John Crescione

Dr. John Crescione 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 into a biomechanical and neurological science. Once he returned home, he resumed teaching and exploring the Wing Chun system under various instructors around the United States. He later met Yip Ching, Yip Man's youngest son. Yip Ching invited him to come and train in Hong Kong to further delve into the art, science and philosophy of Wing Chun. Sifu Crescione is currently investigating the Gu Lao system under Sifu Robert Chu.

Dr. Crescione teaches Wing Chun 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 martial arts.

The Crescione Wing Chun school has been in operation since the middle 80's. Dr. John runs the school from both a modern and traditional point of view. The school is a non-commercial school focusing on learning at your own rate of speed, with no test fees, uniforms or stress. When you are ready to learn the next thing, that's when you get it. This ensures quality of practice, correction and instruction to internalize the physical, mental and theoretical aspects of what you are learning.

Everything taught is explained from both a neurological, anatomical and common sense point of view-in English as well as Oriental mindsets. The complete Wing Chun system including weapons are taught openly and without secrets. Other areas included in the curriculum are chi gung, Dim Mak, oriental medicine as it applies to Martial Arts, western boxing and Oriental philosophy. The schools motto is "It's your Kung Fu, if you want it to be good, it'll be good-you want to be so-so, it'll be so-so!" The training atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, with the senior students helping the juniors-there is no "new punching bag" syndrome in the school. Dr John Crescione can be reached at his office-516-745-0760 or by email

Classes are on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 8:30 till 11:00pm. Private lessons are also available.

The school is now located at
158 Gardiner's Ave.
Levitown, NY
within Tiger Martial Arts school.

Articles by John Crescione

Wing Chun vs. Boxing

by Dr. John Crescione

Recently on the Internet Wing Chun Mailing list, an issue came up about bobbing and weaving as it could possibly relate to Wing Chun. Wing Chun, and many southern shorthand systems have been regarded as just "Chinese Boxing" systems by the more arrogant-and misinformed-"kung fu people" who only look, but don't see, as well as every other Martial Artist who only sees leg work as kicking, or low stances that move, twist and stamp.

Boxing and Wing Chun share many fighting similarities-boxing is the American Martial Art, albeit created for the ring. And since it is every American's god given birthright to think they can box-a discussion of how a WCK player deals with a "boxer"-real or amateur is in order. I have boxed for real-my first boxing coach was Arthur Mercante of the Ali/Frazier fights and done Golden Gloves, just for a little background.

It is common knowledge to recite the theory-"Don't play their game"-but if their game is better then yours, you still lose! It would be easy to say just run in and machine gun punch them to death, or intercept immediately-and they will work, against someone of lesser skill. WCK's attitude however is to always presume the person you will have to face is better then you. So the above theory is slightly flawed. So let's analyze a few things...

Mentality...the boxer, the real boxer is in no rush to beat you. Yes, if there are openings he will attack relentlessly. But when faced with a worthy or better opponent, the boxer will try to wear you down to finish the fight. He is used to pain-the pain of being hit, the pain of training, the pain of fatigue, the pain of not being able to breathe and the pain of fighting hurt. A good boxer want's to give, and not trade punches.

Weapons...similar to the WCK player, they have few-jab, cross, hook, uppercut and some utilize an overhand right, or straight right. But the boxer's body is his true weapon. His legs, his wind and his ability to command the ring, and thus the distance and timing of the opponent win the fight.

The jab and straight right have been compared to WCK's Jik Chung Choi due to it's flexible nature-some practitioner's use it jabby, others thrusty. A boxer's jab is his man sao-to determine range, reaction and cause/effect between himself and the opponent. His rear hand attack is the wu sao-but instead of a "cover", it is the answer hand to the jab/man sao. The cross should actually "cross" over the arm of the opponent, much the same way some people like to use the term "outer gate punch". The hook and uppercut are actually quite similar in application-both go around the opponents arms, both are short range, inside type attacks and both are thrown with the same angle but from a different plane. The uppercut comes straight up the front centerline underneath the bridge arms, while the hook goes around them. I am not talking about a martial artist's bastardized example of a hook or uppercut-most do them completely wrong and leave a variety of openings. Done by a boxer, there is little room for a counter without eating a piece of the fist.

Defenses. the true art of boxing is in it's defense-though most of the time you wouldn't know it by what you see. Boxing's primary defense is the art of mobility. Whether you like the guy or not, Prince Nassem is hard to hit. And you can criticize his form, technique, attitude all you want-but (at least until recently) nobody can hit him. The footwork to circle, the slip, bob and weave are the boxer's main blocks- as well as the pass, catch and clinch. The clinch is the boxer's chi sao position, though the cousins' the Muay Thai fighter's are much better at it. Today, the use the clinch to rest and start over-the pass and catch are his version of pak sao. The slip, bob and weave are art forms and can be described at length. It has been said that good boxer's look like they have a hinge at the waist. That is not entirely true-they have a universal joint there!

