Tai Chi Internal Iron Body

The first thing to know is that there are several different kinds of Tai Chi Internal Iron Body.

All of the Tai Chi Internal Iron Body methods are relatively secret methods that are trained quite differently than external Iron Body methods.

What Makes It Internal?

For the most part, the most basic external Iron Body methods involve taking hits and building up the body to take more and more force due to conditioning the body through impact.

For this reason most external Iron Body methods are not desirable or good for long term practice and health as they tends to debilitate the body in old age.

Tai Chi Internal Iron Body on the other hand is trained through the correct practice and manipulation of energy.

So How Do You Do That?

There are a number of essential skills that are required in order to develop various Tai Chi Internal Iron Body methods. The ability to feel and manipulate energy is an essential requirement for this kind of training. This involves a deep understanding of Sung relaxing, Peng internal connection and rooting jings.

Also, being able to feel, understand and work with energy flow through various acupoints is essential to develop real internal Tai Chi Iron Body.

These acupoints include, among others, the Lao Gong in the palms, the Yong Quan (Bubbling Well) in the feet, the Hui Yin between the anus and genitals and the Bai Hui on top of the head.

The Body Quality You Get

Over time and correct practice in Tai Chi Internal Iron Body the body develops a skill that is known as Golden Bell Covered. Golden Bell Covered gives the practitioner the ability to withstand and, more importantly, disperse hits received.

A practitioner that has this skill develops the true steel wrapped in cotton quality that is such a famous part of the Tai Chi Classic writings. With this quality you can barely tap an attacker with your forearm and it feels to them like you are hitting them with a crow bar that is covered with a thin layer of cotton about the thickness of a sock.

The hits are fierce and penetrating.

Advanced practitioners can also take hits to their body and send the energy back into the attacker through the point of impact breaking the attacker’s wrist or elbow or dislocating the shoulder of the attacker.

Bone Marrow Washing: An Essential Component

Bone Marrow Washing is an essential skill that is required for good Tai Chi Internal Iron Body work.

Due to the secrecy that is so often found in the internal arts including Tai Chi and Chi Kung, I have found that there is a lot of confusion about what Bone Marrow Washing is and how to train it.

The practice is relatively simple to understand and it is taught in our beginning basic curriculum.

Without this training being done correctly it is impossible to do high level Tai Chi Internal Iron Body.

Heaven and Earth

The ability to work with heaven and earth energy separately and together is essential for high level Tai Chi Internal Iron Body.

When this practice is understood correctly it is much easier for the practitioner to manipulate the energy and the Tai Chi Internal Iron Body and Iron Palm are much easier to obtain.

Many people who practice and teach Tai Chi do not know about these methods or the training required to obtain them due to the secrecy surrounding the methods.

I also find that many people who have trained in Tai Chi for years do not understand the real Tai Chi basics enough to be able to learn these methods without relearning much of what they thought they knew about Tai Chi.

For more on this situation, check out my post on Internal Iron Palm & Iron Body Misconceptions


  1. Great stuff sifu. I had not thought about the Hui Yin point being a point of entry or release of energy flow, even though I knew it is one of the main ends of a meridian connection.
    I know that if you externally strike that point it can cause some serious heart fluctuations.

    • Shawn patty says

      Which is more difficult to do? Iron body or iron Palm? I mean more difficult to perfect?

      • Matt Holker says

        Hello Shawn,

        That is entirely based on the practitioner. Some have a more natural inclination towards one or the other, which will of course make that one easier to perfect. That being said, the Internal Iron Palm can be easily tested with a variety of easily found materials. The Internal Iron Body can be built completely solo, but to test it for real world application you need a partner who communicates well with you.

        For that reason alone, and all other factors being equal, the Internal Iron Palm is probably very slightly easier to perfect. However, if you build up your Internal Iron Body there is a certain level of Iron Palm that will develop naturally along with it. For that reason and a few others, we recommend that if students intend to do one and then the next, they begin with the Internal Iron Body first.

