Janelle: You're listening to "Staying in the game," a Plum Dragon Herbs podcast where we have conversations about mindset and techniques for staying at the top of your game. I'm your host, Janelle Leatherwood. Welcome you to the show. We've got Brett Barrell here today. He's an Iron Palm expert. And we've got a lot of great questions for him. So, if you could just introduce yourself. And we'll have to give each other a little break in between questions because of the internet connection we've got.

Brett: Yeah, so, you guys can hear me all right?

Janelle: Yeah, we're good. Yep.

Brett: Okay. Yeah, well, yeah, as you guys may know, my name is Brett Barrell. I've been practicing martial arts for...intense, well, intently for about 13, more than 13, 14 years, since I was about 13 or 14, and I'm 33 now. I've studied mainly jujitsu, like traditional Japanese jujitsu, but alongside that jujitsu that I've studied from about the age of 12 to 14, I studied Shaolin Kung Fu and aspects of Shaolin Kung Fu. Because my jujitsu instructor used to study Shaolin Kung Fu. So, we both love Shaolin Kung Fu and conditioning in the 72 secret arts of a Shaolin, which is like a manual of proprietary trainings for Kung Fu. So we would, I would train those things, and when I met him, it kind of gelled and it was kind of like a really good mixture, because although he had invested his time into jujitsu, he found a person who had like a love of Kung Fu, so he had kind of resurrected his old training. So we used to do that, he gave me some guidance in those things and we just used to train together.

I've been a police officer for 10 years, throughout my martial arts sort of career I've been a police officer, so, I like to think that I have a bit of a realistic mindset on what works, what doesn't work, what's legal, what isn't legal, what will get you into trouble, what won't, and also some use of weapons and such with regards to firearms, etc., etc., which, in the current police force I may have now been doing for about five years. So, prior to that, the seven years before I didn't have any firearms, and the police force that I worked in the U.K. just had like spray, and a bat, and cuffs. So it was a lot more physical back then. Because you didn't even have a Taser. So, you talk to a lot of the American guys who are cops especially, and you talk to them about trying to do the same job but without Taser, without a firearm, and they just think you're on another planet. So, yeah.

Secondarily to that I run a YouTube channel and I have done for about seven years, called "Iron Body Martial Arts." And the main purpose that I ran that was to just record and display some of the training methods that I've been training and mainly just to show people that they're there. I mean, it's a bit more common now, but certainly when I was starting out, when I was 12, 13, 14, no one knew anything about iron arm or not much about Kung Fu or Qi Gong or anything, especially where I lived. I lived in rural Wales in the U.K., and yeah, no one knew anything about Kung Fu there, the most you could get was like a little book by Wong Kiew Kit with a few pictures and stuff, so, since that time, it's just been like a constant journey of training and discovery. There we go.

Janelle: Okay, awesome. Thanks so much for letting us know a little bit more about you, and your background. I think that's really fascinating what you're saying about not having all the weapons that like the police force has traditionally had in the U.S. like until recently in your career. And, you know, I was just reading about how iron palm is so necessary still, in this day and age, because you don't always carry around a weapon. And if your hands are weapons themselves, like, you know, you can do a lot of self-defense in that way. So, what do you see as like the main benefits of knowing iron palm training? Or techniques?

Brett: Yeah, you know, Iron Palm in itself, the training, which is why I always say to people like, no intent, no cruelty, no hatred, just training. And they, sometimes they think, "Oh, that's silly. Oh, what does it mean?" But iron palm training in itself is kind of like almost like a meditation. I guess if you, you know, in this modern day, if you've got, if you've got a stressful job, or you're a policeman, or whatever, you're a lawyer, doesn't matter what you do. I believe today, as much as the sort of monks in the past, and maybe it might be a bit idyllic, but, today, you kind of need to defend yourself, your like heart and your spirit and yourself as much from the attacks of the outer society and the mental anguish as you ever did before in the past. Before in the past there might have been bandits or whatever, but guess what? There's bandits out there today. There's people who want to surprise king hit you, there's people who want to take what you've got. So, the world is a pretty dangerous place.

But, with regards to iron palm, there's probably a lot more things people could train to better prepare themselves for self-defense. I see iron palm as an addition to a set of martial arts skills. Maybe it may be considered like a medium or high level addition, but it's really an addition to some skills, I use it as like a meditation, and the only benefit it's ever gotten me, aside from using up a lot of my time, is an ability to withstand damage and also understand the forces that can be exerted by your body. But, you know, the funniest thing is, if you read all the accounts from Shaolin Kung Fu and old masters and stuff, it's the surprise benefits that are the true benefits. So, like you might get struck, but when you're actually in a fight where someone's actually trying to attack you, they might kick your leg or strike you or something like that. And afterwards you realize it didn't hurt, or they bounced off, or they fell over, I've had that before, someone like came up to me in the street and tried to kick my legs out from under me when I was just walking normally and the fell over.

