Forms, Kata

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Forms, Kata

Postby yat_chum » Thu Jan 22, 2009 6:53 pm

Recently I've been wondering, what is a form?

What are they for?

How many movements make a form? 2-200 linked movements.
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use stillness to overcome movement
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Postby yat_chum » Thu Jan 22, 2009 7:33 pm

Do we need them?
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Postby Ralteria » Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:53 pm

I've thought about this alot actually. Da Cheng Chuan, for instance, has no forms and barely any fixed movements encouraging developing ones own technique.

My own estimation as to why forms are present is to be able to pass down a body of knowledge in a formulated pattern and for the form's practitioner to have a set of "instances" in which to reinforce a specific style or system's principles in motion. Shadow boxing in general builds sense of enemy and intention if practiced with the right focus, as well.

However, from my experience with most (not all) modern practitioners is that forms are more of a technique repetoire. While I think that using form as a platform for finding technique can be a great starting point, most know many forms and carry that knowledge with them like a badge of honor. However, without the indepth ingrained body knowledge of practicing the form and the techniques in the form hundreds (if not thousands) of times the practitioner's knowledge is shallow at best.

Ultimately, the goal is "formlessness" right? So relying on a set of techniques or forms as a means of self defense, I feel, is self defeating. Using form as both conditioning and as a reinforcement of the principles of the martial art I think is closer to the real idea.

Do we need them? The one thing that form allows is that with the preservation of a style's knowledge there is a "base" from which to improve, both with the self and within the style itself. I'm willing to bet every master worth his salt has changed whatever style's form they were doing to suit there needs and/or experience. Take the princples of human movement in accordance with a particular philosophy that have been proven effect, codifiy it into movement. Pass on to the next generation. Peoples bodies differ and thus peoples technique differs so you end up with several variations, but as longs as the philosophy and princples are in accordance than it serves it's purpose. But do we really really really need them?

I don't know, hahah
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Postby yeniseri » Fri Jan 23, 2009 10:02 am

You said it Ralteria!
I learnt a Lamaxiaquan form about 15 years ago but forgot the sequence of movements so over time I just used the basic movements as part of a drilling jibengong sequence. A lot of elbow movements in all angles!
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Postby Ralteria » Fri Jan 23, 2009 8:14 pm

Yat Chum,

After reading your post on Lueng Jan's example ( http://www.ymaa.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1692) I gave this some more serious thought. Funny enough I ended up thinking of a quote attributed to Zhan San Feng from the Taiji classics (as translated by Jou Tsung Hwa). While I understand this is the Shaolin board, I think it may have relevance to what we are talking about here.

"Where there is something up, there must be something down. Where there is something forward, there must be something backward. Where there is something left, there must be something right. If you intend to move up, you must simultaneously show a contrary tendency (downwards), just as someone who wishes to pull a tree up pushes downwards first to loosen the roots, so that it can be easily uprooted."

The last part especially is what really kept running in my head. Have you, or anyone else you know, gotten in to a fight ever? This is not meant as sarcasm but purely as example. I know most people (boys) do especially in schools here in the States. I've only been in 4 fights in my life (4 fights too many, hahah) but luckly they were both when I was young. The first two fights were purely rage and pride induced. In both instances there was no clear victor. We scrambled on the ground, forcing our strength on each other until parents pulled each other apart. The second two were after I had trained Shotokan Karate for several years. In one case I came to the defense of girl who was being pushed around and smacked by a guy. The other was when I was attacked by two fellow students. In both cases I was the victor. I don't attribute my winning to me being awesome. I'm not. I attribute it to training.

In the first two fights I was the epitome of formlessness (and not in a good way, hahah). In the second two I was formless as well (in a much more positive way). I didn't think, I just acted in all scenarios. But I'm sure after all this babbling I just did, I should probably get to the point.

Formlessness is nothing without form. The two cannot exist without each other. The point in the personal examples I gave above (and maybe I'm a just an anomaly) is that without the basis for a efficient movement all we have is natural instinct to rely on. And according to Bruce Lee that is not martial art. Martial art from his perspective was "Natural Unnaturalness...or Unnatural Naturalness." It is a way of moving the body that it is NOT preprogrammed to do yet ultimately works better. Form, Style, Kata, MA systems, that is it's purpose. Whether it is a group of techniques taught seperately or 200 hundred techniques strung together from start to finish, or different techniques from different styles put together in a "blend", it's all still form.

