Internal Iron Body & Iron Palm Misconceptions

Due to recent inquiries I am compelled to write a post on Internal Iron Body & Iron Palm Misconceptions.

As we continue to write on real internal skills and gain more acceptance as an authority on Tai Chi, both the Internal healing aspects and the combat aspects, I am finding that we are drawing questions and criticisms from other American instructors that are very revealing about the unfortunate state of real Tai Chi in America.

This year will mark my 25th year as a teacher of Tai Chi and Internal arts. It will mark my 31st year as a practitioner of Tai Chi. I have been and always will be an avid student of the martial arts and particularly of the internal martial arts. I have had the fortune of studying from some very skilled high level teachers who have openly taught me.

Also, I have had to do extensive research and continue to do more research and put myself in front of senior teachers on a regular basis to keep my sword sharp and to broaden my horizons.

Test your skills to see what is real.

I am an avid believer in testing my skills to see what is real and what is good and what needs to be improved. I welcome the opportunity to interact with others. A few years ago I avidly began to look for other high level Internal Tai Chi teachers here in the states and what happened again and again was that I would contact someone who I thought had higher level skill just to find more often than not that I was the person who was the teacher when it came to internal skills. Let me state here that I have studied from and continue to study from excellent teachers as well and that I obviously have far to go but fortunately I am on the road to get there.

Due to the cultural history of senior teachers hiding information from their students research and practice is the only way that I have found to get to the bottom of the truths that point the way for advanced high level Tai Chi studies.

I have learned to be wary of teachers I don’t know and to watch what they do as much or more than just listen to what they say. Last year, on 3 separate occasions, I asked 3 different senior Tai Chi masters the same push hands question (that I already fully knew the answer to). I had already felt and perceived enough to know the answer that these 3 teachers have in their actual practice of the art. All three teachers lied to me and tried to point me in a direction that was obviously false. Since each time this happened was in a seminar / workshop format I did not make the teachers lose face but I also did not allow anyone else present in the room to push or move me and I used the real answer to the question to stop them. In each case the master was put in a dilemma to explain and on each occasion they simply stated that I was obviously an advanced practitioner and then moved on to another subject.

I find that unfortunately many so called internal arts teachers here in the USA are only familiar with external training methods. As a result they write articles claiming that Tai Chi Internal Iron Palm and Internal Iron Body methods do not exist or worse yet without any knowledge they dismiss the training methods as being inappropriate and unhealthy for internal practitioners and everyone else.

This misinformation is exacerbated by real high level Tai Chi instructors who want to keep the real Tai Chi secrets so badly that they will lie to their students about the internal skills while teaching them form after form. These American students who now know a lot of forms but not much else then represent themselves as the authority (as if they were the only one) here in North America and quote their teachers lies as the real info regarding internal skills.

I highly recommend that seekers look for themselves and read articles and watch videos and then ask questions of the teachers themselves to see who actually has it. Then, make arrangements to study some of the materials to see what you can learn.

Is your material internal?

Our material is internal. That really is the first question that should be asked. “Is your material internal?”. Ours is. Another question to ask is, “How do I know if it is internal?”. Internal simply means inside and the training is done inside the body. Generally speaking internal is very healthy for you long term.

Beating on your body etc is not internal because it is external beating. I am amazed at how many teachers represent this as internal iron body. The only reason for hitting an internal iron body practitioner is to test their ability or to demonstrate their ability and NOT TO BUILD their ability. Hitting to build iron body is external training.

Our Internal Iron Body and Iron Palm building is really Internal and healthy for you long term. Most External Iron Palm and Iron Body is not healthy for you long term. If a teacher sees a demo of us performing Internal Iron Body or Iron Palm on youtube and says that it is unhealthy for you or that Internal Iron Palm or Iron Body do not exist then what they are really saying is that they do not know real internal training or they are lying and trying to hide the truth.

Please read our post on Internal Iron Palm, Internal Iron Body, Nei Gung and other internal posts and you will find more answers regarding real internal training.

Thank you.


  1. Dan Eidson says

    Once again you continue to shake the tree, separating the
    internal branches from the external branches. I have never claimed to be able to understand how the internal working of Tai Chi is formed, even though I have always been fascinated by the energy (not the force). I’ve read much about it and seen live demonstrations through the years. I have some general idea about the internal workings and once in a great while have been able to move the energy in a soft spiral 4 ounce push.

    I believe Yang Ch’eng-fu, in one of the ten important points of Tai Chi Chuan once said, “Use the Mind and Not Strength.
    When those who practice external systems are using strength it is apparent, but when they have strength but are not applying it, then they are light and floating. It is obvious that their strength is an external, superficial kind of energy. The strength of practitioners of external systems is very easily manipulated and not worth of praise.”
    So my interpretation of that is, “External force is not soft energy Tai Chi. Its what Tai Chi was before it was Tai Chi–Gong Fu.
    I don’t mean any disrespect to the external arts, which are formidable in their own rights, and also which I have been a part of for a long time.

    We might have the confidence, yet the uneducated competence may be missing in the true understanding of internal iron palm and internal iron body.

    It does not bruise my ego one bit to say, “I don’t know as much about Tai Chi as I thought I did.” My students don’t care either. We have so much fun practicing and don’t attach much importance to it all. Which is a great philosophy for life as far as I am concerned.

    So to everyone who teaches Tai Chi, I say, “Lighten Up”
    Do not attach great importance to your life or with anything you do. When you die and are staring down at your body, will it still be all that important any more?

  2. hello
    My question. I do iron palm first time is level one of course, a canvas bag filled with beans , after a few months I still now hitting gravel, but when I hit board just to see how it feels lets say punch and a chop but not to break the board I feel pain, so I don’t feel the confidence to be able to attempt to even try yet to break a brick. Been doing all together a little over 2 years, was off for a while but now continue training. Last level is 3rd level canvas bag filled with little balls of steel. In order for me to break a brick stone lets say. Is it vital that I go to third level in iron palm? Or just stay on gravel bag? This iron palm course I ordered through gentleman by name of Wing Lam. He says to hit in morning noon night. What I have been doing is this:
    I start out stretching, after do iron palm for fifteen minutes, practice my techiques what I am working on for 1 hour on long bag , after continue iron palm for 15 minutes again , done for the night. Does it really matter what times you hit the bag? He recommends to put ditdawjow on, I only use sometimes. If I even put after iron palm only once.after first workout. Does it really matter if I use this dit da jow , or no? Will the way i train take longer to break a brick? Cause I only do 30 minutes hitting total. Much appreciated to answer my questions.

    I know that karate practioners don’t really use ointment, I seen one hit a rock to condition, isn’t that going to develop your hand faster? some makiwara board the pad one with beans or balls of steel.

    one guy telling me to only hit 50 times a day, im doing 15 minutes each session, who is right?

    • Hi Michael,
      It is important when studying any method or system to follow your teachers directions very carefully. For specific questions about Wing Lam’s Iron Palm methods you should ask Wing Lam.

      It sounds like you might be interested in training Internal Iron Palm.

      If that is the case we recommend that you stop training any of the external Iron Palm methods you described. They will hurt your hands like you described and they will cause long term damage as well.

      If you are interested in Internal Iron Palm and Iron Body training then I suggest you start with our Internal Power DVD

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