question about forms

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by jarrod, Jul 20, 2008.

  1. jarrod

    jarrod Senior Master

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    though i started out in TKD & shotokan, most of my training has been in styles that don't utilize one-person forms. so when a style says it contains something like 100 forms, are practitioners actually expected to remember all those forms, or do you sort of specialize in one branch of forms or another? while i recognize the value of proper forms training, i never enjoyed it personally. the thought of memorizing more than say a dozen forms sounds excruciating to me.

    thanks for any input,

    jf
     
  2. tshadowchaser

    tshadowchaser Sr. Grandmaster

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    I know a style that have about 120 forms in them. I do not know one person in these systems that can remember all of them ( except for the late GM he knew them all).
    Some folks have them all on tape or dvd but that’s about it. At least one or two of the forms are only known to a handful of people in the system. Most learn about 40 – 60 of the forms at best
     
  3. mook jong man

    mook jong man Senior Master

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    I dont know how they remember them all either , in the wing chun system theres only three empty hand forms and i have a hard enough time doing those properly.
     
  4. terryl965

    terryl965 <center><font size="2"><B>Martial Talk Ultimate<BR

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    I know sixty four Forms pattern Poomsae's and I have to go back to check on them before doing most of them, memory is great but video and books help out alot.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2008
  5. IWishToLearn

    IWishToLearn 3rd Black Belt

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    wow.
     
  6. kidswarrior

    kidswarrior Senior Master

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    Well my personal view has become, It's not how many forms you know, it's how many forms you know. I've 'learned' probably close to the number in the range Terry is talking about over the years (an amazing feat, Terry, by the way :asian:). But I only practice about a dozen with feeling and focus, that is, living the form as I do it, imagining how each move could end the fight, and testing that against a training partner (which then opens more possibilities of how moves might be used). Then from that Bunkai/Henka-Waza practice, I have winnowed out five that I'd count on in a real SD situation to provide the rock-bottom principles (Oyo) that work. And those dozen are the ones I teach up to BB.

    NOTE: I stole the Japanese terms from the Bunkai revolutionaries (Abernethy, Burgar, Kane & Wilder, etc.), since my foundation arts are all conducted in English. :p
     
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  7. Steel Tiger

    Steel Tiger Senior Master

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    Now my experience is mainly in Chinese martial arts where the forms tend to be quite long, so it is always a bit of a shock to me when I hear of styles with 50 or more forms, and those with numbers approaching 100 I find incredible. Of course it is very likely that the forms involved are much shorter, or at least simpler, than those I know.

    Currently, like KW, I teach a small set of forms and their applications. That is the entirety of the forms set for my school, five unarmed and two armed. Like Terry, who knows way more than me, I hve to check from time to time to make sure I'm doing the right thing.

    Remembering 100 forms? I don't think I could manage it if they were anything like the ones I do know. I figure it would involve hours of practice everyday to keep that many in your mind all the time.

    You have got to figure they are going to get mixed up from time to time.
     
  8. jarrod

    jarrod Senior Master

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    this is all good to hear. as i've mentioned in another thread, i'll most likely be taking up hung gar or another kung fu style once i move to denver. what kidswarrior said about living the form makes a lot of sense to me. i'd rather learn a small number of applicable forms, if i have to learn any at all.

    jf
     
  9. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    First all forms can be and generally are applicable but not necessarily to you. Everyone is different and a form that works for you may not work so well for another but understanding them helps in both attack and defense. And in a TCMA style learning forms and postures is the basis of a style.

    Now with that said let me see

    At one time I new forms from Chen, Wu, Yang, Bagua, Xingyiquan, Long fist, Wing Chun and probably a few more. Were they all useful to me? No. Do I remember all of them now? Hell no. Do I regret not remembering them all? No but I do wish I still did the Chen and Bagua forms I first learned.

    I trained Yang Taiji for years and there are a lot of forms in my flavor of Yang about 7 and each form is made up of postures. Which leads me to this question for you; are you talking about a complete form that is made up of multiple postures or the multiple postures that make up an individual form? Example (depending on how you count) Yang style long form is 1 form made up of 81 &#8211; 108 postures.