Now, most people would say, "Oh, if you're such a good martial artist, why didn't you sort of sense it? Why didn't you see it?" Well, you know, that's just not the way the world works. You know, not everyone's Jet Li, you know? A lot of the times in passive...The real, because they say the 1% of self-defense is what you will ever use. And that's like the actions you can do. But if you can make your body tougher and make it more resilient, that's the, you know, just like MMA fighters today, you know, no MMA fighter goes in the ring today without extensive cardiovascular training, without extensive muscular training, physical training. So that's what iron palm is. It's just another facet of that. But it would be, just before I finish saying about it, it would be remiss of me, or it would be incorrect of me to come on here and tell you that it's this amazing thing that allows to death hit people in one strike. Because it doesn't allow you to do that.

But just recently, I had an incident where someone attacked me and I had to, unfortunately, I had to strike them with my fists. And as a result of that, my fists weren't harmed in any way, you know, and they weren't cut, or bruised, or bloody, or damaged, and that's from quite a number of strikes to a hard part of the human body. So, yeah. That's a benefit, you know, like, bare knuckle-wise, there I am, going on again, but bare knuckle-wise, I've been speaking to my brother about this because he does MMA. He greatly respects the fact that, you know, in a real confrontation, this is another thing, you don't have gloves. So, you can be the best MMA striker and stuff with gloves, and it's very respected. But if you, you know, if someone attacks me and I hit them and I break my hand, and I can't use my gun, or I can't use my Taser, I can't use whatever, then I'm pretty screwed.

A lot of people don't know, or a lot of people, especially online, they don't understand the difference between sport combat and real life, real martial arts, because they've never had to actually fight for their real life. And obviously I respect soldiers, which is why I say a lot of the times, the only people who often know and who are, you know, are soldiers, they will know. Obviously, police officers, they will know, and any other person who's been attacked, they will know. But, as a general rule, not a lot of people know, they do some self-defense stuff. But not a lot of people know what it's like when a person actually wants to cave your head in, or hit you with a bar or something. Anyway, sorry.

Janelle: Oh, no, that's really good. Yeah. So, how do you help beginning students prevent permanent damage to their hands with iron palm training? What do you do when you're first starting out?

Brett: Well, you've gotta do what I didn't do. That's what you've got to do. Because iron palm training is just very, it's very progressive. So, you've got to gauge the person as well. Like, if you've got a student who's come in, and they've been doing martial arts since they were a child, and they've got flexibility, they've got the strength, they've got some conditioning, then you can expose them to maybe higher levels, or get more stronger levels of iron palm. But, yeah, if you've got someone who's done no martial arts, you've then got to just put the bag of beans in front of them and be like, "Well, try hitting that bag of beans. If that's too hard for you, then maybe it's not for you."

Also, that's another thing, you've got a genuine assessment. It's not for everyone. You know, there's many facets and awesome facets of martial arts, and I believe everyone who does martial arts can benefit by conditioning the body weapons a bit better. But some, you know, sometimes some people maybe that maybe iron palm is not for them. You know, like, I won't exclude anyone, but some, you know, I've never had to say it to anyone, but sometimes, you know, your body will tell, you pick and choose, but you help students by, I would say, guiding them through, and the biggest piece of advice you can give them is that it's consistent practice rather than what I used to do, which is, shove a boxing bag full of, fill a four-foot boxing bag full of sand and gravel and just punch, just punch the sand and gravel in like whole stance or whatever, thinking like when I was 12, 13 that that was the best way to get hard fists, and it does help you get hard fists but not quite in the way, the proper way that we now know.

Janelle: Yeah. Did you have any mentors that helped you to not give up? Like maybe you thought this isn't your thing or?

Brett: I've only always ever had martial arts as like, sometimes to the detriment of other things in my life. I've just got a bit of an obsessive personality with martial arts. So, yeah, the only break I ever had from martial arts training, because, since the age of about 14, 12, 14, I can't remember now, but, I've trained at least every other day or every day. And that continued on till I was about 19, 20. And that was the only break I ever had and that was when I was joining the police. But, what I say to a lot of people is, sometimes I call something a break and people imagine like you never did any of it, but a break for me is like only doing it a couple of times a week, as opposed to dedicating like four hours a day to it sort of thing. So, did I have a mentor? Well, as I stated, I had my very good instructor who taught me bujinkan or jujitsu that I was learning from the age of about, I think it was about 16 or so. And we used to train Kung Fu together.

But no, did I ever want to give up? I'll tell you what, you come pretty close to giving up when you're doing maybe the sand bucket punching method and you've got like these big blisters that develop on your knuckles, but all that teaches you to do is just train the other parts of your hand, that's another reason why I started training other parts of my hand because I used to do a lot of like what I tried to call iron fist training, which is just with the fist and the punching, and then, like, I might injure my fist or I might get a spot of like damage that just wouldn't go away for like weeks and weeks and then I started training the other parts of my hand. Which is good because if you get injured, or damaged, or break a knuckle, you actually, in real life, you still got to be able to cause damage with other parts of your body, if you need to.

Janelle: So, just to kind of summarize, again, what are some of like the mistakes that beginners typically make, or you said like you made some mistakes in the beginning of your training. What are some of the pitfalls that students start out with?

