YMAA Iron Palm?

Discuss shaolin longfist, white crane or other styles. Theory, practice and applications. Please stay on topic.

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Postby Flip » Mon Jan 16, 2006 1:34 pm

Curious: Did Dr. Yang not know think that this damages people's hands when he taught it to the 'rebel white cranes' (for lack of a better term)? I don;t understand if the reason is that it's harmful to the student, or too dangerous.

My thoughts:

1) Iron Palm training is one of the "72 Shaolin Arts" - the original training routines. It is important that these traditions are carried on, and who is going to do it if not kung fu students? Anthropologists and history professors?

As such, I think that anybody studying a shaolin kung fu style can legitamately and safely take up Iron Palm as part of thier training. We say that standing in horse stance for 2 hours is good not only for physical conditioning but also for mental. Why can Iron Palm not also be for mental conditioning? (For a description of all 72 shaolin arts, there is an excellent book by that name at www.kungfulibrary.com, you can order as an e-book. It's amazing what some of the techniques are)

2) Kung Fu is a martial art. Why not have the ability to crack somebody's skull with a single blow? In a life and death situation, I'd far rather do that than trade punches and kicks with somebody. If one cannot restrain oneself in less severe situations, then they are not understanding the spirit of kung fu.

3) Almost all schools teach techniqes that can be deadly or cause severe bodily harm, but we do not stop teaching them. In hung gar, we develop our bridges so that we can break a person's arm with our blocks. A well placed crane hand can blind somebody or collapse their trachea, or kill them. Should we stop teaching crane techniques?

My teacher is a local guy who has studied for about 30 years, several different styles, as well as acupuncture, qigong, and TCM. He studied under one of Frank Yee's teachers, I'm not sure for how long or who that was, but I have 100% faith that he knows how to teach this safely, and I think wouldn't be teaching this to me if he thought I was going to go into sparring with the idea of cracking skulls.
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iron palm, etc.

Postby gmc » Mon Jan 16, 2006 6:33 pm

Flip I think they said some of Dr. Yang's classmates used their iron palm indiscriminately. I have never heard of Dr. Yang teaching Iron palm. And yes, Iron Palm training is very internal, very meditative, and requires that you control your strikes. This trains one to "send" chi into the hands, in order to protect them from harm. That same focus can be used to make the hands a very powerful weapon. Bottom line is that no one is qualified to make a judgement on this kind of training unless they have trained it themselves. Otherwise it is just talk. If you have a qualified instructor and follow a gradual method, it is rewarding practice. Regarding the question of "extreme" training, that is relative. If you saw the video of teenagers beating homeless people with bats, you've seen one reason why iron palm or some other skill may be a valuable asset.
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Postby scramasax57 » Mon Jan 16, 2006 6:42 pm

master yang swore to never teach the advanced stages of iron palm because of what his classmates did. so he has never taught it.

If you saw the video of teenagers beating homeless people with bats, you've seen one reason why iron palm or some other skill may be a valuable asset.


are you suggesting that this situation calls for a kung fu vigilante to break the teenager's skulls? i would disagree. undeniably what they were doing was horribly cruel and they should recieve harsh sentences hopefully involving community service with the homeless so they can hopefully gain empathy for others. i would very much disagree that they need to be killed or maimed for what they did. in that situation i would call the cops. involving yourself physically against multiple attackers would necessitate disabling some of them, and i'm not sure that's justified. the only situation i can see where killing someone is justified is if they are murdering others and for some reason calling in the cops is not an option. in that case, as master yang says, get a gun. it's much more efficient. kung fu is no longer the ultimate self-defense, even with iron palm. you stand no chance against someone with a gun, no matter how good your kung fu is. so if you want to be a death-dealing vigilante, head to a gun shop, not a martial arts school.
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Postby DOM » Mon Jan 16, 2006 8:19 pm

