Why Are Forms Great?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by David Harrison, Jun 5, 2018.

  1. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Bjj and judo sequences are based off what will actually happen in a fight, he steps out of a kouchi gari into a osoto Gari,

    I knee slice pass to far side underhook control, you turn on your side to defend I spin for far side arm bar, you hitch hike to defend I triangle you.

    The above happens every day in sparring. And they also change as people find better ways to set things up,

    Forms for the most part are rigid movement patterns you never see performed in sparring or fighting as you do in the forms and which people can never seem to agree on what they were actually for.

    They are also normally rigidly passed down and based off out dated principles which you have difficulty making work in a modern environment, centerline theory for example, a large emphasis on wrist grabs and defensives due to people carrying swords or edge weapons is another one.

  2. Mangosteen

    Mangosteen Hold strong not

    Sure forms are outdated and heavily stylised now but they started as sequences, just a lack of pressure testing and updating cemented the forms.
  3. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Active Member

    I disagree. But that’s just me. Ones mileage may vary.
    Xue Sheng and Mangosteen like this.
  4. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin

    Part of the problem when discussing forms is that they really serve different purposes in different arts.

    It's interesting to look at the kata of karate styles like Ashihara and Enshin; these styles removed themselves from the more "traditional" styles by rejecting the usual kata and creating their own, designed to work with their sparring styles or general concepts.

    The result is forms that can, exactly as mangosteen says, be performed as 2 person drills. They serve as both kata and step-sparring in karate/TKD terms. But they also lead pretty directly into the style of sparring these arts use. They are also much more fluid, close range, and the movements "smaller" than in more stereotypical kata.

    Here's a link that shows the Ashihara kata both solo, and as 2 person drills.

    02 Shoshinsha No Kata Sono Ichi - YouTube
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  5. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    A project I'm doing at the moment is to take the patterns of Taekwondo and collate realistic applications for the various techniques and templates they contain (from various sources), with associated progressive and tiered 2 person drills, pad/impact work, variations, "dirt", sparring formats, underlying concepts, guiding principles, support skills and support "conditioning" (for example an application that includes grips and grabbing will benefit from developing a strong grip).
    Using the "I" method of instruction (introduce, isolate, integrate).
    So the form can be done solo, with a partner, on pads, pressure tested, sparred and actually used.
    I also want a structure in place so that the applications build on what has been learnt previously in a logical order.
    It's not easy as TKD patterns weren't put together with an eye to practicality but I'm really pleased with what I've put together so far and approached with this kind of mindset the first few patterns actually fit together really well.

    Of course I could just do the drills/sparring/pads etc to the same end without learning a pattern first but I find the patterns useful for reasons I've listed previously in this thread.
    Mitch likes this.
  6. Thomas

    Thomas Combat Hapkido/Taekwondo

    I imagine you've looked at Stuart Anslow's work (in print and video)... really a great starting point for applying applications to patterns. Well worth checking out if you haven't.
  7. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Absolutely. Did a seminar with Stuart a couple of years ago and he's a real pioneer in TKD.
    There are now a whole raft of progressive karate and Taekwondo practitioners re-examining kata/patterns these days.
    Iain Abernethy (my main source), John Titchen (once of this parish), Andy Allen, Stuart Anslow, Ciaran McDonald, Matt Sylvester, Les Bubka, Roy Rolstadt, Leigh Simms, Orjan Nilsen, Henrik Hunstad, etc etc.
    I'm sure I've missed some.
    Thomas likes this.
  8. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    Why don't you go the other way around. Start from application and come up your new forms.

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  9. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    A number of reasons...

    I train at a regular TKD club where everyone knows the existing forms. So I can share info with other people if we're all doing the same form.
    The existing TKD forms are very widely practiced around the world and other people are analysing them. I get to piggy back on their efforts!
    The TKD forms come from earlier karate forms (which in turn were influenced by southern Chinese forms) and I like that lineage.
    It's intellectually stimulating to try and unlock the puzzle of the forms we have ended up with.
    I already "know" the TKD forms and like making use of something already in my repertoir.
    I'm no martial arts genius or experienced fighter. Just an average Joe. There are countless people better qualified to make their own forms than me.
    Even though we have lost the meanings of many forms the old masters weren't mugs and largely knew what they were doing in a scrap. There's some good stuff in those forms.

