“Pain is all in the mind” – martial artist

Some of the secret techniques of the ancient Chinese martial art of Qigong, have been demonstrated by Russian followers in the center of Moscow.

The Chinese master, one of the few in the world, who practices the Iron Shirt style of this fighting technique, arrived in the capital to test Russia's would-be masters.

Examinee Pyotr could not imagine that bricks could be hammered on his head, but after the exam he learned that the pain is all in the mind.

“It’s amazing! It didn’t hurt! The feelings have exceeded my expectations. I thought I would feel some pressure on my neck, but I sat down, concentrated as our master taught us and suddenly felt like something exploded down there and my whole body trembled,” he said.

Most of the students took up Qigong less than year ago and it was their first exam on the Hard Qigong "Iron Shirt" style. It is up to Master Shen Zhi to decide how many bricks are enough for each head to pass the crash test

The heads proved brick-resistant and it was time to try on the real iron shirt. The teacher gave final instructions before the nails locked their teeth on to a girl's stomach. Two men were placed on the top, with a concrete plate completing the sandwich.

But not only were they safe and sound – they didn't feel any pain.

“This phenomenon is difficult to explain from the point of view of conventional science. There's a concept of bio-energy which circulates in all living creatures. Many scientists now confirm it. If a human learns to accumulate such energy in large amounts it can let him do abnormal things. It's known that in extreme situations a human can jump several meters high or carry several tons. Here people learn ‘mind over matter’ and how to use their hidden reserves,” Boris Boyko, the head of Black Tiger Martial Arts School, said.

The exam on the Iron Shirt takes place far from its native monastery on the River of Heaven. After the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and ’70s, the majority of Qigong masters fled China. Shen Zhi – the master of Wushu and Qigong – is one of the few possessing the ancient art. He decided to share it with Russians.

“There’s hardly any interest in Hard Qigong in China nowadays. The Black Tiger Wushu and Qigong School is probably the only place in the world where you can learn the Iron Shirt style. I’ve been working in Russia for many years. Russians are very zealous in training and I’m glad to be able to pass on our tradition,” Master Shen Zhi commented.

The number of martial arts schools keeps growing in Russia, raising new generations of future masters. The Black Tiger School alone clinched 33 gold medals at this year’s International Wushu Championship in Hong Kong.

Several years ago, wushu was offered as an Olympic sport. But so far this time-honored and culturally-rich martial art has failed to meet the demands of the Olympic committee.