Every now and then you may come across the occasional martial artist who attempts to exemplify the sheer strength of their training by breaking a row of stone slabs with their hands.

However, if lucky, you may find yourself witness to those rare moments in life where a small, elderly man no higher than your chest manages to drill dents into metal or shatters columns of bricks straight down the center with a single strike without a single sweat dripping from their face. If you have seen such awe-inspiring, astonishing feat, you may have been witness to the ways of an Iron Palm.

Shaolin Iron Palm

shaolin iron palm

Not a martial art style, but more of a methodology for conditioning the hand to be as powerful as ‘iron’ (not literally). Through endurance training and consistent conditioning techniques, practitioners can deliver insanely strong blows and strikes, walking away without much damage to their hands.

While the actual demonstration of Shaolin Iron Palm across various surfaces may seem almost fictional, in the end, the training is a sum of patience, diligence, and endurance across many years – a given requisite for any martial artist. Training to achieve the power of an iron palm is largely internal, requiring a level of meditation and endurance to overcome pain. Through the meditative techniques in controlling the tension in the body, students learn to release this, gradually moving faster and striking harder.

Taking Care of the Hands

shaolin iron palm

One of the most important components to Shaolin Iron Palm training is properly taking care of the hand afterward. This is especially practiced through the application of Dit Da Jow – a Chinese liniment meant to heal bruised or damaged parts of the body. The idea behind the liniment is that it helps unblock blood stagnation and allows the qi within our body to flow properly.

Furthermore, it is recommended for the hand to be submerged in warm water and massaged to help prevent the muscle from remaining too stiff.

Although the medicine can be mixed with other herbs such as ginseng – depending on the person – it is most commonly put into alcohol and is believed to be more effective the longer it sits in alcohol. If an Iron Palm trainee does not apply the liniment afterward, long term negative effects to the hand may surface – nerve damage and arthritis to name a few.

Shaolin Iron Palm is Not Just About the Hands

shaolin iron palm

While Shaolin Iron Palm training largely involves strengthening the hands, it is not only about toughening them through repetitive blows. One of the main points to the training is correct breathing, proper posture/stance, and learning to channel the energy efficiently through the body. When executed properly, you learn to strike using the power of the body, rather than the arm or hand alone. In this way, student learn how to maximize the force of each strike.

Additionally, if you properly massage your hand and apply Dit Da Jow consistently, the act of constantly using your hands to strike hardened surfaces actually helps in circulating blood to that area.

Furthermore, students toughening their hands through the Iron Palm training tend to practice Qigong to better balance the energy within. By adapting the better rhythmic breathing patterns, relaxation techniques, and fluid movement, they learn to cultivate greater qi.

While some have claimed to obtain the Iron Hand/Fist after 100 days of training, this practice should be considered more of a long-term journey. With all that goes into toughening the hands, all the efforts put into achieving such a goal is in fact, more a quest in strengthening the inner soul and mind of the individual.

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