Documenting forms

gpseymour

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Hey, I'm wondering if any of you who use long forms (more than a couple of steps) have figured out a good way to document them. What I've been doing is good for technical reference for me, but isn't really useful to someone trying to follow along. Even I am not successful at using it as a reference when I'm working on developing a new kata.

My issue is how to keep direction (relative to the start of the technique) transitions beetween portions, etc. all clear, without the descriptions being so long nobody can use them easily.
 

jks9199

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It's really something you have to do for yourself... because what makes sense to you won't make sense to me. I've got a training partner who does a lot of the "turn to N, then face W" stuff in her notes. Yeah, confuses me to no end. Personally, I use a combination of directions, degrees, drawings... and explanations.

Do you have a standard, organized definition for stances and motions? For example, we have 3 stances with 3 variations, so you can do "Stance1/Variation2, with Step3 to your rear while doing a Block4, then pivot 90 degrees to right, ending in Stance 3/Variation 1 with Punch4... stepping back, blocking low, pivoting to strike..." and even add a sketch showing feet and arrows for directions they move...

I know, probably clear as mud to you, but it would make sense to me.
 

Bill Mattocks

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I just memorize. Not saying it's easy or that I'm good at it. But that's what I do.
 
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gpseymour

gpseymour

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It's really something you have to do for yourself... because what makes sense to you won't make sense to me. I've got a training partner who does a lot of the "turn to N, then face W" stuff in her notes. Yeah, confuses me to no end. Personally, I use a combination of directions, degrees, drawings... and explanations.

Do you have a standard, organized definition for stances and motions? For example, we have 3 stances with 3 variations, so you can do "Stance1/Variation2, with Step3 to your rear while doing a Block4, then pivot 90 degrees to right, ending in Stance 3/Variation 1 with Punch4... stepping back, blocking low, pivoting to strike..." and even add a sketch showing feet and arrows for directions they move...

I know, probably clear as mud to you, but it would make sense to me.
Our standard terms only really give the basic stance (shizentai, jigotai, hanmi, front stance, fighting stance). Because of the nature of the forms, that's actually almost enough. Then I have to indicate direction (particularly helpful when they are learning, and need to pick up in the middle of a form to work on a few pieces). I've been using degrees from "front" (so 45 degrees right, etc.). In two of the forms, I have to include what attack they're actually responding to, so they use the right mechanics in their movements, so now I end up with that included (RH straight punch from 45 degrees right side). It turns into a wall of text, and I'm hoping to get some ideas on how to clarify it, at least a little.

I agree with your point about making your own notes. I'm wanting to document this for students to have as a starting point, though, so documenting for me is probably not the best starting point (especially since the forms are built around my habitual movements). Drawings of foot positions are part of what I'm trying to incorporate, but haven't figured out a good method yet. It would probably help if my drawings looked anything like a damned foot.
 
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gpseymour

gpseymour

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I just memorize. Not saying it's easy or that I'm good at it. But that's what I do.
I don't have that luxury yet. As I create them, if I don't write them down, I'll do them differently each time. One of my students has a history of working with forms, and he memorizes them about 90% in a single run-through (then it's just fixing what he does wrong). If he keeps it up, I'm going to stick him inside the heavy bag and leave him there.
 

jks9199

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A form is made up of a set of techniques. A technique is made up of parts. Define your parts, and you can describe it in a meaningful way. Generally, at a large level, that means a stance, a step/body motion (includes a direction), a hand/foot motion (block/punch/kick). So -- our first form begins with a step forward, a block, a pivot, and a punch. I can describe it as:
Move 1: start in left foot forward front stance; full step forward to right foot forward front stance, upward block
Move 2: Pivot to right to end in a left foot forward front stance (facing left), and right punch

or:
Count: Stance: Step: Strike:
1; L front; full step to R front; up block
2; R front; pivot to L front; punch

Probably, using their own versions of this -- anybody looking at this can approximate the first set of our first form. :D

Does that help?
 
