Learning much higher ranked forms...

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by _Simon_, Mar 6, 2018.

  1. _Simon_

    _Simon_ 2nd Black Belt

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2018
    Messages:
    700
    Likes Received:
    237
    Trophy Points:
    58
    Location:
    Australia
    Not specific to karate, but to all folk I reckon ;).

    I was wondering what you guys thought of wanting to learn higher level forms/kata whilst at a lower level. Whether it's a good idea? A very bad idea?

    I can see both sides I guess...

    Pros: expand your learning, understanding, motivation and enthusiasm for training.

    Cons: potentially teach yourself bad habits and inefficient movement patterns, learning advanced concepts that need prior training and development in lower grade kata, can develop a 'jack of all trades and master of none' mindset etc..


    There are alot of kata that I am just so drawn to when I watch them; ones I really want to learn. For example today I worked on Yantsu (which is around where I'm at), but also looked at trying some moves and sequences from Kururunfa, a kata usually learned around 2nd or 3rd Dan in Goju Ryu (which I am definitely not at hehe).

    I don't think this is a case of 'greedy student with no patience wanting to learn everything now now now', but a genuine curiosity and willingness to learn. Of course, it would be very difficult as I'm not officially training at a single dojo (still exploring), but in the meantime in any home sessions I do, I'd still like to expand my training.

    And even with the possibility of certain kata not being in the future style I commit to, I wonder if there is this possibility of still learning new forms properly without that guidance from an instructor the dojo.. it does take quite a degree of proficiency and mastery to teach these things yourself. Videotaping can help, as well as breaking down every little section of the kata, practicing stance transitions etc and getting the feel of it in a real back-to-basics sense.

    Part of me say... "forgot about it, go nuts!", and parts says... "maybe leave that until later when you've got more of a foundation, and work on lower/current/slightly higher level kata".


    It's more of a general question here rather than pertaining to my particular situation (pretty sure I will continue to train them ;) ).

    Is it a beneficial or detrimental thing to train in much higher level forms?


    Interested to hear your thoughts :)
     
  2. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2016
    Messages:
    3,008
    Likes Received:
    1,056
    Trophy Points:
    253
    Bad idea. I've seen it done before never fond of it. Mainly because these forms are higher up for a reason either they're more difficult and using movements you haven't learned yet or in some cases the forms are progressive meaning by learning the lower form you'll have a better understanding of the base for the new form.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  3. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

    Joined:
    May 16, 2014
    Messages:
    2,574
    Likes Received:
    1,148
    Trophy Points:
    253
    to learn a form without an instructor is not a great idea to begin with. to learn a form when your not even currently doing that style is worse.

    says the guy that wants to learn a bunch of new forms. :)

    besides memorization of a bunch of moves what would you really be learning?

    if you really want to learn some forms ignore what everyone here says and go do it. all its going to cost you is some time and effort. but your future self might look back and say,,, well that was a waste of time. but right now you want to do it so go get it out of your system if you have to.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. wab25

    wab25 Blue Belt

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2017
    Messages:
    249
    Likes Received:
    183
    Trophy Points:
    183
    Why the rush? So many people train with the mindset of "if I only get to that rank or to that form..." Then you get there, and realize that not much changed. You have a new belt / form... your new goal moved... Why not enjoy the journey, enjoy the training, enjoy the learning. Those advanced ranks, forms, kata, techniques... there are not going anywhere. They will be there when you are ready.

    Here is the dirty little secrete to martial arts. The most important stuff is taught first. That way you have the most practice, with the most important stuff. Sure, we start with the basics. But, the basics are not the basics because they are easy or simple (though many times they are). The basics are the basics, because everything else is built on top of the basics. The better your basics, the better your intermediate and advanced stuff will be.

    Can you copy the moves in the right order? Sure. But learning the order of the moves, is very different from learning the kata, form or technique. Without the proper basics and foundation, sure you can do the advanced forms... but what you will have will be more of a line dance than anything else. Can you find martial meaning in your line dance? Sure. Will it be the meaning that your art is trying to teach you with that form? Who knows. Without the proper foundation, you may miss a lot. But you will have a cool looking line dance.

    Its great to have goals, and targets. But take most of your enjoyment from the journey. There will always be another goal or target. What was a huge milestone, will become much less over time. Rather it is the experience of the journey that is import. Be happy training where you are, build your foundation. The rest will come.
     
    • Like Like x 3
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. skribs

    skribs Master of Arts

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2013
    Messages:
    1,520
    Likes Received:
    275
    Trophy Points:
    123
    Location:
    Lakewood, WA
    I think in general, no, but the rule has a lot of exceptions. For example...

