While most elderly men go to the park for a leisurely stroll, retired railway worker Zhou Chengli prefers a more ‘hardcore’ workout. The 70-year-old practices a nut-crushing routine of hitting himself repeatedly in the crotch with hammers, metal weights and bricks. He doesn’t flinch, even for a second, as he pounds on his ‘balls of steel’.
Zhou, who hails from China’s Hubei Province, says that he has been practicing the ancient art of ‘iron crotch qigong’, which is one of the rarest and most difficult disciplines of Shaolin kung fu. The practice involves daily exercises that train men to sustain severe blows to the groin area. Locally known as ‘Tie Dang Gong’, iron crotch qigong is a secret Daoist technique taught to only the most trusted disciples. Once mastered, it is believed to make a man invincible in the battle field.
The exact technique is still largely unknown; it has been carefully guarded for fear of misuse and only passed on from teacher to student in utmost confidence. A few rare photographs show masters using their crotch to lift heavy weights. Some of them can be seen taking hard kicks and hammer-blows to their privates without batting an eyelid.