What separates a good form practitioner from a bad one in your art?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Ivan, Jun 25, 2019.

  1. Ivan

    Ivan Orange Belt

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    I see a lot of people that get excited about winning a specific position when performing katas/forms etc, however, I have never understood how judges decide who wins and loses, points etc. In my Tae Kwon Do class, my Sa bum states that there are four points which are judged when performing:
    • Fluidity or in oue case the 'snap' of our movements (some arts prefer to have the movements flow rather than haveing the tight snap at the end of each move)
    • How far away you finish from your original position (if you start at point A, you should aim to be finishing your form at point A, assuming that your form allows this)
    • Height of kicks
    • Power and conviction of our ki-hap

     
  2. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    I'd consider this an incomplete and overly simplified method of judging.

    Foot position in every stance. Balance in every stance. Ditto during movement. Body position throughout every movement. Correct targeting of strikes (kicks, punches, elbows, whatever, certainly not just the height). Correct body mechanics through movements. Correct chambers. Correct striking surface (i.e. what part of the hand would impact the target during a tiger mouth strike?).
     
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  3. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    well first you have to bear in mind that kata is a thing of its self, that has little to do with ability in ma, if your defining ability as an ability in a fighting contest. it's a form of practise admittedly, but kicking and punching empy air is a rather limited practise. the body mechanics change considerably if your actually hitting something( and someone is trying to hit you).the more judgment points it has that aren't connected to this fighting contest, the less of a useful measure it becomes, a snap in a kick may be a useful measure, finishing on the spot you started is not.

    why do people get excited about it that's a good question, most I assume because they otherwise have no measure of ability, so invest emotionally in what they do have and of course a lot of clubs use it for belt advancement, so it becomes associated with success and status in the organisation
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
  4. wab25

    wab25 Black Belt

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    First off, I get it that kata is not everyone's thing.
    Finishing on the spot you started on does have a value, for kata where that is part of the design.

    Think about it this way. When you work out on a heavy bag, you are supposed to keep your hands up. But, that doesn't really serve a purpose, the bag will never counter you with a punch when your hand is down. So, its kind of pointless. However, keeping your hands up, while working on the heavy bag, trains a habit into your body. The habit being to keep your guard up while punching and kicking. The more you do it, the more natural it becomes. Then, the more likely you are to keep your guard up during a fight. When you watch people work on the heavy bag, many times, their hands drop, especially as they get tired. Most of the time, they don't realize that their hands are dropping. Which is where a good coach comes in and reminds them.

    When you do a kata, you are supposed to be in particular stances, making particular transitions. As an example, lets use one of the styles that uses low stances. Everyone starts their kata in a low stance, but as they move through, many will start to rise up. This changes the length of the steps. Meaning you will not end up where you started, as your steps were different lengths as you went through the kata. One of the points here is to develop your muscles, and to make these transitions in the correct way. Doing them over and over, makes them more natural and will lead to you being more likely to be able to use them in your fight. If you pay attention to where you start and stop, it will tell you how consistent you were with your stances. (did you keep your guard up the whole time?) Here you can self diagnose a lot of things, if you are not ending where you should be. Now this doesn't mean you can diagnose everything on your own and it doesn't mean that you don't need a coach. But, there is a reason for it that is useful for training... and not just for show and tell.

    When I trained boxing and when I trained MMA we had these same footwork drills. First, the whole class lined up facing the same direction. The coach called out a series of steps. (forward, forward, side step left, back step, right turn, forward step...) It was very apparent who was taking the right steps that were called. You stuck out for facing the wrong way. Later, when people had their steps down, the class was divided in half, and everyone faced each other. The commands were called. This time, if you did it right, you would circle around each other. (some coaches had more complex patterns than others) But here, you are learning to move without relying on watching everyone else. This type of footwork training is one of the things in the kata. Only the patterns are set... and if you end in the wrong place, you know you took a step wrong, even if you are the only one doing the drill.

    I am not trying to convince anyone that doesn't do the kata thing, to go out and start. Just trying to show that there is more to it than dancing around and looking cool. There are actually quite a few things we see in more modern training methods right there in the kata already.
     
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  5. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I don't have experience judging tournaments, but I have a lot of experience judging tests. Part of what I'm looking at is knowing the particular student that I'm watching. There are two girls that come to mind at the moment. One of those girls, if she manages simple things like turning the right way and using the right hand, I'm going to give her a decent score, because those are things that she really struggles with. Another girl, I expect her to have prim proper stances, sharp snap, loud kiyhaps, the whole shebang.