Brett: Yeah, mistakes would be would be mainly letting maybe ego get the better of you. Starting at two high a stage. So, you know, someone might start and they might start, like I've had a couple people come online to me and say, "Well, you know, I've just been punching a wall, or I've just been punching this brick, or I've just been doing that." And, you know, they should, if they want to do it properly, go back to, you know, hitting like a bag, I always say like a bag of mung beans, or like corn, or even rice or whatever, or even a bag of sand, but even a bag of sand I would put a little bit further from those other things. But that's certainly a mistake, hitting the wrong thing, hitting too hard, because sometimes whilst you're training, you know, you get into a good rhythm, the blood circulation starts flowing, and then you do, you know, you get sort of heat up and you start throwing some really hard hits in there, and you kind of ruin your training because you damage your knuckles or you split them and then you can't train for like a few days.

So, really, the winner it's like the iron palm game is like the tortoise and the hare. You got to be the tortoise and just. And that's why I mentioned before about the other facets of martial arts, because, if you are the tortoise, you know, you just got to stay in the game but you want to get to the finish line. So you need other facets of a rounded martial arts system to be able to survive, I believe.

Janelle: Yeah. All right, since you mentioned staying in the game, and that's the name of our podcast. I'd love to hear some of your tips for staying in the game. Like, how do you stay in the game? How do you stay fit? How do you stay at the top of your art in iron palm or in all facets of life that you want to talk about?

Brett: Staying in the game. Yeah. Well, I think, as with everything, I guess staying in the game is multifaceted. So, you know, you've gotta look at yourself and maybe assess, and whatever area it is you want to be in and maybe assess like, what could I do better? So, you know, for instance, if you're not performing that great, make sure you look at your nutrition, things that you can do better. I mean, I'm not a dietitian, but, we can always eat better, we can always cut bad things out of our diet. You know, assess your health and listen to your body, you know, maybe there's a certain food you have to cut out. I've had problems over this myself. Maybe there's a certain food you have to cut out of your diet because it causes inflammation. That's another thing with, just with iron palm specifically.

There's a reason why, just quickly, there's a reason why...You see, the Shaolin monks and the monks and traditionally trained these skills, or some of them, or some of the most famous exponents of it were inherently vegetarians. Now, being a vegetarian, as we now know in modern science, changes the inflammatory-like response of your body. So like when I eat a lot of meat, I've got a lot of like inflammatory chemicals in my body. You know, that's why people drink wine and they do other things and antioxidants to try and lower those. So actually, although I'm quite an avid meat eater, this vegetarian diet, a lot of people look at the Shaolin monks, they're like, "How do they do the feats that they do?" You know, how do they withstand it? How do they train every day? Well, the plainness of their diet, the fact that it's vegetarian allows their body to withstand more physiological and psychological trauma, if that makes sense. And that's, well, you guys work along the same things with the plum dragon herbs, a lot of the formulas and the internal medicines the, what do you call them? The adaptogens allow your body to suffer more damage and take it better.

So, staying in the game, certainly, if you're doing martial arts, and iron palm, and stuff like that, or you're a physically active sportsperson. Just know that little secret that, you know, the Shaolin's, people wonder how they did all that, how they could do. Well, a lot of it's to do with their diet. The fact that the inflammatory chemicals that they eat are lower. They also take things in such as, you know, what you guys offer with plum dragon herbs, the Dit Da Jows, the formulas, the individual herbs on their own, they take those herbs that allow their bodies to better cope with the inflammatory.

Because, at the end of the day, and I experienced this a couple of years back when I was dedicating like four hours a day to like iron body training. When you're hitting your body that much, the inflammatory response from your body is pretty big. And that causes chemicals that can be released into your body that like upset your digestion. So they really do, the old masters used to say, "Well, if you do this wrong, or you don't take these medicines, the training will damage your internal organs." And it's really true. It actually, it like literally like, even scientifically from my opinion, it will. Because you've placed demands on calcium in your body for bone growth, you've placed demands on like Selenium and other minerals that are used up by the body and they get leached from certain organs where they get stored.

So, yeah, it's really funny, but these, the herbs, a lot of the herbal remedies, things like the Holy Basil, things like the ginseng, a lot of these mushrooms and other plant-based ones that have high silica content. A lot of these things really help you if you're a martial artist or you're training your bones, or you're trying to support some muscles, you don't realize like, they're just like old, old vitamin pills that actually work that out because they're bioavailable. So, yeah. So, that's one tangent, but yeah, apologies. I always tangent off on to other things. But yeah, that's. With regards to iron palm and physical exertion within martial arts, you stay in the game, you gotta really keep a watch on your diet, what you eat, what you intake.

