Author Topic: Forms part 2. -  Do you like forms?  (Read 5613 times)

Offline John Bishop

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Forms part 2. -  Do you like forms?
« on: April 03, 2003, 05:41:20 AM »
There are many opinions as to the use of forms for training.  Even in Kajukenbo there is argument as to the teaching of forms.  Some schools feel that forms are not practical for self defense training, so they don't teach them.  Other's teach all their forms and more from other systems.
Myself; I feel that they are necessary because they teach balance, movement, coordination, and good form.  But, I really would rather do repetition, techniques, or sparring.
I feel a system should have forms, and that they're a trademark of your system.  But how many is enough?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »
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Re: Forms part 2. -  Do you like forms?
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2003, 06:39:17 AM »
In my earlier training (70's), I didn't care for forms that much. I was more into techniques and sparring. As I matured in the arts I saw the relevance of forms and agree with everything Sigung Bishop has said about their value and if I may add one other, physical conditioning when used as part of a cardio workout. I also feel forms training keeps everything fine tuned. Self defense techniques? Again, totally agree with Sigung, they are the heart of Kajukenbo and Kempo systems & subsystems but many of them too, can be extracted from the forms. Sparring, great when I was younger but at 51 I am trying to salvage what's left of my body, :-/,lol.
Outside of timing, I feel that heavy contact sparring is a must for students on the premise that a measure of one's "toughness" is not how much one can dish out but how much one can take. Imho, anyone can dish out a "beating", it's having the ability to take a beating & absorb punishment that makes one a good fighter-Professor Pesare refers to it as "heart". Some students may come into training these days who have never been hit before. I see this trend at the police academies. The recent professionalism of law enforcement has brought in a lot of recruits who back when may not have seeked such a profession. Right now, it's been reported that something like almost half of all recruits have never been in a real fight before-not a good thing for a future street cop. I feel it is imperative for them to to spar so that their reaction on the street to a surprise punch in the nose will be to punch back and not go into a panic state do to never having experienced violence. I had graduated from the Massachusetts State Police Academy, we had to box full contact and wrestle all out-that, unfortunately, is no longer done anywhere in Mass. :(  Just my thoughts, what say you?

PS: How many forms is enough? good question, how many IS enough? I guess its the quality of the forms practiced and range or variety needed to set a good foundation. So, it could vary from style to style but as I'm sure you'll agree its so hard not to see a good form that fits your tastes and not want to learn it and add it to your system! Know what I mean? :)
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:04 PM by -1 »

Offline Mike Nagano

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Re: Forms part 2. -  Do you like forms?
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2003, 08:15:52 AM »
I like forms, though I do agree that they do not necessarily translate well directly to fighting or self-defense.  They have other purposes:  balance, coordination, combinations, concentration, focus, stamina, explosiveness, control....All of which are applicable to fighting indirectly.  Besides, doing kata is a great workout.  Isn't another aspect of the martial arts fitness?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »
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Offline Mitch Powell

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Re: Forms part 2. -  Do you like forms?
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2003, 01:47:27 PM »
Doesn't it seem like forms offer different things to different people? What I'm saying is, depending on your understanding of the concepts of forms, you can have a different belief of their value to your training.

For those who don't understand forms, you can see how they can quickly disgard them. For those who have learned to only perform the movements in a form, but have never learned the applications of the movements, you can see how they can grow bored of "Dancing" and disgard the need for forms. Afterall, to them, forms are not real self defense!

The concept of forms can be very confusing. I must give credit here. Although I have had great Kajukenbo teachers, I gained much of my understanding of forms from Patrick McCarthy, who was a forms competitor for many years that went on to due extensive research and write many great books on the arts.

I learned while doing a form, the blocks teach me to block, the kicks teach me to kick, the strikes teach me to strike and the stances teach me balance while I practice proper breathing, range of motion, flow from movement to movement, speed of delivery, and intensity of strikes and kicks. And, from time to time, multiple movements are put together in a form to create certain self defense techniques for me to practice.

The goal of a form is not to teach you something new, it's to teach you what you already know. When you practice a form, the form should match the movements within your system. This is where the problem lies with many self defense systems. Their forms have been taken from other systems and the movements and techniques inside the forms don't match the movements and techniques of their systems.

In Kajukenbo, one of the best forms is the clock form (Palama 14). The movements are the basic stances, blocks, strikes, and kicks of the hardline method of Kajukenbo. This is a classic example of a form that fits it's style. You practice that form and you will be practicing the basic movements of Kajukenbo.

The last part of the forms equasion is having a clear, defined explanation of the movements within the forms. Practicing a form without a clear explanation of the movements prevents the student from recognizing the actual aspects of self defense, turning the form into a dance. Forms are not dances.