If the boxer was to bend at the waist in an attempt to bob and weave to the other side of the punch, he would be greeted by a vicious uppercut, the martial artist would knee to the face-a proper bob and weave is more from the legs in a squat and sway motion so that the fighter can still watch his opponent. A slip is to be done just as is-a punch "slipping" over or off of the shoulder creating an in-balance in your opponent-and an opening!

We should note also that a boxer's conditioning and psychological "heart" make up as much or more in the defense department.

With all of that said, now we can move on to the Wing Chun issue. should or can employ boxing into their art-as always with this art, yes and no-it depends. Most already do it.

Wing Chun's man sao can take the shape (and quality) of a jab or standing fist. What do you "inquire" with your man sao-and how do you go about it-what hand shape, or quality...or question do you ask? It can also take the shape of a kick (man gerk). And hopefully, since WCK practitioner's can separate their joint energy, they should A) not have to worry about being hit, trapped or redirected) and B)should be able to interpret the answer they got from the question.

A boxer will enter with 2 types of jabs-standing and moving into you. The first one is to establish range and reaction. The jab disappears as fast as it comes forward-he knows his ribs are exposed on the punch. The hard part for the Wing Chun practitioner is to determine if the punch can reach or not. Therein lies the mistake. It shouldn't matter. A punch is a punch. It is at this moment that the WCK practitioner should be moving forward to intercept and hit (however way your individual kung fu does it). On the moving jab, the same can be said to be true, moving forward. Some may say to wait for the punch, since it's coming there anyway-and you are trying to be "economical" and conserve energy (a good friend of mine calls it "stillness")-before you answer his question with your own interception/hit.

The caveat is this-the jab does not stay!!! It goes in and out-so on your first move entering with, let's say pak dar-the jab hand will be retracting away from contact as you fill the space with the hit. That leaves the boxer's hand alive to come back, change direction or change attack hands. So when you entered, did you measure your punch distance properly? Are you thinking about filling the space with as many punches in that moment of time? WCK theory says you should do it, but your opponent has their own theory. To try and enter with something, and then attempt to capitalize on it requires you to be in control for your plan to truly be safe and effective-not just get luck and beat him to the punch-remember this too-he is used to getting hit.

An exercise we use at the school to train this intercepting and smothering concept for a jab and hook are as follows...

1) Face off just outside of contact range-boxer vs bai jong (use both a "front" stance and a Chum Kiu ma/side stance in left lead to right lead/ mirror image position)

2) Boxer jabs a couple of times for visual training and recognition. Then on the jab, the WCK player uses pak sao to meet. On the retraction-the WCK player STICKS to the arm as it goes back, moving his horse forward as the boxer's hand is withdrawn. Repeat.

This gives the WCK player many attributes at the same time-the most important of which is how to stick and go forward safely, measuring distance and reaction from a feeling as well as visual reference point. The WCK player can add the punch whenever. The important thing is that the drill teaches stick and go forward(Escort as they leave-follow what goes, etc.)

3) After several repitions, the boxer then changes the retracting jab to an outside line attack (hook).From this point there are two training options-to hit and to cover. Many WCK players would say hit on the opening with the pak sao hand, since the straight line should beat the circle. As true as this is, as a training tool, real life dictates that you still must worry about the hand, and be able to interrupt and control all of your body motions, momentums and limbs to change direction at will like a heat seeking missile.

As the jab runs around the Pak sao hand-the pak turns into a straight punch to try and trap the running attack of the opponent with the bridge arm-if you were to try and head hunt against a live hand, the both of you will get hit-remember, a good hook is done at elbow range. The boxer will step on the jab, or on the run into the hook, changing the range, stealing distance.

If you attempt to block the hook off of the jab, it is safest to block into the crook of the elbow-not the shoulder joint-with gum sao or biu safe. You need to give yourself length, since the quality of the hook is to circle around the arm. It would also be advantageous to step to the outside of the boxer's lead foot, giving your blocking movement more power, as well as your punch, while you include zoning away from the potential cross from the other hand.

To try and block the hook on the forearm is well...pretty darn difficult if you understand that the punch will circle around your blocking hand-then factor in the the distance, timing, body weight etc.

Look for part 2 soon as we continue to talk about the uppercut and cross and drills to beat them WCK style! We will also cover the bob and weave, slip and how it works within a WCK framework, and applying this from a chi sao base as well.

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