Iron Body Methods 鐵體法

A small excerpt from my upcoming book “Secrets of Drunken Boxing 3: Internal Alnchemy. Something from the section on Iron body Training….
The others are HERE
Iron Body Methods 鐵體法 Iron body here is referring to the conditioning of the torso to protect and cover the organs which are a major target in traditional Chinese Martial Arts. The ideal in pre firearm martial arts (martial arts used widely in a society and time period where firearms were either not yet invented or so scarce they were not really factors in self defence) was to be able to kill an opponent as quickly and effectively as possible. From a modern biomedical point of view this means that the strikes had to be able to deal damage to the internal organs of the body in order to kill the opponent. With many people training striking methods like iron palm, designed to do just that, iron body methods as a sort of armour became a must. The torso required conditioning in order to handle the abuse other people were learning to dish out. Again we have Wai Gong and Nei Gong methods of training, changing the body from the outside in or from the inside out. Wai Gong Methods 外功發 Shaolin Body Beating 少林體擊法 There are many different wai gong (training from the outside to the inside of the body) iron body training methods but first I will discuss the body beating method from Shaolin tradition. This is much like the iron broom methods discussed before which are meant to arouse the wei qi and harden the muscularity of the body through constant abuse. The first level of body beating is again the Shaolin Pai Fa patting method on yourself. Expose the torso and slap using the pai fa at a borderline uncomfortable level. Ideally a training partner will be around to slap the back of the body for you and you for them. Move from this level after a few weeks of being slapped to bean filled bags instead of the hands. These are usually constructed as long (1-2 feet) cylindrical bags filled with mung beans and are used the same way striking the body while flexing the muscularity on impact in the same way the hands were used. Be sure to try and hit your entire torso with the bag. After two more weeks you can move up to harder substances in the bag like sand or small gravel. Traditionally you will find directions to use things like iron or lead shot. I would stay away from these simply because lead poisoning is a real possibility and materials that are very dense can easily fracture the ribs. There are other neigong methods that can bring you past the level of sand bags with little to no physical damage. Training this method for 100 days will allow you to understand what the benefit is and see it manifest in your body. There are many different Iron Body methods in the Wai Gong schools that involve similar routines of training. Be sure to use the Shaolin Pai Fa to warm up and cool down after training and dit da jow if needed to heal for the next days practice.

2 thoughts on “Iron Body Methods 鐵體法

  1. I want to try all of this iron stuff! A Bagua Sifu named Clear says that the hardening by beating must be done forever because stopping allows trouble to set in like shaking of the hand and arthritis. What has been your experience with this? I have heard something similar said by Val Riazanov of impact conditioning and it’s future effects upon the body.


    1. It all depends on the methods and the time taken to train them. External methods are possibly dangerous especially if done too hard too early. Internal methods of iron body do not have the negative effects. In my experience external methods of training when stopped will degrade to about 1/2 of the level reached but no further so its a good way to gauge how far you want to go. However internal methods do not degrade really over time as it is a physiological change in the body and not just scar tissue being formed.


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