We often see on many TV shows of a martial artist uses solely his bare hand to cut through thick wooden boards, chop layers of concrete bricks and break coconuts in half almost effortlessly.
People would be really impressed from witnessing the demonstration and wonder how the master posse sses that kind of power. If you are a regular martial arts practitioner, you should immediately response ‘well, that’s years of consistent training‘.
But how soon we’d realize that, “wait a minute, I consistently chew my food everyday too, yet my teeth cannot even break the chicken bone that easy!”
The Way of Qi
Martial Arts looks as beautiful as the decorative branches and leaves, but if we do not have the strong understanding of where the roots are and how they draw the energy we will never get to have the fruits or the wisdom it holds, and sometimes maybe just fall into injury yourself.
You must see pass the result today to meet where the effort that was from yesterday.
Having a strong hand does not mean particularly the hand is strong. The trained hand only simulates the delivery of the force which has been internally built up, along with the techniques.
There are two type of Palm techniques, fall into two opposite categories of Qigong (pronounced chi-kun, Inner Energy exercise) : Soft and Hard.
The Hard Qigong forges the inner hand structure from daily practices on hard objects, and in the end result the palm delivers explosive force on whatever it tends to break.
The downside of Hard Qigong Palm Technique is the hands often become bigger, covered with bruises and layers of damaged skin as well as the force being generated is purely physical.
The Soft Palm Technique on other hand, delivers the same amount of energy but takes twice or more the amount of times of training. The hand of this style practitioner look soft, natural and nearly the same as before the training. However, it takes nearly four to five times as long to the Hard Style to master.
Nevertheless if one can calmly concentrate and lead the inner Qi from the Dantien and deliver this very power energy to the point of impact, the outcome is predictable. That it is deadly.
In many cases people usually want the instant result for it is not easy to wait for something patiently nowadays, therefore Hard Qigong Palm practice is usually preferred to Soft Qigong Palm Practice under many circumstances.
There are 7 different styles of Palm Techniques and their history are rather mysterious, some come from the Shaolin temple, others come from parts of the vast Eastern lands.
The names of these styles could be very roughly to get translated to the English language, I could only attempt to put the definitely into the name as closely to the original as possible.
- The United Double Form Palm,
- Mountain Shifting Palm,
- Heavenly Mantis Palm,
- Buddha Palm,
- Bamboo Leaf Palm,
- Iron Palm and the Cinnabar Palm techniques.
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Cinnabar Palm Technique : sometimes also called Cotton Palm or Jade Palm, it is an absolute deadly style that has both Hard and Soft training methods.
The Hard method requires the practitioner to make full contact with the object, while the Soft style does not require the physical impact, consequently it consumes twice or triple the time of training.
When one reaches the very high level of Soft Jade Palm technique, he needs not to touch the opponent to cause the life threatening injury (A documentary of Qigong master emits 200 degrees of heat from hands).
The United Double Form Palm Technique :
It’s a Hard style technique that strengthens the middle part of the palm, to become extremely solid. A slap of the palm could easily break any strong materials or even bones.
According to the old writings, the practitioners of this style used to tie a big set of bamboo chopsticks together, then rolled it with the hands until the chopsticks become as small as the toothpick.
One could also slightly rub other people body part to completely separate the joints and muscles. The tale of people who could easily bend bars of iron into circular shape also comes from the training of this technique.
Iron Palm Technique :
Movie has made this skill famous and it is really a powerful palm technique.
Iron palm, too, has both methods of training. It is either Hard or Soft method.
The hard method causes the palm to look very huge and ugly due to overburden and exertion to the hands, while the soft training keeps the hand natural and asks for a lot more years of practice.
Old masters usually gives the soft training method one level higher than the hard method, for its difficulty and requirement of greater effort.
Mountain Shifting Palm (Hard Style) :
It is a type of Palm Technique trains the wrist and center of the palm to break through any strong force.
If you know Dragon Balls,.. yes! Master Roshi taught this method to Songoku and Krilin when they first started to train with him.
However jokes aside, in its true form the practitioners place a big heavy rock on a rail consisted of two parallel wooden poles.
At the beginning, he will not be able to move the rock any inches, if he does then the rock he has chosen is not good enough for the training. Everyday by consistent pushing, the rock will slowly shift away from its original position in a small distance.
One day if he could push it 1 or 3 yards away with little effort, then he has reached the first level of success. It then is the time to change to another 600, 700, 800 pounds rock.
To know if he has reached the master level is when he is able to apply one push and the rock moves 3 meters away or more. This way of training is very hard and needs an extreme level of patience, effort. However, one must not force his body into the unbearable condition.
Our body is capable of summing up enormous amount of energy. This energy comes from different sources, such as your prenatal and postnatal Qi as well as the universe energy. The mind can control and call upon this energy but our Yang body, if not trained, is limited to tap into this powerful field.
However, more than a few occasions when the mind over matters, we could temporarily possess such power. A great example is the story of an everyday mother who summed up her strength in fear to lift a heavy car that was crushing her child and saved him (source: wikipedia – Hysterical Strength).
