The Touch of Jayjitsu, Striking Energy or Death Touch refers to any martial arts technique that can kill using seemingly less than lethal force targeted at specific areas of the body.
The concept known as Dim Mak, (simplified Chinese: 点脉; traditional Chinese: 點脈; pinyin: diǎnmài; literally “press artery”; Jyutping: dim2 mak6), alternatively diǎnxuè (simplified Chinese: 点穴; traditional Chinese: 點穴) traces its history to Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture. Tales of its use are often found in the Wuxia genre of Chinese martial arts fiction. Dim mak is depicted as a secret body of knowledge with techniques that attack pressure points and meridians, said to incapacitate or sometimes cause immediate or even delayed death to an opponent.
The concept known as Vibration Palm, originates with the Chinese martial arts Nei Jing (“internal”) energy techniques that deal with the Qi energy and the type of force (jin) used. It is depicted as “a technique that is part psychic and part vibratory, this energy is then focused into a wave”.
The concept of Dim Mak (Dian Xue) appears among fictional kung fu styles in the novels of Jin Yong from the 1950s.
Although Dim Mak originates in Wuxia fiction, there have been a number of martial artists claiming to practice the technique in reality, beginning in the 1960s with American eccentric Count Dante, who associated it with the English moniker “The Death Touch”.
By the 1980s, Dim Mak was well known in American pop culture. In 1985, an article in Black Belt magazine speculated that the death of Bruce Lee, in 1973, might have been caused by “a delayed reaction to a Dim-Mak strike he received several weeks prior to his collapse”. Other authors, as well, have said the death of Bruce Lee may have been due to a “Quivering Palm technique” (alongside an article about Cai li fo instructor Wong Doc-Fai) to the effect that “dim mak does actually exist and is still taught to a few select kung fu practitioners.”
The concept has entered pop culture to the point where it has been referenced in diverse media, including the following:
- The martial art Hokuto Shinken from Fist of the North Star is based on this touch of death concept
- In the series Quincy, M.E. (Season 3, 1977) an episode entitled Touch of Death was about a martial arts movie star that mysteriously died while making a new film. Jack Klugman as Dr. Quincy discovers that he died because he had received the dim mak 10 days earlier.