Iron palm training should always be performed under the guidance of a qualified instructor.
Every kung fu school that practices this technique has its own variations of training techniques, but the general concepts are always similar. The hand is typically trained by hitting a bag with various types of strikes. These strikes can include the palm, the knife edge, the back of the hand, the finger tips, the fist, and any other techniques the practitioner wishes to train.
In many schools, the bag is placed on a table, stack of cinder blocks, or other type of support at waist height. The student drops into a horse stance (or other stance, such as a bow and arrow stance or a goat stance, depending on the training), and raises his hand to shoulder height. The student then drops the hand onto the bag. Many kung fu schools stress that it is important to drop the hand and let it fall naturally to strike the bag, rather than consciously using force to “hit” the bag. The theory is that dropping the hand promotes relaxation and prevents force shockwaves from traveling back up the body and causing damage.
The student continues to drop his hand onto the bag in the various hand positions (palm, knife edge, fist, finger tips, etc.) for the prescribed number of repetitions, alternating between hands after each set of strikes. Sometimes the student may stop to shake his hands out and promote blood flow to help healing.
After training, many training styles call for the use of dit da jow, or a medicinal ointment made from alcohol and herbs, to be applied to the hands. Dit da jow is designed to promote chi (sometimes also spelled “qi”) flow to the hands to help encourage healing. Sometimes dit da jow may be used before training or in the middle of training as well.
Some styles may conclude practice with qigong to help direct the chi to the hands to promote more healing.
Healing is an important part of training since training is typically done every day, it is important that the hands fully heal from the damage between training sessions.