Iron Shirt Chi Kung I – Mantak Chia
The Iron Shirt practice is divided into three parts: Iron Shirt I, II, and III. Iron Shirt Chi Kung is the martial aspect of the Universal Tao system. It develops internal power and structure and a well-conditioned body through simple techniques that build and store Chi. The body becomes open and relaxed. The joints are strengthened, the muscles, tendons and ligaments become soft and strong, and the bones and bone marrow become strong and healthy. Iron Shirt Chi Kung helps us to become rooted to the earth, thereby keeping our body centered and balanced. In the long run, Iron Shirt offers a way of perfecting our inner selves, allowing us to reach higher spiritual levels. The grounding practice provides a firm rooting for the ascension of the spirit. In the days before gunpowder, Iron Shirt Chi Kung was one of the principle martial arts, which built powerful bodies able to withstand hand to hand combat. Even then, however; martial use was only one aspect of Iron Shirt and today, its other aspects remain vitally significant for anyone seeking better health, a sane mind and spiritual growth. “Iron Shirt” refers to the fact that its unique system of breathing exercises which permanently pack concentrated air into the fascia (connective tissues), surrounding the vital organs, make them close to impervious to injuries from accidents or blows. We also learn how to root ourselves in the Earth’s ower and thus how to direct the Earth’s gravitational and healing power through our bone structure. Iron Shirt’s strengthening of the organs is of special interest to athletes and performers, for it teaches them how to increase the performance of the organs during sports, speech, singing, dancing and playing music. For the Taoist masters, all this in turn lays the groundwork for higher spiritual work. Every step of the way is made clear in the numerous line illustrations by Juan Li.