Gong Fu / Kung Fu

Return of The Iron Palm

Iron Palm is not a style but a skill that is an essential component of Kung Fu styles. Some people specialize in its practice but that is like the Muay Thai student who is known for his stronironhand-circleg jab, or the judoka who has a good inner leg reap he may have developed this tool to a high level but he still needs the other aspects of his style to support it. Most styles of Kung Fu contained some form of “Iron Palm” practice. Iron Palm does not in fact refer to a method of hand strengthening but to the results of correct training – traditionally every Pai would have its own method. Sometimes it is referred to as Iron Fist or Iron Finger
Having a strong hand and a good strike is useless unless one has the tactics and methods to deliver it. When done correctly Iron Palm teaches to strike with the whole body (not the arm). The body becomes like a massive whip generating a wave of force. The muscles of the hand are trained to instinctively flex open or closed depending upon hand the formation to maximize force when striking

One of the interesting aspects of Iron Palm training is that when done correctly it does not ‘deaden’ the nerves of the hands but seems instead to give them more sensitivity due to the increased blood circulation. It is a common misconception that one aims to essentially damage the nerves to ‘endure more’ pain in Iron Palm – this is completely untrue; loosing any sensitivity in the hands would be a massive disadvantage in a fight as well as in life.

If one wishes to train Iron Palm one should seek qualified instruction.

 

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Iron Palm

iron-palmIron palm training, also sometimes called “iron fist” training, is a system of hand conditioning used by martial artists to develop toughness in their hands and the ability to deliver powerful strikes.  Iron palm training takes months and years of dedicated training under the guidance of a qualified instructor, and care must be taken to ensure that the student does not try to progress too quickly as doing so could result in injury. A skilled practitioner will be able to break bricks and concrete slabs with ease.  By the same token, he will be able to do significant damage to an enemy with a strike.

Iron Palm raining begins by dropping the hand onto a canvas bag filled with mung beans, which is place on a table or stand waist high.  The mung beans are solid but not too hard and provide a good amount of resistance for the beginner.  After months of training, the second level is done with a bag full of gravel, which is harder and provides higher levels of conditioning.  When the student has become advanced a bag full of steel shot may be used.  This is optional and is not required to have a high level of skill, but steel shot is even harder than gravel.

Most iron palm training regimens require the use of dit da jow, a topical liniment, or some other type of liniment to help protect and heal the hands during and after training sessions.  Since training takes place every day, the hands must be fully healed before the next training session occurs.  Dit da jow helps to facilitate healing.

 

Tai Chi – Push Hands

tai-chi-pushing-handsPush Hands is probably the most balanced self-defense training method ever invented as it not only gives us all of the above, but also gives us a huge whole body physical workout. For self-defense, you MUST use methods that build the body using a changing state of weight and power, in fact pumping iron in a gym will take you backward as the weights are dead. A good push hands session will see your whole body sore afterward as every muscle is used in self-defense and attack. We DO attack hard and fast and every so-called push is regarded as a striking attack which can come from anywhere at any time.

Any grab of the wrist or arm is regarded as an attack and we attack relentlessly to such pauhing-hands-san-diego-tai-chigrabs. Always using the Tai Chi principle of never use force on force.

Many will see us doing our push hands and not see this and will remark that we seem to be using force! Well of course we are! You HAVE to use force in a real life situation, however, that force always come
from an angle, never head on and always after a split second movement that is designed to take the opponent’s mind away from what is really happening to him.

Tai Chi Internal Kung Fu Style

Certain Tai Chi movements or Qi gongs can be used to change the bodies state to heal it. For example if the body is too yin. Examples of being too yin would be, not wanting to engage in anything, being very quiet, being very closed off to others. Examples of being too yang would be, being too loud, getting into fights all the time, being very open with emotion, be it angry, upset, even happy. Keep in mind these states could also be caused by factors other than being too yang or too yin.

tai-chi2But if you take a Qigong or Tai Chi form, combined with a change of diet you can change the state of the body for the better. Even if the state is not cause by the condition of being too yang or yin, you can still try out the Qigong or Tai Chi and see if it helps. If it helps then it’s probably that the state of body was caused by being either too yin or too yang, and if it doesn’t work then no harm will have been done, in most cases though even if the state is not caused by being too yang or too yin, the Tai Chi or Qigong will have helped greatly simply because it helps to balance the body out no matter what the condition.

 

 

Enter Tai Chi Chuan

Tai Chi Chuan means “Grand Ultimate Boxing”. It is a fighting style that uses the philosophy of the grand ultimate, or Tai Chi the Yin Yang symbol. It is based on duality. This ancient Taoist martial art in the beginning stages uses slow, flowing movements to develop relaxation, leg strength, and inner power chi/qi. Tai Chi Chuan is an introspective tai-chi2art that makes you spiritually and physically aware, improving your physical and mental balance. This form eventually develops into a superior fighting art that loses preconception and exists in the now. One reacts fluidly with speed and agility, being able to adapt to any situation.