    If I'm being completely objective to the student's individual progress, there's still the level based on belt. For example, with a yellow belt, I may be looking at:
    • Is their front knee bent in front stance
    • Do they have a fist
    • Do they keep their off-hand at their hip
    • Do they chamber and punch or block correctly
    • Loud kiyhap
    At the black belt level, I would be looking at:
    • Where are their eyes
    • Do they remember to breathe
    • Orientation of hips and shoulders.
    • Feet, to include how far apart in both latitude and longitude, and where the feet point
    • Proper fist (not just "have a fist")
    • Synchronized motion between striking hand and off hand, both in chamber and in strike
    • Timing of the techniques, knowing when to speed up or slow down
    • Timing of transitions, (a lot of yellow and purple belts will be early or late after footwork)
    • Ability to create "snapshots" of techniques. A lot of our intermediate students have a tendency to rush through a technique instead of showing it, or they're already stepping into the next move before finishing the one they're on (for example, starting to turn before the punch has finished). Others do this thing with their stances where they step into a deep stance with their right leg, but then their left leg bounces in and they shallow up again
    • Knowing what to do with your hands when you're kicking
    • Loud kiyhap
    There's a lot more details I look at for the higher level students.
     
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  6. Martial D

    Martial D Senior Master

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    This one is super simple for me.

    Can you fight well? Then you are good.

    Do you suck at fighting? Then you are bad.

    The smoothest motions, the fastest, the most powerful, the snappiest, the most technical..
    All useless if you can't hit without getting hit, or submit without first being submitted.
     
  7. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    I've changed my view of kata, from useless a few years ago, to mostly useless now,

    uniformstride pattern is of no use fighting in facts its quite possibly a hindrance it takes longer to do three little steps than it does to do two bigger ones and what if the target is three and a half steps away, you either to close or two far away. you need to pick the spot you want to be and drive quickly by what ever means

    the issues is fast movement to open and close distance and what ever achie!ves that for you is the correct patern I have long legs I cover distance quickly and I don't need to be as close as some to kick, following a stride pattern that's designed for someone 5 foot 6 is grossly inefficient to me,,
    I'm trying to think of any other sports that obsess about stride length, not football or soccer not boxing just hurdles ? that I can think of and that's because the distance between is preset. which is generally not the case in most sports, where arriving at the right spot at the right time is the only important thing
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
  8. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    In ITF TKD stances and target distances (etc.) are quoted in things like shoulder widths or foot lengths - that's the shoulder and foot measurements of the person doing it...

    A stance isn't measured or quoted as "60cm between the feet", it's "shoulder width" or "one and a half shoulder widths".

    When it's quoted as "start 5 feet from the target" that doesn't mean 60 inches, it means approximately 5 times the length of your own foot.

    It's also open to variation to account for different body proportions.

    Performing a pattern, I cover far more ground than the 5'6" woman next to me - but because of the design of the pattern we both end up on the same spot we started.

    If I used the same stance lengths as her, I'd be bolt upright all the way through, and if she used my stance lengths she'd be well off balance because her feet would be (relatively) miles apart...

    The 'correct' stance is the one that's correct for that person (once you know the stance you can easily see if the shape they make is right) - the relative positions will be the same across the board, but a tape measure won't be a help.
     
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  9. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    IMO, this is only slightly related to fighting. Can you control the distancing in the techniques as you are moving? If you know the "standard" distancing used that will put you back at the starting point, and you can control distance, you should be able to end up back on that starting point. It's not a big factor (and indirect in approaching it), but some of the value of kata (again, IMO) is the ways it challenges your brain beyond pure fighting skill development.
     
  10. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    From the kata I've seen (this goes beyond the kata I actually know), different strides are built into the kata. Getting back to center won't happen if you use exactly the same step length for each movement, and I think that's part of the point: to prove that you can use those different step lengths.
     
  11. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    None of my kata will ever make it into competition, but they do get reviewed at testing time. I'm looking for the following, with a progressively stricter focus at each level:
    1. good body control (keeping balance, etc.)
    2. smooth transition between movements (not "stop this, shift weight, start that")
    3. intent in the movements (the movements get as close as possible to the actual technique, have strength for pulling, etc.)
    4. proper execution of the technique (if there was a person there, the grappling technique would have a chance of working, for instance)
    5. proper weight shifts (this goes to the first and 4th point)
    6. do they look like they know why they're doing something (this is linked back to #3)
    There's more I look for - mostly I'm looking for what I can challenge them on next. I don't ever want forms to become a rote thing, so when I find something they can work on, that's their assignment for the next few weeks in kata.
     
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  12. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    well yes only very slightly, which is the point I made of it not being at all a good measurement point if your assessing fighting ability

    for instance, if someone was consistently at least three foot from there starting point, could you come to a reasoned conclusion that this compromised their fighting ability or that they had less than someone who constantly hit the mark, the answer to that would seem to be no.

    how about if they put many hours of practise into hitting the mark, could you conclude that there fighting ability had increased and that this was a good use of their time against say practiding kicking things it even one step drills, again I would suggest no
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
  13. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    If they consistently end up the same distance from the mark, then (physical limitations notwithstanding) it would suggest they are consistently getting one or more things wrong and aren't willing to listen and work on corrections - which could reasonably translate to them not thinking they have to listen to the suggestion of "watch your guard"...

