All martial arts systems utilize forms as teaching tools. Some forms are choreographed like the kata in Karate. Others are freeform like shadow boxing. Some are done solo and others are done with one or more partners. Many people, though, get lost in the forms. They go through the motions but never look past them. Or they don't look any deeper than the applications demonstrated by their instructor. At their basic level, forms teach body mechanics, posture, structure, spatial awareness, balance, and many other things. People who never look past these basic elements, though, are missing a world of possibilities. Forms are like onions; they have many layers. Each layer exposes different elements and deeper layers. Among other things, each layer contains many possible applications. So, how do we peel these onions? Each person will find his or her own method but I'll outline mine here and maybe it will help you find your own. There are five elements that can be changed in any position or movement, or even across the breadth of an entire form. These elements are: 1. Speed/Tempo 2. Height 3. Tool 4. Line 5. Size Changing the Speed/Tempo This is pretty self-explanatory. Speed elements up or slow them down. Run the whole form faster or slower than usual, or randomly change speed/tempo in mid-form. Change the Height If something is normally practiced standing, try doing it kneeling or lying. Punch middle or low instead of high. Kick to the knee level instead of the head. Change the Tool This one covers a lot of ground. If the form usually calls for a punch, try using a kick instead. Try it with an elbow, knee, or headbutt. Do part or all of the form with a weapon in your hand. Do it with a flexible weapon. If a movement is normally done as a low kick, try doing it as a sweeping motion. Change the height and use your hand to perform the sweep instead of your foot. Change the Line If a motion is normally done on a horizontal plane, try it on a vertical or diagonal plane. Change the Size Exaggerate small motions and minimize large motions. While exploring the forms, don't neglect the space between the postures. As you return your hand from a punch, analyze ways that the returning motion can be used. It might be a release from a grab. It might be a grab and pull. It might be used to unbalance your opponent, or even as a takedown. It might be part of a joint lock or disarm. It might be grabbing a weapon from nearby and that will then change the face of the rest of the form. By mixing and matching these elements, you can find a lot of different applications that often get overlooked in forms. Not all of the applications you find will be workable in real-time, but many will be. And the exploration is fun and practical in its own way. Over time, it changes your overall perception. You will discover that you're able to find applications just by watching a form. Your mind will reflexively visualize what would happen by applying these different elements. By using this method, you can take a short form, like a 5 movement juru from Silat, and find, literally, hundreds of possible applications within the motions of the form. When you apply it to longer forms, you will quickly lose count of your findings.