Dim Mak on Kickstarter– A Touch of Death?

Ever since I’ve found myself standing at the cross roads of Kung Fu and comics, I’ve found that I am definitely not alone. Backer of our campaign will have also received a copy of THE COMICS FU READER a mini-comic anthology spotlighting life-long Kung Fu practitioners who’ve also endeavored to create their own comics. But that’s just a small cross-section of the growing number of comic creators coming out with their love for the martial arts, kung fu and their fictional expressions as seen in literature and on screen; wuxia.

There are even a number of kickstarter campaigns which I’ve backed specific for the love and support of the genre. One such campaign was concluded in June. Created by Oakland based comic creators Invader Comics “Three Protectors” is a 68-page, triple-length graphic novel where Shaw Brothers-style kung fu meets cosmic odyssey. Intergalactic kung fu gods kidnap masters from across the galaxy and bring them to the battle planet Hydra-Four, a geographically diverse world with countless environments on which to stage combat. These masters are brought to participate in the ultimate battle, with the winner gaining the collective kung fu knowledge of the entire universe.

Currently in horse-stance in my TBR rile – I hope to post a review once I’ver read it.

There is however another project which has come to my attention.

Heirs Of Dim Mak 点脉 Comic (A Martial Arts Story)!

With only 40 hours to make up 51.57% of it’s $9000 I wish I’d discovered this project sooner. L.A. Chavez’s 64 page standalone one-shot graphic novel seeks to tell a complete story. The main story will be 44 pages drawn by co-creator, Julio Suarez, with colorist & letterer Crystal Pandita & Toben Racicot respectively. The book would also have 15 more pages by different artists, each introducing one of the main fighters and their motivations for joining the fight! Salomée Luce-Antoinette, Laura Helsby, J.J. Lopez, Lindsy Silva, Rachel Distler, LuckVice & Federica Mancin all form this elite team of artists tackling these awesome characters!

The total amount they are hoping to reach is to pay for the artists so the comic itself to be made, as well as printed, and shipped to you all (along with the materials, prints, and KS’ 5%), that’s it, So these final hours will be pivotal. But I wonder, might the comic’s title have been the touch of death for the campaign? I’m not experienced enough with kickstarter to say Yay or Nay. But . . . I can tell you a little about the term.

Having devoted more than two decades to the publication of Martial Arts educational material the fabled touch of death, or quivering palm for select players of AD&D sits alongside the no-touch-knock-out and and no-shadow kick as techniques that may well have earn a reputation that exceeds their reality. Perhaps a side effect of the grandiose nature of Quan Pu (拳譜) or Martial Lyrics. Something we’ve discussed here in the past.

So when lifelong martial artist and retired CIA officer and veteran Phil Humphries writes on the subject for KungFuMagazine.com it reads as follows…

Few subjects in the world of martial arts stir more controversy than Dim Mak—the death touch. Dim Mak (點脈) is the Cantonese translation of dianxue which refers to “pointing blood vessels.” It is also known as ‘poison hand.’ Another hot-button subject is that of Qi, also referred to as Chi or Ki. Those who have investigated the bizarre enigma of the death touch believe that it originated in ancient China as a derivative of acupuncture practices. It ultimately influenced several Chinese martial arts disciplines. Over time, the obscure Chinese practice of utilizing acupuncture points as martial target sets spread to other parts of Asia where it impacted several martial arts to include Japanese and Okinawan disciplines. Some attribute the origin of this synthesis of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and deadly martial applications to the oldest versions of Taijiquan. The specifics of its origins are likely lost in the mists of time.

Many contemporary stylists—particularly those associated with UFC-style MMA and military combatives such as Krav Maga—tend to either outright reject or significantly minimalize the impact of directed human bioenergy on the application of fighting skills. Those contemporary martial artists being amongst the most diehard of external stylists typically don’t have Qi development as part of their gym’s training curriculum. In many ways, modern MMA gyms and reality-based combatives studios are more like boxing gyms than the martial arts schools where traditional Asian fighting arts are taught. That is certainly not a slam, merely an observation. The contemporary “gyms” tend not to place any sort of focus whatsoever on the spiritual aspects that are intertwined with classical Asian martial disciplines. Consequently, Qi and the esoteric side of martial art is not part of their curriculum. That is not to say that there isn’t a mental side to combat sports, boxing or reality-based combatives.

On the other hand, traditional stylists such as those affiliated with Taijiquan and Aikido tend to profess a solid belief in internal energy and its positive impact on physical ability. Qi development—or at least a nod in recognition of its existence—is a key element of traditional martial arts training. In this author’s experience, it isn’t a frequent topic of discussion or training in most commercial martial arts studios except for those teaching Chinese internal arts— style Xingyi, style Bagua, Taijiquan—the Japanese art of Aikido and the Korean art of Hapkido. I attend Taijiquan classes weekly and in just about every class, the instructor (Sifu) makes some mention of energy flow and the need to maintain it via open joints and by not crimping our postures. I’m not suggesting that Taekwondo, Shorin-Ryu and other styles don’t ever address Qi, for that isn’t true. I am stating that it isn’t at the forefront of training or discussion within many US-based commercial martial arts institutions.

Phil Humphries for KungFuMagazine.com

But even before that piece the interest in this mythical technique has been touched upon before. 17 Years ago in 2005 Dr. Craig Reid paid a visit to the set of the TV show FIGHT SCIENCE on the National Geographic Channel. It’s premis, to use cutting edge technology to answer such questions as just how powerful a good karate spinning back fist compared to a boxing right cross, or how deadly a muay thai knee strike compared to a tae kwon do kick, or how fast is a kung fu finger jab compared to a boxing jab? Is it really possible for a small man to kill a large man with one carefully placed strike?

Inside view of the dreaded Dim Mak in National Geographic Channel's "Fight Science."  © 2005 BASE Productions, Inc.
Inside view of the dreaded Dim Mak in National Geographic Channel’s “Fight Science.” © 2005 BASE Productions, Inc.

With 32 infrared motion capture cameras, three high-definition cameras and three ultra-high-speed cameras carefully utilized throughout a custom-built combination dojo, high-tech lab and film studio that took over a year to design and build, scientists used crash test dummies to measure and map speed, force, range and impact of muscles and bones on the fighter’s body. Furthermore, by using motion-capture techniques and CGI animation, various sophisticated animated models of the human musculo-skeletal, nervous and organ systems were created to gain insight into just how the body generates each move and what the effect is on the human body when subjected to these attacks.

Dr. Craig Reid for KungFuMagazine.com
The show ultimately proved entertaining and provided work for a number of martial artists I’d had the opportunity to work with in one capacity or another. Above you can find their official playlist, but if you just want to see their visualization of a Dim Mak we’ve discussed you can see that below.

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