If you’ve been in Martial Arts for any length of time, you probably have heard of, if not used, Dit Da Jow. But what is it exactly?
The Chinese Background
Dit Da Jow literally translates to ”fall hit wine”.
It represents in Chinese medicine any mixture that is intended to help soothe the pain from joint or muscle injuries and reduce bruising.
What are the components of Dit Da Jow?
There are several different formulations that are often labelled as Dit Da Jow, probably as many as there are different styles of Martial Arts. It seems that every family had their own “special formula” for this medicine that they used. If you understand Chinese Medicine, then you’d understand that this is very common and even expected. Under this holistic medicine philosophy, each person is different and thus the solution will vary slightly from patient to patient as to what the individual body needs.
The basic components of Dit Da Jow though involve several key components that are always present:
- cooling herb -- To reduce bruising, it requires that the body be able to reduce the inflammation and “blockage of qi”. Thus an herb that can cool the body’s reaction to the injury.
- delivery liquid -- Often this is an alcohol of some type both for better absorption into the skin and warming counter to the cooling herb that will help bring in positive qi to the area.
There are varying “temperatures” with the different Dit Da Jow formulations. You can feel that when you apply it to your skin. The warmer jows will leave that warmth beneath the skin after you’ve applied it. Cooler jows will actually cool as it penetrates the skin.
The different temperatures of jow are used to treat different types of ailments. For instance, longer term conditions, such as arthritis, will use warmer types of jow whereas more immediate injuries would use a cooler one. Thus, it’s not uncommon to have several different jows at hand to handle each different situation.
How do I know if the Dit Da Jow is “real”?
Again, if you’re using a strictly Chinese medicine point of view, if it’s working to bring your swelling down and reduce inflammation, then it’s probably correct. One should be cautious because each formulation contains different roots and herbs and delivery mechanisms that you aren’t allergic to any of the components. For instance, if you’re sensitive to rubbing alcohol, you may want to avoid some of the warmer jows which tend to have a stronger alcohol component.
From a traditional sense, Chinese Dit Da Jow wouldn’t have some of the more common Western herbs, such as cinnamon, thistle, comfrey, or witch hazel. But again, I want to emphasis that Chinese Medicine philosophy is very adaptive and if these herbs are working for you, don’t stop using it simply because it isn’t “real” Dit Da Jow.
How much and how often to apply?
Depending on the Dit Da Jow you go with, there are varying frequencies and regularity you can use the substance. Some formulations of Dit Da Jow do contain herbs that are a bit more dangerous and thus should be limited in the amount and number of times you use it. In general, take the Chinese philosophy with any medication: less external is better and let the body heal naturally. If in doubt, ask a Chinese Medical doctor who can probably give you some insight into the particular Dit Da Jow you’ve chosen and what they recommend.
If used right, Dit Da Jow is literally a “life saver” to most Martial Artists. It is not only a means to relieve pain, it can even prevent injury and long-term issues from practicing Martial Arts. Speak with your teacher if you’re interested or in need of a good Dit Da Jow to use.