Some sports require a tough, if not an iron body, to withstand the level of punishment in multiple round matches or long sparring sessions. Conventional training might include weight training, abdominal exercise and medicine ball hits to the abdomen. Sometimes the training includes soaking the hands in brine (saltwater solution) to toughen the skin. This can also be a part of certain types of martial arts hand conditioning.

If a new student joins a boxing academy or class or a mixed martial arts academy or class, it might be worth investigating how much time their trainers will spend on your physical training before they turn you loose on the heavy bag and actual ring fighting. In addition, a trainer will have to tape your hands prior to that kind of use. These precautions can save you a broken hand. Simply put, an impatient new student might decide to hit a bag or a training device long before they are ready. If it happens to you, you won’t be the first, but it might require a cast for broken hand or wrist bones.

The best way to mitigate a hand injury is internal conditioning. Internal conditioning is essentially, strengthening the bones and soft tissues of the hands or the parts of the body involved in taking hits. The Chinese martial arts systems have conditioning as part of or an optional part of their curriculums. The most basic is wall bag training starting after a student masters the air punching. The step-by-step method is slower and requires more patience. However, in a self-defense situation, you will not have your hands taped and you will not have your gloves.

Other forms of body toughening are available from some instructions in some locations around the U.S., Europe and Asia. There is Iron Palm training, Iron Body Training. These are variations of exercise, breathing methods, and bag hitting along with Chinese liniment application. The generic name for Chinese martial arts liniment is Dit Dar Jow. The translation is Iron Hit Wine. It was supposedly named for the bags that were filled with iron fillings or the open kettle that was filled with heated iron filings that a practitioner would strike or stab their fingers into for the external style of training. Iron filings were the last material used in the final stages of developing an extremely tough hand. The Wine was the eighty-proof drinking alcohol that was used as a base in the herbal solution. The herbal formula was usually a family secret and were soaked in wine or a vodka-like alcohol. The Dit Dar Jow is available today at several online outlets.

Some links:

Dit Da Jow Iron Palm Training Liniment Also for Healing Bruises Sore Muscles

Si-fu Keith Sonnenberg

There are a lot of videos on the internet that go on and on about proper techniques and what works in a fight and what doesn’t. Some make very proper arguments about strength training and techniques training and how important strength is. Some criticize the soft arts like tai chi and aikido about their insistence on not using strength to win. One such person objected for a long dissertation about those who insist that some instructors insist that strength should not be used. Most of these talking heads speak from the sport-context in which they were raised and later taught. Every match has rules, unlike street attacks. Certain gloves are often worn, and soft targets are off limits for good reason. Matches are often fought on a raised platform with ropes. Competitors must fight. They are not allowed to run. On the street, a weak, non-athletic defender might have to “cheat” to save their life. This usually would mean kicking low (as in Wing Tsun), poking the eyes, biting, striking soft targets like the throat and other neck targets. There is more to the story. Logic might dictate that the stronger opponent will win in a fight but that does not have to be the case. Excellent technique can make the difference. Clashing with an attacker’s strength is usually not a good use of energy or strategy. In Wing Tsun and in some other arts, an attacker’s strength can be used against them. This is routine in some wrestling systems. Persons objecting to instruction that strength should not be used may have heard wrong or the instructor does not understand how to get their point across. Without some measure of strength, the persons objecting would be correct…you would not be able to stand up. However, I have not heard these persons talk about footwork and how it makes the difference in one’s ability to use an attacker’s strength rather than clash or be defeated by it. They probably do not know how footwork comes into play when borrowing attacker’s force! Incredibly, I even saw one video that spoke about how important footwork is and then never showed the feet in his video! The important footwork of Leung Ting WingTsun® is, after all, one of the “secrets” of the Wing Tsun system that Great Grandmaster Leung Ting has taught. It is all well and good to teach and explain Wing Tsun’s footwork, but a student must practice it in coordination with their hand technique. Without practice, one can never master anything. One of the challenges of learning how to avoid clashing with greater forces is to “give up your strength,” or “abandon the strength,” as GGM Leung Ting put it in one of his books. This is a skill. You must abandon, not the strength itself but your insistence on using your supposedly greater strength in beating an attacker. Most people are not aware that they are not “getting rid of their own force” so they can borrow it. This is a contest within yourself, of your ego. Si-fu Keith Sonnenberg

Get a Trial Lesson for two people at a two-for-one price. Two persons = $25.00. Times available are Wednesday evenings in January. Go to our trial lesson page and fill out the form for an appointment. We will contact you shortly.

Offer extended to February 11, 2020.

Wing Tsun Arizona offers new students a great deal for your first month of two classes per week!

Email us to get started with an appointment for a trial lesson. Click Schedule and fill out the form for an appointment. $55.00 is your cost for one month, no obligation. Your 30-minute trial lesson is free. 

Offer expires – new expiration date February 11, 2020.

Cannot be combined with any other special offers.


We have all seen how some high school students play football or try out for track or gymnastics and make the team and others just cannot make the cut. The first set of students are picked because they are naturally coordinated. They did not have much time to get that way in one or two years of junior high school. The second set, the rest of us must practice hard to get someplace. It might be difficult on your ego to see the talented rise to fame, seemingly with ease. If it’s any comfort, the talented also must work – hard.

If we graduate high school without making the cuts for athletic competition, well that is life. After graduating from school, there are fewer chances to get on an athletic team unless you take up martial arts.