The point where it becomes formless is when you own the movement(s). When thought is not necessary to execute them, that is formless. For without a form to "not do" how are we formless?

I honestly believe that Bruce Lee contradicted himself in that. For someone who attempted to create a martial art based on formlessness, JKD sure seemed to have a lot of "form" to me, even if there weren't any Kata or Forms. And without Wing Chun, Wu Taijiquan, western boxing and fencing, and whatever else that Bruce Lee studied, he would have still had his butt handed to him in grade school instead of growing up to be a big movie star.

The one thing I think that he missed is that you can't teach formlessness. You can ONLY teach form. Form is from someone else, it comes from the outside. Formlessness comes from within.
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What is a Form? Answer

Postby oldstudent » Wed Feb 04, 2009 8:52 pm

How can such a simple question generate such a complicated answer.
I will try my best.
The most fundamental answer is:
A form is a group of basic stances, whereby the student moves from one stance to another while performing a set of martial applications.
For the beginner the form provides a method by which the teacher can pass down the knowledge to the student, and a way for the teacher to judge how committed the student is.
Only by performing the form hundreds of times can the student develop the "motor plan" essential to applying the martial techniques solely by "reaction".
When you first learn a form the teacher will show you the basic stances and how to move properly from one to the next. You strengthen your legs, establish your "root", learn correct hand forms and kicks. You will learn to push yourself and understand the value of patience.
Later you will gain power, speed, and focus. When you pass a form you have only just begun. To master the form you must make it come "ALIVE".
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Postby Dvivid » Thu Feb 05, 2009 7:48 am

Good questions and discussion.

In this DVD...
http://www.ymaa.com/publishing/dvd/kung ... ungfu_DVD1

...Dr. Yang taught a few key points about forms/sequences and defines the terms clearly. Often, the word form is used interchangeably with sequence, but this will clarify.

” All forms must be rooted. Your root and stability are extremely important when practicing a sequence. Without root, your techniques will float and you will not be able to generate power effectively.”

The waist leads the hands.
“The waist leads the hands. When you punch or block, your waist must move first to lead power to your hands, instead of relying on your arm muscles. Develop a sort of jerking power, and direct it with your waist.”

Sense of enemy.
“Sense of enemy. When you practice, you should keep imagining that you are fighting against someone. You will then be able to build up a sense of enemy, which will make the techniques you are learning alive and usable.”

From slow to fast.
“From slow to fast. While emphasizing the previous three points, you should practice the sequence slowly at first, until you can perform it smoothly. Then, you should work on speed, and practice it faster and faster.”

“You should understand the terms Form, Technique, and Sequence.”

“ Form. A form is a posture which is used for either blocking or attacking. Occasionally, a form can be used for both blocking and attacking simultaneously.”

“Technique. A martial technique is usually constructed of one to four forms. It is used to avoid or block the opponent’s attack, and also to counterattack.

“Sequence. A Chinese martial arts sequence is usually constructed of more than ten techniques. It is designed to teach the student the techniques, and strategic movements of the system, through repeated practice and study.”


Image
"Avoid Prejudice, Be Objective in Your Judgement, Be Scientific, Be Logical and Make Sense, Do Not Ignore Prior Experience." - Dr. Yang

http://www.ymaa.com/publishing
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Postby yat_chum » Fri Apr 29, 2011 2:32 am

The whole subject of forms/kata has been on my mind again and I would like to know why do you practice forms and what do they mean to you?
yijing zhigang

use stillness to overcome movement
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Postby yeniseri » Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:03 am

yat_chum wrote:The whole subject of forms/kata has been on my mind again and I would like to know why do you practice forms and what do they mean to you?


One cannot gain martial skill by practicing forms, That being said, as long as there is jibengong and shenfa with the physical conditioning, then one can gain a greater appreciation of form because you are aware of utilitiy (usage), purpose and greater understanding. Doing form without that understanding is just physical performance or dancing!

Shuaijiao has no forms but with the context and training, one can see utility in diverse and unique arts such as taijiquan, baquazhang and xingyi.
In shauijaio there are specific drills aimed at jibengong and shenfa that can enliven most defanged martial systems!
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