    If they're randomly off the mark in different directions it suggests a lack of spacial awareness - if they can't control their position in a controlled set of moves what is there to suggest they know where they are against an opponent?

    From the above, yes.

    But not to the exclusion of the other training.

    If they only ever practice patterns then they'll probably be good at performing patterns.


    If it was an either/or situation (patterns OR the rest) then I'd recommend ditching the patterns - luckily I'm not in that boat.
     
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  14. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    ok if your 5 ,, 6 girl training partner, regularly hits the mark and you don't she is a better fighter than you it makes no difference that you've spent your time instead developing a killer right hand and she gets knock out at the first punch,

    learning a predetermined set of steps is not spacial awareness, its patern recognition, which is only really useful if that's the same pattern you follow in a fight, which it could be if ifs three steps in one to the side and two back, but clearly not for the duration of a 5 min kata
     
  15. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    If I'm missing the mark because I have no idea where I am, then what's to say I'm going to be at the right range to deliver that killer punch?

    I might be able to hit a bag, but a moving target?



    But that's cherry picking - I never said pattern accuracy was the only or best way of assessing ability to fight. It's one possible tool.

    And that's the thing - it's A tool that can be used to help develop, and it's A tool that can be used to assess. Not THE tool.

    Taken in isolation, there's very very little value for fighting (any more than ballet, or skating) and I'd never suggest otherwise. Mixed (in an appropriate proportion) with other training, there's quite a bit to gain (but it's not the only way to gain those things either)...
     
  16. wab25

    wab25 Black Belt

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    You are focusing on the wrong part. Its not about doing the steps to travel a uniform distance, its about doing the steps correctly.



    Notice how he always backs up to the same place he started before doing the next demonstration. Notice how he always ends up in the same place at the end. The distance he travels on each demonstration is approximately the same. Which is why he backs up the same distance to restart. I have done these in wrestling class, bjj class and MMA class. Only, we usually do them either in lines across the floor or in a big circle, everyone following each other.

    Now, if he would do 3 of those in a row moving forward, then turn around and do 3 more back towards where he came from, he should end up on the spot he started. However, if in one of those 6 repetitions, he left the penetration step out, the distance for that rep of the drill would be shorter. If he didn't bring he trailing foot all the way in front on one of them, the distance traveled would again be different. But, its not so much about the distance being uniform, its about doing the drill properly, taking all the steps correctly.

    Kata that are designed to end in the same spot are only taking advantage of the fact that when to do the same technique as a drill, each repetition will travel approximately the same distance. When I did boxing footwork drills, most of my forward steps were about the same length. If you are trying to work the legs, by using a lower stance in your drills, it defeats that purpose to rise back up after the first repetition.

    Ending on the same spot is supposed to help you know that you are doing each technique correctly. It has been expanded to be some magical source of power, and a point to hold over someone else and into a lot of other things. But really, its just recognizing that if you do the same advancing technique 3 times forward, then turn around and do it 3 times back... if you did the drill correctly on each repetition, then you should end where you started. If you don't then you did not do all 6 repetitions the same.

    Should wrestlers not practice their footwork for their shot, because the other guy might not be that exact distance away?
     
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  17. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    he is going back to the same place as that where the camera is pointed ????

    he could just as easily do that demo in 20 different location with out detracting from the technique, its just that 19 of them wouldn't be on film???
     
  18. wab25

    wab25 Black Belt

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    Now you are just arguing for the fun of it. Or are you saying that he traveled a different distance forward when doing the technique? It sure looks to me like he is travelling forward the same distance each time. (thats how he knows that he will end the move on camera and not off camera)

    I get that you don't like kata. I am not going to convince you to like kata. I am not even trying to. I am just pointing out that most of the things you do you in modern training, can be done with kata. You can do it faster, more explosively, you can do it slower and lower for power development, you can drill parts of it, you can mix fast and slow to practice exploding through the different transitions... you can replace steps with jumps or burpies... In fact, if you had a particular set of drills that you did a lot, those could be called the K word. Just because many people over emphasize a part of kata (ending on the same spot) does not mean that it is a useless part.
     
  19. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    I'm not disputing that katahas training benefits, we do burpees as part of our training and that has a benefit for fighting ability, as do push ups and star jumps et al, they are all mobility exercises, fitness exercises, co ordination exercises and pattern recognition exercises, they are no better or worse than kata in that respect. dependent on intensity,

    what I'm struggling to comprehend is why failing to returning to exactly the same spot is a failure in kata, as its connection to fighting ability is is minuscule if it exists at all.

    the spacial awareness you need to fight is extremely fluid, things are constantly in motion, you have to judge time and distant in a fraction of second, and then be able to correct mid move. none of that is a product of returning to the same sport 60 moves down the line. you would be better playing tag
     
  20. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    he is travelling for ward the same distance as he is generating the same demo, if his opponent was 6 foot awaY he would be traveling 6 foot, if 3 foot then 3 foot. he is returning to the same spot as that's where the camera is pointing I honestly fail to see what connection this has with akata returning to the same spot?
     

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