Adam Chan - Are forms useless?

TMA17

Black Belt
Joined
Sep 26, 2017
Messages
620
Reaction score
175


Probably not new to the experienced guys on here but to me it was. He makes a lot of sense.
 

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
11,980
Reaction score
3,429
Location
Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
Do you care which MA style and which form contain the "jab, cross" combo?

I don't like his approach that he tries to map an application to a move in a form such as the Taiji "blush knee". The reason is simple. If an application works in combat, you don't need to trace back to where it may come from.

There are many 2 moves combo that make perfect logic sense such as:

- jab, cross.
- groin kick, face punch.
- roundhouse kick, side kick.
- side kick, back kick.
- elbow lock, shoulder lock.
- shoulder lock, elbow lock.
- leg lift, leg break.
- single leg, hand block.
- ...

IMO, it makes sense to collect all those logical 2 moves combo in a form (for recording purpose). As far as which MA style and which form may contain those combo, you may not care about it.
 

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
11,749
Reaction score
4,369


Probably not new to the experienced guys on here but to me it was. He makes a lot of sense.
This is how it works for me as well. In the context of when my application feels similar to something I do in the form. The only difference is that I don't to a technique and then figure out what it feels like from the form. I'm more likely to do a technique because it feels like the form.

The only time when this isn't true is when the form doesn't have a fight application. Not all forms are made with fight applications in mind. This is especially true for performance martial arts like TKD tricking. There have been multiple times where I was able to pull off a technique on the first try simply because it felt like the form so I just continued the movement and it worked. Keep in mind this is not the norm. The norm is that it helps teach the mechanics that you'll need when the time comes to apply. It's like training a baseball swing vs actually trying to hit a ball.
 

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
11,980
Reaction score
3,429
Location
Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
Not all forms are made with fight applications in mind.
You can create forms with application in mind. The interest question is after you have created such forms,

- Do you still want to train your original form? or
- Do you just discard your original forms and train your own created forms?

Here is a "new created form" with fighting application in mind.

 

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
11,749
Reaction score
4,369
If an application works in combat, you don't need to trace back to where it may come from.
I agree. I understood what he was trying to communicate only because I've personally experienced what he's talking about. Not sure about his Tai Chi connection. I tested the Tai Chi movement "brush knee" and it didn't feel the same as what is done in the Tai Chi. The hands felt similar but not the root.

In the context of Tai Chi, forming this position felt more like the take down counter that he was demonstrating. It comes during the transition of the last Sparrow Grasps Tail in Yang 24

articles-20130211-abd-1-front-ball.jpg


It comes during the transition into the second Grasp Sparrow Tail in Yang style 24 at 2:30 It's not the actual Grasp Sparrow's Tail technique, it's the transition that comes before it.
 

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
11,749
Reaction score
4,369
You can create forms with application in mind. The interest question is after you have created such forms,

- Do you still want to train your original form? or
- Do you just discard your original forms and train your own created forms?

Here is a "new created form" with fighting application in mind.

It wouldn't be a question for me. I'm not an "Either or" type of person. If I can do both then I'll do both. I would train the original and the new. I've been thinking of turning my staff form into an empty hand form and adding my BJJ defense stance into one of my existing forms. Both will both be my own private form
 

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
11,980
Reaction score
3,429
Location
Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
It seems to me that sometime people may afraid to say, "I know how to do this. But I don't know where it may come from."

I find a roundhouse kick followed by a side kick can be very good combo to close in the distance. I just can't think of which MA style and which form may contain that combo.

People may say, "You made that up." So what? Who care?

 

KPM

Senior Master
Joined
Jul 6, 2014
Messages
3,642
Reaction score
991
You can create forms with application in mind. The interest question is after you have created such forms,

- Do you still want to train your original form? or
- Do you just discard your original forms and train your own created forms?

Here is a "new created form" with fighting application in mind.


