Posts

Showing posts from April, 2012

Sine wave vs. the core purpose of forms

Image
Derailing the core purpose of forms – let me count the ways...

In my previous article I discussed the core purpose of forms; how in order to be effective training tools, forms must place techniques in a dynamic context. And that dynamic context must be both relevant and useful.

Understanding these components, and having these concepts at the back of your mind while you train, is essential for making traditional forms work for you. After all, a form is nigh on worthless if you simply flap your way through it without a care or a single bead of sweat. The best designed form in the world won't help you one iota if you butcher it with a poor performance.

And poor performance is just one issue. Yes, many students have, and many will continue, to be lazy in their kata practice. That is human nature. But others will err not through caring too little but by caring too much.

What do I mean?

Some students will conscientiously perform kata in a way that robs the dynamic context of its b…

Forms: their core purpose

Image
Introduction

My friend Sanko has written a number of excellent articles in recent times about the nature and importance of forms (what taekwondo call "patterns"). It is a testament to Sanko's considered, well-reasoned and researched arguments that I am revisiting this subject, not to flog the proverbial dead horse but because I feel that he raises important points – points that go to the nub of what we traditional martial artists do and, more importantly, how we go about doing it. I'm talking of course about the practice of forms - what makes them so special and what we need to do to make sure they stay that way.

Forms (形) – known in Japanese as "kata", in Chinese as "xing" and in Korean as "hyung" (although modern Korean arts like taekwondo often use terms like "poomse" and "teul") are a feature of practically every traditional Far Eastern martial system. But what are they actually used for? And do these uses vary…

Magic in the small things

Image
Somewhat synchronously, I have recently had a number of different reminders of something that is fairly fundamental to martial arts study.

First, I have only just discussed the importance of basic or fundamental skills, such as stepping in stances.

Second, this excellent essay by Scott Sonnon reminded me of something I've said to my students for many years:"There's magic in the small things."By that I mean that the true essence of martial arts does not lie in being loosely familiar with hundreds of techniques, but in truly understanding all the subtleties of a few.

And last, earlier today a beginner in the martial arts sent me a query directly relevant to these issues. Essentially his question was this: when, if at all, would it be appropriate for him to start cross-training in different disciplines?

My answer to him was as follows:

My first teacher, Bob Davies, told me that it was inadvisable to dabble until at least nidan - which in our case corresponded to at least …