Resistance Training in Kung Fu Forms Makes for More Speed and Power


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Resistance training is an interesting concept that has been around for a long time, and especially in the martial arts. There are good sides to it, and bad. In this article I’m going to take this concept apart for better understanding.

The earliest example of resistance training I have seen was in the comic book ads. Charles Atlas, or one of those fellows, claimed that in 15 minutes a day you could build bulging muscles. The bulging muscles, of course, were necessary when you went to beat up that lout who kicked sand in your face and stole your girlfriend.

I remember a couple of the muscle building exercises from those long ago courses. One was to place your hands palm to palm and push one palm across the body, and then reverse the resistance and push the other way. Do it right and you could end up with a sweat, and even improvement on your muscular situation.

The only problem with this approach was more in the advertising than in the resistance exercises themselves. Muscles aren’t necessary to good self defense. In fact, in the extreme an improperly built or trained muscle can actual impede progress and function.

The second and more martial example of resistance training came from a kung fu form I learned. In the form the wrists were placed against one another on the centerline, and tension was built. When the tension reached a peak, you released the pressure and the punch shot out.

This exercise was dynamite, and increased speed and power GREATLY. I used to practice this form a lot, and even developed a few other techniques in which I could use this type of resistance training. In the end, I rubbed all the hairs off my wrists, and my punches got so they could go through anybody’s block.

Let me say one last thing on this subject of building big muscles for the martial arts. Big muscles are fine, but I prefer dense muscles. I prefer muscles that are thick, quick, unassuming, and can do the job ALL day long.

I want my punching muscles to be more like a marathoners legs, than Charles Atlas’s guns…I want muscles that don’t wear out, yet shoot the juice like Clint Eastwood’s big .45.

The martial arts are not about the image of big muscles, they are about how fast you can move. They are not about how good you look, they are about how efficiently you function. So, whether you do resistance training in your kung fu forms is up to you, just make sure that you are improving the speed and power of your punches, and not just trying to look good.

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