Forms - Why we do them?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by mrt2, May 21, 2018.

  1. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    i am hesitant to answer this because it begins to sound like style bashing. but that is not my intent or the way i feel or see things. please understand.

    it has to be understood that the lineage of martial art we are talking about moves backward in time going from one culture to another. Korean arts: Japanese karate: Okinawan Tode: Chinese Quan fa: India's various martial arts.
    to use an analogy think of a very vivid picture full of details and color. the images are alive and vibrant. photocopy that, then continue to photocopy the photocopy a few hundred times with varying quality copiers and what do you have? in order to compensate for the degradation the image needed to be "corrected" some. over time what was once a soft and fluid contrast between moves has become a ridged and bold line, often robotic.
    so i used the term monochromatic to illustrate the lack of vibrancy and variation.
     
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  2. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    While this is true, I hold that forms practice, when done correctly, is a very valuable tool in developing combative skills.
     
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  3. Mitlov

    Mitlov Blue Belt

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    I can't agree with the negative "lack of vibrancy" and "robotic" explanation above, but I do think there is a significant difference in pacing. In Shotokan, forms have varying pacing; there are slow sections, fast sections, snappy sections, smooth sections, etc. In taekwondo, the forms were all performed at a constant pace, in my experience. (I'd say Tang Soo Do is more like Shotokan than TKD in this respect though).

    As for the evolution of the forms, Okinawan karate's set of five "Pinan" forms were minorly tweaked to become Shotokan karate's five "Heian" forms. These were then minimally tweaked again to become the "Pyong Ahn" forms of Tang Soo Do. With each of these evolutions, it was less a matter of changing the sequence itself, and more a matter of changing the expectation of what the "right" way to do each motion in the sequence is.

    A more significant change occurred when the forms went from TSD to ITF taekwondo. The series of patterns beginning with Chon-Ji, Dan Gun, and Do-San have sequences and subsections that feel like they're ripped out of the Heian forms, but there's no longer a one-to-one correspondence like there is comparing Pinan, Heian, and Pyong Ahn.

    Then finally, WTF taekwondo introduced the Taegeuk patterns, which don't appear to resemble the Pinan/Heian forms at all to my eye, and rely heavily on a "walking stance" that was never part of those forms. That's not a criticism, just a note on the history of its respective forms.

    And some karate forms have also completely ditched the traditional Okinawan and Japanese forms in favor of something new. Enshin karate, a Kyokushin offshoot, has forms that look like this:

     
    Last edited: May 21, 2018
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  4. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    I remember some grueling times when my Grand Master would stop class in the middle of a form to go into a long explanation. Great conditioning though. Both physical and mental.
     
  5. KenpoMaster805

    KenpoMaster805 Black Belt

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    kata is an excercise in which we practice offensive and defensive technique with an imaginary opponent its a physical power of speed balancetiming coordination and focus its very important in every Martial arts to practice their form specially when you do the bunkai its effective
     
  6. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    Our beginner TKD forms are performed at a constant pace, but there are different pacings to certain forms as you get into the more advanced belts. Of course, that's relative to our normal pace. To use the music analogy we used earlier, it's not like one is blues and one is metal. It's more like one is Master of Puppets and one is Enter Sandman. But there's still differences in pacing as the forms get more complex.
     
  7. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Done properly, forms teach the most important part of any martial art - movement. In forms, that means learning various techniques in a particular pattern. And then refining those movements. Ultimately, they should be a tool to learn/practice the principles underlying those movements; the balance, timing, distancing, etc that makes the movement effective as something other than dance.
     
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  8. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    While my description might be viewed as negative, my view point is not. I even stated that prior to my comment.
    I do find it ironic that you said you can't agree but then continue to point out how forms were "tweeked" which was exactly my point.
    I would also point out that your post seems to be focused on a small selection of a few specific forms. Where my comments were more general, looking more at the macro level of the styles. Especially the differences between Chinese kung fu and the Korean arts. Where it seems you and others are only comparing TKD and TSD to Shotokan.
     
  9. lianxi

    lianxi Yellow Belt

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    Actually, I agree with you - I practice solo and do only forms but they teach footwork, balance, coordination, proprioception and much more - all of which help me when I DO use fighting techniques. I think that's why this is such an interesting topic - ie - the efficacy of forms for fighting - I think both views are true.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2018
  10. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    When I studied TKD, in fact we all had to do things exactly the same. That wasn't all bad, as what we were taught was a good way. When I began studying Hapkido, I was surprised when one day I asked exactly how a move was made. I was told that I was being taught what was thought to be the best way, but that each student had to make a technique work for themselves, so some variation was allowed; if the result was the intended result.
     