    1. Every once in a while we'll have students practice a higher level form so they don't have to sit down while everyone else works on theirs. This is more often in the beginner class where the forms are very basic.
    2. A lot of the adults at my school have a lot of prior experience. We've had several students who were red belts 10-15 years ago and quit before getting their black belt for one reason or another. These students usually start over as white belts but progress very quickly.
    3. I was in somewhat the same boat as #2 (was a green belt 14 years before I started as a white belt at my current school), plus I practiced obsessively and have a pretty good mind for academics. (Things like timing and coordination are another thing, but the memorization and understanding of the forms comes easy to me). We have tests every 2 months. So if it took me 3 weeks to learn the testing material, I would watch the next forms and patterns and try to learn those as well. But I always held off on learning and memorizing the next form if I was still learning stuff at my current level.
    Of course, these are the exceptions. I can think of several students at my school that either keep begging to learn the next form when they're still working on their current form. They're adamant they know their stuff, and they "know" it but they don't know it. (They know the basic movements, but not the fine details).
     
  6. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    3,447
    Likes Received:
    1,888
    Trophy Points:
    353
    Location:
    In the dojo
    I’ve got a bunch of contradictory feelings on this when I ponder the same thing...

    I started learning Kanku Sho when I left my previous organization about 18 years ago, but never learned the whole thing well enough to do it on my own. I loved that kata, and feel like I need some closure I guess. My current organization doesn’t do it. I feel like pulling up Kanazawa’s video and practicing it.

    I like the version of Yantsu kata we do. But I discovered the Shito Ryu version (the call it Yantsu and Ansan) that it came from and like that a lot more. I think it would be cool to learn that version; not that I’d look cool doing it, but just as a personal satisfaction thing. I’ve done Yantsu for so long that I highly doubt I’d confuse the two in class.

    Then there’s empty handed and weapons kata we don’t do in our system that are similar enough to what we do, yet aren’t in our syllabus. Some of them seem pretty good.

    Then the other part of me thinks I should spend the time I’d learning an outside kata on kata I already know. I’m sure my teacher still sees flaws. Rather than doing something else, I should try to perfect what’s more important. If I was a math teacher and my student told me he didn’t do his 7th grade homework because he spent the night trying to do calculus, I’d shake my head and tell him he should first actually learn his grade level stuff before trying ridiculously over his head stuff. I’d probably be thinking “this moron doesn’t even know how to divide, yet he thinks he can handle derivatives.” Kinda puts it into perspective.

    At the end of the day, o say do what makes you happy. Want to learn Unsu? Go ahead. Want to learn Tsuken-Aka-Chu-No-Iyuke-De (an Okinawan boat oar kata)? Have fun. Life’s too short.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Messages:
    10,833
    Likes Received:
    1,557
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Too much energy on looking ahead and thinking about other things, and not enough on what you are doing right now.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. wab25

    wab25 Blue Belt

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2017
    Messages:
    249
    Likes Received:
    183
    Trophy Points:
    183
    I thought that for derivatives, you just multiplied the little number by the number in front of the x, then subtracted 1 from the little number... No dividing needed!
     
  9. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Messages:
    10,833
    Likes Received:
    1,557
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    San Francisco
    I am taking calculus now. I only wish it were so easy.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    3,447
    Likes Received:
    1,888
    Trophy Points:
    353
    Location:
    In the dojo
    It wasn’t that easy when I took Technical Math (basically engineering math) in college. It was over 20 years ago and I’ve never used it outside of class, so maybe I’m wrong.

    Edit: even if no division is need, it’s still significantly more difficult than division.
     
  11. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

    • MartialTalk Mentor
    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2011
    Messages:
    7,810
    Likes Received:
    4,593
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    Maui
    I wish I could hit the like thingee, the agree one, and then the like one again.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2016
    Messages:
    3,008
    Likes Received:
    1,056
    Trophy Points:
    253
    Thing is if you're serious about training why rush? If you have no plans to quit you'll learn them eventually when you're ready to learn them. As for other styles forms. Sure there's no real reason you can't look at other forms but why bother? You've got enough to work on in your own style. No matter how good your form is it can always be better
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. _Simon_

    _Simon_ 2nd Black Belt

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2018
    Messages:
    700
    Likes Received:
    237
    Trophy Points:
    58
    Location:
    Australia
    Firstly, thank you all for your very thoughtful responses, they were really quite helpful! And they definitely put things into perspective :)

    I see what you're saying and it does make sense. I can assure you that this isn't 'shiny new ball' syndrome hehe. It's a real curiosity and drive to learn these forms for their own sake, not to look cool, learn only new things etc. But I do see what you're saying for sure. I can't see that it would be a waste of time at all though... It would only be a waste if I just dabbled in it, copied the movements, didn't study and analyse it, and if it didn't help me learn better technique, stances, and become a better martial artist.

