“The myth of iron palm training from kung-fu movies has finally met its match in Dale Dugas’ comprehensive book. No secrets! No mystical mumbo jumbo! Making this a manual for all serious practitioners of iron skills.” – Dr. Mark V. Wiley

Most individuals in the West may not be familiar with the term “Iron Skills” or the Iron Palm. However, they have been exposed to facets of it via demonstrations of individuals breaking pine boards or slabs of granite at local martial arts tournaments or even on late night television and in film. Then there is a certain segment of the population that is familiar with the term, whose words would quickly resonate with various connotations depending upon the age group.


Fans of kung-fu cinema are familiar with the notion of Iron Palm and Iron Body training and its devastating ability, which rings strongly throughout countless movies to the point that it has become the pinnacle turning point in the story. Usually, the plot of these movies consists of: A young man, who is the movie’s hero, seeking revenge for the murder of a loved one; eventually he comes across an elderly monk or kung-fu master, who possess extraordinary fighting skills and lives in seclusion. The hero begs to be trained in the deadly arts of iron palm to average the death of his loved one. Through trial and tribulation the master concedes and instructs the hero in the secret art of iron palm, which later serves him in attaining his vengeance.

The training is typically depicted with the protagonist striking some sort of ridiculously huge training bag or worse, thrusting his hands into a wok filled with hot sand or even molten metal. The wok is naturally sensationalized by being superheated to a red color and underneath lies a roaring fire to give it that added touch of drama, which the hero grunts in pain, while penetrating the wok with his fingers. Then the student starts to condition his body by swinging heavy bags onto his chest or back and then striking a wooden post with his forearm or the shin of his leg.

Later on in the movie, as the hero engages in battle with the villain and at that climactic moment, when the hero is close to being defeated, he uses his hard-earned skill of iron palm to strike a particular part of the villain’s body, causing massive hemorrhaging and instant death, which concludes the movie.

These vivid depictions of Iron Skills have caught the fancy of some individuals to the point that they have engaged in the training of Iron Palm or Iron Body without proper supervision; others have engaged in the art of breaking, again with no formal instruction, which can be physically and mentally harmful.

1.10One has to take into account that the art of Iron Palm, Iron Body, and breaking skills are a demanding process that takes proper training and sufficient time to make certain no crippling injuries occur to the practitioner. But, unfortunately, the media has taken this attribute as being the pinnacle skill that a martial artist can achieve. To the point; individuals like motivational speaker Tony Robbins, has used the skill of breaking as part of his life coaching seminar to empower others with the belief that breaking a board would assist them in breaking through their personal limitations and fears. 

At the same time, we need to be conscious that some individuals use the skill of breaking as a “wow factor” to gain fame or to embellish their prowess as martial artists. In spite of these extraordinary feats of strength, many of these individuals are not actually breaking for real. Some may wonder what this means.

The fact is, many who do breaking for demonstration to achieve the “wow factor” are actually striking objects that have been altered in some manner or other. For example, by using vinegar to degrade the cinder block’s strength; baking the brick in an oven until it is brittle, so it can crumble easily with the slightest of touch; or simply using huge spacers between the striking medium. The spacers would facilitate an easier break as based on the domino effect; breaking one slab or board creates a chain reaction that breaks the rest. It is much harder to break slabs of concrete or wood stacked one directly on top of the other.

In stark contrast to kung-fu movies and the media’s portrayal, the art of Iron Hand consists of training with materials that are rather mundane compared to the super-heated woks with raging fires beneath them. Real Iron Skill training was developed to preserve the body, strengthening and conditioning it to deal with the hardships of time. However, even though we are not technically preparing for the battlefield, the art of Iron Hand training still grants us benefits, especially for those individuals who are involved in pugilistic pursuits.

“In the old days, a potential student would abandon their lives and travel miles to find a man like Dale Dugas. Luckily for the reader, in your hands you have much of Dale’s wisdom, without ever leaving your home.”
– Sifu David Ross, NY Sanda

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To develop true Iron Skills, grab a copy of Dr. Dugas’ Fundamental Iron Skills today!

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