        The training steps for our Internal Iron Body and our Internal Iron Palm complement each other very well. With a little logic and intuition, the two training methods can be put together into a single training session that covers both Iron Body and Palm, thereby cutting down on your daily training time. If you are physically able to do both at the same time you can by all means do so, with the understanding that you may be better off starting with Iron Body first. Again, this will entirely depend on you, your body, and your current level of ability.

  2. I finally purchased the Internal Iron Body dvd and i would like to know will it allow me to be able use the internal iron body skill to prevent subdural hematomas in DIRECT HIGH CONTACT SPORTS? Typically blows to the head?

    • This type of Internal Iron Body will protect the head and neck. However these areas will take longer because they are more vulnerable and because this method works from the bottom up. So you will notice results in the legs and body first.

      Of course it will also depend on the opponents skill and power with strikes and how much and how well you have trained your iron.

      I highly recommend avoiding blows to the head whenever possible.


    Hi Sigung,
    I bought your 2 CDs on the Internal Iron Body training. Can you give me a summary of these practices? Your CDs are long. How do I get started?

    • Matt Holker says

      Internal Iron is a rich and complex training method. The DVDs themselves are a summary of the practice, albeit a comprehensive summary. Get into the habit of doing the marrow washing and the heavy rooting exercises every day. The brushing and patting methods will help you develop serious iron in a relatively short time. The longer you practice the techniques, the greater the effect will be. Just begin at the beginning and do as much as you understand, then add to it whatever you can whenever you can. When your daily practice includes all of the methods from the DVDs, keep it up for at least 100 days and you will have noticeable benefits.

      • MICHAEL DA SILVA says

        Thanks Matt for your reply. Its really hard to believe that the Bone Marrow qigong (lying down with the legs crossed, visualizations and breathing) can develop the iron body.

        I’ve read books by Mantak Chia on Iron Shirt training. He combines external training with internal training – that’s the usual Shaolin style of training. The external training includes hitting the body with rattan sticks, iron wires and a bag filled with mung beans. The advanced training includes Chi Weight lifting – lifting weights with the genitals! The internal training includes breathing and visualizations done in the iron horse stance (Embracing the Tree posture).
        Mantak Chia’s iron hand training includes hitting the bag filled with mung beans and then rubbing the hands with Dit Dajow herbal lotion.
        He’e written quite a number of books on Chi Kung and Nei Kung.

        I don’t have any partner for training. I’m now in Singapore. Do you have any of your instructors here in Singapore?

        I do the brushing and patting methods. I’m now starting to do the Marrow Washing meditation. I’m having trouble doing the heavy rooting exercises.

        I used to do some Russian Systema. I feel the stinging pain on the skin only when hit. The power of their punches don’t penetrate into my abdomen! We practice full contact sparing without the use of any protective equipment.

        • Matt Holker says

          Yes Michael, the Marrow Washing we teach in the videos is very high level training. It develops supple, youthful bones that are resistant to injury like a child’s. There are many health benefits to this practice, and it is by far the safest method we have found for achieving these results. By contrast the “Chi Weight Lifting” you describe is not safe. One mistake can result in permanent injury to the genitals. We do not advocate this method, nor do we ever advise its practice.

          Our Iron Body method is not the same as Iron Shirt. We teach an Internal method, which is practiced with health and longevity in mind. Hitting the body with sticks, wires, and bags can produce results very quickly, but there is a long term cost. These methods commonly lead to painful deformities later in life, and shortened life spans for the practitioners. It was common to use these methods in times of war to train soldiers very quickly, knowing that many of them would die in battle anyway.

          The Internal Iron Body method we teach is a safe and healthy way to build that ability without the harmful side effects. It promotes longevity while building Internal Iron, and the training method is very safe. After 100 days of consistent practice, you will develop the ability to absorb very powerful blows without taking the impact, like in Systema but at a very high level. We also have an Internal Iron Palm method that is a safe and healthy way to build Iron Palm without need of special striking bags. Just like our Body methods, the Internal Iron Palm we teach promotes health and longevity without putting the hands at risk of permanent injury associated with external training methods.

