Some people think of the various types of hand conditioning as being something that used to be done, an old school practice that is no longer feasible or necessary today. And to some extent, they have a point. If you consider that hundreds of years ago you were probably more likely to get into a fight than you are today, it would make more sense to have conditioned hands back then just in case since your likelihood was higher to begin with.
Some people will also make the argument that because hand conditioning can deform or injure the hands when done over the long term, it’s not such a good idea anymore because people may be judged on the condition of their hands today. For example, imagine meeting a corporate business salesman with enlarged knuckles and without full hand dexterity.
But what about today?
A common counter argument is that hand conditioning, when done correctly, does not deform or injure the hands, so the example about it causing you to be needlessly injured isn’t really relevant. Sure, back in the day if someone was punching bricks or thrusting their hands into a bucket full of rocks it would eventually make visible changes to the hands. This type of training generally produced quick results at the cost of functionality, but during a different period in time it may have been worth the sacrifice. Proper conditioning, progressing slowly, doing massage and using liniment to help recover, does not usually alter the hands’ appearance or dexterity.
In other words, if a hand has been properly conditioned, you would not be able to tell from looking at it.
And what about the people who say “well, you’re not likely to get into a fight nowadays, anyway.” This is probably true. I don’t think most people have been in a real fight.
But what if you do one day?
Now I can hear some people saying “so you’re saying I should spend hours each month conditioning my hands just in the off chance I get into a fight?”
And that’s a question each person will have to answer for himself.
However, conditioning can be seen as part of the practice of a martial art. Think of it like a guitarist or pianist practicing scales. It’s part of the art and increases your overall ability. No one who isn’t a serious piano player would just sit there and play scales for hours a day, but a serious musician doesn’t mind and may even take joy in it because it’s part of their art. They may even find peace in it.
So conditioning can be considered not something you “have” to do, but something that you do because it is part of the art that you study and the lifestyle that you live.
You aren’t some guy who conditions his hands.
You are a martial artist.