Martial arts-wise, and just tell me if I'm going on too much. Martial arts-wise, and self-defense-wise you have to, like I say a lot of times, but there's not a lot of people listening out there because my channel is pretty small. But, realistically coming from someone who has to do it day to day, you have to take a realistic look at yourself. Now, if I thought I was, I see myself as I'm just someone who dabbles in this iron palm stuff, I've had some good results. But if I was in this fantasy martial arts world where I thought you're going to, like go where some of these guys are where they do all these things, even if you can do the breaks and you can break a big stack of bricks. If you're in a fantasy world where you think you can stand there with a potbelly in no stance and give someone a little slap on the head and you're going to knock them out and you're going to win the fight. No, no, no, you're sorely mistaken, you're sorely mistaken.

Staying in the game. A lot of martial artists I think need to assess how aggressive and how violent people can be, a lot of people are never exposed to that. And a lot of people, as we always used to say in jujitsu, are beaten in their heart before they're actually beaten physically. That's almost as important as anything else is like what we call your warrior spirit, you know, or your ability to, I mean, it's, yeah, it's not a nice thing, but that's why I've got this Tiger on me here. This resting Tiger. Because it reminds me, you know, Tiger is my birth sign in Chinese zodiac. So, but it's a resting Tiger, because it's fine, it's there, it's watching you, leave it alone. But if you come over to it, it's going to cause you a lot of problems. And it's going to use every single bit of its knowledge and training to defend itself, to defend its family, and to defend others to the best of its ability until it's dead.

And that's, there's a, like, the guys all know out there. But there's a, like martial arts is fun, you've got to assess what you want from it as well like is it a sport to you? Is it just some fitness? It can be a sport, it can be fun, it can be some fitness, even if you want to do iron palm, that can just be a part of your physical, your health, your mental well-being like you and everything like that. But if you're ever in a situation when you have to defend yourself, it's like, it is as you know, it's fight or flight, you have to defend yourself, you have to defend yourself well, or you mustn't be there. You know? Like, you've got to make, for a proper martial artists out there, people who are really into it, or a lot of people, they need to really assess like, you know, what level or what am I? You know. And I'm not saying I'm anything great, but, you know, I've had these same conversations with myself, you know. What am I? Am I like a hobby martial artist? Am I like a, am I just like a sports hobby martial artist? Am I a serious MMA fighter? Am I, you know, what am I?

And as long as you can identify that you can make a good estimate as to how safe you can be out there in the streets. And run away from knives.

Janelle: Yeah. And, sorry, say that again? And run away from what?

Brett: Knives. Yeah.... See, I'll tell you what, I see, I've done a number of like knife fighting seminars, which I hate. I went to learn from them like internationally, some in Europe with some of the like guys who are pretty big in the bujinka and then they went off to train with other people from like Kori and escrima. Honestly, that's probably the most dangerous world in martial arts, is knife fighting, and knife defense. The amount of people out there who are toting knife, gun, and all those things in self-defense, they're just, a lot of them. I mean, anything's better than nothing, and I'm not saying I have anything better, but a lot of them are literally just teaching people to die. They're literally teaching them to die. They're selling them peace of mind and it's wrong.

Because, you know, if you're someone who deals with weapons and you deal with like tactical evaluations of safety, etc., like literally a knife is second to a gun almost on the same level. A knife is like the worst thing I could come across, because you guys probably know Dan Inosanto did some police training videos a few years back. You've got a 15 foot kill distance with someone with a sheathed knife and an officer with the sheathed gun, 15 foot, that guy with a knife can get you and effectively stab you a lethal amount of times before you can even pull out the gun and aim at him. So, yeah, knife is a terrible thing. Sorry, that was a side bit.

Janelle: No, no, that's good. Well, so, tell me more things that you could do to stay fit, like, what is your routine?

Brett: Oh, yeah. Well, recently, like we said about assessing, I've always had...I've always been good strength-wise, and technique, and stuff like that, but I always sort of wanted more endurance. So, recently I sort of, I looked at myself and I went, geez, well, you know, I'm chasing after these people and I'm getting a bit tired and I don't want to gas out and then if you gas out someone can just beat you anyway, so I thought, do you know what? I'll up my endurance a bit. So, a good routine that I've started doing, I suppose similar to MMA-style training or sport-style training is I started to do like militaristic-style training, where you carry a weight over a long distance, a nice way of strengthening your legs. You know, you got a backpack with 15, 20 kilos on. I'm sorry, I don't know what pounds that equates to. But, you know, you do a five kilometer walk with that or like three and a half miles or whatever. Do like a trek with that, you know, in the outdoors, in the heat.

Just get your body tough enough to outside, then do a run, you know, with holding a bar like a 15, 20 kilo bar, you know. Obviously you have to start with walking, do stair climbs, do like a weight such as that, like 20 kilo weight or something, and doing like 80, 90 reps. Really, really getting your body...And that's why it's not for everyone because it's kind of like horrible militaristic-style training. But, it's been a really good training for me, because a lot of times like even in martial arts, people are like, "Well, how am I going to strengthen my legs?" And it's like, "I'll go to the gym and do some squats." But, the human body is such a mechanically complicated device, it's probably better for you to put some weight on your body, go for like a run, go for a jog, go for a walk in the outside, up a hill, down a hill, and really you're getting all the lower bones, and joints, and ligaments, and balance, and core, and stability, you're getting that all working in your body rather than just going up and down like this, squatting, you know?

