Hard body training is a type of external martial arts training for increasing striking power and to toughen up the body. Iron palm training is part of the Chinese kung fu system. Other martial arts such as karate, muay Thai and tang soo do have their own versions of hard body training that allow for breaking boards and kicking trees. Through a consistent program training in iron palm and iron body techniques, you can develop stronger arms, legs, abs and basically any part of your body.
Benefits of Iron Palm
Iron palm and other hard body training techniques are called ying gong. Iron palm training is used by kung fu practitioners and Daoists for strengthening the palms, hands and forearms as well as developing internal chi power. Chi is the Chinese word for life energy, a phenomena that exists within and around the body and can be directed with sufficient training. Iron palm techniques bring chi to the chosen area and toughen up the skin, muscles and bones. With the development of an iron palm, a practitioner can increase their striking power by as much as five times. Practitioners train to cultivate and direct chi as well as the training to accurately hit targets on opponents.
Iron Palm Techniques
Shaolin monks use a strict training program involving mediation, forms and physical training. They physical aspect of ying gong training involves exercises such as hitting sandbags, each other and heavy objects. Training may begin with contact drills such as hitting forearm to forearm with a partner. Another example is to continuously strike a sandbag with the front, sides and back of the hands from multiple angles to toughen them up.These contact drills progress to hitting poles or trees or other hard surfaces with increasing force to develop strength and stamina.
Iron Palm and Herbs
Just hitting objects or being hit by objects is not all there is to iron palm training. Practitioners use special herbal formulas unique to their system and school that prevent swelling, bruising and other injuries that will interfere with training. Most teachers will not reveal what is in their unique formulas, even to their students. However, one well-known formula is called dit da jow, which translates as "hit medicine." Dit da jow is a Chinese formula popular in Chinese medicine thought to lessen inflammation and improve chi and blood circulation. Most sifus, or kung fu teachers, have their own dit da jow for student use but you can also purchase the linament online or at a Chinese store.
Iron Body Training
In addition to iron palm, other types of hard body training exist that utilize the same principles on different areas of the body. These techniques are also considered ying gong training. An example is kicking hard objects, possibly another person, with the shins to make them stronger. You may come across teachers who offer classes in iron vest, iron shirt, iron body or golden bell. These are all iron body techniques and they should all be learned directly from an instructor.
- "Black Belt"; A Day in the Life of a Shaolin Temple Monk; Jeffrey J. Kelly; September 1989
- The World Wing Chin Kung Fu Association: Iron Palm Training Course
- Shaolin Iron Palm: Iron Palm