My next 100 days of Iron Shirt training with the steel brush

in #hive-1200785 months ago (edited)

9 months ago, my Chinese martial arts school (Wu Xing Dao Kung Fu) had a special class for those who wanted to do the first 100 days of Iron Shirt (aka Steel Jacket) Neigong training. That first "season" was focusing on strengthening the Fascia and cultivating the Chi. I was one of the two out of 10 participants who have completed the whole 100 days in a row.

Here are the links to the previous posts.

Iron Shirt season 2 - The steel brush

Iron Shirt steel brush

Iron Shirt season1 ended in November last year but with the end of year holidays and the Covid-19 thing, my martial arts training was little bit all over the place and it was only two weeks ago that I managed get back into the next step of this body conditioning program.

The next step of Iron Shirt is the physical conditioning with the use of a brush made of steel rods. Most of the steel brushes (aka Qigong brushes) are made of shiny stainless steel but when cleaning my garage not long ago, I notice the previous house owners left a pack of steel welding rods that seems to be the perfect length and diameter. They were old and got a dark color on the surface which I believe is a patina (black oxidation), unless they came in that color... not sure. Anyway, I thought they look good and won't spit on free steel material.

The construction of the steel brush

Cutting a hard wood pole

So first step was to find something that would serve as a handle. My kung fu instructor used a piece of PVC in which he stick the steel rods together with hot glue but I noticed the hot glue does not bond well with PVC and steel and the rods tend to slide out slowly and I kept pushing them back in. So for my own brush, I decided to take this piece of hardwood pole also left behind by the previous house owners (thanks guys 😄). It's a dark wood covered in yellow paint.

Sanding the handle

Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of each step until I was already oiling the handle so I went back to take some "fake" shots lol. But the next step was to sand the yellow paint out and at the same time reduce the diameter of the pole a little bit so it is more comfortable in my hand.

Drilling a hole in the handle

I needed the handle to be hollow so I could slide the rods inside. Using my bench drill with a spade bit, I drilled a 22mm whole from the top and went down as far down as I could. Having lost my caliper, I did my best to find the centre of the handle but still managed to drill a little bit crooked.

Cutting the steel welding rods

The length of the welding rods are about double length of my instructor's steel brush, so all I needed was to measure and cut them in half. It took me a while to cut 30+ rods.

As you can see from the picture above, the rod body is blueish grey but the tips are brown. This is due to rust from sitting in the garage for years. It took me ages to clean them off and but I should have spent even more time because it's still there. I might dip the tip of my brush into white vinegar to try dissolving as much rust as I can later on.

Preparing some two-part epoxy

I wanted my brush to be robust so to glue the rods to the handle, I chose to use two-parts epoxy. I squeezed the two parts directly inside the handle and used one of the rods to mix thoroughly. All the rods went in, I made sure the tips that were cut (sharp ends) were inside the handle so only the flat and safe tips are pointing out. A final amount of epoxy was added on the outside.

Glueing the steel rods to the handle

To seal the handle and protect it from sweat, I used multiple coats of Organoil, a 100% natural oil that contains Tung Oil and beeswax. I use this oil a lot and like its mat finish. As the oil sets, the wax hardens on the surface of the wood which helps waterproofing the material while the tung oil penetrates and hardens on the inside.

Sealing the wooden handle

After handling the steel brush I went back to the sander and created a bevel on the top of the handle. That made it much more comfortable in the hand.

My finished Iron Shirt steel brush

And few tests to see how it works:

Testing my Iron Shirt steel brush
Video clip on Twitter:

The training

The theory of the steel brush is about body conditioning. Just like with the hardcore body conditioning from the Muay Thai practitioner, with the iron brush you are hitting yourself in order to condition your body and be able to cope with hits from an opponent when you could not block or avoid them. However with the steel brush method, it's less hardcore. The steel brush is heavy (mine is 0.965 Kg) but being composed of multiple rods, will not damage your body (when used properly). As the brush gets in contact with your body, it will flatten and spread the energy out, sending vibration to your muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones. At the beginning you just as strong as you can without real pain. You avoid hitting the bones directly but aim at meaty areas and let the vibration reach the bones instead. You go from shoulders and back to arms and legs. On each body part, there is no need to spend too much time the idea is to repeat a little bit every day and let the body adjust and evolve. The repetitive pressure and vibration will lead to denser bones and your skin and muscles will start to get use to the soreness and you will be able to increase the strength as weeks go by. Prior to the beating, you also need to prepare your body with some QiGong exercises.

