sternum can be broken, but it is not necessary to break the sternum to cause an arrest. The blunt force to the myocardium (heart muscle) can cause the fibers to stop their efforts. Of course cardiac arrest is not the only complication that can be caused by a well executed strike to this region. You can also bring about a condition called cardiac tamponade, where the pericardial sac begins to fill with fluid which puts pressure around the muscle itself - eventually this will stop the heart as well, even though the electrical impulses are not interrupted.
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