Janelle: Yeah.

Brett: It's a good addition. So, yeah, I mean, my routine has been, recently, over the last year, has been a lot of that. Primarily that really because my, I wanted to improve that. Prior to that, I developed, identified, I had a back injury, I identified like a problem with my flexibility. So, rather than being like, you know, "I'm just not flexible." I spent three months, every day and every other day training my stances and my flexibility sort of yogic style, to realign my hips, re-lengthen and strengthen the joints in my body and soul, a few issues that I had some musculoskeletal issues that were sort of plaguing me, and that really helped my martial arts. That was a good couple of years ago now. But I keep that core and I've brought that forward.

So, it's just like a cycle. So identify your weakness, maybe push your strengths to the back, you know. If you're iron palm is really good, you know, my iron palm is good, keep that ticking over, but push your strengths to the back and look at your weakness, because that's part of the kind of, what you call a monkly-esque, or that's, the reflection of oneself is like, you know, don't look...you know, you're constantly battling yourself. So you got to constantly battle with what you're weakest at, you know, to just self develop. Try and self-develop as many aspects of your weaknesses as you can. I mean, I've got wide bow legs and pretty small calves, so I've been working on my legs with regards to the strength, and power, and stuff like that. I just keep doing that in a revolving circle. If that answers your question without me digressing too much.

Janelle: Yeah, no, no, yeah, that's great. Now, do you do any type of meditative practice on a regular basis?

Brett: Meditate. Yeah, I do a lot of, you see, through studying, through obviously studying and training martial arts, I actually do a lot of like Qi Gong or what you would call, yeah, Qi Gong, bone and tendon washing. I have a different belief in what it is than maybe a lot of traditionalists do. Where I'm always totting that it's a physical action. So, these Qi Gong postures to do with aligning the spine, lengthening and strengthening that, washing the tendons physically, because tendons have like a lesser blood supply than the muscle. That's why you're doing these repetitive movements. And you're doing gripping and flexion and torsion exercises. It's called tendon washing, the translation, is because that's physically what it does. You know, it's forcing circulation of lymph and blood around the tendon system, in and out of the interstitial fluids. It's forcing it around the whole body.

So it's really cool because a lot of people can get stuck up on the mystical and never understand the physical and practical. But if you understand the physical and practical, that's why they say it's simple first. If you understand the physical and practical of these movements and why you do them, you reap the benefits. So, I pretty much do...

Janelle: I really do appreciate that. Yeah. I love how you described I've never heard to gone described in that way. That's really good.

Brett: Well, yeah. I always toted on my videos. I mean, obviously not...There's a couple of them, not many people watch them. Like they're buried in the internet somewhere. But, yeah, it's a physical. You know, although the Chinese are like philosophical people, they just use like poetic ways to describe actual things. Because the understanding was so, we're talking hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds, maybe even a thousand years ago, some of these manuscripts. And the Chinese language, they are prehistoric language, some of them can read old Chinese from like the dynasties

So, yeah, that's just...It's like the Japanese as well, you know, the way they describe things, it sounds all flowing, but it's actually it's a physical thing. So, yeah, I could go on all day about that. But, yeah. So I practice a lot of that. The Qi Gong stuff, but I don't necessarily imagine energy flowing in this and that, that's one way that people can describe it, but they didn't, to some extent they didn't know about tendon systems and this and that. But actually, if you look at their diagrams of the meridians and etc., a lot of it follows the tendons anyway. What was it? What was the next bit I was going to say?

As you said, sorry, you said? I get sidetracked as well, that's...

Janelle: Oh no, that's okay. Just any, oh, we were talking about meditation, any meditative preferences?

Brett: Oh, yeah. And reverse breathing I do a lot of. So, yeah, the Qi Gong. But I always tote like, similar to like, well, from the 72 secret arts of Shaolin. I always tote like a concept of constant training. So I don't have, well, I do, but, you know, I try and do training, I try and fit it in all over the place. So I'll be standing at work, and I'll just be, I'll be breathing, like, through my nose, reverse breathing into the belly, you know, sucking the diaphragm or sucking the belly in, and just maybe just visualizing the breast going, you know, up the back, down the front, you know. Because I try and do a bit of visualization, they've proven that visualization works. But mainly it's for the, you know, for the internal breathing practice. And the, I think it's northern Shaolin iron wire training is, I was also quite interested in, so I looked into that a bit.

And with the breathing and the sounds, certain sounds and certain ways to breathe. For instance, if you can't get, here's a bit of tip for you guys, if you can't get internal breathing, you don't understand, like, how do I even start doing it? If you protrude your lips and you breathe in, really like you're sucking through a straw, you'll notice that your diaphragm immediately sucks in and there we go, lo and behold you're doing internal breathing. There we go. So, that's a good tidbit for anyone who doesn't know how.