    But in Yang taiji if you know and understand the 13 postures you can be pretty effective as a martial artist.
     
  10. terryl965

    terryl965 <center><font size="2"><B>Martial Talk Ultimate<BR

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    LIke you KW I used the current set of Poomsae by the KKW which is the Tae Gueks and all the BB poomsae so all in all right now that is 12 and I am and have been going though each of them with a fine tooth comb to really understand what application can be done from each perspective. The other are poomsae's and Kata's I have learned over the years but only practice movements not application like I once did. I too like Abernathy views on Bunkai.
     
  11. kidswarrior

    kidswarrior Senior Master

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    I believe, tho would have a tough time actually making the case, that when Jimmy H Woo began to teach Kung Fu San Soo in America, he only practiced forms. But he'd done them so long, he could extract principles and so techniques (bits of forms grounded in the principles) extemporaneously. To this day, his first gen masters can't agree on whether he had preset techniques at all, ever.

    But that's all background to say this: The sifu I studied with actively for a number of years, a first gen master, when testing us for promotion, would say, Show me your form. He meant, the one we've learned that really sings to you, and you've made your own.
     
  12. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    This is not all that surprising.

    Any long time CMA guy/well trained sifu can get multiple applications out of one form effortlessly. This is just saying that Jimmy H Woo was well trained and had a very good understanding of the style he taught whether he taught apps or not

    This also makes sense to me and from this POV what surprises me most is that after almost 18 years of taiji that I would likely do Xingyiquan Wuxing in response to that :D
     
  13. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    Kidswarriors point is a very good one and is why a student should not expect to develop deep knowledge of an art with any great speed.

    I reckon that I know about seventy kata in MJER (I won't detail all the names :D) in eight sets or series. There are more to be learned as there are variants on those I already know and a seated kumitachi set I've not seen yet.

    I've not found it difficult to learn and retain the moves that are in these kata but as to whether I can do them all with equal conviction ... only sensei can tell :D.

    What I have found invaluable in the gradual deepening of my understanding of the art is how these kata 'fit' together and that nothing that is in any of them is not meant for a definite purpose. The techniques within them form the style, with it's attacks, counters and evasions.

    If you are not at least aware of the all the forms in a style, I think that it can be said with some justification that you do not yet see it's own 'form' in it's entirety. I don't reckon that's a bad thing tho' as part of the great beauty of a martial art is that you never stop learning and intensifying your understanding of it.
     
  14. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    personally, I like forms, and I guess to be honest, it might not be too far off the mark to call me a "forms collector". But it is the aspect of the martial arts that I actually like the most, I think I have an aptitude for learning forms even if I'm not the best at them, and I enjoy forms practice. So I have indeed learned a lot of them...

    lets see,

    kenpo - 21 forms, including empty hand and weapons
    wing chun - 3 empty hands
    taiji chuan - 16 or so, including empty hands and weapons
    other kung fu, including Tibetan White Crane, Lohan, and other influences - about 12 or 17, depending on how you count them, as some of them have different versions and variations.

    So that's over 50 right there and I know that there are more on the way, and most of these are quite lengthy...

    In addition, I studied some other stuff way back that I've let go, so there were a number of forms in there as well.

    I do practice all of these regularly, and as long as I do so, I don't have difficulty remembering them. If I get away from any of them for a while, then sometimes I'll get something screwed up, but I am always able to get it straightened out.

    I'll admit, because I spread my efforts so widely, I probably don't know any of them as well as I might. But I keep slogging thru them, and I really enjoy all of them.

    I think it's good to learn a wide variety because it broadens your experience. Eventually, you will narrow your scope and develop a specialty, and those that don't fit your specialty will either be cast aside, or at least will remain in the background. But having learned the broad scope is important in developing your understanding. That broad background makes your specialty that much stronger. You just need to be able to recognize for yourself when it is time to scale back and focus.

    You will probably find that most of the older kung fu instructors have trained in several systems, even if they only teach one or two. They've done the same thing: get the broad experience, then focus on the one or two that are best for them. That's often what makes them so good.
     
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  15. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    Yup, but it is sometimes difficult
     
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  16. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    oh yeah, well, that's a given [​IMG]123
     

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