Iron-Skills-Cover-Mockups_Page_2HAVING PICKED UP A SOME HEAVY BRUISING during a lively and most enlightening Chin Na session (Chin Na is basically the Art Of Seizing & controlling an opponent), that took place during our regular Sunday morning Da Xuan training, I found myself in need of some Dit Da Jau liniment and reflecting on the need to toughen up my wirey, ageing arms. Obviously within the Da Xuan school there are methods to do this but later that afternoon I also found myself perusing Dale Dugas’ excellent Fundamental Iron Body Skills: Tempering Body & Limbs With Ancient Methods.

I like this book because it doesn’t beat about the bush – it’s old skool and reminds me of the days when I was an avid reader of Inside Kung Fu magazine. Anyone who is a fan the Shaw Brothers Hong Kong Movies will be familiar with the mysteries surrounding Iron Body skills. We’ve all seen martial arts people breaking stacks of bricks. But basically, anyone practicing martial arts will find it useful to be able to absorb the blows of a training partner or an actual attacker. In his book, Dale Dugas digs into the China’s ancient Iron skills tradition and based on his own experiences shows you how to develop these skills in a safe, step-by-step manner.

I can’t think of any other book that covers all aspects of iron skills training in one volume, including solo training, use of auxiliary training equipment, herbal liniments and soaks, breaking techniques and fighting applications. Over eight chapters, he offers guidance on training Iron Palm from beginning to the intermediate level. Herbal medications for external use are discussed in detail and formulas/recipes for Iron Palm Training Liniment (Dit Da Jau) and soaks are included – so, you can brew your own!

Iron Palm master Gu Ruzhang

Iron Palm master Gu Ruzhang

Though I have no intention of doing this, there is a section on testing your development by breaking objects like wood, paving blocks, and coconuts. There’s also a useful insight into the short-power art of Jook Lum Southern Mantis. I like the fact that Dugas maintains that three quarters of the training is internal even though the objective seems external.

Fundamental Iron Body Skills is most definitely a useful book to include in anyone’s martial arts library.

The Book

The Book

Robert James Coons’ Internal Elixir Cultivation – The Nature Of Daoist Meditation‘ is also published by Tambuli and it’s a welcome addition to the growing body of books on Daoist Meditation that Singing Dragon have recently published.

Thousands of years ago Chinese sages learned how to hack into the human nervous system for a lifetime of greater health, happiness and wisdom and Robert James Coons – a student of Montreal based martial artist and Daoist master Yang Hai – delivers a modest, straight forward, experience based 150 page book that could provide the launch pad for your own journey. In these stressful times wellness practices are simply a very good idea and meditation begins and ends with simply paying attention to your breathing. Coons offers clear instructions on how to proceed with your practice and its mercifully free of any new age jargon. His teachings are based on classical Daoist documents as passed down through the White Cloud Temple in Beijing via Cao Zhenyang to Yang Hai and they open the way to techniques whereby you can develop and circulate human energy (Qi) while, in the long term, setting your sights on achieving Daoism’s legendary “Internal Elixir.”

Dr Yu Yongnian - Yi Quan master.

Dr Yu Yongnian – Yi Quan master.

I’ve also just noticed that the late Dr Yu Yongnian’s ‘Zhan Zhuang – The Art Of Nourishing Life’ had just been freshly translated and published in book form by Discovery Publisher. I believe this book, by the much celebrated Yi Quan master, was previously available only in PDF form and due a poor translation quite difficult to understand. So, if you’re interested in spending a portion of your day exploring standing postures this slim – 165 page – volume can be added to your want list!

More Info:

About Paul Brad

Freelance journalist / Publisher / Editor - Straight No Chaser magazine / Editor - L FM : Broadcasting In A Pandemic - Gilles Peterson (Worldwide FM) / Publisher: From Jazz Funk & Fusion to Acid Jazz: A History Of The UK Jazz Dance Scene by Mark 'Snowboy' Cotgrove / Music Fan: Interplanetary Sounds: Ancient to Future / Cultural Event Consultant & Activist / Nei Jia practitioner
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