You want to have the power of martial arts, have strong muscles when studying karate or kung fu, and that’s not bad. But there are a couple of things you should know. These things will help you select a good martial art, or even “fix” your training in that style of karate or kung fu.
First, martial arts are a form of calisthenics.
The basic stance of the horse is a squat. It’s a bit wide, but you bend your knees and lower the weight. Holding the weight deep and long will give you incredibly strong legs.
The forward stance is a lunge. During the course of a class, doing the martial arts forms, you will do hundreds of lunges. Incredibly strong legs again.
Closing your muscles quickly with punches or kicks is plyometric. Plyometric means a rapid expansion and contraction of the muscles, and results in a very lean and dense muscle. During an exercise, you can do literally thousands of punches and kicks.
Working with a partner is resistance training of the purest kind. Better than any isokinetic machine, your muscles adapt to change and exhaustion, giving you the best exercise possible.
Second, there are three types of muscles: red slow twitch, red fast twitch, and white fast twitch.
Slow twitch muscles are good for endurance activities. Long-distance runners, cyclists, all have incredibly well-developed slow-twitch muscles.
Fast twitch muscles are the muscles of choice for boxers, karate players, and other types of explosive strength activities.
Different fighting disciplines develop different types of muscles.
Tai Chi Chuan develops slow twitch muscles. You are slowly moving through martial arts poses, this is a ‘suspended force’ type of weightlifting.
Karate develops fast twitch muscles. You are exploding with a punch or a kick.
But both martial arts, all martial arts, are going to develop both types of muscles. It will only be in different amounts or percentages.
Third, the fact is that martial arts build the best and most useful type of muscle in the world. Different arts give different types of muscles. But all the muscle developed is thin and dense. All of the muscle can be used for anything from lifting furniture to spending long hours in a chair.
The fact is that muscles are the secret of movement and life. To the extent that you have movement, and here we include the concept of movement through good and strong muscles, to that degree you have life.
And to the extent that you have no movement … to that extent you have no life.