I have received my basic iron palm training materials, and am stoked to make the training part of my morning and bedtime routine.
I would like to give a shout-out to Sifu Dale Dugas (who also happens to be the only member of this group at present) for guiding me into finding the appropriate products for the training. I am also using his introductory training system for beginners, which is available in DVD format for a reasonable price on his website.
10 pounds of soybeans
A table that sits an inch-ish below the level of my navel
16 onces of dit da jow (Fukien Shaolin Dit Da Jow by Coiling Dragon Herbs)
We're in business
Tomorrow evening I plan to do my first actual iron palm session hitting the bag.
Tonight I began practicing the warm-ups (which are kind of like isometric exercise if I am using that word right) so that I can have them memorized.
I also began the internal warm-up tonight. These remind me of tai chi in some ways, but standing still. I am very much looking forward to the meditative aspects of the training. I think that I will start with my normal morning run through of 1/3 of the Yang 24 Tai Chi sequence, and then follow-up with the iron palm external and internal warm-ups and standing meditation. I'm thinking this will take about 45mins-60mins at the beginning (doing 10 reps of each thing) and will get longer over time.
This morning I performed my warm-ups (dragon whips his tail etc.) as well as 10 minutes of standing meditation. It was recommended that the meditation time be used to still the mind and relax for the first several weeks/months, and only later do you begin to imagine your energy traveling through your meridians. Since I have a background in different types of meditation and have done chi meditation before, I jumped right in with the visualization (ball of golden light traveling up the spine to the crown of the head from the dantien etc.).
I think I am going to just focus on my iron palm and not drill tai chi each morning for now, as this will take a significant time commitment and I can only get up but so early. Also considering adding in a few sets of knuckle push-ups just to strengthen my wrists.
A little behind schedule, but today began my first Iron Palm training session. Up at 5:15am for the warm-ups. All told took about 30mins, but will get longer as I increase reps in the coming weeks. Right now the tension and internal warm-ups feel a little awkward, but I suspect that they will begin to feel natural with time. I am enjoying the internal part of the art, and all together the tension exercises, moving meditation, and standing meditation helped me to wake up and feel relaxed if nothing else.
This Jow stuff smells good.
So far hitting this canvas bag filled with soybeans is pretty easy, no real pain or abrasions or bruising on any part of my hand at all. It almost seems too easy, but I will resist the urge to start throwing wild haymakers at every metal surface I encounter. I also don't seem to get a lot of direct contact of my knuckles on the bag, perhaps I'm hitting wrong when I do the backhand strike.
Just finished my evening iron palm session. I find it easier to meditate this way than doing basic mindfulness meditations, but I'm not sure why. Maybe it is because there is a physical component. A few things I have noticed
1) I never realized how heavy my damn arm is. I was more relaxed in this session, and my strikes (which essentially involve gravity pulling my arm down and flopping it on the bag) are really loud and seem pretty hard. I guess all that talk about it being important to be relaxed to get power might not be bunk.
2) I enjoy the warm-ups, but am wondering if I work out too much to get a lot of benefit from the tension exercises. 3 classes per week of muay thai are probably strengthening my shoulder arm and forearm, and I used to lift weights. I wonder if I can kick that phyiscal part of the training into high gear somehow? After this first week I will PM some experts and see if I should modify my practice to tailor it to me. I just don't want to waste time.
I'm really starting to enjoy the final meditation that is done after the bag strikes and everything. Standing there focusing on your palms with your blood pumping a little bit and your skin tingling a little bit from the impacts. The sweet syrup smell of the Jow. It starts to feel like you're holding two spheres of pulsing heat or something.
It's actually reminiscent of a meditative/self-hypnotic technique that psychologists use to help people prevent or decrease the severity of migraine headaches. Imagining your hands warming up for a period of time each day. (e.g. Emmerson: An hypnotic intervention for migraine control. Australian journal of clinical and experimental hypnosis, 27(1), 54-61.)
It occured to me that once I layed out the foundation of how I am training and trouble-shot (trouble-shooted?) any questions that I had, it isn't really necessary to post each day. Would become quite repetitive. In order to keep myself motivated, I think that I will post weekly to help me keep track of if I've missed days, how I do with the increased number of reps as time goes on etc.
A post by Cullion elsewhere here on Bullshido also got me thinking about how seriously to take training. Martial arts for me are about fun, self improvement and fitness. I had been thinking about iron palm training as something interesting, unique, and meditative that I could do, with the possible added benefit of toughening my poor, weak scholars hands. I must say that I was not thinking as much about the potential dangers of the training (e.g. hurting my hand or wrist).
Here's to taking any form of internal or external training as a serious endeavor. I think it is possible, or even preferrable, to take life with a mixture of playfulness and austerity, so I will be sure to be mindful of the balance between the two.
For now, training is going well and I only have a few questions that remain to me: 1) should I be doing more to strengthen my arms and shoulders since I am a little more physically active than the warm-ups that are part of the protocol call for 2) I might need a more sturdy surface for doing my strikes 3) is it better to do strikes before or after MT practice, and if I do them after, is it still important to do the external warm-ups 4) I am curious as to what other variety of meditations are a part of traditional chinese medicine.
Some days I get home at like 4, and could probably work in three iron palm sessions on those days. Sifu Dugas, on his dvd, said that some iron-palmists adhere to a three per day routine, and he recommends two per day for reasons of practicality. The slight stinging pain and that pulsing feeling after a session is a little addicting and I think I would like to do more on days when I have time.
Today is my last day of week one. Tomorrow I upgrade to 20 reps of each warm-up external and internal exercise, and 20 reps of each of the four strikes (palm, back-of-hand, knife-edge of hand, short palm). Today is the first day I've experienced any soreness in my hand. I believe it is probably from the combination of Muay Thai and Iron Palm together.
I wonder if I should take it easy on days when I'm sore, or just continue the training. Soreness, one would think, is a part of the game when conditioning any part of your body. Starting early this morning I rubbed my hands down with some cold jow from the 'fridge.
My hands were sore today, but after completing my evening session they feel good again. Not really stiff or sore or anything. Could it be...the meditation.....that my hands just needed a warm-up....endorphins.....the Jow?
I'll chalk it up to the Jow. Now I'm a believer.
This just in......to get a little more grip/forearm work in, I'm also filling an old tin popcorn bucket with leftover soy beans and working my hand through it while I watch TV.
Articles and Reviews
Tools and Info