most definiatly yes exspecial for no good thugs and cowards as these guys.if there was some one who was a trained martial arts at the seen,who just stood by and watched this happen has learned nothing.As a martail artist it is our duty to help protect and defend peaple in such situations.I beleave they did kill a one man too.If they had a gun well may be not a good idea but they only had bats.Pretty easy to defend against,dangerous yes likley to get hurt yes.But these guys were trying to kill peaple just for kicks.It's time society stand together and stamp these kind of peaple out.It is time for those that are like these guy to think twice befor they act this way.They should definatly fear what mite happen to them by those who are near and witness these kind of cowardly acts.
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Postby scramasax57 » Mon Jan 16, 2006 8:21 pm

i definitely agree that something needs to be done and someone who "minds their own business" in that situation is totally lacking in courage. but i'm not sure killing them is the answer.
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iron palm, etc.

Postby gmc » Mon Jan 16, 2006 8:28 pm

No I'm not suggesting that a vigilante go after those kids. What I meant is that violence does occur, and someone could easily come after you with a bat. If you have some training, you have a better chance to defend yourself. Maybe disarm the attacker, maybe maim the attacker. If someone attacks you with a deadly weapon, I guess you have to do what you can to survive. One takes up an art (whether it's tai chi or iron palm) for many reasons. As one poster noted, some of these ancient skills could disappear. Dr. Yang discussed this in his book on Chinese weapons, stating that although these weapons are no longer used, the art should be kept alive. But there is so much prejudice here against iron palm training. It reminds me of people who want to ban pit bulls, Rottweilers and similar dogs. Because a dog has killing potential, does that make the whole breed useless? Power is power, the question is do you have the martial ethics to know how and when it is used? Apparently Dr. Yangs classmates didn't follow wude, the martial code of ethics.

And as for the kids who beat up homeless, one of the people they beat up died. So they should do more than community service with homeless people. They should (and will) do hard time in a prison. And BTW, guess where the toughest most dangerous men in the world are? If you guessed "martial art school" you were wrong. It's prison.
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this thread

Postby dc » Tue Jan 17, 2006 2:53 pm

master yang states that advanced stages of iron palm affect health. i have always known master yang to research before making such statements. i can make no claim on master lam because i haven't read any of his books or ordered any of his videos.

if you want to stimulate qi flow in your hands - to be practical in today's society - why not just do it nei dan style. if that is your ultimate goal, working internally should actually work faster than wai dan. either that, or you could pick from the hundreds of other qigong activities that increase qi flow in your hands.

why would iron palm help you defend against attackers? you should probably learn how to fight first, which would probably be more effective and less time consuming. i think it is important to keep the tradition of iron palm alive, but i repeat - it has no value in today's society...unless, of course, that is your way of setting the bar for yourself...creating a goal for which to shoot.

i guessed martial arts school before i read the end of your post, gmc. :0( i was wrong. dead wrong. i only have to add that i think people need to stop taking themselves so seriously. the main reason i have practiced martial arts for so long is because i think it's fun.
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Postby scramasax57 » Tue Jan 17, 2006 3:27 pm

i said their sentence should INVOLVE community service. not consist entirely of it. in my opinion, stright out punishment with no rehabilitation trainign does nothing.

i'm not biased against iron palm. i personally do not think it is worth my time when there is so much else i want to do.
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iron palm, etc.

Postby gmc » Tue Jan 17, 2006 8:14 pm

Well, what is not worth one man's time could be another man's passion. And dc, iron palm is not just wai dan, it's also nei dan, probably equally amounts. But hey, it's not for everybody. And I agree about not being too serious, and having fun in martial arts training.
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Postby scramasax57 » Tue Jan 17, 2006 9:42 pm

i can't say i understand why it is your passion, but i'm glad it is. because i myself am not carrying on that part of the arts, so it's good to know that someone is passionate about it. we all help carry on our part.
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Postby DOM » Tue Jan 17, 2006 11:53 pm