          Unfortunately we do not yet have any Clear’s certified instructors in Singapore. The rooting exercises will come with time and practice. Just stick with it and watch the videos regularly. Even when you think you know the material thoroughly, you will still get a lot more by reviewing it after you have gained some skill and insight into the methods. You don’t need a partner to do the Internal Iron practice, but there would be obvious benefits for other aspects of your martial arts training.

          • MICHAEL DA SILVA says

            Thanks Matt for your detailed explanation.

            So, you are saying that just by lying down, crossing my legs, relaxing completely and willing the earth’s energy to go into me thru my palms and willing the heavenly energy to go into me through the third eye, I will eventually have the ability to absorb very hard blows.

            You also say that these results will come in about 100 days time. Right?

          • Matt Holker says

            No Michael, that’s not it. Marrow washing is only one part of Internal training. It will give you many health benefits that are important for developing Iron, but everything else on the videos is also important. The bigger part of building Internal Iron is the root drop. The ability to do the marrow washing will help with that, and the physical effect of it on your bones will be beneficial as well, but you can’t ignore all the rest of the material and expect to get the skill. If you want to see results, you will have to do all the work, not just one part of it.

            The Internal Iron Body set is long for a reason. The material on those discs is definitely enough to develop the skill (if you work all of it). However, if you are having trouble with dropping root on your own, we do have another DVD set that is all about building that skill. It is called Internal Power, which you can get here: https://www.clearstaichi.com/tai-chi-dvd/internal-power-video

            Those videos are packed full of “rooting games,” which will help you further develop your internal abilities. Most of the games require a partner, but it doesn’t have to be someone who is especially skilled, or even all that interested in martial arts. You just need a friend who is willing to play the games with you. Those games will also help you build Internal skills beyond Iron Body, like sensitivity, energy manipulation, and positional Fa Jing. It isn’t necessary to buy the Internal Power DVDs in order to do the Iron Body training, but the two programs do complement each other in a significant way.

          • MICHAEL DA SILVA says

            Thanks Matt for your reply. I presume that rooting comes from correct spinal alignment, relaxation and also from doing the arm swinging exerises shown by Sifu R. Clear in the DVD’s, correct?
            Some Tai Chi masters suggest standing in the Embrace the Tree posture (iron horse stance) preferably on wooden blocks. They claim that we should do this exercise for about one hour daily! Presently, I can only stand for about 5 minutes. This standing meditation is known as Zhang Chuang – post standing. Its derived from Taoism.
            Grandmaster William C.C. Chen of New York City (he’s a disciple of Grandmaster Cheng Man Ching) stresses on push hands. But, he says that push hands must be done with a senior student. We need to feel his energies and get feedback from a senior student.
            New comers who practice push hands amongst themselves usually end up using pure physical force and struggling with each other! It completely defeats the purpose of Push Hands.
            I don’t have partners to practice with.

            So, apart from correct spinal alignment, relaxation and the arm swinging practice, what else can I do at home alone to develop the root drop?

  4. Hi,
    I was wondering how long it takes to do the routine daily?
    Thank you.

    • Matt Holker says

      Hello Michael.

      The time you put into the training each day depends somewhat on you and your goals. I practice my Iron Body and Iron Palm together, and when I am really trying to build them up I go for 20 minutes or more. Some days I need a break, but I still need to do some “maintenance,” so I do a quicker version. During the first 100 days you’ll want to be building your skills every day.

      You will also want to do the marrow washing daily. I do that every day as well, but I don’t count it as part of my Iron Body training because it is an important part of so much of what I work on. The good news is that many of the more “fun” skills like this have some overlap in their training, so you can work on several of them at once without adding too much extra time to your routine.

      • Thank you for reply Matt. I just have a really busy schedule so I want to make sure it’s something I can commit to daily. So with the Bone Marrow Washing would it be possible to do a 30 min practice daily? I’m looking for health first and “iron” second. Thank you Matt.