And yeah, so, I do do those. I've been meaning to actually do some more like positive mindset meditation, but like I said, my meditation is usually physical activity, or like when I'm actually training my iron palm training, you know, because you've got a couple of hundred strikes to do, so your brain inadvertently trails off into emptiness. Sorry.

Janelle: Yeah, absolutely. Well, since I imagine a lot of martial artists will be watching this and, you know, whether it's martial arts or just life in general, like, there's a lot of obstacles that people need to overcome in their training or in their life, does any, like, experience stand out to you where you feel like you'd like to share about overcoming some challenges?

Brett: Well, yeah. Just know that, like, everyone knows this anyway, but like good times and bad times they kind of coexist on the same plane. And, you know, I just, personally, it's very hard sometimes, but I personally just try and not, and this sounds corny, I suppose, but I personally just try and not give up. But if you can channel your focus into something positive, even when there's something down as a negative. You know, you can restore yourself. For instance, when I was, you know, I also enjoyed my gym and strength in the training because it helps with martial arts. And when I was 19, 20, I herniated one of my lower discs. I was predisposed to a few spinal troubles, a fused lower sacrum and such like that, it twisted my spine and caused problems. And yeah, so I was like 19, I was like 19, I was doing manual work at the time, and then I did my back and I had this herniated disk, I had chiropractors telling me, "You're going to have to come to chiropractic's for the rest of your life, and you're going to be in pain for the rest of your life, and this and that."

And I just was like, I'm not, you know, I'm 20, I used to be a sprinter as well. Literally I was like 19, 20, and I couldn't, I went from dead lifting 200 kilos to not being able to pick up a one kilo bag of sugar without like excruciating pain. I remember picking it up in my hands, and literally, there was that much pain where anyone who's, a lot of Americans, anyone who's suffered from sciatic or back pain, or herniated disc, or, it's just it's a constant pain. And it's there and it's constantly niggling at your nervous system. I suffered with that pain for five years.

But after five years, this is why I told you before, where I assess my flexibility, and I did yogic practices and stuff like that, I changed up my stances, I looked at my body alignment. So I worked on that for three months to get myself into a place where I could get rid of that ailment. So, that's what I mean, like, a lot of problems that are years in the making, people don't realize they're going to be years in the breaking. They just appear on your doorstep and you're like, "I've got a problem now, you know, my body's this, my shoulder is that." But just know and have faith that you can work through a lot of things. You know, I've had that, that slowed me down for like five years. I managed to work through it and, you know, I'm pretty good. I'm all right now.

Nearly made my back pain disappear. I've had stomach issues, which I just briefly mentioned, but I've had really bad stomach issues, which has made me have to totally change my diet. Whether that was due to training, like, the wrong kind of training in the past, I don't know. But, yeah, I've got those. Other family stresses, more than a number of people in my family passed away. Brothers and fathers, a number of them being terminally ill. And you just constantly feel like you're getting hit from all sides, and at the same time I'm doing a job where people are hating on me constantly, I'm dealing with stressful situations.

So, you just gotta try your best to like endure and find the positive. You know, you talk to, if you read books or hear stories about people who've survived, and this is by no means me, but actual people and heroes out there and soldiers who've survived really crazy things and been lost out to sea, and, you know, it's a mindset. So it goes back to what we were talking before about that warrior spirit. Your mind is a powerful tool, and the ability to be a little bit positive, try not to give up. Yeah, we all break down at times, I've had my breakdowns, I've had my insane moments, I've had my times when I've given up, but, giving up is the final action and you don't have to do it. You can just, you know, you can give up for a second and then just be like, "You know what? I've taken a few minutes, I take a day, I took two days, I'm going to get back on." You know? So, yeah. That's what I'd say about that.

The only thing I can say is just, keep a positive mindset. And don't give up, and have faith. Put faith, if you believe in Buddha, or if you believe in Mohammed, or if you believe in God, or if you believe in nothing. You know, just have a bit of faith in whatever it is you believe in or in yourself as well. And that can take some weight off your shoulders as well.

Janelle: Yeah, yeah. I like how you said that, you know, you didn't break overnight and you're not going to fix it overnight. You know, it takes time. And that's where I think, you know, like you mentioned back pain. I know that you've used some of the Plum Dragon Dit Da Jow in the past, I've used their bruise juice, which I'm not sure if you're familiar with that one. I know you're familiar with our ancestors and the whole family.

Brett: Ancestors Advanced, yep, yeah. Yeah, I made two big freaking drums of that stuff. I have been divorced as well, so I had to leave it behind in the U.K. But there's a big five-gallon, two five-gallon drums of that stuff, which I used to enjoy using. And I also used to use on my back as well, just to try and help it out at the time. But, yeah, now it's lost. I'm very sad about that. I'm so sad about it I can't talk about it, when I think about my two lovely drums of Da Jow, they'll be aged now if they haven't been thrown out. They'll be about seven years old or five, six years old and worth their weight in gold, ah, it just breaks my heart. Breaks my heart.

Janelle: Well, I know we'll have to look at hooking you up with some more. I know you said geographically it's a little hard, and other people in Australia have, you know, talked about, you know, getting products out there for a reasonable cost with shipping and stuff like that. But, getting back to...