The person who train Mountain Shifting Palm essentially practices to obtain this type of power.
Heavenly Mantis Palm :
Heavenly mantis palm, or also called Praying Mantis Fist is the technique approaches the circular movements of the mantis’s legs.
As opposed from the fighting technique, the palm technique solidifies the inner side of the palm along with quick turns in wrist movement. As the result, the deadly force is actually formed at the angles of the palm.
The victim may not be able to see what has hit him to cause the fatal injury.
Heavenly Mantis palm has both Soft and Hard Qigong Methods of training.
Bamboo Leaf Palm :
It is a palm technique passed from generation to generation by the Shaolin monks.
It is some similarities to Iron Palm but the offensive technique and defensive counterattack are much softer, hence it is a Soft Palm Technique.
This training starts with a relax body as always in the first step of Qigong practices.
The disciple focuses energy in the lower Dantien level and uses his center of the palm to hit the hanging sand bag (or metal dust/iron chips). Force does not come from the hand or the wrist, nor shoulders or anywhere of the torso.
The energy is directed from the Dantien level and quickly travels through the Front and Back Channels to gather at the palm center, then exposes at the end of the execution.
The bag will not move at first, for the beginner level could summon very little of Qi.
When one uses a gentle touch and the 220lb bag flies a meter or two, it means he has successfully reaches the 2nd stage of training.
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In a fight, if the defender focuses his Qi to the Dantien and executes Bamboo Leaf Palm technique, the opponent will be easily pushed away like a leaf.
If the defender decides to kill his enemy, he slightly changes the way of executing Bamboo Leaf Pam by simulating the method of Taiji Fist: there is no forceful energy on the path where the palm travels at first, then it instantly generates the explosive energy upon impact to the target while the hands quickly retracts right after.
This way there is no mark of the damage leaving on the victim body, but the Qi penetrates the Five main internal Ying organs (Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lung, Kidney) and the Six Yin internal organs (Gall Bladder, Stomach, Small & Large Intestine, Bladder and Triple burner).
Results in later death or permanently damaged body structure, or severe wound is expected.
Also has another names Palm of Ru Lai, or Celestial Palm.
Buddha Palm is similar to many other fighting technique that uses the side of the palm for offensive attack, such as Shuto in Karate, Knife hand in Taekwondo, etc… If one gains the master level of this technique, the side of the palm works like a sharp knife able to chop, cut everything no matter how tough it is.
At the beginner the martial artist simply perform the knife hand attack to a pole of straw, then gradually move to a soft piece of board of the limber tree. If he notices a dent on the board then it is time to chop a big rock. This stage will definitely takes a year or two.
Finally, if the technique could easily separate a metal dust held in a container into two part, then he has mastered the skill.
Buddha Palm trains as the Hard Method. However, the power it generates does not always require physical contact to injure the target.
Such as when the Palm applies a strong force to the front and it becomes a blow into the volume of the compressed air, it by then pushes this energy toward and extinguishes a candle.
Kungfu Hustle movie took the illustration of this technique to the very next level.
Yin Yang Palm Training
This technique belongs to the same family of Iron Palm using the Soft Qigong method of Bamboo Leaf Palm.
It is sometimes practiced by the Taijiquan martial artist. Yin Yang palm has both methods of Hard and Soft trainings.
This Kungfu skill trains both hands of the person internally and externally, in three different methods and results in different power in each hand.
The Yin palm strikes someone, he will feel cold and it leaves a black mark.
If the Yang strikes, the victim will feel hot, swollen and it leaves a red mark on the skin.
Passive Training I for Yin Yang Palm
1. Sit on a chair or in standing position, relax your body. Drop all the tension on the joints and shoulders. Place left palm faces down and right palm opens up, both resting on the thigh. Think of this poem in your mind three times : “Yin Yang two Qi pass through my hands. Left hand cold, Right hand hot.”
2. Now let the hands leave the thigh, lift the right hand up palm facing up and lower the left hand down palm facing down. Simultaneously reverse the movement of both hand, right hand moves down facing up and left hand moves up facing down. Repeat this movements.
3. After ten minutes, shake the hands loosely three times and upon the last stop, having the right palm up and left palm down once again, immediately imagine the right hand hot and left hand cold. Withdraw the hand and starts over at step 1.
Passive Training II for Yin Yang Palm
1. Sit on a chair. Place right palm out and left palm facing inward toward the chest, but hold both hands at the middle Dantien level.
2. For ten minutes, push and pull two hands in and out, still keeping the same palm direction as first step. Imagine right hand hot and left hand cold.
Active Training III for Yin Yang Palm
1. Once a day, face a tree and use the right palm to strike the tree 200 times (with an appropriate force that does not injure yourself) and the left palm loosely facing down at the side. The left foot is forward and the right foot is backward.
References are retrieved from family Vietnamese martial arts scriptures and Qi mag Issue 48 March/April 2000 – qimagazine.com.
Images are obtained from WWW or photographed by myself
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