Burning palm

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

Burning palm

Postby windwalker on Tue May 30, 2017 10:47 am

Recently I had the chance to speak with one of my old teachers,
Mike Staples http://focusingemptiness.com/index.php/ ... WhiteCrane

and had mentioned the interest in burning palm, method, testing and uses.

He mentioned that he would be happy to answer some questions
on it should there be an interest.

There were a lot of questions concerning the testing I mentioned, of being able to
slap a phone book and cause the outlines of a palm on the affected area. Some might find
this interesting and informative on a not widely known old style practice.

Image
Ron , and Mike demoing different aspects of white crane as taught by teacher, Gorge Long.





[edited one time to correct spelling of subject ("plam" to "palm")]
Last edited by Tom on Thu Jun 01, 2017 9:54 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Burning plam

Postby KEND on Wed May 31, 2017 11:56 am

I visited the school in 1970 and recall they worked with concrete blocks with handles for the swinging blows, building up considerable kinetic energy. Did the palm work use sand/rice/wood chips/stones/steel balls with appropriate dit da jow
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Re: Burning plam

Postby windwalker on Wed May 31, 2017 3:19 pm

Mike mentioned that he would be happy to entertain some questions about the method of development, use, and historical significance of
whats called "burning palm".

He lost his old account, and created a new one,
hoping one of the modes can lend a hand "mpstaples" user name.

always wondered what was different between "iron palm" and "burning palm" methods of use and employment.

Some have questioned the testing methods. In the old gym we used to put a phone book on our chest the palm slap was tested against this
with a fully formed hand print on the chest being considered a sign of achievement in training it.

Can you explain a little of the methods of testing and what happens when its employed in real usage?
Last edited by windwalker on Wed May 31, 2017 3:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Burning plam

Postby dspyrido on Thu Jun 01, 2017 11:50 pm

windwalker wrote:Mike mentioned that he would be happy to entertain some questions about the method of development, use, and historical significance of whats called "burning palm".


That's a good list because IDK anything about burning palm.

Development & use stand in the forefront. How about starting with them?
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Re: Burning palm

Postby Mpstaples on Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:40 am

Hi guys. Dave asked me to say a few words about the burning hand, and I am happy to do that. I'm also open to talking about most things, so it doesn't have to be just about the burning hand as far as I'm concerned (but I know there are protocols for these kinds of forums). So, the burning hand... But first, perhaps a story. Remember… I’m a writer. I like telling stories.

The force of qi, an integral feature of the burning hand, is one of those things you need to experience in order to really get the idea. You can watch a gongfu master send a student sailing through the air, but there is a part of you that figures it’s either a trick, or there is an explanation that isn’t going to boil down some mysterious, unexplained force. And yet…
My first White Crane teacher was a character of sorts. He was short and stocky, always wore a silk Chinese vest, and spoke with a kind of Pidgeon English I too would adopt for some odd reason. He fancied himself a race-car driver, though no one really knew what that was about, and, so he said, an expert cha-cha dancer (it was a Hong Kong thing). He would make appearances during our workouts, gathering the students around him to demonstrate various techniques. One of us…mostly me…would serve as the attacker and he would demonstrate how to do this or that.

As we practice it, White Crane was a predominantly “long arm” style of gongfu that called for a healthy program of forearm training. We all worked diligently a hitting, smacking, and generally abusing our forearms so that they could take the abuse of sparring. Indeed, I was one of the more fanatical forearm trainers, able to bring tears to the eyes of those working the “three-point-hit” exercises where babies would cry, women would scream, and forearms would turn to mush.
And so it was that during one of Mr. Long’s demonstrations, I lined myself up in a typical attack position, then came barreling in with a punch aimed at Mr. Long’s nose.

At the time, Mr. Long was mostly talking as I was coming in with my punch. He wasn’t paying much attention to me, and as a result, he deflected my punch by “slapping” my forearm away a bit too hard.