    And...I do do my own forms...when I shadow box or do bagwork I create my own forms every time. The exact order and structure will vary but inevitably there are certain combinations and templates I return to time and again because I like them and they suit me.
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  10. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    It's funny because in that video Youknowwho posted I can see at least 2 and maybe 3 techniques from the TKD forms!
    Body squeeze = Palm pressing block for example. Very similar to the Tai Chi's posture "Part the wild horse's mane".
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  11. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    This is my point. No matter how many papers that you have read, one day you will need to write your own paper.
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  12. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Active Member

    I think people should not be afraid to add something into their practice in this way, but should not feel obligated to do so. One can become plenty skilled by practicing what has been laid out for them by their teachers. Nothing wrong with that path.

    some people feel that creating aspects of their training is very rewarding and leads to a higher level, for them. Nothing wrong with that road either. But I don’t think anyone should feel obligated to write that paper, if that isn’t the right road for them.
    aaradia, Mangosteen and Smitfire like this.
  13. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    In the early part of lockdown I actually started making my own TKD pattern using the Korean approach as a template but with a British flavour. Drawing inspiration from a notable figure in British history who should be celebrated and remembered (the same way Choi did with Korean people). Including techniques and templates I like and find of value.
    I called it "Tur-ing" after the mathematician and code-breaker Alan Turing. Didn't get very far other than that though. :)
    Thomas likes this.
  14. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    For me forms are like text books. - yes you take stuff from text books to write essays and improve your own understanding of the art. But I would never throw away the text books and replace them with my own essays. I might chose to right my own text book when I feel that I have enough understanding worth sharing. But I would not throw the other textbooks away.
  15. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    My teacher taught me a number of throws. He explained to me the physics behind each throw. he explained to me the biomechanics behind each throw. He then said. there are plenty more throws in the forms. know that you have a point to start go read the forms to find other throws.

    So I learnt to throw by being being thrown, being taught specific throws and learning to apply throws to others against active resistance. At the same time I learned how throws work. I then began to learn in parallel to what my teacher was showing me by experimenting for myself with throws that I observed in he forms for myself.

    When I watch fights I see people moving like they do in the forms all the time, all fighters use classical forms. Take the Philly shell for example a classical form in boxing. Identical to the wing arm in kung fu



    If you want to see the deep classical stances of hung gar in a fight look at most wrestling throws and counters. The movements are the same.

    What you don’t see is anyone striking a stance for no reason like in the karate kid.


    To summaries.

    forms are use as text books to build on learning.

    One learns the movement of the forms that contain hundreds of applications. As one learns the forms one is taught specific applications so that one can understand them. Once one understands them one can begin to learn for yourself like reading a book. In my experience of traditional arts reality is the core of learning NOT the forms. Always you learn something first then you look to the forms then, you take what you find and test it. It is not real unless you understand what you are trying to achieve and how you are trying to achieve it. And you can repeatedly apply it against an actively resisting opponent.

    You don’t see pointless classical poses in fights but you do see real classical posses in application all the time.
    Last edited: May 19, 2021
  16. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    I always liked this take in forms
  17. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Active Member

    Do you have a link to the complete text? This feels like too small of an excerpt for me to make any sense of it. There is clearly more context to what is being said.
  18. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Grandmaster Wang Xiang-Zhai (1885-1963).
    Wang Xiangzhai was the gentleman who gave us YiQuan and who thought even Xingyi had moved away from looking at intent and combat focus to chasing forms for forms sake. The master who went around china challenging everyone and who developed a generation of the best fighters in china
  19. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Active Member

    So what is your interpretation of the section you quoted prior? And do you agree with what you believe this fellow is saying?
  20. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    My interpretation is that he was worried people were too interested in forms and performing them like their masters than in actually developing fighting skill, this interpretation stands up if you look at what he did with his art, he basically took xingyi back to its roots, the 5 basic seeds and away from the 12 animal forms, it would appear he wanted people to concentrate on structure, power generation and making it work in actual fighting.

    He felt Chinese arts were moving away from this towards collecting forms and copying movements from their teachers without thinking for themselves

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