Iron Body is NOT about getting hit

A lot of folks train Internal Iron Body so that they can take a hit.

This is wrong.

…and it’s missing the true purpose and value of Iron Body practices.

Don’t get me wrong, being able to take a powerful hit without injury is a great side effect.

But it’s not the purpose of training.

Remember, we have to assume the attackers are armed and can hit very hard. So not getting hit is still a top priority even with advanced Iron Body skills.

So, What’s the Point?

Internal Iron Body is about making your body stronger, more connected, healthier and more resilient from the inside out.

Your body is only as strong as the weakest link.

You can have the strongest arms in the world but if you pick up a large object incorrectly you’ll still throw your back out.

Internal Iron Body training is about making you healthy and vibrant and strong from the inside out.

…and filling in all those weak links.

It’s also about power.

When you hit someone, with almost any part of your body, you are now hitting with everything.

And when you issue (with fajing for example), you can issue much more power because your body has the integrity to do so without hurting yourself.

This is why all the internal arts contain iron body methods.

Learn these methods with our Internal Iron Body DVD that’s on sale until Thursday.

Hate mail from other Tai Chi teachers.

A little while ago I was cleaning out some of the old spam comments on our Tai Chi site and stumbled across this nice piece of criticism we received from an Internet Tai Chi Guru back in 2009.

This was right after we started talking very publicly about the Iron Body training in Tai Chi.

This letter is a great example of the more common myths and misconceptions about Iron Body training.

Sifu Clear,
Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang, whose family created tai chi, was asked one day if the Chen family practiced Iron Shirt. I was there. He replied, “Iron Shirt good for demonstration, not for fighting.”

If you read the book, American Shaolin, about the young American who studied for 2 years at the Shaolin Temple, you’ll find that the monks who do the miraculous feats of chi like breaking ice blocks with their heads or concrete with their hands are all crippled by the time they reach middle age. The guys who use their heads to break things have huge knots on their heads and talk in stutters.

You are leading students down the wrong path. Tai Chi depends on good body mechanics, not fantasy. You can’t fool physics, and the human body will be hurt by force. A silly slap on the chest with a forearm is far different from a blow from a motivated attacker.

If you or any of your students have attained real powers doing this, I encourage you to stand in front of an MMA fighter and let him hit you anywhere he wants — maybe the nose. Then let’s see how your chi dispersal myth protects you.

[Name removed to protect the misguided]

The most common misconception about Iron Body training is that there’s only one type.

The term Iron Shirt is most commonly associated with the external Iron Body methods used by Shaolin performers for demonstration. If that’s the type of Iron Body that Master Chen was referring to in his quote I absolutely agree with him.

..but the teacher who wrote this email seems to have missed that distinction. He goes on to describe examples of external iron body taken to horrible extremes.

I’ve met highly skilled Iron Body specialists who say that this is a mischaracterization and is not representative of external Iron Body done properly (much less internal Iron Body.)

After all, Tai Chi is an internal system and so by definition any Tai Chi Iron Body methods would have to be internal and not external.

Now this teacher goes on to say, “Tai Chi depends on good body mechanics, not fantasy.”

Well, one of the core body mechanics of Tai Chi that is emphasized quite heavily in Chen Style is Silk Reeling.

Silk Reeling is essentially a method for running spirals through the body. It’s no coincidence that this same spiralling as at the heart of many muscle tendon changing methods.

Many external/internal kung fu systems exploit this principle for its iron body effects by pushing it to extremes. It’s also a key component in the Kuntao Silat Iron Body method that we talked about a few days ago.

Tai Chi uses this principle in much more balanced ways. In Chen style it’s the most obvious. Yang and Wu style use it constantly, but it’s done very softly and subtly so that it’s typically invisible to the average person.

…but that’s just one principle and only one type of Iron.

As we discussed a few days ago, The Golden Bell method taught in the Tai Chi Iron Body DVDs is different altogether.

A massive part of Tai Chi education is understanding force and how to control it inside the body.

How to deliver a lot of power of course,

…but also how to take a serious hit and neutralize it, dissipate it or send it back to the person hitting you without taking any damage yourself.

I wouldn’t expect your run of the mill Tai Chi teacher to know this, but any of the prominent teachers out there should be able to rattle off a bunch of ways Tai Chi produces Internal Iron (and most can.)

In his last two paragraphs this guy falls victim to two very common misconception that are usually only present in folks who have not trained with many internal martial artists before.

That external stylists hit harder
That we don’t hit each other in training

We work with a lot of folks with many different backgrounds, internal and external.

There are plenty of external folks who hit hard, but the internal folks I’ve met are consistently more powerful. Their strikes penetrate much deeper and suck much more to receive.

How do I know this?

Because we do a whole lot of drills where you stand in front of someone and let them hit you wherever they want while you practice neutralizing, redirecting or dissipating the force of their strikes.

I understand why someone who’s only been to a couple bad Tai Chi schools — and looked no further — would have these misconceptions. But in today’s world a quick internet search will find a bunch of internal guys who train with contact and power.

…and of course anyone who’s taken the time to become a prominent teacher in the field will have met a bunch of folks who train this way over the years (and probably should have done a bunch of this themselves.)

Anyway, help us dispel these myths by practicing your Tai Chi Iron Body. Become an example of the results Tai Chi can deliver.

Internal Iron Shirt VS Golden Bell

A student recently asked me if this description of an internal iron shirt method was similar to Tai Chi Golden Bell methods on our Iron Body video.

“…a series of exercises that are designed to stretch and strengthen the body’s fascia. Your fascia will thicken and strengthen over time. To create a stronger body able to absorb more punishment.”

The answer is no.

The type of method above can build a beginning level of Internal Iron fairly quickly.

In fact this is the first type of Internal Iron we teach in Clear’s Silat curriculum for just this purpose. It strengthens the body and builds a quick (relatively) and powerful foundation from which students can progress to more advanced iron body methods.

However there’s a downside.

To build the iron it uses a lot of energy. In addition to your Iron Body training you’ll need to take good vitamins, eat well and do a lot of energy building qigong to balance it out. Typically this is for people under the age of 40.

This creates a cycle.

  1. Build energy with qigong & healthy lifestyle
  2. Use that energy to build iron
  3. Repeat

As you get older (sometime after 40 for most people) you’ll want to stop spending the energy you build and start saving it for it’s longevity benefits.

So you need to graduate to a cycle that looks like this:

  1. Build energy with qigong & healthy lifestyle.
  2. Store that energy
  3. Repeat

Tai Chi’s Golden Bell training works this way. The same practices that build your Internal Iron also build energy.

So instead of using up energy to build Iron, the iron comes as a side effect of your energy building work.

Health and Martial are unified in one practice.

That’s Tai Chi.

Energize your body and mind with our powerful Internal Iron Body training:

Our Tai Chi Iron Body DVD teaches this Golden Bell method in depth.

Here’s a few clips from that DVD:

Which type of Iron Body should you study?

If you’re only interested in Tai Chi then just study the Tai Chi Iron Body DVD.

However if you’re interested in both, then layer them the way we do in our Silat curriculum.

Use the Kuntao Silat Iron Body to build a foundation that will accelerate your progress with other iron body training later.