Shin Conditioning – Important Tips to Get Rock

Shin Conditioning

Shin conditioning is as old as martial arts itself. We may never know why someone was crazy enough to even consider using his leg as a bludgeoning tool (though I can think of a couple of reasons). The fact remains that the shin can, over time, be turned into a deadly weapon.

We’re going to take a quick look at the why and how(s) of shin conditioning.

The Purpose of Shin Conditioning

Well obviously it’s to harden yourself, so you can do more damage while taking less. The reasons behind it run a little deeper though. The typical person actually has a very sensitive shin. Though it’s only bone and skin, it hurts like hell to have something ram against it. In particular it hurts when striking against an even slightly hard service.

This is pretty inconvenient. The tibia bone that makes up your shin is so large and solid that (technically) it would make a great weapon. You are figuratively walking around with two baseball bats attached to your body.

Shin conditioning is a way to overcome the inherent weakness of our bodies to create an impressive natural weapon. Martial arts masters of old discovered that light repetitive impact on the shin hardens it over time. The result is being able to break a man’s neck or cutting down a banana tree with your leg. I’m certain these were very useful abilities back in the day.

Shin Conditioning

The Science Behind It

This isn’t just hogwash, the practice makes scientific sense. Lots of people mention the killing of nerve cells in hardening training. They mean the sensory nerves that tell our bodies to feel pain. Most of the time this isn’t the case. In fact if this is the training method you’re following you are dead wrong.

Intelligent hardening works on toughing the muscles, bones and skin of a particular body part. The repetitive impact during training works just like weight lifting. Your body responds to the stress and strengthens itself in anticipation of more stress.

Most martial arts such as Shaolin, Karate and Muay Thai claim that it takes you at least 2 years before your conditioning training will pay off. Scientifically, this has to do with the time it takes for the human body to replace its cells. The body you have now isn’t made up of the same cells as 10 years ago. The only part that doesn’t replace itself is the central nervous system… it just dies… slowly.

Below are some examples of the time it takes for old cells to be replaced.

  • Skin cells: 27 days
  • Red blood cells: 4 months
  • Bone cells: 10 years

It takes 2 years to see strong results with hardening because your body has to adjust itself. That’s also why we can lose the physical gains with have made during training over time. Increasing bone and muscle density has a lot to do with it.

Killing you nerve endings will work and it will be quick, but it’s dumb and unnecessary.


Shin Conditioning - Useful Tips

1. Method 1: Kicking the Heavy/Sand bag

Shin Conditioning - Sand Bag

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he first and easiest method to condition your shin is by kicking the heavy bag. It’s the least drastic and safest way to improve yourself. It’s also slow. You’ll never get the best of results by only using this method. For most of us it will however be enough.

Competitive Thai boxers kick the bag for years. Many of them start training as kids and by the time they are ready to compete their shins are pretty well adjusted. They may do other training to supplement the hardening process, but it’s not really essential. If you have the time this is a practically painless way of hardening any body part.

2. Method 2: Wooden Brush

Shin Conditioning - Wooden Brush

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don’t know the traditional name for this. Essentially you bundle up chopstick sized sticks and start smacking your leg with them. Over time this will give you an ‘iron leg’. This is the method the shaolin monks and other Chinese practitioners used. Sometimes instead of wooden stick little metal bars would be used for the more advanced practitioner.

Just like kicking the bag, this method doesn’t hurt and will leave your nerves well intact. But it’s really nosy. Back in college my housemate used to shout at me whenever I’d do this. I’d be watching TV and smacking my legs. Needless to say he was not impressed and I eventually stopped because I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable (or rather he was making me uncomfortable).

3. Method 3: Rolling Pin

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ave you ever watched ‘The Accountant’ with Ben Affleck? The main character has some slight mental challenges, but as he grows up he learns how to control his violent outbursts. He locks himself in a room, listens to rock music and uses a rolling pin on his leg.

Shin Conditioning - Rolling Pins In the movie he kills a guy by punting his head a single time. This is another ‘soft’ method of hardening your shin. The rolling pin easily lets you control how much pressure you want to put on your shin. Just like with the sticks, you could do this while watching TV or something similar.

One thing you have to remember with all these methods is to apply them in a balanced way. Don’t forget to work on both legs. Take care of both sides of your shin. Go down all the way to your ankles, harden your foot a little while you’re at it.


Wrapping it Up

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ersonally I find that shin conditioning is meant as much for defense as it is for offense. Checking a kick can hurt you as much as it hurts your opponent.

If you intend to fight anything like a Thai boxer (kicking hard without working of combinations) this training is a must. It’s just too easy to crack or break your shin/foot. The amount of power you can generate with every kick surpasses your body’s ability to take punishment. Don’t train hard, train consistently. Be patient and take care of yourself. If you do you may end up like Buakaw Banchamek. In the video below he shows the banana tree whose boss.


Robert Sterling
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Teaching, Friendly, Young, Passion. Always wanna go up & down. Hey, you gotta live, do you?  

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