    I think if done in a mature way it can be beneficial, but I will take on board everything you've said. And that's true, without an instructor or guidance it can definitely be detrimental..
     
  14. _Simon_

    _Simon_ 2nd Black Belt

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2018
    Messages:
    700
    Likes Received:
    237
    Trophy Points:
    58
    Location:
    Australia
    A great post, thanks so much that was very encouraging :). Yeah makes sense to be where I am and build more of a foundation.

    I can say it's definitely not through impatience or rushing. My current grade is 4th kyu, and it took me 7-8 years to get there (of consistent training too), but through my own choice. I didn't want to do every single grading, even if I was 'good enough' to do them. I purposely wanted to go about a year or so between grades as I really wanted to absorb and cement and learn what it means to be this grade. I didn't want to rush, and if there were things I felt like I needed to work on or understand more, I would explain that to my instructor and he would totally understand.

    I like that.. they'll be there when I'm ready.

    I guess I should have clarified something in my original post... my bad... I guess I was moreso referring to kata that are in other styles which I won't be able to train in, but see a lot of value in. I guess if I wanted to learn it the only beneficial way is training in that actual style for sure, but I guess my question is directed to whether any benefit can still be gleaned from it. Of course it would be quite difficult, as a foundation built in another style will differ to others, so I may not have the appropriate structure to actually learn it properly, but moreso as a training tool of sorts to see how I can adapt and learn from it regardless. It seems it wouldn't reinforce bad habits if I had a solid foundation within my stances and techniques and didn't rush through it. Plus if the kata did have techniques and movements that I am very familiar with training on their own, the transition would be easier.

    But of course, totally agree with enjoying the journey and where I'm at, and really working on where I'm at, and not looking here there and everywhere for other stuff, much appreciated :). I do enjoy training other forms and methods to learn more and expand my current understanding, but I do see there is a limit in taking on too much stuff and not focusing on where I am.
     
  15. _Simon_

    _Simon_ 2nd Black Belt

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2018
    Messages:
    700
    Likes Received:
    237
    Trophy Points:
    58
    Location:
    Australia
    Thanks JR 137, that was super helpful :).

    Yeah that's exactly it and what I was getting at, if another style has a form that my current one doesn't have, but would be great to learn. No styles close to me train Kururunfa, and it would be one that I would love to work on, as I wouldn't have the opportunity to be taught it in a style.

    In one sense, karate is karate. And styles aside, the similarities are more prevalent than the differences I would say. So could we say that having a solid foundation in one allows exploration of others? (This is not so much pertaining to me, I don't claim to have absolute proficiency and rock solid foundation, moreso asking as a generality). I guess yes, no, and it depends is the answer to that hehe ;).

    That's a really great point you made too, spending the time you train on kata you know rather than looking too far outwards. My training wouldn't be wholey just focused on learning new stuff, but as an addition and smaller percentage of training I reckon it could be beneficial. And beneficial also in a sense to going outside your own training to explore other avenues, which I'd imagine is a big reason why many go to different seminars held by other styles. I think it's super healthy, of course when done in a spirit of genuine curiosity and willingness to learn rather than just attention/perseverance issues!

    But I'll for sure keep that in mind and keep majority of my focus on what I have now and what I'm working on (even though I'm still in this limbo phase of finding and trialling out other styles. I'm still doing kihon, kata etc from my base style of Kyokushin, but dedicating a small portion of my home training to exploring other stuff too)
     
  16. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    3,447
    Likes Received:
    1,888
    Trophy Points:
    353
    Location:
    In the dojo
    One other pro for learning a kata ahead of time...

    There are kata that are somewhat acrobatic in nature. I’m not talking XMA or made up stuff, I’m talking traditional stuff - Unsu comes to mind...


    We have a kata in Seido Juku called Seido Empi No Kata Sho...


    Unsu is I believe a 3rd dan kata, possibly 4th (it’s not in our syllabus). Seido Empi No Kata Sho is taught at 4th dan. Being 41 and a 3rd kyu, if all goes well ( ;) ), I’ll be a 4th dan at, what, 60 years old? I’ll probably be more broken down at 60 than I am currently at 41, making that one a bit harder to do.

