While no one should begin their iron palm training without the supervision of a competent instructor, there are still some things that people commonly do wrong in their training, which will be addresses here.
Mistake #1 – Hitting the bag too hard. The correct way to train the palm is to drop it onto the bag and let gravity do all the work. Let it fall without muscular tension. A common mistake is for people to actively strike the bag, slapping it with muscular tension. This is wrong. One of the traditional reasons that this is wrong is because it was believed that striking the bag with too much force could send a shock wave back into the body that would disrupt the qi or something along those lines. Regardless of whether or not that is true, using force to hit the bag also wastes energy simply because it is not necessary in order to obtain the correct level of conditioning. Furthermore, using extra force can also cause more damage than the body can quickly recover from. It’s like trying to do too much too soon.
Mistake #2 – Not focusing on the recovery portion. Everyone is eager to hit the bags, but some people fail to realize that what you do between training sessions is just as important as the training sessions themselves. It’s kind of like lifting weights: you get bigger and stronger from eating and sleeping (recovering) — not while you are in the gym lifting weights. Training iron palm without placing an adequate focus on recovery is like lifting weights without eating enough protein in your diet. Always do your massage, apply dit da jow, and do any other exercises your teacher has shown you after you finish hitting the bags. If your body can’t heal between training sessions you aren’t going to make any progress in your training.
Mistake #3 – Believing you are going to develop some mystical power. Iron palm is real. The body becomes accustomed to dealing with stronger impacts and can do so without taking damage. The bones become denser according to Wolff’s Law. With proper training you should be able to break a brick, or possibly increase the number of bricks that you can break. But that is where it ends. You won’t be able to shoot qi blasts, or put out a candle from behind a wall, or knock someone out without touching them, or any of that other nonsense that some people believe is possible with various types of qi training.
I can hear some of you saying “but what about breaking the bottom brick?!”
With proper training you may be able to break the bottom brick. However, please realize that this is an issue of physics rather than qi. You can also break the bottom brick by hitting the top brick a certain way with a hammer. Do you think the hammer is projecting its qi into the bricks?
So in summary:
1) Don’t rush your training. Take it easy and progress at a moderate pace.
2) Don’t neglect the healing part of your training. Injuries suck.
3) Be realistic about your training goals.