The “Burning Hand,” was Mr. Long’s signature technique, and he was quite open about teaching it those who wanted to learn it. It was an “internal” specialty, different from “external” pushing power. More a slap than a hit, Mr. Long would sometimes place a phone book on your shoulder and give it one of those “slaps.”

You could feel two things coming through the phone book. The first was a push (the external component) that would set you back a foot or two. That was to be expected, but it wasn’t anything to worry about. It was the second thing that was nasty... a sharp, stinging sensation that penetrated your shoulder.

This second force seemed to follow the more external, first force. It seemed to lag behind. But the external force was then gone in an instant, while the stinging second force stayed -- and grew.

Now, I am not a gullible person, and it was going to take more than a trickle of this second force through a phone book to convince me that this slapping stuff was anything much. And so it was that Mr. Long deflected my punch with a slap…just a little too hard. And as a result, my arm locked out in front of me, as if frozen, while a searing pain moved through the flexor muscle compartment of my forearm. My jaw clenched shut as I could feel beads of sweat forming on my face. Mr. Long continued to yack away at the other students, unaware of my predicament. I was struggling to breath, actually. I couldn’t move, actually. But out of the corner of my eye, I could see the other students now looking at me with some concern.

For his part, still talking to the group, Mr. Long began pulling back to strike again. He still wasn’t looking in my direction. I tried to retract my arm, but couldn’t move. Then finally, I managed to whimper something out… like “Aaaa!”
I know that sounds dramatic, but that’s what happened. And lucky for me, it was enough to get Mr. Long to stop talking and turn his head to see that I was in some serious hurt. I would not have been a happy camper had I been hit like that twice.

The next day I had a huge black and blue mark on my forearm, pretty much the size of his palm. But this was not a result of force #1. That kind of force would have maybe broken a bone, had he hit hard enough, or maybe it would have done nothing, if he hadn’t hit hard enough, but this was something from force #2. And call it whatever you like… call it qi, or burning hand, or whatever… it is something you need to personally experience in order to get the idea. And I got the idea.

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Re: Burning palm

Postby suckinlhbf on Tue Jun 06, 2017 11:16 am

Ouch..... It hurts. It gets in, and feels the impact stays there for a while. The worst part could be it can travel along the body, and hurt somewhere other than the point of contact.
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Re: Burning palm

Postby windwalker on Tue Jun 06, 2017 11:17 am

Is there a difference between what is called iron palm, and burning palm.

As the story goes, a Russian circus strongman had a wild Siberian horse (probably a "prezywlaski" breed) that was trained to fight, and the man was challenging all comers to accept the match between anyone who could "tame", or beat the horse. There was a reward, of course, but that was not Master Ku's motivation, however. The reason he accepted the challenge was because other masters and their students were being beat up by the horse quite badly, acquiring some serious injuries. Ku wanted to end the shame of his colleagues, so he accepted the challenge himself.

When Ku got into the ring with the horse, he got kicked several times, but he received no injuries at all, due to his internal iron body skill (gold bell, i.e. iron shirt). Ku then managed to slap the horse with one palm slap. The horse gave out a loud whinny and dropped dead with blood coming out of the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth and died instantly. An autopsy was performed and they found out that the horse had died of internal massive bleeding, due to ruptured blood vessels and organs, yet there was no sign or external mark of any injury on the outside of the horse's body.

http://www.cloudforestchinwoo.org/inter ... yu-cheong/
Image
Last edited by windwalker on Tue Jun 06, 2017 11:21 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Burning palm

Postby Mpstaples on Tue Jun 06, 2017 12:30 pm

Having said that, I supposed I should say a little about me:

Some of you might me from my books and articles. I was the first to write in English about many of the styles you are now talking about. My first book, "White Crane Gung-Fu," was followed by "Hop-Gar Kung-Fu," then "Tibetan Lama Kung-Fu," (with David Chin), then "The Elegant Wushu of China," and "Wushu of China," that introduced the Chang Chuan compulsory set used in the PRC for competitions. Then there were maybe a hundred or so articles that introduced various gongfu styles for the first time in the West.

