At the Shaolin Temple, once a disciple begins to study one of the seventy-two styles, they are given a specific Qigong and a specific recipe to make a body conditioning tincture. In the past, the monks used to lie in baths of these tinctures but today we apply this tincture to our body. After making up this tincture, the disciples then adapt it slightly and each disciple has his own recipe. Mine is made from twenty-five natural herbs, roots and barks. Some of the herbs help the blood to flow, some help to strengthen the bones, others help the muscles to relax.
This medicine can also be used for injuries, bruising, and some people say that it can be effective for repetitive strain injury though I have no experience of this so I don’t know if this is true. My own experience is in body conditioning. I used it when I was learning Shaolin Steel Jacket and I could never have endured this hard training without the aid of this special medicine.
The first thing we do when we do body conditioning is warm up our body then we rub the medicine into the part of our body that we want to condition. You need to rub the medicine in hard so it really gets inside the skin. The medicine works in three ways: protects the skin, reduces the risk of injury, and strengthens the bone.
I get asked many times about the difference between my Body Conditioning Tincture and the oil that some fighters use especially Muay Thai fighters. This is oil and not a tincture and the main ingredient is camphor, which has a warming effect on the muscles, but doesn’t penetrate the bones or help to prevent injury.
Another misconception is that Shaolin tincture is the same as “Dit Da Jow”. Dit Da Jow uses alcohol as the base for their medicine where as we use a very high quality vinegar. Why do we use vinegar and not alcohol? Vinegar can take the varnish off a table; it strips the medicine of all of its good things and preserves it.
We also use a secret blend of herbs, roots and bark which is individual and unique to each master. Just as there are varying qualities of olive oil or wine, so it’s the same with this medicine. I take great care in finding the best quality herbs and then I brew my medicine for four years before filtering it. This makes it very potent.
If you don’t do body conditioning but you do martial arts or fighting then I would recommend you use this oil before you train to strengthen your bones and reduce injury. But remember to warm the body up first so that the tincture can penetrate through your skin and into your bone.