Finally, I Got It Right!

isshinryuronin

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A couple of days ago, having nothing else to do at the moment, I did wansu kata in my living room. Luckily, this is a rather compact linear form, so my furniture and TV were in no danger. This, in itself, was nothing noteworthy as I will often do a random kata on the spur of the moment when just hanging out at home. What was interesting was that it was the best wansu kata I have ever done!

I first learned it in 1969 and can't guess how many times I've done it since - must have been at least two thousand. But this time, no dojo, no gi, no spectators, no test, no planned workout, no warm-up, no goal other than to just do wansu. It all came together like never before - even when heavily training and testing for several degrees of black belt. I didn't set out to do it "perfectly" but that's the way in turned out, unbidden (much the same way Nothingness found the black pearl for the Yellow Emperor, a story I recounted in another recent thread).

Great speed, power, form - I've had that since I was in my twenties. What was different this time was in the chinkuchi, the tempo and expression of the combos and some subtleties in the biomechanics. The other main thing that helped, IMO, was that I had no purpose in doing it. That gave my body the freedom to act naturally. Of course, many hundreds of reps and understanding the meaning of the form, as well as Okinawan karate itself, were necessary prerequisites.

So, I've mastered one kata over the past 55 years (I'm close to a couple more). I figure I can get all my kata to this level in - let me do some math..................oh, a hundred and fifty years.
 

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That is awesome... I love when those moments happen.. and yeah they often come about when you abandon purpose, or those ideas of how the kata "should" look, and it spontaneously arises as an expression of authenticity coming from a different place in you. Thanks for sharing, I love hearing this sorta stuff :)
 

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A couple of days ago, having nothing else to do at the moment, I did wansu kata in my living room. Luckily, this is a rather compact linear form, so my furniture and TV were in no danger. This, in itself, was nothing noteworthy as I will often do a random kata on the spur of the moment when just hanging out at home. What was interesting was that it was the best wansu kata I have ever done!

I first learned it in 1969 and can't guess how many times I've done it since - must have been at least two thousand. But this time, no dojo, no gi, no spectators, no test, no planned workout, no warm-up, no goal other than to just do wansu. It all came together like never before - even when heavily training and testing for several degrees of black belt. I didn't set out to do it "perfectly" but that's the way in turned out, unbidden (much the same way Nothingness found the black pearl for the Yellow Emperor, a story I recounted in another recent thread).

Great speed, power, form - I've had that since I was in my twenties. What was different this time was in the chinkuchi, the tempo and expression of the combos and some subtleties in the biomechanics. The other main thing that helped, IMO, was that I had no purpose in doing it. That gave my body the freedom to act naturally. Of course, many hundreds of reps and understanding the meaning of the form, as well as Okinawan karate itself, were necessary prerequisites.

So, I've mastered one kata over the past 55 years (I'm close to a couple more). I figure I can get all my kata to this level in - let me do some math..................oh, a hundred and fifty years.
Wansu is a fun kata. I can't say I've ever done it right. I doubt I've ever done any of my kata right. I recall having done Naihanchi in the dojo one night and I felt good about it and my Sensei said it was the best Naihanchi he'd ever seen. But he might have been being sarcastic. In any case, recent years have made my kata considerably less attractive to look at that previously. I suspect I've passed my high water mark in that sense. I'll keep doing kata anyway.

Congrats to you!
 

Kung Fu Wang

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So, I've mastered one kata over the past 55 years (I'm close to a couple more).
When will you start to create?

MA training should have 3 stages.

1. learning.
2. polishing.
3. creating.

In order to have contribution to MA, to complete stage 1 and stage 2 is not enough. You need to get into stage 3.
 
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isshinryuronin

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When will you start to create?
I have created - no one does the forms I do the way I do. They are uniquely mine in many subtle ways. They are customized to be in harmony with my physical body type, my understanding of the techniques and principles, and my spiritual attitude in execution.

As far as creating a brand-new form, I see no reason for it. I know my style's 8 empty hand and 6 weapon forms, the 5 pinans, and some portions of Parker's kenpo forms (and a small collection of iaido kata). I think that provides plenty of material and range of techniques to draw from in addition to all the offensive/defensive moves I have learned and practiced over the years that are not in kata. Then, there's all the kata from other styles available should I ever feel like adding to my repertoire.

There are only so many twists and turns, ways to strike and kick, grab releases, etc. and I think most of them have been memorialized in kata already. I don't think I have much to contribute beyond what dozens of masters have already come up with over the past three hundred years and I see no value in repackaging what others have done.

Rather than make up a new kata, I find more benefit in perfecting all that I already know. That said, my black belt test required making up and performing my own kata, but I don't think it had any lasting value or profoundness, nor introduced any new MA concepts to the karate world.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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I see no value in repackaging what others have done.
The way that I look at this is, if I have 20 forms, how can I select the most important moves and put into 1 form.

For example, if

- form 1 has roundhouse kick.
- form 2 has turn back kick.
- form 3 has hook punch.
- form 4 has overhand.
- ...

I don't want my students to learn 4 forms in order to be able to do roundhouse kick, turn back kick, hook punch, overhand. In other words, if I have 40 different techniques in my toolbox, can I make a form that contain all those 40 techniques? This is just a survey task.

For example, a form can be created as:

1. right jab,
2. left cross,
3. right hook,
4. right vertical back fist,
5. left uppercut,
6. right overhand.
7. left horizontal spin back fist.

All 7 punching tools can be trained by using a 7 moves short form. It will be easy to teach, easy to learn, and easy to train.

After survey, there will be creation. The creation task can be more difficult. But it's much more fun to be able to create a new technique, new principle, or new strategy.
 
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Monkey Turned Wolf

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The way that I look at this is, if I have 20 forms, how can I select the most important moves and put into 1 form.