The form gives you something "formal" to practice. And the original forms often contain elements we haven't yet recognized as useful. So no, I would not discard the original forms. In working on "Wing Chun Boxing" I have created my own drills or San Sik to teach basic elements. But I haven't gotten rid of my Pin Sun San SIk. The Pin Sun San Sik are short with only 3 or 4 moves each. But they are not necessarily meant to be done exactly as they are in the form. Moving in one direction may be one concept or application, then the movement in the other direction may be a different concept or application. The first movement is an application on its own, and it positions your arms/hands so that they are set up for the next application. You would not necessarily do those movements in that combination together. But they make a very flowing drill that also teaches a certain body mechanic or footwork pattern when done together. There is often also a hidden Kum Na application in the San Sik if you know what to look for. So if you discard the San Sik just because you think you have it figured out, then you might be missing something else that you would figure out later!

I also agree with Adam Chan in the video in the OP, as well as his "part 1" video that preceded that one. As I am working on a version of "Wing Chun Boxing" I have found it very useful to go back to each of my Pin Sun Wing Chun San Sik and analyze them for the concepts and movements they are teaching, and then work on how they would apply from a Boxing structure/mechanic. This has worked out very well! And after working on the Boxing element for awhile, I go back and practice my Pin Sun sometimes with a little different insight into the system. Just the other day I had a nice "Ah Ha!" moment when it dawned on me I was missing a key strategic element from Pin Sun that I wasn't explicitly taught, but that occurred to me after working on "Wing Chun Boxing."
 

Gerry Seymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
28,036
Reaction score
9,169
Location
Hendersonville, NC
I can think of only one good reason to track an application back to a form, and that's from a teaching perspective. If I can identify a similar movement, weight shift, transition, etc. from a form, I can use that to help teach the application to students.

Of course, that doesn't mean I can't teach those that don't track back to a form - it's just a tool in my toolbox for students who struggle.
 

Danny T

Senior Master
Joined
Sep 5, 2002
Messages
4,258
Reaction score
2,292
Location
New Iberia, Louisiana USA
When learning form is important after just be you.
Forms are a way to have the major structures, footwork, body movements, positions etc. cataloged.
Forms can also be utilized as a means to have a routine for practicing said movements.
Can one learn an art like wing chun without the forms...sure but one would not have the knowledge of the complete training method. Importance is on the person's reason for learning.
Said reason may change as the person journeys through the art.
 

Gerry Seymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
28,036
Reaction score
9,169
Location
Hendersonville, NC
When learning form is important after just be you.
Forms are a way to have the major structures, footwork, body movements, positions etc. cataloged.
Forms can also be utilized as a means to have a routine for practicing said movements.
Can one learn an art like wing chun without the forms...sure but one would not have the knowledge of the complete training method. Importance is on the person's reason for learning.
Said reason may change as the person journeys through the art.
(I'm not sure what that first sentence was supposed to say, by the way, Danny.)

I would even argue that someone could teach WC without any of the forms, using all the same tools, and probably maintain WC as it is. The forms are a tool for communicating the art, and probably maintain some consistency (which has both positive and negative effects) over generations. They are not, IMO, an inseparable part of any art. The best instructors will vary their focus on the forms by the students' needs. One student might learn reasonably well without them, so be required only to learn them to sufficient competency to continue within the system. Another student might need more repetition time to develop smooth movement, so might be given more focus on forms, more encouragement to practice them on their own, etc.
 

Danny T

Senior Master
Joined
Sep 5, 2002
Messages
4,258
Reaction score
2,292
Location
New Iberia, Louisiana USA
(I'm not sure what that first sentence was supposed to say, by the way, Danny.)

I would even argue that someone could teach WC without any of the forms, using all the same tools, and probably maintain WC as it is. The forms are a tool for communicating the art, and probably maintain some consistency (which has both positive and negative effects) over generations. They are not, IMO, an inseparable part of any art. The best instructors will vary their focus on the forms by the students' needs. One student might learn reasonably well without them, so be required only to learn them to sufficient competency to continue within the system. Another student might need more repetition time to develop smooth movement, so might be given more focus on forms, more encouragement to practice them on their own, etc.
When learning something like wc...the practitioners form is important. The way the person stands, how they position themselves, their structure...their form is important. Once learned don't worry about it just be you.
 