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  11. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    What a beautiful kata. Thanks for the link.
     
  12. mrt2

    mrt2 Purple Belt

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    Very informative. Thanks for the explanation. Maybe this is just me, but I would like it if my TSD teachers or my TKD teachers now would offer some of this perspective. I studied TSD for 3 years, but it wasn;t until recently that I discovered that the Pyong Ahn forms were, in fact, the same forms used in Shotokan Karate. And, that tradition of shrouding the forms in mystery continues today, as I am learning Chun Ji, Dan Gun, and Do San. My school's explanation of these forms is all about the supposed meaning of the forms in Korean, so Chun Ji means Heaven and Earth, Dan Gun is named after the founder of Korea in 2333 BC, and Do San is about someone named Ahn Chang Ho. Reading ahead in my student handbook, the explanations of all the forms up to the highest level ones continues with this pattern of obfuscation.

    Maybe some more experienced TKD practitioners here can help me out on this. It seems to me it makes more sense to tell practitioners when the form was created, what elements from earlier forms are included in the particular form or series of forms, and why, rather than shrouding this in mystery.
     
  13. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I guess what I was really commenting about was my perception that some people tend to group intentions by forms vs sparring. They seem to believe that if you do forms then your training is focused on health and well being and being “artistic”, and not on being able to fight, while if you spar (and often disregard forms) then your purposes are centered around being able to fight. Seems to me that some people automatically make these groupings.

    I don’t know that you were saying that, but it sounded a bit like you might have been. So I was simply saying that the grouping that I described above is not accurate, and that forms training, when done correctly, is very useful for combative purposes.
     
  14. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    Hmmm...you may be talking about me.
     
  15. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    Often in the orient, due to the influence of Confucianism, the older something is, the better it is. And always, your own country is always most correctly aligned with the heavens.

    Couple that with the short but harsh Japanese occupation of Korea and you aren't likely to see Japan get credit for much of anything
     
  16. mrt2

    mrt2 Purple Belt

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    From what I read, Japan started to invade Korea in the 19th century, annexing it in 1910, and continuing through the Japanese defeat in 1945. Hardly a short occupation. But you make a good point. That said, many of the founders of modern Korean martial arts studied under Japanese masters. Might as well acknowledge the obvious. Nobody really knows how ancient Korean martial arts was practiced because every living practitioner of those arts is dead, and the Japanese banned the practice for 2 generations.
     
  17. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    Well, I guess I was comparing it to the occupation and eventual annexation of Okinawa. I am sure the Japanese intended the same fate for Korea, but due to unfortunate happenstance for them, the Japanese lost WWII.

    As to recognition of history of a Korean Art only to ancient Korea, there may be others, but the only one I personally know of to state otherwise, is Hapkido. It acknowledges its beginnings in Dai-Ito Ryu from the time the founder was living in Japan. I can tell you my GM told me that there was an attempt to show a Korean only lineage, but all the GMs knew the origin was from a Korean man who spent many years in Japan, and returned to Korea, bringing his martial arts knowledge with him. There is controversy about his recognition of rank by the Dai-Ito Ryu association, but he obviously knew a lot of the art.

    In keeping with what I stated before, Dr. He-Young Kimm, in his first book on Hapkido, related (fabricated?) a lineage of strictly Korean ancestry to the Hwa Rang Do and beyond. Simply not true. I put fabricated in parenthesis since I don't know that he didn't accept that history in good faith from one of his teachers. But he should have been close enough to the founder to know better. I don't know what he may have said in his second book since I don't have it.
     
  18. Mitlov

    Mitlov Blue Belt

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    I agree that the forms evolved as they passed from Okinawan Karate, to Japanese Karate, to Tang Soo Do, to ITF Taekwondo. I disagree that that evolution consists of "degredation" or the elimination of "human-ness" or "vibrancy."

    I didn't comment on Kung Fu for two reasons. First, lack of first hand knowledge, unlike Shotokan, TKD, and TSD. Second, to my knowledge, the Pinan forms don't show up there at all, so it doesn't tie into the evolution of those particular forms.
     
  19. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    Some CMA forms were designed in such a way that the 1st half of the form can match the 2nd half of the form. This kind of form design emphasizes on fighting application than basic training, or performance.

    Here is one example.

     
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  20. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    I like the idea. My Dad had a similar idea where one person does the first move of the form, and the second person does the first move back and the second move is the counter to the first...and the third move is the counter to the second, and so on. That seems impossibly difficult to choreograph, but I like this idea.123
     

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