You want to have martial arts power, have strong muscles through studying karate or kung fu, and that’s not bad. But there are a couple of things you need to 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, the martial arts are a form of calisthenics.
The basic horse stance is a squat. It is a bit wide, but you bend the knees and lower the weight. Holding the weight at depth, and for time, will give you amazingly strong legs.
The front stance is a lunge. During the course of a class, doing the martial arts forms, you will do hundreds of lunges. Again, amazingly strong legs.
Closing your muscles fast in punch or kick is plyometric. Plyometric means rapid expansion and contraction of muscles, and it results in very lean, dense muscle. During a work out you might do, literally, thousands of punches and kicks.
Working with a partner is resistance training of the purest kind. Better than any isokinetic machine, the muscles adapt to change and exhaustion giving you the best work out 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 practitioners, and other explosive strength types of activities.
Different fighting disciplines build different kinds of muscles.
Tai Chi Chuan builds slow twitch muscles. You are moving slowly through martial arts poses, this is a ‘suspended strength’ kind of weight lifting.
Karate builds fast twitch muscles. You are exploding into a punch or kick.
But both martial arts, all martial arts, are going to develop both kinds of muscles. It will just be in different amounts, or percentages.
Third, the fact is that the martial arts build the best, most useful type of muscle in the world. Different arts give different types of muscle. But all the muscle developed is lean and dense. All the muscle is usable for anything from lifting furniture to spending long hours in a chair.
The fact is that muscles are the secret of motion, and of life. To the degree that you have motion, and here we include the concept of motion through good, strong muscles, to that degree you have life.
And to the degree that you don’t have motion… to that degree you don’t have life.