Home > Concepts & Principles > Should you do Iron Hand Conditioning

Should you do Iron Hand Conditioning

January 3, 2011

Iron Hand or Iron Palm as it is sometimes called, is a form of conditioning that seems to be controversial. There are certainly pros and cons to it. It was certainly more common a century ago when someones skills to defend themselves was of more concern, then the person living in what is considered civil society today. So the question is, is it necessary today, and/or is it of enough value to warrant training? Do the pros out weigh the cons? I think that each person has to decide for themselves if it is right for them. So here are some perspectives that might help you make the best decision for yourself.

Iron Palm is generally practiced by practitioners of what is referred to as external martial arts. Though many internal stylist also practice it.  Many would also say that men fight with weapons, steel weapons come harder then you will ever make your hands. Developing iron hand takes time and practice. With those things in mind there might be different answers to the question for different people, as to train it or not.

Practitioners of external styles are inclined to train body conditioning and hardening exercises, but they also may modify their techniques to get around a lack of serious conditioning. For example they may tend to use closed fists more then open hands to strike. They might also sometimes modify what part of the body is used for a strike. An example of that might be to move in a little closer and replace knife hand, and ridge hand strikes with forearm strikes. Then of course you can be more selective of your targets and focus your strikes on soft body parts. If you do those types of things you can be extremely effective without Iron Hand.

Internal stylists tend to feel that Iron Hand is unnecessary because of their method of hitting. One way to explain the difference is to think of an external stylist hitting with their fist. Their fist is like a hammer that you strike the target with. While the hand of an internal stylist is more like a chisel you place on the target while they generate the power or the hammer from their feet through their bodies to the hand. In this manner their hand doesn’t have to absorb all of the impact the way it would, if the other power generation method was used.

So if it isn’t needed is there still a reason to develop it? Well in my pre-Iron Hand days, I had broken my hand once, and a finger here and there sparring. these were accidents. They happened either when I was countered, or when I was just off fractions of an inch in a defensive movement. Since taking up iron hand training, I haven’t broken anymore bones in my hands. Now this isn’t to say that your hands and fingers can never be broken, because they certainly can. However it certainly reduces the likelihood of it happening, while making your hands a better self defense tool.

Some people have the misconception that your hands become deformed and mutilated through Iron Hand conditioning. This is a myth. If your hands become this way it is from improper training methods.  If you train properly using the correct herbs your hands actually will have increased sensitivity. There should be no visible callouses or deformities. yet your hands become very strong, and hard as iron when you strike. I would caution anyone thinking of training Iron hand to seek out a qualified instructor before attempting any training. If you do learn a proper method, training will make the bones in your hands denser, and your hands stronger.  Anything that does that has to be good for you.

You can take your training to different levels. A basic Iron Hand training method could take about 30 to 45 minutes to do, while a more advanced training method might take 90 minutes to do. Training daily gets the best results, and is a must for serious Iron Hand development. Once you have achieved the level of hand conditioning you want, you can reduce the number of days a week you train to maintain the development you have. If you train two or three times a week, you will certainly receive some benefits. Training once or twice a week will maintain the level you previously developed.

With the above information you should be able to determine if training Iron hand is for you. Remember to seek out a qualified teacher if you do decide to pursue this training method.

Mike Murphy


Categories: Concepts & Principles
  1. Rich
    March 17, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    Good overall information. I just posted a video on how to properly condition the hands on youtube because I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this over the years and there is a lot of confusion about the best, right and safe way to proceed.

    Overall it’s better for everyone to have some hand conditioning not only for strikes, but in case of accidental hits while practicing, sparring and in a real fight. Even if it’s just to help protect them from injury in case you clash hands or fists with someone else, it’s worth it there alone. Of course the more you prevent injuries, the better off you’ll be, especially as you get older.

    It can also save you from injuries even in your daily life, from even just accidentally hitting you hands on a doorknob, the edge of a wall or table, etc. Since most people are injured doing routine things, this can be especially beneficial. Same goes for learning how to properly fall since falls can be very serious and even deadly, especially for the elderly. Learning how to fall can make all the difference between a break, a serious life threatening injury, a simple bruise or no injury at all. Here is the link to my video for those interested.

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