Talking Iain over the weekend, we agreed that this is best discussed here for the benefit of everyone rather that just a private chat.
First the disclaimer. Despite a vast amount of Martial Arts experience I've been smart/lucky/boring enough to avoid too many altercations. I bow down to the experienced members of the forum. But I believe I have a different and useful perspective.
Eye gouges in self proection.
I don't believe in them. At least not as an isolated fight-ending technique. Sure they have use. I see them as much like the groin kick. How many people have we heard utter such nonsense as "I don't need Martial Arts, just one knee in the wedding tackle and they'll drop." I'm sure we'll all agree that groin shots hurt. They hurt like hell, but they don't debilitate. They are great, but should only be used on conjunction with a bigger system. So it is with eye gouges.
My personal experience of being on the recieving end of an eye gouge brings with it a safety message. If a joint lock or choke is applied to you in class, we all know to tap to prevent damage or unconciousness, right? On my Kempo grading there was a chap who's organisation had rule of a thumb being raking across your eyebrow was code for "I've just gouged your eye, kindly act accordingly." However, this wasn't a communicated rule and their person concerned found themselves unable to free themself from my grip and (controlled) proprioceptive striking. After several eyebrown rakes that just left me wandering what the hell they were doing, they actually did gouge my eye. Did it stop me attacking? No, it hurt like hell and took me from striking to releasing them from me. The following evening I conceded that really I should get my eye looked at. My colleague said it was the worst corneal abrassion she'd ever seen. I reiterate that it didn't stop me grading and it was a full 30 hours or longer before I sought help.
I treat eye injuries pretty much every day. Rarely does a patient come in immediately after sustaining the injury. They come in after work or the morning after the injury occurred. Most injuries are simple, some are serious and I wonder how they've lasted that long,
The best way I can think of to illustrate my concept of the use of eye gouges is Iain's bunkai to Chinto's "double x-block" which I've looked for my can't see on YouTube. There are probably other examples. Essentially, you move for the eye gouge, uke prevents it and so tori's actual technique starts. It illicits a response. In the case of this specific Chinto application, the wrist is seized and hyperflexed.
Does this make sense? Anyone disagree?