Danny T

Senior Master
Joined
Sep 5, 2002
Messages
4,258
Reaction score
2,292
Location
New Iberia, Louisiana USA
I would even argue that someone could teach WC without any of the forms, using all the same tools, and probably maintain WC as it is. The forms are a tool for communicating the art, and probably maintain some consistency (which has both positive and negative effects) over generations.
Yep.

They are not, IMO, an inseparable part of any art. The best instructors will vary their focus on the forms by the students' needs. One student might learn reasonably well without them, so be required only to learn them to sufficient competency to continue within the system. Another student might need more repetition time to develop smooth movement, so might be given more focus on forms, more encouragement to practice them on their own, etc.
But the forms are inseparable as to being the historical pedagogy of the system. Hence, one would not have the knowledge of the complete training method.

That doesn't mean they would not be a good instructor.
 

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
14,715
Reaction score
4,246
Location
San Francisco
If you think forms are useless, then for you, forms are useless.

If you have already made up your mind about it, there is no point in discussing it further.
 

Gerry Seymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
28,036
Reaction score
9,169
Location
Hendersonville, NC
When learning something like wc...the practitioners form is important. The way the person stands, how they position themselves, their structure...their form is important. Once learned don't worry about it just be you.
Ah! Yes. Here we run into the two ways "form" is used in this context. One is referring to structure and stance (this instance), and the other is a series of "recorded" movements. Your comment, IMO, is apropos of both. In initial learning, learning the "right" way is usually more efficient (rather than the instructor having to evaluate each person's individual method to figure out if there are important flaws). Once competency is developed, variations are easier to evaluate (does it make it harder for them to be successful than similarly competent peers), and can be more useful to the individual.
 

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
11,980
Reaction score
3,429
Location
Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
When learning something like wc...the practitioners form is important. The way the person stands, how they position themselves, their structure...their form is important. Once learned don't worry about it just be you.
If a form contains "basic training" and "combat training". After you have mastered the "basic", do you just concentrate on the "combat" after that?
 

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
11,980
Reaction score
3,429
Location
Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
the original forms often contain elements we haven't yet recognized as useful.
The question is how many more years are you going to spend to continue digging out those element?

MA training should have different stages. After you have finished one stage, you go to the next stage, and move on. Going through the elementary school 6 times won't earn you a PhD degree.

IMO, the MA PhD level training is "strategy". Your forms may contain some strategies. But it won't contain all strategies.
 

Gerry Seymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
28,036
Reaction score
9,169
Location
Hendersonville, NC
The question is how many more years are you going to spend to continue digging out those element?

MA training should have different stages. After you have finished one stage, you go to the next stage, and move on. Going through the elementary school 6 times won't earn you a PhD degree.

IMO, the MA PhD level training is "strategy". Your forms may contain some strategies. But it won't contain all strategies.
I don't think it's really an issue of someone at PhD level going back to elementary school. It's possible to go back to a form a few years later and look for something new to learn from it. You probably can't do that with the reading primer from early grade school (unless, of course, you're trying to learn how to teach kids to read, but that's another matter, entirely).
 

Danny T

Senior Master
Joined
Sep 5, 2002
Messages
4,258
Reaction score
2,292
Location
New Iberia, Louisiana USA
If a form contains "basic training" and "combat training". After you have mastered the "basic", do you just concentrate on the "combat" after that?
...the practitioner's form is important. The way the person stands, how they position themselves, their structure...their form is important. Once learned don't worry about it just be you.
I was talking about the individual's form. How the individual stands, how the position themselves...etc. Their actual physical form.
I was not talking about a particular martial art Form, the set of movements.

As to a Form (the set of movements type) in my training the forms I have studied were not fighting forms. There were the catalog of the major movements and positions as I already stated. In my training and in my experience with physical combat, fighting is unpredictable and doesn't follow a script.
 
Top