The orthodox internal martial arts, namely Xing Yi Quan, Tai Chi Chuan and Ba Gua Zhang , have all incorporated Taoist techniques of breathing, meditation and medical theory into their methods of power, development nei kung and fighting movements. Although the resultant arts are superior as systems of health cultivation and physical development, health was not the primary concern of the developers of these styles. The primary focus of any martial art is, by definition, martial. The wedding of Taoist practices and martial technique came about because the masters felt movement in accordance with natural principles performed in a meditative state of mind was the quickest way of realizing the goal of absolute potential as a martial artist fighter.

The basic postural requirements for Tai Chi Chuan practice (head floating up, shoulders sunk, chest lifted) are the physical prerequisites of unified body power. As in the other internal styles, the student begins by standing in static postures for a considerable length of time to cultivate the body’s peng jing body before singular postures are practiced and mastered one at a time. Single technique practice and issuing power are practiced until all the various postures of Tai Chi Chuan can be executed with whole body power. Finally, the student is taught to link the postures into a continuous sequence that trains sensitivity to postural changes and the ability to flow from one technique to the next without disconnecting the body. One of the fundamental reasons most Tai Chi Chuan forms are practiced slowly is ‘so the student can constantly adjust and monitor the body to make sure it is always moving in a unit. This is much easier to feel moving slowly than quickly.

Eventually, the student develops the body into a strong, supple unit which allows the frame to act as a spring against the ground enabling the boxer to absorb incoming energy and rebound it into the opponent This type of power is impossible unless the body is always maintained in a unit, just as a spring is one continuous thread of steel

tai-chi-chuancolorThe major difference between the internal and external martial arts is in how they are applied to a live opponent, as well as the various methods of training martial application. The students of both schools first develop their power, balance, feeling and body mechanics from solo training. The next step is to bridge the gap between form and function. This type of training will be determined mainly by a particular school’s theories of combat. The internal schools stress sticking to, following and going with the opponent’s power, borrowing energy, the avoidance of force against force directly, and the issuing of power only after one has “the right opportunity and advantageous position.” External styles vary greatly in theory (some following principles almost identical to the internal), but in general, whereas an external stylist may punch through his opponent’s defenses, the internal stylist never fully issues his power until he has the opponent in an unbalanced position either physically or spatially.

Most internal styles also have some variation of “push hands” practice. The primary purpose of pushing bands is to develop “listening energy” (ting jing) or become sensitive to outside pressure from the opponent in relation to one’s own balance. Finally, both internal and external martial artists practice footwork drills, repeated single-technique practice, issuing power on a live opponent, and eventually free sparring to develop practical fighting skill.

Stretching and Flexibility

Steps To Maximize Your Flexibility

1. Always stretch after your workout

Your joints an
d muscles are warm, which means you can go further with your stretch. It also helps to decrease the build up of lactic acid in your muscles. Not stretching after a workout leads to stiff muscles.

 

2.   Stretch am and pm

ckarate-stretching-300x225You must take time to stretch our muscles before beginning the martial arts training session. Stretching in the morning is harder than in the evening but it’s one of the best ways to increase flexibility.

 

 

3. Find creative ways to include stretching in your day-to-day life

If you like to watch TV then find a way to stretch while you watch TV. On the escalator, place your left heel a little off the step and stretch out your calf muscle.

4. Alternate your stretching

Our bodies quickly adapt so alternate your stretching and consistently challenge your body.

5.  Focus on Optimal Flexibility for you

We all need to have a certain amount of flexibility but remember we are all different. It’s crucial that you never push yourself too hard and you work with your own body. If you want to get your head on your knees, don’t strain to get there or bend your legs in the process. Remember there never should be any pain when you stretch only patience.

The Staff The Father of All Weapons

The Shaolin monks have practiced the hand and staff forms for thousands of years. The word “monk” is a synonym of peace, of compassion, of harmony, of intelligence, but above all of a great responsibility towards people, helping others, sharing the philosophy with others and understanding the suffering of others. It is for this reason that when the Shaolin monks needed to go to war, to stop violence, or were forced to fight, they avoided using wthe-8-diagram-pole-fighter-5eapons that could easily kill people, such as swords or sabers. It was better to use Chin Na  or Dim Mak and in extreme cases, to use the staff to knock out the opponent. They hoped that when he woke up, the opponent would realize that his fighting was unnecessary, and understand that killing others is bad. At worst, when he woke up, there would be nobody there. The monks said that the fallen man should realize that his fighting had been useless and learn from that. This way he would become a better person.

In addition to this, the Shaolin staff became a very common tool. When monks traveled, they did not like to carry weapons, but a good staff is also a good tool to move obstacles on the way, jump across a stream, or to use as a cane when one is tired.nsahunggar05

The staff’s flexibility is important factor, since it obtains some additional strength as it is waved towards a target. Also, though the staff may not be sharp like the a sword or poi
nty like a spear, it has the same effects when it is used as such. A direct blow given as if it were a spear may be just as powerful. It also enables the practitioner to swiftly attack from different directions.