Does Kung Fu Have Power?

Yes, Kung Fu has extremely powerful striking techniques. Kung Fu power generation comes from 3 things: first, your punches must have velocity or speed, second, you must strike through the intended target, and third, you have to align your skeletal structure so that no force is lost.

Sil Lum Fut Gar Kung Fu

There are few things as intimidating as a true power puncher

This is the fighter that seemingly has the inhuman ability to put down their opponent with just a single punch.  

Is it something that you're born with? Or is this something that can be learned and cultivated with training?

So often when people think about improving their speed and power and explosiveness they'll be looking at quite surface-level things in order to improve so they will look at things like exercises or strengthening techniques to work on the individual muscles of the body.

Often students will ask me “How do I you know get my hands faster” or “How do I become more explosive”. I often tell them the same thing, which is before you even start to think about that stuff you need ensure that your technique is perfected. Think about it, adding extra strength and power onto poor technique is essentially like building a house upon shaky foundations.

3 principles of power

Imagine if you had a car that was to come at you for a low speed like five kilometers an hour and it were to hit you the impact it wouldn't be that great even though the car is very big. You would be unharmed probably.

However if the same car came at you at 100 kilometers an hour you would be pulverized.

I want you to think about your fist as the car.

Let's start with some basic physics now i am far from a physicist not even close. Anyway,  a couple of hundred years ago this guy named Sir Isaac Newton came up with the second law of motion.  It basically means that the momentum of an object is that the acceleration that is it's proportional to the forces that is applied to it.

So obviously you would want to apply quite a bit of force to whatever object you are striking with. For example if you are going to punch someone in the face you need to apply force to your fist using your shoulder muscles, your arm muscles and your back muscles. 

1.Your hand speed can be developed. 

What if I told you that there is a specific kind of muscles that are capable of applying more force and generate more velocity for all of your striking?

This type of muscle is know as fast twitch fibers. Imagine two athletes. One of them is a marathon runner, the other is a NFL receiver. Both atheltes train in running however, if you were to compare the types of muscle fibers found in their legs you would find very different kinds of tissues. 

This is because of their methods of training. One is training for endurance while the other is training for explosiveness.

For the art of Kung Fu you want the explosive type of muscle fibers.

What does this mean? In reality, if you want to increase your speed and explosiveness, heavy weight training is the opposite of what you want to do.

To develop speed it is much better to shadowbox with no weights in your hands. I’m talking about thousands of reps by the way. This way your muscles are able to snap. Your muscles get used to moving a high speeds.

The towel concept of striking

When  I was younger I would we a towel then twist it up so that it would essentially become a bullwhip. I would then go around torturing my younger brother by whipping him on his butt. Don’t worry he has since forgiven me.

But what I want you to imagine is that your striking is like the towel whip. Your arm and limbs move in sections rather then as a whole. Image the towel vs. the stick. The towel is flexible and the stick is rigid. 

Striking in Kung Fu is much more like the towel than the stick.

Isn't that weird? Something so soft and weak like a towel, can actually hurt somebody, which is why many of the old masters said that, even if you're frail or small or weak, you can overcome a bigger opponent by understanding the bio mechanics of power generation. 

And the key of course is relaxation. The secret, is to use your body like a towel, like a whip, or a chain, by dropping your center of gravity through intramuscular relaxation, and then using the ground reaction force accelerating that through your "hips and your center, and then letting your fist or your leg shoot out into a punch, or strike, or kick, or whatever you do.

2. Follow through or striking past the intended target

For you to cause damage to a target you need to move your body weight into that target. I real life self defense you need to finish off an opponent as fast as possible. Remember, his buddy could be right sound the corner with a baseball bat ready to hit you in the back of your head.

So if youcan move your body weight through the target then you have a much better chance at finishing the fight quickly.  You want to move into and through the attacker.  A good rule of thumb to see if you are moving through an attacker is  to see where you are in relation to where you started.

Here’s what I mean, imagine yourself and your attacker standing on marks on the floor. After striking your opponent you should now be standing on his mark. He should be off of his mark hopefully thrown backward by the force of your attack.

In other words taking up the space he formerly occupied. Keep moving forward until that guy's incapacitated or unconscious.

Following through on your strikes gives you much more power because you are utilizing momentum to your advantage. The average person relies on strength alone to generate power, while the Kung Fu practioionner relies on momentum for power.

3. Structural alignment of your skeleton

This concept can also bve called kinetic linking. In the Chinese martial arts their is a concept know as grounding or rooting. This is where your stance has a solidity about it, where it is as if you were literally connected to the ground. Imagine if your feet grew tree like roots into the ground evertime you initiated a strike. Your power would literally double. This is because your power doesn’t “leak” out.

Often times your power is killed by some part of your body being out of alignment. Imagine this as leaning backward while trying to throw a punch. Even if you had very fast punches, you would not be able to generate any kind of power. 

A good way to illustrate this structural alignment ins to stand perpendicular to a solid wll in your house. Get in close enough so the you can place your palm against the wall. Now push really hard against the wall. Hold this push while lifting one of your feet in to air.

You will definitely feel the alignment of your skeleton pushing against the wall while having to use very little physical strength.

If you could align yor skelton at the perfect time in a fight, every one of your strike would have devastating power. Remember you only have to align yourself for a split second at the end of each punch.

So what does all of this tell us? Basically, you need to use our whole body mass to generate power.  Mass pluss velocity will increase the impact of your striking.

Kung Fu

Kung Fu vs other styles

So what separates Kung Fu from other styles? The answer is: nothing. Kung Fu and boxing use the same concepts for generating power. Muay Thai uses the same concepts. Every style that has any significant striking techniques will generate power in the same way. The concepts are universal.

Kung Fu can have devastating power in it’s striking techniques if performed correctly. The key is to relax and not tense up. Use your entire body to hit rather than just arm strength and you can have this type of power too.