This exercise is a hard one, it strengthens both outside (muscles, bones, sinews) and inside (the inner organs). It is the most important hard exercise out of all 72 Arts. This exercise is rather complicated and difficult. It is necessary to make a mallet of stuff and strike with it on the whole surface of the body, on the front and the back. At first you will feel some pain but after training for a long time feeling of pain will gradually disappear. At that time the mallet of stuff can be replaced with a wooden one. When you feel no pain from blows, the wooden mallet can be replaced with an iron one. Bring to perfection until you feel no pain from blows. The gist of this method is similar to "Iron Shirt" (see par.#9) and "Iron Bull" (see par.#36).
If you practise this method for two or three years, your breast and your back will become strong like stone or iron; it is of no importance whether the enemy punches or kicks, it will do no harm. Even a sword blow will not do any injury to a man who practises the skill of "Gold Bell". Chest and back bones of that man become compacted like a single whole. It is necessary to use tinctures to cure bruises of muscles and bones after blows with mallets or falls (somersaults).
22. Exercise "Finger Lock" (SUO ZHI GONG)
It is a soft exercise that strengthens inside, it belongs to the soft force of YIN, but also develops the hard force of YANG at the same time. This specialized exercise for strengthening finger tips has great similarity to and some difference with such methods as "Force of Eagle Claws" (YING ZHAO LI) and "Making Holes in Stones" (DIAN SHI GONG). All those exercises form so called "Deadly Arm" (SHA SHOU)1. Differences between them are given below. For instance, the exercise "Force of Eagle Claws" trains the force of fingers for locks and the exercise "Making Holes in Stones" trains the ability to deliver thrusts with finger tips. "Finger Lock" also trains finger tips for seizing movements but differs from two previous skills in training methods and methods of use.
Training method: at the first stage of mastering this skill, squeeze together two fingers - the middle finger and forefinger tightly and join them after bending to the bent thumb. All three fingers tightly join each other with their tips. A hollow is formed in the center of the palm, the spot between the thumb and the forefinger (HU KOU, literally "tiger's mouth") makes a circle. Press your fingers with force like a cook taking seasoning. Keep them a little in this position, then open and have a rest. Then, press tightly again with force. Do the exercise each day in your spare time without limiting number of repetitions. When pressing fingers, it is necessary to use the force of the
whole arm, send it to the tips of three fingers, concentrate the Spirit and collect QI.
After one year of pertinacious training the lock will become strong. At that time, take a piece of board, 3 or 4 cm thick, squeeze it between fingers, continue to train you as before and try to press a hole through the board with fingers. It is the first step on the way to mastership and it may take more than two years, but it can take less than one year with diligence. Then, continue to train you as before with an iron plate. It is necessary to seek for the plate to be dented with fingers. Mastership reaches perfection at that stage. Four to five years of persistent training may pass from the start of familiarization with the exercise to its completion. If after successful mastering this GONG FU, you seize some part of the enemy's body with three fingers, you will surely crush his muscles or splinter his bones, inflicting a very severe wound on him.
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