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Dim Mak, scientific basis/explanation

  1. Jul 23, 2005 #1
    Martial artists or people who are interested in martial arts probably heard of "dim mak", where a person can paralyze or kill an opponent by applying a force into some "pressure points" in his body. It's like what some of us saw in Kill Bill 2 when Beatrix finishes off Bill using this art. I also saw some videos of dim mak demos where a martial expert applies a "light version" of this art onto a trainee and with people on the ready to resuscitate that trainee.

    Here's an excerpt from wikipedia

    "Dim Mak (dim mak is an approximate Cantonese pronunciation of 點脈, equivalent to 點穴, pinyin diǎnxué) is training the use of the pressure points in some styles of Chinese martial arts to kill or incapacitate an opponent.

    Traditional Chinese medicine theory is based on the idea that specific pathway lines called meridians exist on the human body, which include hundreds of acupressure points. Acupuncture is the most well known use of the meridian system. Pressing, seizing or striking these points (or combinations of points) with specific intent and certain angles can result in either heightening or diminishing qi circulation in the body, according to this theory."

    I find this explaination using the "energy" or "qi" concept not satisfying. Anyone here familiar with dim mak can provide an anatomical/physiological explanation about this thing (if they're convinced that this art is genuine)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 23, 2005 #2
    i prefer the mandarin term of dianxue. its from watching all the chinese martial arts movies plus i'm mandarin. From what i know of acupuncture and qi...its mainly an attempt to control blood flow. Stopping certain veins from passing blood blocks certains paths or heightens alternative pathways.
  4. Jul 24, 2005 #3
    Have you ever seen one of those figurines that have all the meridians from traditional Chinese medicine outlined on it, along with all the associated points? They're all over the body. It should not be too surprising that some of those points inevitably coincide with points along the body where there is some sort of anatomical/physiological feature where a strike would cause more pain than elsewhere (perhaps a nerve that is susceptible). But they're points where you could perhaps also logically deduce could be striking targets from what is known of modern medicine.

    There's a video out there on the Internet from a regional news program with a "pressure point knockout" exponent demonstrating on a seminar audience, a reporter from the program, and at a gym full of kickboxers and grapplers. Not surprisingly, the pressure point knockout works just fine on the seminar audience, not very well on the reporter, and not at all on the athletes from the gym, as memory serves. I'll have to find it - it's quite entertaining and informative. The exponent states something along the lines of that his methods do not work very well on athletes as they are able to apparently "dissipate" the "ki" better than untrained people.

    Do I think that specific targeting of the anatomy is a sensible idea? Sure. Do I think that "dim mak" or "pressure point knock outs" are sensible ideas? No. Do I think that they stumbled across the same human weak points that you could perhaps figure from a course in anatomy & physiology but have them interspersed among a lot of other physical points that won't do anything but annoy someone if you hit them? Yes.
  5. Jul 24, 2005 #4
    Well here is something along the same lines possibly. I use to take something call chung moo doe which changed to united martial arts. In the training though there was this open hand attack called a chong (not too sure if this is the right spelling) that could supposedly cause a heart attack or something that basically would kill you. In this martial art we didn't wear any pad so that our bodies would learn to take a hit, but at the same time our movements were to be controlled enough so that if I did punch or kick you in the stomach it may hurt a little not enough though to put down your training partner though. Anyways this chong attack once you got hit by it, by someone who knew how to do it proper, once hit you would feel the pain on the inside of your body. If you were hit by someone like my instructor by it, who knew the move even better which happened to me a few times, you would feel the hit inside your body wherever he hit you then you could fell the pain travel through your body also. It really hurt but at the same time was sort of cool to feel a hit that actually traveled through your body. While training besides not being allowed to hit each other in the face or groin, we had to be cautious not to chong each other to close to the heart.
    heres a link to chung moo doe http://www.chungmoodoe.com/ I really wish i had the time and money to get back into it.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2005
  6. Jul 24, 2005 #5
    sounds like the red palm fist that they portray in shaolin movies. man i wish i grew up in china just ot learn martial arts.
  7. Jul 24, 2005 #6
    Well we have a lot of chinese martial arts in america already so you can just go to your local or semi local do jo and learn them. And if you go to a chung moo doe place ask the instructor to chong you lightly to see what it feels like. If you can bare a little pain its a very interesting thing, and i want to know how it works scientifically.
  8. Jul 25, 2005 #7


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    Several things to cover here. While I'm no expert by many means in martial arts, I have belts in judo and tae kwon do and have also studied jujitsu, arnis, and other forms of fighting/self defense, as well as pursued a lot of written material on the subject. I have experienced the power of chi in my studies and whether it is something that transcends simple physics and body control...it's hard to say, but I can't deny that it exists. Perhaps this "energy" they speak of is simply that generated by the nervous system in combination with muscle control and body alignment, personally I like to think it's more than that.
    As far as dim mak, or whatever your preferred art calls it, the fastest way to incapacitate or kill something is to stop nerve conduction. Blood loss or constriction is fast but not instantaneous, I have been choked or choked others and it takes at least 5 sec of good pressure and that is on a willing opponent. This would only lead to unconsciousness, death would require longer times. So the fastest way via strike would be to attack nerves, disrupting these can practically incapacitate limbs (I've felt it) and I would imagine could potentially lead to death if applied properly.
    I have read about techniques like iron palm and other force focusing methods where one can explode bricks and other items though chi force. Supposedly these can be focused at specific distances from the palm, as mentioned by HappMatt. I have no direct experience with this so I can't say how it is done or if it meshes well with combat techniques. It seemed to require a lot of focus and meditation so may not be as powerful under fast combat situations.
    Overall, such practices may simply be a combination of physics, training and focus that were more easily accepted as some etherial force rather than a pragmatic description of anatomy and physiology. Regardless of this, they are certainly impressive and again, I would prefer to think, something greater than simple biophysical actions/reactions.
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