On the other hand, many Kung Fu styles advocate not doing any weight lifting. Their reasoning is such that carrying dumbbells cause a person to become stiff. There are several attributes of a man who have lifted weights they do not desire, like reduced flexibility for styles that emphasizes on a wide range of motion for a graceful circular movements, or bulky muscles that gets in the way when reaching for certain angles giving a 'blocky' feeling. Some styles might want their practitioners to have light arms and bodies as they feel that aesthetically appealing muscles gives extra mass that hinders speed and agility while increasing rate of fatigue.
With all the negativity against weight lifting going around Kung Fu circles, men who have already been lifting weights may feel that ray of hope that radiates from our Hung Gar Kung Fu, the style that accepts and even adopts weight training. Not all are agreeable with modern resistance training, but I can tell you most are. They just do not want you to be distracted by it and neglect your horse stance and forms training.
To strike a contrast, people who have already done another martial art such as Karate or Wing Chun are much harder to teach as their learning method is very particular about form, and the contradicting habits are drilled into them. I prefer to take a more open minded approach, students conform to a form if it works for them, but whatever they do the function must be in place. Function over form. And strength training with weights supports function.
The advantages of lifting weights are aplenty. Heavier hitting limbs, more damage resistance, less likelihood of muscle and bone atrophy and being muscular with low body fat allows you to measure up to larger heavier people with higher body fat percentage in terms of strength and hitting power.
As the arm and torso are used to going against the gravitational pull and inertia of a foreign object, hits from the arm feels heavy and solid, instead of light and scattered. The best way to develop tight and heavy hitting fists is to practice punching with dumbbells.
People always like to mock gym goers who 'skip legs day', as they look like their lower limbs cannot support their bulky top. They may have hypertrophied torso and arms but their legs still belong to the skinny college kid from years back. If you are already lifting weights regularly and if you decide to practice Hung Gar with us, you will be able to build up your lower body stability and agility to support your upper body. Horse stance and our forms are much more effective functional strength exercises than squats, deadlifts and lunges.
When it comes to planning the workout regime we want to focus on strength training exercises that are most relatable to the actual execution in sport or fighting or daily activities. However, we also do not recommend putting too much bulk on your upper body to the extent of heavyweight bodybuilders. 60% - 80% bulk is enough, more than that you will be overloading your lower body.
We want to help regular gym users to achieve combat ability and charming agility in movement. Unlike prideful martial arts groups we do not wish to scrutinize weight lifting as a foreign unrelatable discipline. In fact, we use many traditional Chinese physical training methods that also involves weights, you will be interested at our formats of strength and conditioning.
Leroy Kwok, Founder & Chief Instructor of Singapore Kung Fu