Dc you mentioned the advanced stages of Iron palm being dangerous and the first few being safe.What are the advanced stages that you mention.Maybe what WingLam teaches is only the first few.As far as I know there are only three he reveales.Mungbeen bag,gravel bag and then steel shot bag.Community service,rehabilitation.They should get the chair scram.If Iron palm has no use in todays society than neither dose any thing else we are training in.I only trained it for 3 months.I did not achieve Iron palm.But what I did come to understand that with this method one can reach and completly understand the meening of gung fu.I have been training for 20 years.I consider myself exstremly dedicated.Yet I could only persevere for 3 months of this training.The dedication effort and time one must put in can give you deep insite.The focuse,mind,set and the will to persevere in this training can bring you to the deepest levels of gung fu.It requirs a calm and peacefull mind a relaxed body a firm and deep root.The motion must also come from your center.It is very internal just watch the dvd and pay attention to master Wing Lam.I knew admidiatly this man is a master and this training is internal.But if it is unheathy and is going to cause severe illnesses then I would have to say your right there no reason to train it.
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Postby Inga » Wed Jan 18, 2006 7:04 am

DOM, do you think we cd clarify the statement that if iron palm doesn't belong in society today than "neither does anything else we are training in". the marital arts are time honored traditions, and they have evolved themselves, just as our society has evolved. extreme use of violence has moved out of acceptability in our society and into the entertainment industry. it's the use of the force, not the weapon (be it gun, knife or a well trained iron palm). people own weapons for reasons other than hurting others, they can be admired for their construction or aesthetics and practiced with on non living things. by the same token, one could train up to an to an extreme level and have the knowledge that one cd use it, but i don't think that it is something you would have much opportunity to use in today's society once it was achieved. that's not to say it should be forgotten as a technique or never trained. the issue is the application. i think what many are saying on this thread is that they wouldn't begrudge another their passion, but would prefer to make their passion something more accessible.
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Postby DOM » Wed Jan 18, 2006 10:29 am

what I am saying is that every martial tecknique was developed to subdue or kill an opponent.Every qinna was designed to kill not to cause someone to submit.Yet we still practic these things.Why because for one today socitey is becoming increasingly dangerous place and these teckniques are still practical and effective for self defence.Second it offers a way to become fit in mind body and spirit.The constant need and persute to perfect are teckniques cause use to look deep and hard in to who we are and the world around use.Threw constant practice and refinemen are streanths and weekness will be revealed.From here we are able to to polish are personalities along with are teckniques.Training Iron palm the way Wing lam shows will bring you to the same place.The destination is the same but the path differant.In fact training forms is has more of a violant intention than iron palm.When training Iron palm there is no sence of enemy or emotion.Just a deep relaxed meditative mind and focuse on refinment of tecknique.Very much the same as doing chigung.Exspecialy taichi or white crane soft chigung.So you see just as I said in my last post you can come to understand the meening of kung fu from this practice alone.Just as you can learning any skill
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Postby Flip » Wed Jan 18, 2006 11:29 am

Inga wrote: extreme use of violence has moved out of acceptability in our society and into the entertainment industry.


That is wrong. Extreme violence is used and is acceptable by much of society, please see US foreign policy since WWII. (or really since the civil war, but since we're talking about the present.) US foreign policy and political discourse in the media frame all US military operations as 'containment' and/or 'defense' however this is blatant propoganda.

The violence on tv/movies is meagre compared to the military operations that many people in the US support.

Yes, this is way off topic.
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Postby Flip » Wed Jan 18, 2006 11:31 am

DOM wrote:what I am saying is that every martial tecknique was developed to subdue or kill an opponent.Every qinna was designed to kill not to cause someone to submit.


