Iron Shirt


Long into history have been the legends of Iron Shirt or a protection against weapon and physical attack. This information will delve into the hand-to-hand protection that one can train their bodies with… not against any other weapon… but against punches and kicks, especially to Kyusho targets. Now that said, do not think that this offers 100% protection, or that a more experienced Kyusho Practitioner cannot recognize and overcome these specialized attacks. But as the world accepts and integrates Kyusho more and more into their arsenal, it is beginning to be an important part of the training process.

Conventional attack methods have long been trained in the first level of Iron Shirt or body conditioning to ward off damage and increase pain tolerance. It is also the realized benefit of many years training even without conscious efforts in this direction. That is because the rougher you treat the body in a continuous manner, the more it adapts and is actually strengthened. The mere act of break falling for example toughens the body and actually fortifies the structures. Each time concussion is directed in a certain area, calcium is directed to this area to toughen the skeletal structure. Muscles become denser and more protective of vascular tissue. The body also acclimates itself to the action of falling as well in a more relaxed and controlled manner so that the shock waves of falling are more readily dissipated and absorbed in a more balanced manner. This will offset any direct penetrating type concussion as discussed in the striking aspects of earlier articles.

Martial Arts styles all over the world also delve into body pounding as well as other such regimes and conditioning to offset such blunt attacks. The varied methods include shin and thigh conditioning, torso and arm conditioning and in more rare instances head conditioning. We have also known these styles to indulge in muscle building to add a buffer to the more critical vascular, nerve and skeletal structures. But again these have all been geared to repel or mute a blunt force trauma. It was not designed as much in most styles to offset the affects of the more penetrating and exacting attacks of Kyusho/Dim Mak (which are one in the same).

Starting with an exercise known to Karate exponents as San Chin, Kung Fu exponents as Saam Chien, this is a compression and condensing of muscles to increase their strength and density. To explain the process for those not aware or trained in this method, imagine tensing a single muscle. Not only does it expand in size, but also it hardens (increased density) making it harder to press into. This is the goal but in a full body exercise. The more experience you have with this training the more you can isolate any specific muscle group or combinations of muscle groups at will. So for example if an opponent were to round kick to your side you could tighten this side of the body to avoid compression of the vascular tissue, nerves and even buffer the bone-to-bone contact.

Now this can even be used in some Kyusho attacks depending on the target (must have significant muscle tissue to protect) such as the arms, body and legs. But another underlying aspect to the tensing of muscles is that when you tighten an area you also expand the muscles so that the nerves and vascular tissue that rest between are now covered and compressed to hide them from external attack. As an example lets look at a point in the ribs such as Liver 14, this point is a nerve in the intercostals space between two ribs. If an opponent were to attack this in such a manner as to pinch the nerve against the bone this will cause significant pain and physical dysfunction for the whole body. However by contracting the area as if doing a sit-up where you condense the surrounding muscle structure, the ribs will shift, the muscles condense even the overlaying skin and fat tissue will prohibit a direct hit and mute the affect. Now the sharper the attacking weapon as a single knuckle fist or other smaller bone structure will be harder to protect against fully but there will still be a muting affect and protection for the neurological system. Now we can also see why the method was referred to as “Iron Shirt” as it would be as wearing such protection against such attacks. This type of body change is possible all over the body, with exception of head points, which do not have the muscle structures present to affect this type of protection.

Protecting the body from physical attack is an ancient and somewhat obscure training process that is reported to take many years to be able to accomplish. However it is possible to actualize this type of protection in a much shorter time frame, with obvious benefit to continued study.

The initial layer of protection is purely physical processes but can transcend to purely internal process through additional training from the practitioner. This Means that the Kyusho Iron Shirt process has many transitions that can be employed, but it should also be noted that each layer could equally be over ridden with Kyusho Attack methodology as well.

Of course moving a vital target from the line of attack will be the easiest and best method of protection, or even positioning the attacked part of the body so that the vital point is either out of the attack range or so a stronger portion of the body absorbs it is readily understood. However in this program we are looking to protect the Kyusho or Vital Points we have taught in prior educational levels with specific and trained techniques.

The first layer being purely physical is in muscle constriction to add extra density of muscle tissue at the point of attack. This is widely practiced in many Martial Arts with specific body conditioning exercises (usually in an attempt to deaden the nerves… a dangerous and unhealthy process). These constrictions can be easily penetrated using specialized weapons, staggered striking or alternate lines of attack. By utilizing muscle constriction of the external muscle, as well as doing it in a way that also brings in additional protection from tendons, bone and facia, added additional protection against more focused attacks.

To over ride these constrictions there are three main methods......

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© Evan Pantazi 2009




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