The Iron Palm Questions I Never Answer Honestly.

“How much should I practice each day?”

“This hurts! Should I keep doing it?”

These are the two most common questions we get asked about our Tai Chi Iron Palm training and I have several standard answers:

– 15 – 20min is a good start.
– As much as you have time for as often as you can.
– As much as possible but make sure you can still walk the next day.
– Of course it hurts. Internal Kung Fu is Hard Work!
– Build into it slowly. Don’t over do it. Try supplementing your training with some of the Internal Iron Body stuff. It will help.

These are often the most helpful but they are not the most truthful answers.

The real answer to both is…

(and this is just between you and me. Please don’t tell anyone.)

… “I don’t know.”

I don’t know how much time you have.
I don’t know how much your body will tolerate.
I don’t know how much skill you have or where you are starting from.
I don’t know what injuries you have.

All real Tai Chi is customized to the individual.

We can help. We will answer questions as helpfully as possible. We offer all kinds of training and information to help you learn more and deepen your understanding of Tai Chi.

But ultimately you know yourself better than anyone else can.

YOU adapt it to fit your body.
You use it to rehab YOUR injuries.
You adjust it to focus on your goals.

One of the secrets to high level internal skill is learning to analyze and adapt. Take what you learn and pick it apart. Play with it. Make sure truly understand it inside and out.

Playing follow the leader in the park, monkey see monkey do, this is NOT Tai Chi.

Tai Chi is about the joy of discovery, experimenting, learning something new and making it your own.

Tai Chi is the art of Change, Flexibility and Fluidity. Beware of answers that are set in stone.


  1. Brian Lanigan says

    Mr. Sterling,
    I am interested in internal arts. I have been reading your email newsletters and you talked about internal arts training packages that will be made available soon. My primary goals are self protection and health improvement. I am 56 years old, I have lupus and had spinal fusion surgery in 1984. I was, however able to become quite proficient in combat arts while training with a police combat instructor in my early-mid 40s. Now, my question: What would you recommend as the best course of study for me to pursue, as an older man, that would help me to regain martial proficiency and good health? I am also interested in instructor certification, if feasible.

    Thank You For Your Time,

    • I would recommend you start with the Tai Chi Level 1 (Basic Skills.)

      It will emphasize the health more than the martial in the beginning. (although there are 2 videos just on application.)

      If you work at it you can get the level 1 certification fairly quickly. And from there you can continue with either the Tai Chi Level 2 or the Combat Tai Chi. Depending on what you want to emphasize in your training.

  2. Dave Blowers says

    what kind of tension do we keep in our hands during tai chi? relaxed or spread out? thanks, enjoy your site.

    • Matt Holker says

      Ideally there would be no tension, which is different than being completely empty / collapsed. It should be the same in the hands as it is everywhere else in the body. If you are having trouble relaxing them enough, check out The Power of Relaxation. That will help loosen everything up and teach you how to work on trouble spots like the hands.

      If, on the other hand, you want to add integrity and strength to your hands without adding tension or going rigid, then you need to work on Fixing the Double Weighted Error. The exercises on the DVD are designed to get you correctly weighted from Head to Toe and everything in between. By the end of that course you will have all the tools you need to make every part of your body strong yet supple and mobile.

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