Tai Chi – Steel Wrapped in Cotton

Steel wrapped in cotton is a type of Tai Chi Iron Body.

The phrase “Steel wrapped in cotton” is common among people who are really studying Tai Chi in-depth and are interested in the combat Tai Chi.

Interestingly enough, if you go to find instruction in ‘steel wrapped in cotton’ most people either don’t teach it or don’t know it.

What It Feels Like

Here’s what “steel wrapped in cotton” means. Picture what it would feel like if you took a crowbar and wrapped around it a piece of cloth that is just little bit thick.

If you just tapped it with your hand, you would get the sensation that there’s metal under there. You wouldn’t want to get hit on the arm with it.

Even though the surface would be soft, that crowbar is going to break your arm.

It’s that kind of a quality. So when someone feels the surface, it feels like there’s just a thin layer of cotton wrapped around it so it’s soft, but as soon as that layer gets penetrated, they’re hitting an iron bar.

It’s part of what makes real Tai Chi just plain deadly. If you take a crowbar like that and smack somebody in the head at the speed and direction I just moved my hand at “BAM,” how many people could take that hit from a crowbar?

Or if an attacker hits me, he takes the force of the hit and it’s nothing to me on the receiving side.

The quality is actually through the whole body.

It is Tai Chi’s version of Iron Palm & Iron Body.

It makes it so you can withstand a pretty serious shot, and you only have to hit them once. If you graze them, maybe you have to hit them twice and that’s it because its got this crowbar quality to it that we’re talking about.

Whether you hit them with with your elbow, your palm or even your fingers.

Photo by Peter Gene


  1. anthony cruz says

    I have limited range motion in my left arm due to a dislocated shoulder four years ago,I didn’t choose Tai Chi,Tai Chi chose me,I th didn’t understand Tai Chi because I studied karate,boxing,I used Tai Chi as a rehab,but I want to learn the martial side of Tai Chi but due to my range of motion how do I train for the martial side,do I just use what I got and how would I use it

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