As the saying goes, there is nothing new under the sun, but every once in a while,
something comes along which seems new. In the martial arts, some system somewhere probably includes every technique, concept
or principle that is possible for a human body to execute. For most people, however, access to the more obscure systems is
limited to non-existent, so some of those techniques or concepts remain relatively unknown. The Finger Touch System of Tuhon
Baltazar "Bo" Sayoc is one of these unknown systems.
Tuhon Bo is well-known within the Filipino martial arts community, and his family system of Kali is one of the more well-established
systems in the US, especially on the East Coast. He is retired now and living in the Philippines, but he continues to teach
one particular aspect of his personal art- the Finger Touch System.
Finger Touch, at first glance, appears to be another of the pressure point systems, but it is much more than that. While
they can be used, most areas used in Finger Touch are not traditional pressure points. The System works almost anywhere on
the body where friction and pressure can be created between the flesh and the underlying connective tissue and/or bone. This
is what separates it from the rest!
A second way where the System deviates from traditional pressure points is that striking is not required. A Finger Touch
practitioner merely touches or grabs, having an immediate effect on the subject. When you see a demonstration, it seems as
if the touched person threw himself down, it looks so easy. It almost seems to be fake, yet anyone who has felt it will attest
that there was nothing else they could do.
All that is required is the knowledge of what to do and where to do it. The Finger Touch System has only a few basic steps:
1) get your hands in contact with the opponent (it doesn't matter where)
create friction at the chosen spot by stretching the tissue
apply the Touch
be ready to re-direct should the subject not respond immediately
As with anything, one can "never say never, never say always!" The System does not work 100% of the time on all people,
and there are reasons for this. There are several possibilities why it might not work, and these include:
1) drugs and/or alcohol
2) naturally high pain tolerance, or double-jointed
3) previous surgery near the touched area, which numbs the nerves
Should one of the above be encountered, the situation is still generally in control. One thing that is very true about
the Finger Touch is that just because a particular spot does not give the desired reaction, another spot nearby probably will.
Often a simple adjustment of a couple of inches in Touch placement will have the desired effect. An example of this occurs
with Guro Drape. After having had surgery on the outside of his left thigh, he is unresponsive to a Touch on the top of that
leg, anywhere. Yet, moving the touch to the inside of the thigh about 3 inches caused an immediate reaction! Finally, it is
also true that, should the Finger Touch fail completely, you still have the regular options available to any other martial
artists- punching, kicking, etc.
Why Does Finger Touch Work?
The exact mechanism is not known, but it may be related to the human pain reflex. Remember the last time you accidentally
picked up something hot. As soon as you grabbed it, your hand jumped back, without the need for conscious thought. This is
a reflexive response, designed to limit the damage done to the body. During that moment of response, your entire body was
frozen except for the specific muscles needed to execute the reflex. At that moment, it is impossible for anything else to
be done. There is no conscious control of the body while the reflex is taking place. I believe that the Finger Touch System
works along these lines. When a Touch is executed properly, the pain is so intense that it freezes the conscious mind's ability
to move the body, while at the same time, the subject is being forced by that reflex to try to get away from the pain. This
is why it looks as if the subject throws himself to the ground, because in a way, he is! The toucher can guide the subject
to fall or move in nearly any direction by varying the degree and angle of the Touch.
Where Finger Touch differs from the normal pain reflex response is that with the normal response, the movement pulls the
body away from the pain, thus releasing the conscious mind to again assume control. Finger Touch maintains the pain! Once
the subject is Touched and taken down, the stimulus can be continued and even heightened, if the subject continues to struggle.
Tuhon Bo tells of one test of the System where the subject was instructed to fight back, to resist the Touch as strenuously
as possible. As he tried to resist, Tuhon increased the pressure and in the end, he described the subject as looking "like
a beetle on his back", with his arms and legs moving about helplessly!
Where Does the Finger Touch System Come From?
Tuhon Bo has spent his entire life involved with the martial arts. In addition, his family has a history of working with
the body. His father and other members of his family were medical doctors, thus exposing him to discussions of anatomy and
health at an early age. The Finger Touch System has developed over the years as Tuhon gained information from his research.
In addition, he was helped greatly by his employment as a Deputy Sheriff, where he worked with some of the biggest, baddest
guys around- a perfect environment for experimentation. When a particularly nasty inmate was acting up, Deputy Sayoc would
get a call, and another learning opportunity would present itself!
Guro Steven Drape has been affiliated with the Sayoc Family System of Kali since 1984, and has been a direct student of
Tuhon Bo since 1991. He has seen the Finger Touch System develop over the years into a something which can address any scenario-
punching, kicking, grappling, whatever. Today, Tuhon Bo teaches Finger Touch exclusively, leaving the Family System to be
taught by his family and instructors. He believes that Finger Touch can deal with any self-defense issue, including weapons.
Combined with the Family System footwork and entries, as Tuhon Bo often says, "If I get my hands on you, you are mine!"