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gpseymour

gpseymour

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A form is made up of a set of techniques. A technique is made up of parts. Define your parts, and you can describe it in a meaningful way. Generally, at a large level, that means a stance, a step/body motion (includes a direction), a hand/foot motion (block/punch/kick). So -- our first form begins with a step forward, a block, a pivot, and a punch. I can describe it as:
Move 1: start in left foot forward front stance; full step forward to right foot forward front stance, upward block
Move 2: Pivot to right to end in a left foot forward front stance (facing left), and right punch

or:
Count: Stance: Step: Strike:
1; L front; full step to R front; up block
2; R front; pivot to L front; punch

Probably, using their own versions of this -- anybody looking at this can approximate the first set of our first form. :D

Does that help?
It does, and it makes sense. Unfortunately, it doesn't remove words, which I was hoping to do. Why can't reality conform to my needs?
 

jks9199

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It does, and it makes sense. Unfortunately, it doesn't remove words, which I was hoping to do. Why can't reality conform to my needs?
Use a camera! No words... of course there will still be things lost in translation.
 

Flying Crane

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Use a clock. Forward is 12:00, behind is 6:00, etc. just reference "turn to 3:00, Right foot is forward in bow stance, attacker is at 3:00" kind of thing. Once you begin, those directions do not change, they are constant for reference.
 
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gpseymour

gpseymour

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Use a camera! No words... of course there will still be things lost in translation.
That's part of the plan, definitely. I think I need to record from at least two directions to capture it accurately, and I haven't quite worked that out. And I'm still refining some of the small points, so I'm hoping to hold off on anything that gives people the excuse to copy me exactly. Ideally, I'd rather wait until I've taught a few students the whole range of them, as my use of them will likely evolve along the way. Unfortunately, that's a LONG way off (probably 2 years), so I won't be able to wait that long. I think that photos may help, as well. In either case, I'll need someone's help with it.
 
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gpseymour

gpseymour

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Use a clock. Forward is 12:00, behind is 6:00, etc. just reference "turn to 3:00, Right foot is forward in bow stance, attacker is at 3:00" kind of thing. Once you begin, those directions do not change, they are constant for reference.
You know, what I probably need to do is use more than one method of identifying directions (one relative, one absolute). I haven't been using the o'clocks, so I could use that. Maybe use N/S/E/W for the absolute position, and o'clock for the relative position. That would simplify things considerably.

Let's just hope I don't get some young folks who aren't acquainted with analog clocks (I've been told that's becoming an issue).
 

Flying Crane

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You know, what I probably need to do is use more than one method of identifying directions (one relative, one absolute). I haven't been using the o'clocks, so I could use that. Maybe use N/S/E/W for the absolute position, and o'clock for the relative position. That would simplify things considerably.

Let's just hope I don't get some young folks who aren't acquainted with analog clocks (I've been told that's becoming an issue).
Well, a changing reference is confusing. If you turn to 3:00, and then 3:00 becomes the new 12:00 because that is the direction you are now facing, i think that would become very confusing very quickly.
 

greytowhite

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For me it's a multimedia thing as well as a multi-layered thing. We are documenting the beginner's portion of our art currently and the videos are focused on that. Certain details will not be filled in, certain outer expressions of the forms will not be visible until later when the body is more open. It's kinda hard to keep in mind the proper progression at times - to omit detail someone isn't ready for can be hard for someone who is used to talking with non-Muggles or others with similar experience levels. I tend to be overly verbose and have to constantly cut back and script things in a more compact manner. The verbosity is good in the written and pictorial descriptions though.
 

hoshin1600

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my occupation involves programing machines to move with up to 5 axis in 3 dimensional space. so as an idea you could use a cartesian coordinate system.
X axis is east -west
Y axis is north -south
Z axis is up and down
C axis is rotating around like the clock
+is clockwise
_ is counter clock wise

the basic idea is to use a grid with points on it and your movements connect the dots.

