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.
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.