Iron Skills were developed for a harsh reality, when one’s body was one’s weapon. However, this day and age is not as harsh as when the elders devised these unique methods to forge the human body into iron. In essence, the concept of Iron Skill and its training methodologies were designed to strengthen and preserve your anatomical weapons, which in this case are the hands, the torso, forearms, and shins. Such training must be performed correctly, so as not to damage them to the point they become little more than useless nerve-damaged appendages.

The breaking of pine boards, cinder blocks, or even coconuts or a bat on one’s shin is not the apex for training in Iron Skills; nor should this be considered anything but a simple pressure gauge within one’s own Iron Skills training path. The essence of kung-fu Iron Skill training is twofold:

1) To condition the body without getting hurt; be it for striking or absorbing a hit.
2) To develop penetrating ability when striking an opponent’s soft body tissue or pressure points

The art of Iron Skills has been shrouded in secrecy—and worse, in ignorance—for so long that it has led to countless myths and apocryphal legends. However, in the chapters that follow we examine the methodologies that grant us the ability of Iron Skills without all the pseudoscience and ambiguity that foreshadow it for so long.

Even though Iron Skills grant a pugilist a sound method to condition the body—be it for sport as a competitive fighter or for the harsh reality of that the streets may offer—its true benefit is actually health; not violence as some may believe. It goes beyond the obvious, which is a physicality, into something deeper, which benefits our health tremendously. Who would believe breaking a coconut would do that?

In time and with proper training I found this to be a valuable training asset. And after decades of study in kung-fu and Chinese medicine I brought all my knowledge together into a comprehensive book, Fundamental Iron Skills. The video below shows one of the training drills featured in my book.

Fundamental Iron Skills

Chapter One introduces to the roots of Iron Skills within the United States of America. This chapter emerged as a reminder of the individuals that broke the code of silence and decided to share this ancient knowledge to an eager audience, and hopefully this book inspires others to treasure and preserve these methods for another century. 

Chapter Two shares the significance of Iron Skill, which is the science behind forging one’s body. Chapter Three goes deep in the alchemy of Iron Skills, which is Qìgōng. Qìgōng is a complex notion which allows us to become one with ourselves. It is a conversation with our psyche, which is as crucial in today’s society as it was for the battlefield of yesteryear, but at the same time improves our body. Without those two core notions you cannot have Iron Skills. Indeed, something so physical is in reality, something so intangible.

Chapter Four examines the tools you need to forge your body and Chapter Five enters that secret room and start to forge the body as it was depicted within those kung-fu movies of yesteryear.

Chapter Six allows us to gauge our progress with different mediums, which should bring a smile to one’s face, as seeing one’s progress is so rewarding. That is why I introduce this methodology in a step-by-step process to grant the practitioner the ability to gauge his progress. Remember, there are no shortcuts when one’s heart is involved.

Chapter Seven ventures beyond the hand and started to focus on tempering the body for impact. At times, some individuals forget that fighting is not like in the movies; no wires, but up and close. Very personal, which means you would get hit; therefore, one’s body needs to be able to absorb impact. 

Finally, Chapter Eight ties it all in to demonstrate why we train Iron Skill, which is to be able to survive an encounter when needed. In closing, this is the beginning of one’s journey in exploring oneself and what we are able to do if we focus our intent into forging our body into Iron. Enjoy the process, train hard, and heal fast.

Learn the real details of Iron Palm and Iron Body training in Dale Dugas’ book, Fundamental Iron Skills.

Fundamental Iron Skills book

“The myth of iron palm training from kung-fu movies has finally met its match!”  –Dr. Mark Wiley, International Beng Hong Athletic Association

“In your hands you have much of Dale’s wisdom, without ever leaving your home.”   –Sifu David Ross, New York San Da

“Many tips, herbal formulas, some applications, lots of lore and insight into this key corner of Kung-fu training.” –Ted Mancuso, PlumPub & Kai Men Blog

“The most up to date and accessible text on the subject to date..” –Jake Burroughs, The Ground Never Misses

“I can’t think of any other book that covers all aspects of iron skills training in one volume.” –Paul Bradshaw, Ancient to Future

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About the Author

Dale Dugas - Iron Skills = Tambuli MediaDr. Dale Dugas is a board-certified, state licensed Acupuncture Physician/Doctor of Oriental Medicine (AP/DOM) as well as a board-certified Chinese herbalist. His passion for traditional Asian medicinal practices arose in the late 1980s, while living in Iwate Prefecture, Northern Japan; working for the local Japanese Government in the Board of Education for Yamada township. Dr. Dugas has over 35 years of training in Chinese, Okinawan and Japanese martial arts, including Uechi-ryu Karate, Judo/Jujitsu, Jook Lum Tong Long Pai/Southern Mantis, Shuai Jiao, Xingyiquan, Baguazhang, Taijiquan and Internal/External Qigong systems. He is a highly trained proponent of traditional Dit Da Ke (Chinese trauma medicine) as well as Tieh Sha Zhang Gong (Iron Palm) and Tieh Be Shan Gong (Iron Vest). He can be reached at: DaleDugas.com