I wrote extensively about the first Wushu Teams from Beijing. I was the first to break the story of the Beijing Wushu Team, back when I was a Contributing Editor for Black Belt, Karate Illustrated, Inside Kung-Fu, and a number of other magazines. My partner, Anthony Chan, and I introduced both wushu, and a very young Jet Li as well, to the west. Anthony was the first to take the wushu forms into western competition, and we were the first to be given permission to run tours to the Shaolin temple back when it was still covered with weeds (China eventually saw the economic possibilities in investing in a lawnmower).

I suppose the important things about all of this was that it was, with a few exceptions, the first time anyone had written about many of these styles in English. This was well before gongfu had appeared on the radar screen of western conscioiusness…before Bruce Lee, or before the Kung-Fu TV Series (responsible for putting gongfu on the map). Since then, many new books and lots of information, closely held secrets when I was writing, have become generally available. But aside from my writing, I was first and foremost a gongfu practitioner. I still write, by the way. My newest book is called :

"Focusing Emptiness: a Mytho-Poetic Journey to the Lost Child", by the way. It's on Amazon.

But my first love in those early days was doing gongfu, as opposed to writing about it. The writing served as a way for me to learn more about the styles that were out there.
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Re: Burning palm

Postby suckinlhbf on Tue Jun 06, 2017 1:01 pm

Hi Mike,

I get you are a white crane guy in your early day. Excuse my ruthless to ask and divert from the topic, do you have any information on where is "needle in cotton" come from, and can burning palm be used in "needle in cotton"?
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Re: Burning plam

Postby Mpstaples on Wed Jun 07, 2017 6:37 am

KEND wrote:I visited the school in 1970 and recall they worked with concrete blocks with handles for the swinging blows, building up considerable kinetic energy. Did the palm work use sand/rice/wood chips/stones/steel balls with appropriate dit da jow


Hi Kend,

They were wooden blocks with handles to build strength for the long-arm techniques. The palm work used mostly sand-filled bags, either hanging from the ceiling, or sitting on a table. Those weren't the only training devices, but the most used. And yes, the dit da jow (tieh da jyou) was an integral part of the training. There was a big pot of it brewing on the stove in the back of the school. You were to soak your hands in this stuff, which was heated, for a good long time. Without the medicine, Mr. Long would say that you probably should not be training your hand the way we did. Not everyone trained their hands, by the way.
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Re: Burning palm

Postby Mpstaples on Wed Jun 07, 2017 6:41 am

suckinlhbf wrote:Hi Mike,

I get you are a white crane guy in your early day. Excuse my ruthless to ask and divert from the topic, do you have any information on where is "needle in cotton" come from, and can burning palm be used in "needle in cotton"?


Hi, and thank you for the question.

No, I really don't know where the cotton needle came from, but it seems to me that what is important about the burning hand is the awareness and cultivation of internal strength (qi), and that this can be used with, and enhance any practice.

Sorry I can't answer your question about the cotton needle. I'm sure there are a great many questions I can't answer.
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Re: Burning palm

Postby Mpstaples on Wed Jun 07, 2017 6:49 am

Windwalker,

Thanks for posting the pictures of Ku Yu Cheong. They are great, huh? I used them in a couple of my books, and published a story about Ku in one of the Inside kung-Fu magazines many years ago. The story changes a bit each time it is told. The way I understood it, it was one of Master Ku's students who got into the pen with the horse. Ku, seeing that his young student was in trouble, raced into the pen as well and delivered a single slap to the back of the horse, who was killed by the hit. But either way you look at it, it's a great story. I might not have been a very believable story if we didn't have those pictures of Ku breaking those bricks. And aside from being able to break them all as shown, it was said that he could break them selectively -- i.e., choose a brick...say, the fourth one from the bottom, and just break that one, leaving the others in the stack alone.
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Re: Burning palm