        • Matt Holker says

          Yes Michael, we recommend at least 20 minutes of daily Marrow Washing. 30 minutes will be very healthy for you and will facilitate most other training you might be doing throughout the day.


    A simple and easy way to develop a strong root when we don’t have a training partner is to do standing meditation (zangchuang, also known as post or pile standing) on bricks or wooden blocks.
    We need to visualize roots from our feet going deep down into the earth.

    • Visualization isn’t enough. We find that folks who rely on solo standing meditation and visualization to build root have very little success, and unfortunately the visualization will often mislead them into believing they have a much deeper root than they actually do.

      To get good at any skill, or achieve any goal you must be able to test and measure your progress.

      So if you’re goal is deeper root, you must find a way to measure that depth and you must find a way to test and see if your measurements are accurate

      If you can’t check to see if and by how much your root is improving then you have no way of knowing if your training methods are working.

      Now we do have an exercise that is similar to the one you described but there are two critical differences.

      1. You do not rely on visualization – you must be able to actually feel the energy as you let it sink into the ground.
      2. This exercise should not be done by itself as the primary root building method. It is merely allows you to practice when your regular training partners are not available. The rooting skill and information to gain from other partner based exercises are absolutely essential for gaining any real rooting benefits from the type of method you describe.

      Here’s our version of this: https://www.clearstaichi.com/rooting/how-to-begin-building-root-without-a-partner-3788.html

      Also, I recommend you read through our archive of articles on rooting: https://www.clearstaichi.com/rooting

      …and keep in mind, when you’re looking at the those articles, that none of the drills and exercises taught there should be done in isolation. The should be all be used together.

  6. Hi Guys,
    Quick question. Concerning Grand Tai Chi, is it done with one in breath and one out breath?
    Some times I have trouble with the out breath where I don’t seem to have enough air and so I tighten or try to speed up the movement. Since I need to follow the downward energy and not push it, I sometimes feel I need a second breath during the down movement due to lack of out breath, and/or a full in and out breath between the next rep. I was watching Sigund Clear on the DVD and he seemed to have taken an extra breath or two during the down movement. Is this O.K to do?
    Thanks, Tony.

    • Matt Holker says

      Hello Tony,

      Great question! More than one breath is okay if necessary. Once you get the flow moving strong and steady you will want to graduate to a single breath if you can, but for now it is okay. It is better to move all of the energy through by taking an extra breath than to leave some of it behind and start a new cycle.

  7. Hello there. Just a quick question. What if my goals are health and longevity rather than martial? Can the Bone Marrow washing be done on its own or must it be done with the rooting and patting exercises? Are there any packages and training’s which focus on health practices specifically? Thank you very much.

  8. Hi guy’s,
    The question I have is what is the brushing and patting actually for, especially the patting, is it a form of Pai da or some thing different. Also Sigung shows it as being done in the front and some on the back. I also do it from the side of my body ( below arm pits down the side of my body, outside of legs to the outside of the feet ) and also from the groin (not hitting the groin of course) down the inside of my legs to the feet. I guess the question is since he does not do it this way on the DVD and I started doing it this way a while back, simply because I felt more complete doing it this way and also since I have done a little external iron body in the past, am I simply wasting my time and do you believe it may be harmful or is it okay to continue? Also to another person on this forum you mentioned that brushing and patting is the fastest way to develop the iron body. Can you please elaborate a bit more and I’m guessing the more you do throughout the day the better?
    Thanks, Tony

    • Hi Tony,
      It is not a Pai da practice. The brushing & tapping is to give your yi a signal to follow.
      Working other parts of the body is good although not essential if the work is being done properly.
      With a bit of a Pai da attitude (but not to much) it will help break up any stagnation and assist you in moving the internal energy.
      Properly aligned energy is going to help the rest of your system become proper etc..
      I hope this helps. 🙂
      Best Regards,

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