now to get more indepth,, you are looking to to match attacks with the defense moves in the form. you could use what is called in macro B programing as using "variables" these are a numbered system you could use for branching. so your description can use numbers..

start point X0. Y0. C0. ready position;
# 100 - right step into Right hanmi dachi ;
right yokomen uchi ;
grab the wrist with both hands;
#500;
C -180.


attack/ sub text key
*****************
#100 = left munetsuki, with left step;

technique/ sub text key
************************
#500 = shiho nage



not sure if this helps but it is a good way to standardize movement. there is a lot more to it and i can explain more ideas if you like.
 

greytowhite

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You know, what I probably need to do is use more than one method of identifying directions (one relative, one absolute). I haven't been using the o'clocks, so I could use that. Maybe use N/S/E/W for the absolute position, and o'clock for the relative position. That would simplify things considerably.

Let's just hope I don't get some young folks who aren't acquainted with analog clocks (I've been told that's becoming an issue).

Oh yes, my teacher had to switch from o'clocks to the degrees of angles because giving an o'clock is absolutely useless to me and those younger. Other than sifu's wife and one other, I am his oldest regular student. I am 31, I definitely know how to read an analog clock but it's not something I have used to orient myself with since I was in high school telling my friend to check out the girl at his 2.

I tend to use angles for in-person clarification and video instruction for exactitude as well as universally understandable should someone recall any geometry. O'clocks only work on 30 degrees increments, many martial arts use 45, 60, 90, 135 etc for foot angles which would be difficult to communicate, gods forbid you try to tell someone younger than me to put their feet at 3:30...

For a while I didn't have any money or a teacher who was willing to teach me for free so I used video instruction that I stole off of the Internet. One of the best training tools that I started using was lines on the ground with tape. This enabled me to forget thinking about the angles and see if I was correct.
 

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The Kukkiwon Poomsae manual shows the overhead pattern of the form, and a photo and description of each step.
 

JP3

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I always did it by defining North, distance is steps, and there you go. N S E W, and NE NW SE and SW. Works for what I need to convey.
 
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gpseymour

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Well, a changing reference is confusing. If you turn to 3:00, and then 3:00 becomes the new 12:00 because that is the direction you are now facing, i think that would become very confusing very quickly.
The reason I need a relative reference is so they can practice any given segment. So, they'll have a N/S/E/W reference so they know which way they are facing at any given transition, and a relative reference (clock) to tell them which direction the attacker is. The latter makes more sense in a relative reference.
 
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gpseymour

gpseymour

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The Kukkiwon Poomsae manual shows the overhead pattern of the form, and a photo and description of each step.
I'm working on the overhead pattern. I still have to decide how much of the movement to show.
 
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gpseymour

gpseymour

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Oh yes, my teacher had to switch from o'clocks to the degrees of angles because giving an o'clock is absolutely useless to me and those younger. Other than sifu's wife and one other, I am his oldest regular student. I am 31, I definitely know how to read an analog clock but it's not something I have used to orient myself with since I was in high school telling my friend to check out the girl at his 2.

I tend to use angles for in-person clarification and video instruction for exactitude as well as universally understandable should someone recall any geometry. O'clocks only work on 30 degrees increments, many martial arts use 45, 60, 90, 135 etc for foot angles which would be difficult to communicate, gods forbid you try to tell someone younger than me to put their feet at 3:30...

For a while I didn't have any money or a teacher who was willing to teach me for free so I used video instruction that I stole off of the Internet. One of the best training tools that I started using was lines on the ground with tape. This enabled me to forget thinking about the angles and see if I was correct.
The only issue I have with angles is that using them for direction, you also have to specify L or R. The clock points solves that, though you're right about the difficulty with 45 degree designations. In my notes I used angles, but as I read them, they were actually less clear than I'd hoped (135 degrees right).
 
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