The theory of conditioning is simple. By gradually working parts of the body with pressure or impact exercises, the body reacts by desensitizing, strengthening, and toughening the tissues in those areas. A classic example would be the carpenters' or masons' hands verses the clerks', or consider a baby's feet as compared to an adults feet after years of walking, running and jumping on them.
One way for the martial artist to supplement his current program is with the "Iron Arm" martial arts conditioning hammer. It is a tool which allows an individual to condition those parts of the body appropriate to his style of martial arts and at his own pace. The device was developed and designed by Ihor Rymaruk, an Okinawan trained and certified Master Instructor in Uechi Ryu Karate, and is based on his 25 years of experience in the martial arts. The development of the "Iron Arm" hammer was influenced by two-man conditioning drills and some classical conditioning devices, such as the Chinese Wing Chun dummy, the Okinawan Makiwara and striking pole, and even the Western boxing medicine ball.
The "Iron Arm" martial arts conditioning hammer is constructed from high-grade laminated hardwood oak and is approximately 1 1/2 inches by 2 inches and is approximately 20 inches long. The "Iron Arm" edges are rounded and it has longitudinal voids to allow the striking surfaces to "give" enough so that it is not destructive to the tissues being struck. Anyone who feels that they can start conditioning with a piece of 2 x 4 from their garage, will soon realize the importance of these features.
The "Iron Arm" martial arts conditioning hammer is used to condition various parts of the body. From offensive contact surfaces on the hands and feet, like the palm heel, knife edge, and ball of the foot, to defensive surfaces like the forearms, legs and the torso. A conditioning program should start with choosing portions of the body to be toughened and then tapping those portions with the end section of the "Iron Arm" hammer in three sets of 15 to 30 repetitions. The user should begin tapping lightly with the wider surface, near the end of the "Iron Arm". After several sessions, the "Iron Arm" will begin to produce a clacking sound when the split portions come together, helping the user to judge when he is using adequate force. Eventually, he should use the narrow surface of the "Iron Arm" in a similar manner.
Conditioning can be applied to most soft tissues such as muscle groups and connective tissues and even some bony areas of the body. However, the user should stay away from joints and other areas of the body which obviously cannot be conditioned. Moderation is the key to this type of training and the user should listen to any negative feedback the body may be giving him. Enough force should be used for the specific area being conditioned to produce gradual body toughening but not so much as to be self destructive.
After training with the "Iron Arm" martial arts conditioning hammer for a few months, a practitioner will begin to notice that his blocking techniques are becoming bone crushing, pain inducing strikes, and all the conditioned areas are becoming like iron shields. In the long term, proper conditioning will make a better martial artist and will help build a higher level of confidence with the personal knowledge of being TOUGH ENOUGH.