I've completed today my 14th days of the 100 day program. Tomorrow will be a new milestone as the first two weeks are usually for getting used to the moves.


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Oof I remember hearing about iron shirt training and thinking it sounded hardcore, and then I remember reading about your 100 day program (and the mosquitoes) and it brings to mind once more me bailing the hell out of iron palm training at my last school XD

Are you going to post about your progress again? :D

We do also have steel hands (iron palms), steel forearms and steel body (most hardcore) program here. I might do the hands and forearms one as the steel body is way more expensive.

Yes I will post about my progress lol, at least two more posts, one focus more about the training itself including the QiGong and one at the end.

I missed the mozzies bit lol. Now it's cold so no more of them but then it's also cold enough to deter myself haha

Classes have stopped for the moment because virus but I'm pretty pathetic come winter as well, monumental effort to drag my sorry carcass out of the nice warm bed with training in the morning XD

Hi, thanks for the upvote. It's the only way where we can see who our witnesses are when they visit our posts too. I remember my son whenever I bump into some activities such as Martial Arts. He used to be 3 times gold medalist is Tae Kwan Do during his junior years. I will be watching your progress on your next posts. Thanks for sharing.

Traditional martial arts are great, it’s not just about the fighting, it’s also about the philosophy. Wow 3 times gold medallist! He must have trained a lot

Nice stuff. I'm currently doing calisthenics every day for the last month. I was going to the gym prior to this for 6 months. I gain at least 6 pounds of muscles. I've begun to incorporate the sort of conditioning that you are doing in the recent days. I've been wanting a steel brush for a long time. So far I'm just kicking a steel pole and it's pretty brutal even with super small kicks. Now I want one steel brush more than ever.

Long time no see!
Calisthenics is pretty hardcore too, in a different way.
Fascia fitness (Iron Shirt Qigong/Neigong and I think Yin Yoga too) is a really good addition.
If you want to condition your shin bone, you can use a bamboo or wooden stick and rub up and down the shin, on the sides and at the front. I also use the steel brush and do a series of hits on the bone, it's more gentle than kicking the pole lol.

Making a steel brush is not that complicated to be honest, you don't have to build it with wood like me, a PVC handle can do (see below) or even just apply some epoxy at the base of the steel rods and then wrap the base with leather, electrical tape or those rubbery tennis handle tapes.

With PVC handle:
97769582_10158545472369740_6898884450055094272_o.jpg

As for the rods, as mentioned, I used welding rods but you could also use clothe hangers. Don't use those flag poles, they are too thin. Each of the rods I use is about 37.40 cm long and 30.50 cm sticking out of the handle. About 1kg is a good weight too. The one you buy from shops are usually longer (50+ cm), they are heavier but softer as the length adds to flexibility of the rod.

Great to see you up and moving and looking fit and healthy!!! I always love your iron shirt challenges, though I can't imagine doing them myself haha!

The training did actually help boost my energy up, hopefully it will last

Serious respect - both for the commitment and the craftsmanship!

5 years Fudoshin student here - Japanese amalgam style - and I just KNOW that what you're doing for your body is seriously powerful; and that what you're doing to and for your body is only a tiny sliver of what you are developing in your mind and spirit. The world needs more of this insight and discipline.

I'm REALLY EXCITED to see martial arts in natural medicine!!

More please! And I think you need to edit your tags to include #DIY 😊

I will have to go find out more about Fudoshin.
Added #diy tag, thanks for the reminder.

Good evening dear friend @quochuy You are an admirable being.
I admire your enthusiasm and the effort you put into training martial arts.
I have seen other of your craft jobs and you are very practical in construction, this one looks great on you. Very ingenious.

I love martial arts, but I never had the opportunity to practice it, my son Ramiro did Taekwondo a long time and the truth is a unique experience

Thank you very much for sharing your passion and your skills.

I wish you a great week

The importance is finding the school that fits you. Not all school are made equal. Find one where you feel home. The way the instructor teaches, the way the other students behave etc... Also you don't have to do martial arts for fighting, I'm doing it mainly for the philosophy, the health and self-understanding.

I share your opinion dear friend @quochuy the institutions have to do with the professionals who teach, therein lies the success of the schools.

Yes, sir, part of our decision for our son to do this beautiful activity, is for that reason, the discipline and lifestyle that they acquire in these establishments is distinguished.
Congratulations again for your passion and dedication

I wish you a great week

That's how you do it, first create and then use it. Love your commitment, respect

Cheers mate.

I like your spirit! Keep the good work :)

You have a strong zeal for your work, keep it up

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Kudos for the dedication. This looks difficult.