Unfortunately, a lot of teachers were never taught the applications of the movements within their forms, so they, in turn, failed to teach that aspect to their students. The end result is the question that we ponder today. Given what I know about forms, do I need them?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »
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Re: Forms part 2. -  Do you like forms?
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2003, 03:41:49 PM »
I have been taught the application or "bunkai" of our forms are most important.  At Professor Pesare's Kaito Gakko forms training isn't completed until everyone pairs off and practices the application no matter what  the rank. Last Saturday one of my partners was an 8th dan. We had a great workout! :)  Shihan Joe
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »

Offline Mitch Powell

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Re: Forms part 2. -  Do you like forms?
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2003, 04:36:13 PM »
Shihan Joe brings up a great point. How often do you practiced the the self defense techniques and movements in your forms?

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »
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Offline Nagi

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Re: Forms part 2. -  Do you like forms?
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2003, 05:30:36 AM »
Quote
Shihan Joe brings up a great point. How often do you practiced the the self defense techniques and movements in your forms?

 
Last Wednesday with Shihan Joe Shuras.....
It's kind of funny some times I dislike forms and at other times I really like them. My view's are very similar to all the reply's on the post/thread pro's and con's.

Ron
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »
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Re: Forms part 2. -  Do you like forms?
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2003, 08:33:58 AM »
We don't always have access to a workout buddy for super application drills. So when you've got nobody to workout with, and you feel like improving your martial skill, turn to forms.  It is my phillosophy that there is no excuse for lowsy form- you can practice it as much as you want.  Besides, they look cool.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »

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Re: Forms part 2. -  Do you like forms?
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2003, 10:09:19 PM »
You all said it very well! I would just add the more techniques I learn the more bunkai I am able to see in the forms and the more forms I learn the more I see in my self defense techniques.
Jon Pack
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »

Offline sifutimg

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Re: Forms part 2. -  Do you like forms?
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2003, 10:32:32 AM »
I am another advocate of forms training.  I believe however that it's how you express their importance as it relates to the efficiency of training in general as it applies to combat.  I have had many conversations with others about their usefulness.  Some think forms are a waste of time.  I again do not think that way and it's all in how you express how forms can apply to actual combat that makes the difference in the overall usefulness of forms.  As folks have mentioned forms are a good solo training tool but more than that they are an incredible concentration tool.  Part of training is to train martial movement in such a way that it becomes a part of you holistically.  In my Indonesian training we train what are called Jurus.  Jurus are just like forms but are more intense by how you place your intention and focus on your movements; also the movements themselves are more practical than some of the traditional type of forms I have learned in the past.  Forms train your neurons to understand how to move combatively.  Forms can train the understanding of how muscle and structure work together to generate power and keep balance. I believe forms increase your capacity to learn and can improve memory in general (although not scientifically proven, just something I have seen in myself and my students).  Forms teach to really extend your mind from fingertip to toe tip.  Having the ability to practice this level of putting your mind into your whole body increases sensitivity.  I teach Katas, Palama sets, and Chinese soft forms.  I treat forms training as one of the many core skills I teach.  Within my forms training I teach something I call the "five ways of form".
1 - Normal mode:  This is your normal practice pace.  This pace should be able to generate a sweat.  Within this first way is also tournament style speed.
2 - Check mode:  This is where you execute a movement and check every little detail about it.  Am I in my proper stance with feet planted firmly? Did I loose my balance going into that movement and if so why? Are my transitions sound?  Is my upper body in the right proportion in relation to my lower body with whatever technique I executed?  Did I breathe correctly to backup my power and movement?  This is just a very detailed way of how to look at yourself and challenges what you know about the form.
3 - Tension mode:  Keep dynamic tension on your body the whole way through your form.  This strengthens your structure, your joints, and works your techniques through resistance and when you perform at speed, the techniques of your forms fly, but are strong in their trajectory and application.  This kicks your butt, especially doing the longer forms.
4 - Fast mode:  Do your form much faster than normal speed and don't worry about how it looks.  This trains your mind and body in such a way that the gaps get exposed.  If you are flowing along and don't have any pauses or stops going from one movement to the next, then you have your form down from a mind and body perspective.  If however you have these pauses or stops, then what you know in your mind isn't in sync with what your body knows.  Speed is a great teacher in this way.
5 - Visual mode:  Here you stand normally and close your eyes and picture yourself doing your form as detailed as you can without getting distracted.  This really helps you understand the form holistically and has meditative qualities that will help you with your intention and attitude.  This can also be like a waking dream where you picture actual opponents attaching you in the way you are performing the movements of your form.  I have had student tell me that they loved the way they did their form in front of the judges, but lost concentration when they saw a family member in the crowd.  Visualization helps to get into the role and stay there through the duration of the form.

