Though I trained in an art that includes a fair amount of qigong material, and though I did qigong, off and on, for a number of years, I'm no longer a "believer" in its reality.
I have never done Iron Palm, and was told that I hit every bit as hard as someone who has. I've hit people, allegedly capable of Golden Bell skills, and done damage despite said skills. I've been hit by people who've done Iron Palm and, never having done any of the protective training, been unfazed.
Dale, I respect you, but can you explain in non-mystical terms what you think is happening through this training? In my own experience I have yet to see anything super-natural about the end results of people who've undergone years of training...
it is pretty simple when you look at it.
You train the body to relax through a series of qi gong exercises. which you do before, during and after tapping the bag with your hands.
this qi gong training can be done by anyone of any age, it is this relaxation qi gong that helps develop the body to rid itself of residual tension. Residual tension is the enemy of total coordinated movement of the body.
If you can learn to relax, I mean really relax and get this level of residual tension to low levels, you will be able to incorporate more of the total body into your blows.
the hitting of the bag is only to train the tissues and bones of the hands to take impact. Some people do not need this as they are big strong people as it is.
this relaxation is also found in Iron Body training. You need to learn to move the body as a whole, so when confronted with power thrown at you, you can then accept it without tension, and let it pass through you rather than encounter tensed muscles which will then be damaged by said power.
the key or secret if you will is learning to relax and incorporate the entire body into strikes or learn to accept power through your physical structure.
that is what is going on here.
The secret is that it is not easy to do, and there is way too much tension in most people and they have no idea how to rid themselves of it.
Dale, is your iron body and herbalism experience restricted to CMAs or have you had occasion to look to other cultures? The reason I ask is that I've read little bits about silat systems (cimande,nampon,ulinapas off the top of my head, but there are probably others) that claim to use "body hardening" exercises and/or a liniment called balur. Googling any of the aforementioned terms,though, hasn't gotten me anywhere. Mostly, I wind up getting directed to random silat sites with vague information on pencak silat as a whole. So, is balur just Indonesian dit da jow or are they completely different in nature and use?
I have no idea about silat systems as Im a TCMA guy through and through.
No idea what Balur is about or what is in it.
Thanks anyway, Dale. I suspected that was going to be the case.
RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE.
This is what Iron Body looks like in Tai Chi Praying Mantis, Chiu Chuk Kai lineage. These guys are doing what I learned in Canada from another Sifu of the same lineage.
My own experience with this is that, more than toughening me up - sparring and standard conditioning seemed to do that well enough, though I suppose this helped as well - it made me more conscious of chi flow within forms: feeling energy move through strikes, feeling the flows of the micro/macrocosmic orbits, that sort of thing.
I know that here on Bullshido that's, well, asking for a rhetorical and empirically-driven ass-whipping since it really is indefensible woo, but, well... it is what it is, or isn't.