    There’s a 4th dan in our dojo who’s 65. A few weeks ago he was laughing about why he’s learning a college aged guy’s kata after he retired. The he said something along the lines of you look forward to doing the advanced rank stuff, but by the time you actually get there you’re pretty much too old to be able to actually do it, or at least to make it look good.

    No ones getting any younger. I guess if you have the chance to do a kata like those, do them now???
     
  17. kuniggety

    kuniggety 2nd Black Belt

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2015
    Messages:
    795
    Likes Received:
    266
    Trophy Points:
    78
    Location:
    Oahu, Hawaii
    Over 5 years ago now, wow.. time flies, I studied bak sil lum. The system has 10 open hand forms. There’s a couple others that have somehow found themselves to be traditionally taught before a person learns the 10 forms of BSL but the system itself is 10 forms. They’re numbered 1-10 but that’s not how they’re taught. It’s usually 6-8, 4-5, 1-3, 9-10. Why? Because of difficulty level. Do you start with #1 that takes a minute and half to complete, involving tumbling onto the floor with a scissor kick, and a butterfly kick thrown in the middle? No, you start with #6 that takes 45 seconds and the most complicated thing in it is a running jump front kick and a tornado kick. You COULD start with #1 or even #10 (takes about 3 min to complete) but there’s so much foundational stuff you can learn in the shorter form first and then build on it.
     
  18. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Messages:
    10,833
    Likes Received:
    1,557
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Here is the thing. Or rather, one of the several things...

    Different systems can have very different approaches in how they structure their foundation and fundamentals. And their forms are built in a way to take that into account.

    If you don’t train that system and do not understand how the foundation and fundamentals are structured, then attempting to practice the form, especially if done with a video and without a teacher who could give you proper instruction, can actually be a waste of your time.

    Believe it or not, there are actually things that you are better to NOT add to your training because it is inconsistent with what you do, and you do not understand how to do it correctly.

    Here is another thing. A form is not a commodity to be collected, and not even something to be perfected. It is never perfect, and that’s is ok because making it perfect is not the point. Rather, it is a training exercise, meant to be done over and over as a way to improve the quality of your skills. The practice itself, if done properly and with good understanding, gives you a certain outcome. It isn’t meant to be turned into another shiny object. It takes a little mental flip to be able to see it in this way.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  19. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    3,447
    Likes Received:
    1,888
    Trophy Points:
    353
    Location:
    In the dojo
    I agree with what you’re saying. But consider the OP’s experience...

    He has trained in Kyokushin karate. Kyokushin comes from Shotokan karate and Goju Ryu karate. The kata he’s interested in is an advanced Goju Ryu kata which isn’t taught in the Kyokushin syllabus. So rather it being an entirely new way of doing things, it would be more of an extension of things. He’s not looking to learn a Chinese internal form to mesh it with what he knows; he’s looking to expand the syllabus in a sense. Kind of along the lines of a Tang Soo Do practitioner looking to learn a Shotokan kata that’s not taught in TSD.

    Sure, it’s not ideal to learn a kata from a video or a book. Sure, it’s best to improve what he already knows. But sometimes learning something new is fun. Sometimes learning something similar yet different helps gives a fresh perspective on what you already know.

    The version of Yantsu kata I’ve learned as taught in my organization is different than the version it came from. Not night and day different, but easily recognizably different. Learning the other version of it would be interesting to me, and might help me make more sense of it in the long run.

    For reference...
    Yantsu practiced as I learned it...


    Ansan (alternate pronunciation of Yantsu) as it’s done in Shito Ryu...


    The first video is done to a count while the second isn’t. When done without a count, both versions are a lot closer in timing/flow than they appear in the videos.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
  20. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    3,447
    Likes Received:
    1,888
    Trophy Points:
    353
    Location:
    In the dojo
    One more thing...

    The kata @_Simon_ is contemplating learning isn’t much of a departure from his Kyokushin background. From what I see, there’s more open hand strikes and techniques than the various typical Kyokushin kata, there’s more emphasis on hip movement (especially in the beginning), and more turns than the norm, but if I didn’t know better and I watched someone in a Kyokushin uniform doing Kururunfa along with the kata that are actually in the syllabus, I’d easily assume it was part of the syllabus as it fits in relatively well. It definitely wouldn’t raise any red flags. Here’s the kata, for reference...
     
    • Like Like x 1

Share This Page