I agree with everything you're saying here DOM, cheers.
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wai dan

Postby dc » Wed Jan 18, 2006 11:52 am

punching sandbags seems pretty wai dan to me...hitting bricks seems pretty wai dan to me...shoving your hands it to red hot sand seems pretty wai dan to me (and slightly damaging)...

of course, if there are other meditative elements to iron palm training that increase qi flow to your hands, and that's what you're talking about, there would be no need for the above externalities.

dom, i think in master yangs longfist book, he mentions the advanced stages of iron palm being the red sand palm, the training of which includes the bathing of one's hands in amazingly hot sand to deaded the nerves.

on a side note: i'm glad the us is the only country using belligerant foreign policy! whew! i think it's safe to say, however, that "defense" is pretty accurate when describing the present situations. but i digress...
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Postby DOM » Wed Jan 18, 2006 12:41 pm

Is white crane fajing or tai chi fajing waidan?The power is developed internaly and manifested externaly in a whip like manner.So if you are striking only air it is internal but if you decided to strike a bag or person it should be considerd just external?The power of this iron palm is devoped and manifested the same way as as any soft soft/hard fajing.In this methode there is no shoveing your hands in sand or red hot sand and no poison jows either.Breaking is used only as a test to bring you to a deeper level.It is only done after months or even years of training and conditioning.
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iron palm

Postby dc » Wed Jan 18, 2006 1:12 pm

yes, taiji is nei dan. it is also wai dan, though proportially greater in the former. there is also a proportion for certain white crane powers, though they may vary from soft to soft/hard to hard jing.

"So if you are striking only air it is internal but if you decided to strike a bag or person it should be considerd just external?"

you are applying a sweeping generalization to my comment. if you'll re-read my post, you'll see i stated that the external parts, which i don't feel like rewriting, are obviously wai dan. here i will go the extra mile and say, "despite the fact they use internal energy to back them up." thought complete.

you also mentioned "conditioning" before breaking. so, are you saying you are building up the strength of the bones and skin prior to even making physical contact with an object? that would be impossible seeing as how load bearing is a necessary precursor to increasing density. there is an inherent physical component to the training whether its hitting a bean bag or doing fist push ups or whatever. i have not engaged in iron palm training, but i can't imagine a regimen where this conditioning is not required.
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Postby Inga » Wed Jan 18, 2006 1:59 pm

wow, this one has got us going..DOM, i think we actually agree mate, overall, and i take your point about the training of this technique giving you meditative time and complimenting your overall path towards developing your martial arts. i should have thought about the journey, not just the end.

Flip, i'm not sure you are way off topic, but my reference to violence in society was in relation to the use by civilians - ie the majority of the martial artists submitting to this forum who train not because it is their job, but their hobby/passion not a necessity for survival. but with the skills that many of us achieve there comes a responsibility to use it wisely. i think in many ways that is at the heart of this discussion. i accept that the world is on the whole a pretty nasty place, more nastier some places than others. i guess i am reiterating what previous posts on this thread said, namely we have laws which are designed protect us (whether they do or not i suppose is another discussion). and i don't agree that the movies out of late are meager compared to "real" violence. movies showing excessive, graphic killings and torture are on the increase. dc, you’re a movie guy, what do you think?
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iron palm

Postby gmc » Wed Jan 18, 2006 2:28 pm

As Dom has posted, true iron palm training is mostly an internal training. Of course the hands must become conditioned by this over time. I also agree with Dom that iron palm is more internal than most form training, because it requires total relaxation of the arms, shoulders and joints. Awareness of Six Harmonies should be foremost when training Iron Palm. The use of muscular force when training iron palm is extremely detrimental, and guarantees damage to the hands. Possibly Dr. Yang does not/did not practice Iron Palm either, and therefore does not know it intimately. Maybe Dr. Yang was around people who trained incorrectly or who were a little crazy--that would make perfect sense why he wants little or nothing to do with Iron Palm training.

dc, you have no clue about this kind of training, I'm sorry to say. Dom's insights, after only 3 months of training, are quite profound. The fact that you cannot comprehend how it is internal is unfortunate, but I understand since you have no experience in training iron palm. However, the fact that you keep repeating that it cannot possibly be internal, that's even sadder.
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