Brett: Your catalog...sorry.

Janelle: Oh, I was just gonna say, the bruise juice for me it's one of our anti-inflammatory herbal Dit Dat Jows. And I've used that on my back, I mean, like, it's traditionally for trauma impact, bruising, obviously. But the anti-inflammatory properties in it have been really good for me and my back issues. And then long-term I've used Ancestors. So I like to do the anti-inflammatory when I feel like my back is about to go out, just to kind of like release that tension that starts to build up. And then like, over time, I think, Ancestors is really good because it like seeps in deep into the joints and the tendons and stuff. But, now here I am going on a tangent.

Brett: No, it's all right. I've been talking enough.

Janelle: But, let's see, I just, I guess just to wrap up, I'd ask you if there's anything that you want to share as far as iron palm training goes with those listening, is there anything you didn't have a chance to say or share?

Brett: Yeah. There's a big data, oh, I don't know, it's probably not, but everyone seems to be worried about like what you can break and this and that, and how you can break it, and this is, with this iron palm training, and yeah, that's fun. But, you know, I would urge people to kind of, maybe it's a bit pacifist of me, but remember where it came from, you know. Or maybe it's a bit idealized, but, you know, a lot of things in the past anymore these days and ideals that we all remember. But, you know, these skills came from, you know, well, they were used in war and to train soldiers. But, you know, for instance, with the 72 Secret Arts of the Shaolin, you know, these came from monks, or, I mean, they were warrior monks, but they came from people who were just great training these things with a kind of Buddhist mindset, you know, this constant self-development. This clear focus and conscious.

So, that's probably the best way you can train them, you know. You can't train them in the same way that you punch a boxing bag and you kick some MMA pads and stuff, which is all awesome training, or you kick Muay Thai pads. I mean, in the old days they used to talk a lot about like developing the wrong kind of spirit. And another reason why you can't train them that way is because, inadvertently, you know, these are very taxing on the body and any other stresses or strains you put on your body will only put more stress hormones in you, and when you're training this kind of training, when you're training this high inflammatory impact training, which we try and keep minimal by spreading it out over lots of stages. Just, anyway I like to, you know, just bear in mind that there's a time for a combative mindset and you can always train that, it's awesome, but the mainstay of your training, feel free to use it almost like a meditation. Focus meditation, purposeful strikes.

It doesn't have to be like, it's not like a film thing where you're there going crazy on it. Just take your time and chill out and put the effort in and do it regularly, regularly is the main thing. And that's pretty much all I've got to say about iron palm. Do your tendon washing, and your stretching, and your Qi Gong exercises as well, because they manually do what Dit Da Jows do. Dit Da Jows cause blood circulation, they cause healing, and they encourage circulation and hormones and stuff into the bits of the body. And we're trying to do that.

So when you see these like Qi Gong, these like Qi Gong things, it's not for show. It's not mystic. It's literally like when, you know, there's a famous move where you clench your fists, you bring them into your breasts and pass them sort of back over your chest like this. And, you know, when you're doing things like that, you're physically wringing your tendon system through its range of motion. And you'll see that if you try and do it. You can only move your fists so far and then it stops, and you're then putting a pressure on all those tendons as you arc it down, and it's literally just, it's a mechanical rinsing exercise, and it works and it helps to speed recovery.

And if you look up all your Qi Gong, all your Tai Chi trainings with that in mind, you will see these tensions within the body with all the movements you do when you're doing this, like crane and mirror, you will see the different tensions, the different alignments of the body and how you're lengthening and strengthening the muscles and stretching out the tendons. So, just do a little bit of, what you would call a realistic mindset. Don't rely on powers and magical energies.

Because unless you've got them in here, they're not gonna, they'll never materialize to anything.

Janelle: Yeah. Okay. That's good advice. Well, no. And I'd like to, I'm sure a lot of people want to know where they can get more information or learn more of your training techniques. So, tell us where the best place to go is for that, online.

Brett: Oh, yeah. Well, if people go to Iron Body Martial Arts on YouTube, just write it in there, I'm there. I've also got an Iron Body Martial Arts Facebook page, which I'm on from time to time, and I've actually got a Patreon account, patreon.com/idma, which a few people from the, who support the channel support. I'm not as active on it as I would have liked to be because of some personal circumstances that have cropped up, but it's something I'm trying to develop, which is a bit of a, like a, not an online dojo, but a bit of a, yeah, just a bit of a place.

Because you see, just before I go. I like to share the information, I like to share it out there, but some people are like very, very close minded, you know, which is good. They're very analytical or they're very close minded, and sometimes you share some information and you're like, you know, also a number of other people in the Kung Fu community has approached me and said, well, "Brett, you know, you shouldn't really be sharing these things, because the Kung Fu community is traditionally very secretive and blah blah blah." But because I've found these things out, it's on me whether I share.