This is something I came up with about 10 years ago and have found it to be helpful in training forms so thought I would share it.  It makes it more fun to practice forms and really gets you ready for competition.  Again I consider forms training a core skill that teaches you a specific thing about over all martial training.  The other elements like the many drills, sparring practice, mult-man, punch counters, grab arts, etc., all need to be in place as well.

Thank you Sigung Bishop for starting this topic.  Great topic!

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Sifu Tim Gagnier
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »
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Offline MildSeven

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Re: Forms part 2. -  Do you like forms?
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2003, 01:00:03 AM »
I've been studying martial arts since I was 9 starting with judo, then moving on to shorin ryu and now for the past 9 years, kajukenbo and I have to say that the 3 years I practiced judo were the most "fun" from a day to day practice perspective.

We did a lot of not fun things like "duck walking" and loads of sit-ups and push-ups but whenever we practiced, it was always applicable - no rote movements without an opponent or dummy.  The practice of good form was instantly recognized by the feel of someone taking the fall or vice versa.  You knew if you did the technique correctly because you got instant feedback from your own senses, the instructors watching you and your partner.

Quote
When you practice a form, the form should match the movements within your system. This is where the problem lies with many self defense systems. Their forms have been taken from other systems and the movements and techniques inside the forms don't match the movements and techniques of their systems.

While during my shorin-ryu training this was not true - in kajukenbo I find the above statment to hit very close to home.  The forms somewhat match basic techniques that are learned but the katas themselves are nothing like what is taught during grab arts and self-defense drills.  The phrase "This is kata, you need to do it like *this*" is often spoken underlining that kata is not the same as the self-defense techinques or sparring.  Why practice and perfect techinques that are only good for "Scores up.  Scores back. Scores down." ?

Quote
Sparring, great when I was younger but at 51 I am trying to salvage what's left of my body,  :-/ ,lol.

No joke there!  I'm no where near your esteemed level of wisdom  ;)  but I can identify with getting older and feeling the effects of age.  I still believe that kata/forms are not the right alternative to lowering impact as opposed to grab arts, self-defense drills and shadow boxing which all use (or can use) focused attention to imaginary opponents but practice the same techniques used in real world scenarios instead of picture perfect kata moves.

By no means misconstrue this post as my saying that I do not follow and put my heart into what I am being taught now.  In direct opposite, my kajukenbo school is by far the most wonderful environment I can imagine for learning and experiencing martial arts and I deeply respect my professor and his teachings.  I do not however, believe that good kata is a requirement of a good martial artist.  This is an opinion that has developed as I progressed forward in my training and learned more about the arts that I have practiced.

Regarding Sifu Tim Gagnier's comments, I practice the exact same series of modes but not with kata.  I agree the modal thinking and practice is very useful and effective.  However, I've met too many peers who believe that kata is a good measure of their skill as a martial artist and in turn ignore the more physical aspects of their art.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »

Offline Jon Pack

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Re: Forms part 2. -  Do you like forms?
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2003, 08:28:47 PM »
When I started in martial arts I really didn't care for forms all that much. It was all about the workout, sparring and self defense. Over time I have come to believe they are an important part of the overall picture.
We teach a four corners approach. Basics, Forms, Self Defense and Sparring. Each lesson will include some of each and if we see that we are spending too much time in one area we can make an adjustment.
In respect to Bunkai we do like to teach it... but the easiest way to ruin a student is to give them all the answers.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »
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Offline EmptyCup

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Re:Forms part 2. -  Do you like forms?
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2003, 01:42:27 AM »
Here's my student perspective (yet again):

When I first got involved in martial arts I treated kata as a necessary evil.  What I wanted to do all day was fight!  Both of my first senseis' were admanant about learning forms properly.  To my good fortune (which I did not realize until later), I was taught the katas as a response to multi-man attacks.  After being away for almost 10 years from martials arts and jumping back into it again, I find myself reverting to that mind-set.  

A decade of experience can really change your mind on things.  Kata helped me connect my new body with old techniques and helped an old mind connect with new techniques.  I say this last point because before I started kajukenbo, I had only learned hard styles.  I've already started competing in kata in hard and soft forms, but sometimes those cat stances still throw my mind for a loop!

P.S. I totally agree with Sifu Tim Garnier.
As the young man told the wise man about all that he had learned from other wise men, the wise man continued to pour tea until the cup over flowed. When the young man asked the old man why he continued to pour the old man responded, "You must first empty your cup to receive anything."