No, wait! Don’t run away! I’m not a homicidal maniac!

Er… OK, I may have homicidal tendencies, but I promise I’ve never killed a man. And been caught.

Wait, wait, wait. OK, I’ve never killed a man. Honest. And I don’t intend to. I maybe, once or twice, plotted it for my own satisfaction, but we all do that. Don’t we? Don’t we.

So why, you might ask, am I talking about how to kill people? In one blow, no less?

Astarl, the protagonist in my WIP, Deathhawk’s Betrayal, is an assassin. She’s also a rather small woman, and so I needed to equip her with some skills or abilities that meant she could justifiably kill large men without being overpowered. This is usually going to mean some kind of martial art, so I looked into what might be the suitable discipline to give Astarl.

I settled on Japanese jujutsu (pronounced the same as Brazilian jujitsu, but markedly different in practice). This is reputed to be art used by the samurais against armed and armoured opponents, and it’s the ideal discipline for someone who is smaller than their opponents, as it’s geared around using the opponent’s momentum against them, and fatal strikes.

Ahah, and now we come to the killing in one blow part.

Yes, if I was going to give Astarl these skills, and she was going to be able to kill or maim in one blow, I needed to know what the appropriate spots were to strike. Not that most readers would know if she missed the spot by an inch or so, but I needed to get the general location and consequences right so that anyone with a bit of knowledge in this area would be thinking ‘Yes, that sounds about right’ or at least it wasn’t totally far-fetched. And, of course, in fantasy the writer makes up enough stuff without needing to reinvent the wheel.

So that’s how I found myself online asking Google how to kill a man in one blow.

Or more specifically, researching atemi points. Interestingly, these seem to be the same general locations of the body stimulated in acupressure, acupuncture, massage and chiropractics.  The information was reasonably easy to find on some jujutsu websites, but I expect actually killing a man would be harder than just reading this information, so that didn’t worry me… too much.

Interestingly, jujutsu, in it’s ancient and original form, is not practised as a modern competitive sport because it’s too dangerous! I can’t imagine why… Here are some of the atemi points I found useful for Deathhawk’s Betrayal.

Mikazuki (Bend of Jaw)

A strike to this point causes severe pain in the head, stomach trouble, loss of nervous coordination, disorientation and will knock the victim out. A more severe blow can cause dislocation of the jaw and possible death.

Hichu (Jugular notch – Larynx)

Causes loss of consciousness due to blocking of the windpipe. A hard strike to this point causes the Tracheal cartilage to be crushed and death by asphyxiation.

Suigetsu (Solar Plexus)

The heart is also located in this area, with the liver and stomach below. As there is no protection from the ribs, a strike will shock the heart, diaphragm, and nerves between the ribs, causing pressure on the heart, difficulty breathing and intense pain in the stomach wall. Severe blows may cause bleeding in the stomach, irregular heartbeat, unconsciousness and possible death.

Wanshun (Back of the Upper Arm)

Causes trauma to the nerves and blood vessels, numbing the arm, and producing pain in the chest and neck with associated loss of motor function. Severe strikes may cause a heart attack, especially if the person has a bad heart or if they are using narcotics. Astarl uses this one to immobilise a man who gets a little too friendly in a situation where she needs to be discreet.

Kusagakure (Lateral Planter nerve)

Causes trauma to the nerve and surrounding nerves, leading to the loss of motor function. Severe blows may cause fracture or dislocation of these bones, producing severe pain and partial paralysis of the lower leg. Astarl uses this one in a fight when she finds herself on the ground and her opponent’s foot is the only thing within reach.

Kokotsu (Deep Peroneal nerve)

When struck or raked it causes a sharp pain, weakening the whole leg and paralysing the muscles. A more severe blow to the shin will cause a fracture to the tibia. Astarl attempts this manoeuvre a few times – once successfully breaking her opponent’s leg.

Tendo (Crown Of Head)
Fatal striking to this point will create shock waves in the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain, quite distant from the point of contact, upsetting balance, coordination and decreasing reaction time.

There are plenty more, in fact so many I couldn’t possibly have used them all in the one book, but since there are another five books planned with Astarl, I should have plenty of opportunities to try the rest out. 

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve read (or written) that the author must have researched?

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