But, yeah. So, there are some things that I wanted to build or share there. I wanted to build this interactive thing on there, but it's not eventuated as of yet, but maybe one day it will. And also anyone who goes there just helps support the channel in a little way, like, they can help me to buy some Dit Da Jow from Plum Dragon Herbs, or they can help me to get a new camera or something. I've got a new camera that ended up being crappy, so, it was like, ah, whatever. So you can find me on there. But generally, ask me enough times, I'll tell you pretty much anything. As far as that, yeah.

Janelle: Okay. Well, when we post this podcast, I'll have show notes, and we'll have some links to those sites that you referenced so people can connect with you. Yeah. It's probably good...

Brett: I try and help a lot of people. A lot of people come on the Facebook page, scores of people. A lot of them just appear once, I'll never see them again. But, for instance, there's a guy recently who came, he approached me about back pain and issues, and it just so happens I have a big history of like healing and trying to help my own back, so, I made a video for him. You know, he just popped up on the Facebook he asked me a number of times and I made a recent video which just goes like, "Assess your back pain or sciatica" and I used an old Qi Gong method just to show him how he can lengthen his spine against a wall. It's an old, like, there's an old Chinese guy who's chiropractor as well, and he formulated that, I remember reading it in a book. It's a nine Qi Gong posture. It's like holding the pot or whatever you want to call it. But, just the way it was described and explained was just awesome. And if you train and work it out yourself, it's a really good method. So, I sort of passed it on.

Janelle: I'll have to take a look at that too. That's really cool.

Brett: Yeah, so I did. So have a look, if you've got any back issues, have a look at that back. Yoga warrior pose is honestly one of the best poses that they've ever out there for back pain, because it just, I don't know if you know, but like apparently it's something like 85 or 65 or 75, or a high percentage of back pain is caused by imbalances in the thigh muscles, sometimes 3-D imbalances. So, you won't just have, you might overuse the front muscles, and then also you might overuse one more than the other, so that causes a tilt in like this direction because there's a tilt in this direction and that direction, and you end up getting a pinch on the left hand side of your thing. That's what I had. And so, it's really difficult to fix all these things out, but you can do it, yeah, you can do it.

Janelle: I didn't know that. So your thigh muscles, I always heard your core, but I didn't ever, that makes sense, because when you're in like the yoga poses you're strengthening your thighs, yeah.

Brett: If you look into it, and there's been some research on it, because obviously I had this terrible back pain for years. Once you dig it up, like, a high percentage of back problems are caused by imbalances in the fine muscles, because ultimately, injuries aside like car crashes, but even then, the skeleton is just, it is just a, if you take the muscles and ligaments away from the skeleton, it just falls apart. So, you won't believe the control that you have over how your skeleton positions itself using your muscles. And that's the whole basis of physiotherapy.

Most physiotherapy is to reset your muscles from what they've developed into to what they were. And that's how it works, other than if you've got some congenital problem, which means you've always been a certain way and it'll never change. So, yeah, you can't catch everyone. But yeah, if you look into that for your back pain, there's a lot you can do with flexibility in your legs and thigh muscles, and interesting stretches you can do, which I'll go through in that video, to just assess whether, like, oh, is it my left thigh?

Because if you do any stretch on any particular side, like try and touch your toes or try and touch this side, and you can't, and you can't go the same distance one side as you can the other, then you have an imbalance, and that imbalance will contribute to your back issue, or shoulder issue, or neck issue. And that's all chiropractors and physios do when they stick those wedges under you and this and that and the next thing. They're just a lot better at it because they've got degrees and stuff.

Janelle: Yeah. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. I love physios, that word, we call, I guess physical therapist, but I hear, I think even in Canada they say physiotherapy. Well, thanks for coming on our show. And we appreciate your time. And we're glad that you can talk with us.

Brett: Thanks, thanks for having me. I know you guys have been trying to, for whatever reason, you've been trying to get me for a number of, probably a number of years, but I've been elusive as I always am. So, yeah. But, yeah.

Janelle: That's okay.

Brett: It's been good. It's been good for [inaudible 00:53:44]. Hopefully, maybe someone will hear some of this rubbish that I've been talking and think it was a good idea or something. I don't know. Because I often wonder if it is.

Janelle: No, definitely helpful. So, we're excited to have it and will direct our listeners to how they can get in touch with you and I'll let you know when our podcast is up on the air too. So, thank you.

Brett: Yeah. Excellent. Yeah, make sure the guys send me the link when you put it out there so I can check out, and there's probably loads of other episodes I need to check out too. I've just gotten into podcasts at the moment, because I'm doing a long drive. I've just discovered the whole world of podcasts, so I've got a long list to catch up on.

Janelle: I know, it's great. Yeah, it's all good.

Brett: All righty. Well, thank you very much, and have a Merry Christmas.

Janelle: Thanks. Yeah, happy holidays.

To learn more from Brett Barrell, be sure to visit us at plumdragonherbs.com. We will post show notes, a transcript, and ways to connect with Brett. And if you liked what you heard today, we hope you'll send us some love back by subscribing to our show on YouTube, iTunes, or wherever you like to listen. Be sure to leave us a comment and let us know what you think. Until next time.

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