Seven Powerful Herbal Liniments to Aid Training and Healing

The use of herbal liniments for toughening the body has a long and storied history, with cultures worldwide incorporating these remedies into their training practices. From ancient to modern martial arts, liniments have enhanced physical strength, resilience, and conditioning.


Herbal liniments have captivated the curiosity of numerous students who seek to understand their usage and acquisition. Deeply rooted in the arts, these liniments come in various forms, each serving a distinct purpose. The use of liniments for toughening the body has a long and storied history, with cultures worldwide incorporating these remedies into their training practices. From ancient to modern martial arts, liniments have enhanced physical strength, resilience, and conditioning.

Ancient Wisdom for Optimal Training:

Throughout history, masters acknowledged the necessity of medicated herbal formulas to safeguard the body during rigorous exercises. They developed formulas that could expedite physical development while minimizing undesired side effects that hindered progress. These formulas operate on two levels: physical and energetic (chi). Physically, they maintain supple skin, prevent bruising, and minimize the likelihood of sprains. Energetically, they enhance the circulation of both blood and chi. Increased blood circulation flushes damaged cells, while improved chi circulation opens and closes acupuncture points, facilitating the transfer of energy.

Ancient Origins:

The roots of herbal liniments for toughening can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as China, India, and Greece. In China, the practice of healing or toughening the body with liniments is deeply intertwined with traditional martial arts and medicine. References to liniments and their use in training can be found in ancient Chinese texts.

Spread and Adaptation:

As martial arts and their associated training methods spread across different regions, liniment toughening practices evolved and adapted to suit various cultural contexts. In Japan, for example, similar practices emerged, such as the application of liniments known as Yoko Bukijutsu, which were used to toughen the hands and forearms for weapon-based combat.

In Southeast Asia, traditional martial arts styles like Muay Thai and Silat also integrated liniment healing and toughening. These styles incorporated liniments known as Namman Muay and Balur Tjimande, respectively, which were used to strengthen muscles, increase flexibility, and reduce the risk of injury during combat.

Modern Applications and Scientific Understanding:

While the historical use of liniments for toughening was often based on empirical knowledge and traditional wisdom, modern scientific research has shed light on their efficacy. Studies have explored the therapeutic properties of herbal ingredients found in liniments, highlighting their anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and wound-healing effects.

Moreover, liniments have found applications beyond martial arts, being utilized by athletes in various sports disciplines to enhance performance, prevent injuries, and aid in recovery. However, it is important to note that the use of liniments in sports and training is still a subject of ongoing research, and individual experiences may vary.

Herbal Liniments Application and Benefits:

To apply the liniments, ensure the skin is covered with a thin film of the liniment and then briskly rub them in, massaging to penetrate and relax the muscles and sinews. Identify any sore or sensitive spots and provide them with additional massage to stimulate energy flow and alleviate blockages. Most formulas require approximately ten minutes to penetrate the skin fully.

Notable Herbal Liniments:

Among the many herbal liniments available, two widely used options are “Dit Da Jow” and “White Tiger Bone Bruise” formulas. Both liniments have an alcohol base and should not be used on open wounds. High-quality versions of these formulas can often be purchased directly from your local studio. It should be noted that while these liniments have been employed for centuries in China, the United States Food & Drug Administration has neither approved nor disapproved the use of Chinese herbs.

Martial Arts and Dit Da Jow:

Dit Da Jow is one of the most renowned herbal liniments used for toughening in martial arts. This liniment, also known as Die Da Jiu or “Hit Medicine,” has been employed for centuries to promote healing, reduce bruising, and strengthen the body. It contains a combination of Chinese herbs, roots, and other natural ingredients that enhance blood circulation, stimulate energy flow, and alleviate pain.

Dit Da Jow is utilized to treat bruises and strengthen the body. It deeply penetrates, dispersing stagnant energy and fading black and blue marks resulting from training and sparring. While “White Tiger Bone Bruise” is applied immediately after swelling, Dit Da Jow is used during the second bruising stage until healing occurs. Additionally, it is commonly used as a preventative treatment before and after intense activities such as heavy bag work, breaking, sparring, or targeting specific sensitive body areas. Dit Da Jow is also frequently used on working animals like racehorses.

White Tiger:

White Tiger Bone Bruise is an indispensable first aid treatment. This long-standing liniment is employed alone or in conjunction with other remedies. When joint, tendon, or bone injuries are expected to cause swelling, applying White Tiger immediately can help reduce thickening and stiffness. It aids in preventing the formation of black and blue marks and alleviates swelling in sprained ankles, toes, fingers, and wrists. While White Tiger formulas have traditionally been popular in martial arts, their use has expanded to other sports and activities such as soccer, football, running, basketball, ballet, and gymnastics.

The Five Elements Liniments:

Within the realm of herbal liniments, five liniments correspond to the five elements. These liniments are associated with different levels of training:

  1. Fire Training – Imperial Phoenix: This hot liniment is employed during the initial stages of training. It generates intense heat in the hands, forearms, legs, and feet. This serves two purposes: drawing internal chi energy into the hands to build strength and striking power and increasing blood circulation to eliminate damaged cells and prevent callouses. Imperial Phoenix is recommended for a minimum of 1-1.5 years.
  2. Water Training – Jade Goddess: This cold liniment condenses chi in the bone marrow, fortifying the hands and feet while enhancing focus and energy.
  3. Wood Training – Eagle Talon: A cold liniment called Eagle Talon is used in this phase. The training primarily focuses on internal development, involving finger, hand, and arm tension, along with breathing meditations.
  4. Metal Training – Iron Palm: Iron Palm is the liniment employed during the stage of metal training. This cold liniment targets the “essence” of the skin itself, forming a protective sheath that deeply permeates the pores and enhances power concentration.
  5. Earth Training – Immortal Monk: As the culmination of the previous four stages, Earth training utilizes the liniment known as Immortal Monk. This unique formula, originating from the Shaolin Temple, is used to “wash” the hands in a large pot before and after practice. The cold liniment opens the “Lou” channels originating in the joints, supplying constructive energy to safeguard the hands and feet.


The history of toughening with herbal liniments is a testament to the enduring fascination with enhancing physical abilities through traditional remedies. From ancient civilizations to modern training practices, liniments have played a significant role in conditioning the body, reducing injuries, and promoting healing. While the cultural significance and historical references highlight the value of these practices, it is essential to approach liniment use with caution and consideration of individual needs and preferences.

Herbal liniments, though they can be costly over time, serve as excellent tools to promote strong and healthy bodies when used with wisdom. It is important to note that they are not magical instant solutions for achieving goals but rather products whose quality aligns with their price. As consumers, being well-informed is in everyone’s best interest. For those interested, these formulas can be ordered at your local studio, with a shipping time of approximately 2 to 3 weeks.

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