Postby Mpstaples on Wed Jun 07, 2017 6:59 am

With regard to the difference between the Iron Palm and the Burning Hand, I recall asking Mr. Long this question as well, and he grunted something like "basically the same." But that explaination should be unpacked, because it depends upon what you think the iron palm is. The pictures of Ku, if taken at face value, indicate a significant mastery of internal strength (qi). The fact that Ku is a skinny, small guy, standing to one side of the bricks bears this out. But the term "Iron Palm" is also used by some external stylists. Here, you wouldn't see a "slap," as depicted in Ku's picture. You would see the person pushing down hard, directly over the stack of bricks. So when Mr. Long said the burning palm was like the iron palm, he was referring to the use of predominantly internal force. However, he did use this force not so much to break things (like bones), so much as to cause a burning sensation. And this worked out quite well with the White Crane moves, many of which were open-handed.
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Re: Burning palm

Postby windwalker on Wed Jun 07, 2017 7:08 am

Many ask about the feats of old, such as burning hand, and iron palm as to why it never seem to make it into the MMA,UFC ect...

Can you share some thoughts on this, and maybe some stories of it been used out side of the ring.
Brendan Lai, a noted n-mantis teacher once told me, he would not teach iron palm feeling it was no longer needed in this day and age
and also according to him the training itself would damage the hands unnecessarily.

I remember in your gym way back then, those who did train it when they used it, it was pretty much a show stopper...what ever was hit would go numb
with the pain which did seem to increase and radiate as you and others mentioned.

Used to spar a lot with people who boxed as well as with a lot of other MA stylist while in the Army, using White Crane in answer to questions that some had about CMA

One event comes to mind, with a person who boxed.

I agreed not to kick and only use the long arm and foot work...The other guy using a boxing type style shot out a quick punch to my face..
I slapped the inner side of his arm before it reached me....His arm dropped, he looked at me and stopped everything. He then turned and looked like he was trying to throw up,,but all he could do was spit.

It was funny in an odd way,,,watching him trying to get rid of the pain....he was swearing, we both laughed about it afterwards....
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Re: Burning palm

Postby Mpstaples on Wed Jun 07, 2017 7:24 am

As to training, I have a couple of things to say:

This kind of thing takes a long (long) time to develop. First you have to find that force, then you have to cultivate/develop it. So you have to ask yourself about your motivations, and if your motivation is enough to carry you through the years of focused work to aquire this ability. What part of you feels the need to have this ability? Do you have a need to break bricks or kill horses? What is that need about?

It is very hard to find this force. There is a tradition in Chan Buddhism (Zen) of something called "Skillful Means," which is all about trying to teach something to someone when there are really no words to even describe what you are looking for. When you are trying to teach or learn something that is essentially "experiential," you need a skillful way of trying to get at it. So there are Chan stories of teachers trying to get across something that is so subtle that there is no way of approaching it directly. And for the most part, you can't directly find it... it needs to find you. So what teachers do is try to create an atmosphere which will allow for such a discovery. But they can't make the discovery happen directly.

When I discovered this force in me, I found it to be extraordinarily subtle... as if it wasn't really there at all. It was small, shy, and seemed to want to hide, so that if I looked at it too hard, it would fade away. It had to be coaxed out, made room for, addressed with reverence and invitation. And very slowly, just a little at a time, I could then begin to see it more clearly, and then work with it, just a little bit. So the first big problem was to find that force, then...after that... you are faced with years of molding that force, learning to be with it, to flow with it, to allow it to be there.

Trying to do that while you are in the middle of a fight can be even more of a challenge, by the way. So that's another issue. But it helps to have a teacher, not because they can point you directly to where you need to go, but because they can provide the "skillful means" needed to open you to the possibility of such grace. Other than that...the training is quite simple. You simply hit your phone book or your rice-filled bag with the palm of your hand, and wait, and breath, and sink your breath, and try to feel something other than your own effort coming through your hand. Then you stick your hand in your medicine and go home... and do it again tomorrow, for the next ten or fifteen years.
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