In this edition of Retsu Kaioh's Training, we're going to look at some very interesting Shaolin training methods. The three methods are partially defensive and partially offensive and are, for the most part, a hard-type training method. The first of these is--
#8: Exercise- "Iron Head"- Yeah, this is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. You begin by wrapping your head in several layers of cloth or maybe a towel. Preferably it should be something that you can remove in layers. You will, at this point, hit your head against a wall. That, is, the top of your head. You shouldn't try to go really hard, just focus on getting used to the force and you only need to do it a few times a day, initially.
After a year of training in this fashion, you may remove a few layers (see why the layers are important?) and continue your training. After 100 more days of training, remove more layers and then, you gradually remove layers as is comfortable. After the end of the second year, the layers should be completely removed.
At this point, you will continue the training with a bare head. It will be painful, so proceed with caution, says the author. However, the head will eventually become harder than stone and can be used as a weapon and, obviously, if someone tries to hit you over the head, the damage will be greatly reduced. The author explains that this skill should only be used in defense and never as a first strike.
#9: Exercise "Iron Shirt"- This skill takes a little longer to develop, but you begin in a similar fashion. Wrap your torso in several layers of fabric and massage your chest, stomach, and back (I guess get someone to do this) with force. The author advises you to unbend your elbows from time to time as you do this. He also advises that you sleep on a hard bed in order for your body to get used to hard surfaces. Lastly, you will dig out a little pit and put a bar above it, so you can hold yourself up. Fill the bottom of the pit with about 1/4 inch of fine sand and, holding the bar, drop a body part (back, shoulder, butt, chest, etc) onto the sand with force. You will also have the fabric on your body in this training. Each body part should be hit twice during a training session. This first stage will take three years to attain.
The second stage involves the removal of the fabric from your body as you continue your training and add to your training regimen, striking your upper body with a wooden hammer (I would say with a larger striking surface... not like a framing hammer or something... more like a mallet) and finally an metal one. This training should also take you three years... I would make sure I was comfortable with the wooden mallet before I moved to its metal counterpart.
When the skill is acquired, your body will be able to fend off strikes from human bodies and lighter blunt weapons, the author says, but you should avoid heavier weapons all the same.
#10: A Series of Blows- This is sort of like "Iron Shirt," except you'll start with a flat piece of wood-- a wooden "brick," if you will-- and hit your body with it, lightly at first. You will train this skill once in the morning and once in the evening, picking a portion of your body every time to which you will deliver at least 100 blows (example: both arms, both legs, your chest and stomach, or your sides).
After a year of training, you can move to a normal clay brick and continue training in this fashion. After six months of training, you can move to a metal "brick" and finally after another six months of training, the first stage of mastery for this skill is reached. Obviously, you must continue on with this training in order to develop higher levels of mastery, but at two years of training, this is one of the arts that has the shortest time constraints on it.
Hope you enjoyed these three Arts! There's more on the way in the coming weeks. Until next time, good luck and train hard!