If you study martial arts, sometimes the same thing occurs. The talented students seem to rise to the top quickly. Of course, this should be no reason to quit. On the contrary, you should maintain your pace. Quitting means you lose the valuable time in precise training that most people never try, and the benefits are often unexpected.

History is full of examples of talented practitioners rising quickly and giving rise to jealousy in the ranks. The one that comes to my mind is our Grandmaster Leung Ting. He was a very talented student of Sifu Leung Sheung. Sifu Leung Sheung was the first Hong Kong student of late Grandmaster Yip Man. The young Leung Ting studied every day for several hours. He was present so often in Sifu Leung Sheung’s school, Sheung became irritable upon seeing him every time he turned around! *

Later, one of Leung Ting’s uncles arranged for him to meet the late Grandmaster Yip Man whereupon Leung Ting became a private student of Yip Man. *

After his training under the late Grandmaster, Leung Ting created a teaching system of his own to better maintain the consistent quality of his system and renamed what he had learned as “Wing Tsun,” instead of the more common terms being used at that time of “Wing Chun” or “Ving Tsun.” From his experience under the Grandmaster Yip Man, he discovered how easily the concepts and techniques could be misunderstood or interpreted differently.

There were many difficulties in maintaining relationships with others in the Yip Man clan. His renaming would put his teaching system in a different category. He would become the grandmaster of his own system, not affiliated with the others. Literally Grandmaster is like being the Grandfather, the master’s master.

Even talented people must work hard if they are going to be of a high standard. Jealousy has no place in martial arts training. Traditional martial arts are an inner effort. We train the inside, our inner physical, mental and emotional health.

Si-fu Keith Sonnenberg

*Reference book “Roots and Branches of Wing Tsun”

**Interview with Sifu Wang Kiu

If you are in your twenties and practice fighting arts that involve a heavy dose of athletics with high kicks, spins, many direct hits to the face, ( ) rolling around on the floor for most of typical classes, and other activities like this, you will get just so much mileage out of these activities after which, it will take its toll on your body. At some point, it will be important to throttle back or give it up to preserve your body. If not, it could impair your joints, you’re thinking, or your spine, in pursuing other activities.

Traditional martial arts benefit more on the inside than the outside.

Read more

Here is probably a partial list of ways Wing Tsun can help you deal with outside stress.

  • Wing Tsun training starts with the slow movements of the first set of movements called Siu Nim Tau. It involves focusing on a “little idea” which means getting rid of negativity, irrelevant thoughts, and focus on the present moment.
  • When the rest of the world and your own life seems to make no sense, the approach of Wing Tsun is entirely logical. It is your chance to get centered and help with your other pursuits.
  • Classes allow you to forget the outside world, even for a little while.
  • Wing Tsun movements help you get your body in healthy shape. You feel better.
  • Our classes involve no politics or religious ideas.

I just saw Master Z, Ip Man Legacy which is set in the same time period of the late 40s and early 50s, Hong Kong, as the Ip Man movies. The character from Ip Man 3, Cheung Tin Chi, who fought Ip Man is back in this movie. It is played well by Max Zhang. Cheung Tin Chi ostensibly left the martial arts world only to become involved in combating a local drug syndicate. Michelle Yeoh who has had a more and more distinguished acting career in movies and televison – Wing Chun, Star Trek Discovery, Tomorrow Never Dies, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – shows up in this movie as the head of the drug syndicate.

Read more

Some schools that teach a mixture of styles of martial arts may begin by showing you the basic moves in more than one fighting style with no basic start of understandable concepts. Oh they might explain how this set of techniques is used and why but that hardly explains how you, the tall guy, for example, are supposed to deal with your opponent who is a more athletic guy with a bigger build. In addition, those moves are a few steps more advanced from where you should be. They do it as a sales gimmick to keep you interested. Sounds fine, you say. It is not fine. Every person, no matter how talented, requires repetitive practice of a technique in isolation before they can put it together with footwork, follow-ups, and other relevant details. Your ability to absorb details that make success possible with those techniques are not going to be ingrained into your “muscle memory.”

An enemy or a ring fighting opponent is going to try to disguise their intentions should they initiate an attack. To use the techniques you have learned, those techniques need to be available to use instantly without pre-thinking. In addition, your own skills need to be flexible enough to change in a nano-second. This requires some mental training as well. Some beginners may have the mindlock of indecision, fear, or stubbornness born of loyalty to what you trained on last night. If you have ever been in a fight, you know that you cannot pre-plan anything about such an encounter. Wing Tsun teaches you to “give up” that favorite technique or your pride in your strength if it isn’t working.

It is important to learn a system of movement that has flexibility. That sounds fine but what real flexibility is, is the ability to move like rubber and cling to an attacker’s limbs to guide them away from their target or you moving away with rapid footwork while counterattacking at the same time. You will not need to see an attack and then try an intercept it in mid-air. This is an error-prone strategy. True sticky hands skills are the solution to this missing element in most fighting styles. It is part of what you will learn at Wing Tsun Arizona.

-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg

One aspect of the self-defense martial art of Wing Tsun (Yip Man lineage) that may not be well known are the advanced motor skills learned throughout one’s body in the training. The ability to move two hands at the same time doing different movements is just the start. Beyond this are the sticky hands skills,

Read more