Disturbing footage has emerged online of a Chinese man putting a group of children through a gruelling fitness regime in sub-zero temperatures.

Video released by state broadcaster CGTN shows how the self-styled 'Eagle Dad' makes 13 boys and girls, including his own son, endure a variety of combat exercises in a snow-covered field in Nanjing City, eastern China.

The boys initially start off wrapped up in warm winter gear but are later forced to disrobe to their bare chests. The footage shows the man pouring cold water on his charges and one of the boys becomes so upset by the shock treatment he begins to cry.

All the kids who started the workout were able to complete the exercise, the video claims.

The so-called Eagle Dad claims he spent six months preparing the children with low-temperature workouts including hot ginger tea and heat pads.

The video has sparked a fierce debate about overly strict parenting methods on social media. Some say they are appalled by the heavy-handed treatment of the kids but others have praised the 'tough love' shown.

One YouTube commenter wrote: "Good training. Be strong and powerful!"

Eagle Dad's questionable fitness methods have also attracted criticism a number of times in the past. In 2012 another video showed his six-year-old son Duoduo shivering in freezing temperatures during another exercise. "Daddy, Daddy please hold me!", the boy is heard yelling as he runs through a New York street.

"Like an eagle, I push my child to the limit so he can learn how to fly," the father proclaimed.

"If a child does not go through hardship, then he cannot become strong," he explains. "That means when they are small, you should let your child struggle more, allow them to experience more, and it is good for their development."

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