"This is where you want to touch them."
John Crescione discusses the finer points of Dim Mak.
On Saturday and Sunday November 11th and 12th, Sifu and Doctor John Crescione, chiropractor for the New York Jets, conducted an introductory workshop on Dim Mak and Dim Yuet theories in Chinese martial arts. Dim Mak and Dim Yuet are more specific terms for the area of martial arts commonly called "Pressure Points".
In a relaxed and open atmosphere where questions were encouraged, Sifu Crescione presented a two day lecture on Dim Man and Dim Yuet in an honest and up-front manner. His presentation focused on giving workshop participants an introduction to several major theories of Dim Mak/Dim Yuet using the Chinese Martial Arts. Also included with his lectures were extensive notes detailing all aspects of the topics discussed.
To begin, Sifu Crescione outlined his personal history as a martial artist and healer. He started Wing Chun at 13 under the tutelage of Lui Yiu Choi, a classical Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor. This lasted until the age of 17. At 21 he continued his Wing Chun training under Lee Moy Shan, an early disciple of Moy Yat. At 24, he met William Cheung and began cross training in two Wing Chun lineages at the same time.
Upon completion of both Wing Chun lineages, he left for chiropractic college in Marietta, Georgia. With a background in exercise physiology, Oriental medicine and acupuncture, his study of anatomy, neurology and physiology was further deepened. It was at this time that he started to dissect Wing Chun Kuen into a bio-mechanical and neurological science. Once he returned home, he resumed teaching and exploring the Wing Chun Kuen system under various instructors around the United States. He later met Yip Ching, Yip Man's youngest son. Yip Ching invited Sifu Crescione to train in Hong Kong to further delve into the art, science and philosophy of Wing Chun. He is currently investigating the Gu Lao system under Robert Chu.
Dr Crescione teaches WC from a 21st century approach of physics, biomechanics, exercise physiology, neurology and anatomy, while at the same time using his well rounded knowledge to explain the why's and how-come's of "traditional" Chinese kung fu and it's application to WCK.
Following an introduction of himself, Sifu Crescione then announced that there were a few things he would not do during his workshop. The first was that he would not teach the intent for applying Dim Mak / Dim Yuet properly. Second, he did not do knockouts. As a chiropractor, he knows the damage done by knocking someone out and was not going to be responsible for the damage. Third, he would not hit anyone other than his own student for the simple fact that Sifu Crescione knows his student's state of health.
The technical portion of the workshop began by way of explaining three key terms that were used throughout the weekend - qi, meridians, and cavities. Qi refers to the energy inside the body. Qi flows through the body in channels called meridians. Cavities are depressions or pits in the meridians where the qi is close to the skin. The cavities are often targets of Dim Mak / Dim Yuet strikes. Once these terms were explained, Sifu Crescione gave a general history of Dim Mak / Dim Yuet.
As martial arts developed in the past, many things were discovered about the human body. One of these related to the meridians. Attacking someone's meridians could cause more damage than striking areas on the body without meridians. As this approach was developed, a method was developed to counter it called golden bell cover or iron shirt. The goal of this training was to thicken the skin to prevent a strike to do damage to the meridians. Iron Palm was developed as a counter to Iron Skin. Iron Palm, called under various names as Cinnibar Palm, Iron Ore Palm, etc., focused striking power to penetrate through the protection created by Iron Skin training. Finally, as with many skills, Iron Palm must be practiced constantly to maintain its effectiveness.
With a basic history presented, Sifu Crescione was quick to point out that many people learning Chinese martial arts start with a handicap. The Chinese are aware of Traditional Chinese Medicine. This means that they approach the body with an viewpoint that certain areas of the body are better or worse targets. Often times, Dim Mak/Dim Yuet instruction only introduces a general place to strike because it was assumed the student would already be familiar with the corresponding pressure points.
While many systems have Dim Mak, one major flaw is to look for points to hit. Wing Chun resolves this dilema through the use of an automatic delivery system developed through Chi Sau training. While hitting specific points in a fight is difficult, hitting points that lie in close proximity to where a strike is going anyway is relatively easy - provided one knows where the points are located. Workshop participants then proceeded to work on their aim and accuracy with strikes using Chi Sau or Saan Sau exercises. Four acupuncture points were covered with stickers and the participants would take turns flowing from striking one to the next through a pattern of three. The focus was on aim and accuracy to touch the stickers. According to Sifu Crescione, whenever you hit way you aim at you are doing a basic version of Dim Mak or "point hitting."
Next, Sifu Cresione introduced the organ types of the body according to Chinese Medicine. There are a total of ten organs. Each organ is classified as Yin or Yang. Each yin/yang pair is also classified by one of five elements: Fire, Water, Earth, Metal, Wind. Finally, each organ has a meridian associated with it. As the qi moves through the body, several patters are classified. Creation Cycle refers to the progression from one element pair to the next is a natural progression. Destruction Cycle refers to using one element to control another such as Water controlling Fire.
By knowing how the organs interact through their different qualities, several theories of Dim Mak have evolved. Single Point Dim Mak uses points that influence many body systems at once and attack them in an effort to shut the body off in one strike. Combination Dim Mak uses one of two theories to cause a collapse of body systems until unconsciousness or death results. The two theories are Yin/Yang and Five Element. Yin/Yang focuses on attacking a yin or yang point and then immediately attacking an opposite yang or yin point. Five Element using the Creation/Destruction cycles to do damage to the body. A third general classification is Overload theory. In this theory, one point that has influence over many body systems is attacked until the body shuts down due to over-stimulation.
The final part of the workshop covered 32 points that are used in a majority of Dim Mak theories. Due to the Dim Mak theory used in a particular style, some acupuncture points are better than others. Due to the secrecy that surrounds Dim Mak and Dim Yuet theories, much of the information presented was collected over many years' study. Sifu Crescione is currently working on a book to detail his findings on Dim Mak and Dim Yuet theories.
On behalf of the Ving Tsun Museum, thanks go to Sifu John Crescione for his openness and willingness to teach the art of Wing Chun.
Workshop group photo
(l,r; sitting) Benny Meng and John Crescione.