Wim Hof – Secrets of the Iceman

Wim Hof holds twenty world records, including a world record for the longest ice bath. Nicknamed ”The Iceman”, Wim stayed immersed in ice for 1 hour, 13 minutes and 48 seconds at Guinness World Records 2008. In 2011, Wim broke the ice endurance record once again and it is now set at 1 hour, 52 minutes and 42 seconds.

In 2007 he climbed to a 6.7 km altitude at Mount Everest wearing nothing but shorts. Wim has spent many years showing what the human body is capable of, and passing on his method to others.

Wim Hof has taught himself how to control his heart rate, breathing and blood circulation. According to current scientific knowledge, the autonomic nervous system cannot be controlled, yet Wim can, by steering his hypothalamus (an area in the brain which regulates the body temperature).

Even after 1 hour and 52 minutes sitting in ice, Wim’s core temperature stays the same.

In the Netherlands, Prof. Maria Hopman of the UMC St Radboud Nijmegen examined Wim’s physiology while he was up to his neck in a cylinder filled with ice cubes. According to Prof. Hopman, the things that Wim is capable of are scientifically viewed as impossible.

An untrained person would likely die from hypothermia; Wim, however, can maintain his body temperature constant at 37 degrees Celsius.

Her theory is that Wim can influence his autonomic nervous system, which regulates the heart rate, breathing and blood circulation. Hopman is continuing her investigation on Wim so she can determine how his feats are accomplished.

According to Mr Hof, his method can provide you with the following benefits:

1 – Influence on the immune system.

2 – Influence on your mind.

3 – Improvement of blood circulation.

4 – Improvement of concentration and targeting.

5 – Greater confidence and conscious development.

It all begins with proper breathing. Wim is able to hold his breath with ease for over six minutes, while his entire body is submerged under water. Through proper breathing, you can train to hold your breath longer and make conscious contact with your heart, autonomic nervous system and immune system. The next step is to make your body stronger by exposure to the cold. For example, take a cold shower after a hot one. As you progress, you can even sit, walk, or run through snow and ice.

Wing Chun Origins has had a chance to ask Mr Wim some questions that we believe are relevant to all Martial Artists. Within Wing Chun, there is a long and rich history of ”Mind” training, where emphasis is placed on using the ”Intent” to generate soft, relaxed power.

It can be argued that the hidden treasure of the ”Siu Nim Tao” is precisely this type of ”Mind Intent” training. In fact, the late Grandmaster Tsui Sheung Tin, often spoke of this ”Mind Intent” as one of the fundamental factors of Wing Chun.

There can be no argument that Mr Wim Hof has reached a level of control over his body that most of us can only dream of. We hope you will find this interview an enlightening as we did:

Mr Wim, can you please tell us how you came to discover your unusual abilities?

I studied many religions, traditions, cultures and esoteric diciplines but nothing touched the depth which I was looking for, until the ice- water, in my own backyard.

Since then, I knew from within, that mother Nature has the answer. From there, I developed my skills, practising regularly in ice-water. I learned to breathe right and to concentrate without thoughts. A deep and tremendous understanding suddenly arose.

What forms of meditation have you studied in the past?

I learned much from Yogic practices, Kung Fu, Buddhism, and many more disciplines, but nothing compares to cold water.

Do you believe that there is a relationship between emotional states and our physical body? It is taught by many internal arts that the secret to using the ’mind intent’ to control the physical body is through the use of emotions. Have you found this to be true in your experience?

Emotion goes up to our DNA and thus influences us at the very depth of our Physiology. We found that out already in the studies. Believe goes deep. The Mind is chemistry, it is electrical signals and neurotransmitters.

Thus emotions are signals which travel directly to the cells and their DNA. Emotion causes thoughts in the Mind …through neurotransmitters. We are able to change our emotions by going deeply into the Brain and influencing it.

Amygdala is the ”Seat of Emotion” in the primitive brain. We are influenced deeply in the brain-stem, and this has been shown in studies. I can generate more adrenaline lying in bed through focus and breathing exercises, than somebody doing their first bungy- jump.

Do you make use of visualisation when exposed to extreme cold?

Visualisation is a natural thing to do. You think about what you do and want a positive outcome. That’s the way I do my feats as well.

With the cold water, thinking stops. If you love somebody your thinking stops. Find the driving force that makes you feel like you are in love and you can do the impossible.

Anybody can do it! How? We have a great online course.

Can you tell us a little bit more about your online course?

Yes, the online course can be found at www.wimhofmethod.com. During 10 weeks, you will get a new video each week. You can start practicing right away, using the videos as an example.

We have a video mini-class about the online training, so you can experience it for yourself. By subscribing (at www. wimhofmethod.com/Video-miniclass) for the free video mini-class, you can start today with the basics of the method.

In your experience, is there a direct correlation between stretching and emotional states?

Stretching relieves muscle tension… psychosomatically. Doing a good workout relieves the (emotional) tension and frees the mind.

What role does the Solar Plexus play in calming one’s mental state? Can manipulation of this area through posture and stretching result in reduced fear/ anxiety?

The Solar Plexus is related directly to our personality, attitude, and stance toward the world. In work and in exercise, we want to stand out. Freeing the Solar Plexus by good breathing and exercise has a calming effect, because the tension accumulated by emotional interactions and any daily stress, is relieved.

We must develop the physiological insight on how to relieve tension related to the Solar plexus.

Thank you for your time Mr Hof. As a parting message, can you tell us what you hope to accomplish by sharing your methods with the world?

Life is about focus, energy, and sensations. Because of my practices, these have became much more profound and controllable. Learning about physiology and psychology in the cold has allowed me to perform spectacular feats whilst raising 4 children on my own. What more can I ask for?

We can accomplish much more than we ever thought possible. My mission is to show (scientifically) the insight that happiness, health, and power are a choice for everybody. Ω

Wim Hof


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