Iron Palm Training: A Word

The question remains, is there any credence to Iron Palm training for the Kung Fu practitioner? At least we no longer hold to fantasy images of knocking down a redwood with one thunderous swipe. But then why do it if not for the FX?

Opinions vary. I would like to hear what you think. One of my instructors practiced religiously for years. He and I had a discussion on the training once when I, too, was investing consistent time in the practice. I told him that, more than strengthening the hand, I felt the big advantage of the regimen was to bring qi to the limbs. He granted that this might be the palm’s main purpose. Obviously there are other reasons based on the adaptively of the human body. There are physiological results; when you practice Iron Palm your hands definitely grow thicker.

Some people really feel this concentration of energy and find it invigorating. And, for five to ten minutes a day of training, it all seems worth it.

Here are a few points your may want to monitor if you decide on training the Iron Palm. There would be slight adjustments for training other parts of the body but you will get the idea after reading these…
1. Start with mung beans. That’s right, specifically mung beans, not iron or stone. From the beans graduate to small, round pebbles. Then iron or steel balls, never lead.
2. Don’t strike with the palm, drop it. The most common pattern is palm, then back of hand, then edge of hand then finger pads (open claw hand). Don’t tighten so there is no “reverb” going back up the arm.
3. Hold the other hand cocked at your side in a fist. This is not to have “proper posture” it is to squeeze out the inevitable small blood bruises that form when striking. In this way the “resting” hand is actually helping the process.
4. Use liniment (Di Da Jiu) if you can make it or buy it. Find a good formula on line. But at the very least rub your hands together vigorously before and after practice.

I don’t guarantee you will soon be smashing holes in titanium but try the palm training for a month and see if your forms don’t have more authority, your strikes more pop. Only you and I could understand that Iron Palm training can be kind of fun, but then martial arts are a breed apart.


English language books on Iron Palm

Biography of Iron Palm Master Gu Ru Zhang

VCDS on palm training

Iron Palm DVDs (Dale Dugas, Tak Wah Eng)

Frank Yee (Hung Gar) demonstrates how to make liniment, training tips


One Response to “Iron Palm Training: A Word”

  1. Jeff says:

    Mung beans, eh? I’ve never seen mung beans at the grocery store. Do you think lentils would do, or are they too flat?

    When I was a teenager, I used to practice a sort of iron fingerpoke technique against the back of a chair. It got so that I could stab through thick cardboard, though I never had the opportunity to stab an opponent and leave them marvelling at my power as they stared at the bloody hole my finger left in their chest. The guys where I worked would try to open boxes the way I did and hilariously injure themselves. I can still use it to stab through the safety seal on aspirin bottles.

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