For example, if

- form 1 has roundhouse kick.
- form 2 has turn back kick.
- form 3 has hook punch.
- form 4 has overhand.
- ...

I don't want my students to learn 4 forms in order to be able to do roundhouse kick, turn back kick, hook punch, overhand. In other words, if I have 40 different techniques in my toolbox, can I make a form that contain all those 40 techniques? This is just a survey task.

For example, a form can be created as:

1. right jab,
2. left cross,
3. right hook,
4. right vertical back fist,
5. left uppercut,
6. right overhand.
7. left horizontal spin back fist.

All 7 punching tools can be trained by using a 7 moves short form.

After survey, there will be creation. The creation task can be more difficult. But it's much more fun to be able to create a new technique, new principle, or new strategy.
Ideally, whoever made the system already went through all that thinking and made the forms in an efficient way for training. That might not mean every form has every technique (that would make the forms too long) or that no techniques will repeat (repetition of the basics is important), but that if you take them all together and train them, you are learning your system in an efficient way (form-wise).

That doesn't mean there isn't value in creating your own forms, just that it's not necessary for the purpose your mentioning. Unless you notice some sort of flaw in your system/style's forms, that you are trying to correct before teaching your own students.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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(repetition of the basics is important),
You don't repeat the same word in a dictionary. Why do you want to repeat the same technique in a form. A student can repeat that technique as many times as he wants to. IMO, it makes sense to repeat a teahnique because you try to record different combo. For example, you may repeat the hook punch in the following combo.

1 hook, back fist.
2. hook, uppercut.
3. jab, hook.

Your form contains 3 hooks because you have recorded 3 different combos. Other than that, the duplicated technique makes no sense.

The 108 moves Taiji form can be condensed into 48 moves form without losing any technique. It's easier to teach/learn that 48 moves Taiji form than to teach/learn the 108 moves Taiji form.
 
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Monkey Turned Wolf

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You don't repeat the same word in a dictionary. Why do you want to repeat the same technique in a form. A student can repeat that technique as many times as he wants to. IMO, it makes sense to repeat a teahnique because you try to record different combo. For example, you may repeat the hook punch in the following combo.

1 hook, back fist.
2. hook, uppercut.
3. jab, hook.

Your form contains 3 hooks because you have recorded 3 different combos. Other than that, the duplicated technique makes no sense.

The 108 moves Taiji form can be condensed into 48 moves form without losing any technique. It's easier to teach/learn that 48 moves Taiji form than to teach/learn the 108 moves Taiji form.
That's only if the form's purpose is simply to catalogue. If it's to train, then it makes sense to repeat. If I am 3x more likely to throw a jab than an uppercut, and my form has 3 jabs and 1 uppercut, then I am getting an appropriate ratio of training them.
 
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isshinryuronin

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The 108 moves Taiji form can be condensed into 48 moves form without losing any technique. It's easier to teach/learn that 48 moves Taiji form than to teach/learn the 108 moves Taiji form.
I think you are missing the point of TMA forms. They are not a dictionary of individual techniques, but a collection of combos to deal with specific self-defense situations. For example, in Chinto kata there is a cross hand block that grabs and holds one for a double kick. The same move is later used to grab and pull the opponent around into an arm/wrist lock (takedown).

In TMA (at least Okinawan) the scenario determines what techniques are included in the form. One technique can be used in several ways so a move may certainly be repeated, though the self-defense scenario it's used in is different.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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That's only if the form's purpose is simply to catalogue. If it's to train, then it makes sense to repeat. If I am 3x more likely to throw a jab than an uppercut, and my form has 3 jabs and 1 uppercut, then I am getting an appropriate ratio of training them.
A student can decide how many times he wants to train jab, and how many times he wants to train uppercut. Why should a form make that decision for him?

This form has only 1 left foot sweep and no right foot sweep. It doesn't stop me from training left foot sweep 20 times and right foot sweep 20 times. If you only use this form to train, all your life, you may only be able to do left foot sweep and never be able to do right foot sweep.

Form should not be used for training.

 
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Kung Fu Wang

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I think you are missing the point of TMA forms. They are not a dictionary of individual techniques, but a collection of combos to deal with specific self-defense situations.
As I have stated, if you recorded 3 combos that has hook punch, to repeat hook punch 3 times in your form make sense. But if you just do "downward block, punch" to the east then "downward block, punch" to the west, it has no value for duplication that way.

In the following 108 moves Taiji clip, the combo "ward off, pull back, press forward, push, double pulling, single whip" has been duplicated 5 times. If you just record it once or record it 10 times, it won't make any difference.

May be the longer form can keep students longer for their tuition.

 
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isshinryuronin

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if you just do "downward block, punch" to the east then "downward block, punch" to the west, it has no value for duplication that way.
If the block and punch combo to the east and west are not linked to other moves to deal with two different attacks, I can see your point. It's just simple duplication. I can think of a few reasons such moves are repeated:

1. To practice both sides (even though drilling is better, some of this may be included in kata). 2. To emphasize the importance of the combo (versatility or frequency it may be useful in combat). 3. To give the form some symmetry for ease of learning. 4. Some other unknown reason the great masters had in doing it. I'm not in a position to challenge Matsumura's or Miyagi's thinking. One or more of these, or none, may be true.
In the following 108 moves Taiji clip, the combo "ward off, pull back, press forward, push, double pulling, single whip" has been duplicated 5 times. If you just record it once or record it 10 times, it won't make any difference.
Yes, I think 5 times is too much repeating of a series.
 
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isshinryuronin

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Speaking of Wansu.....

The man in the red and white belt is Uechi Tsuyoshi and recognized by the Okinawan government as the master of isshinryu. He trained under founder Shimabuku Tatsuo's son-in-law, Uezu Angi. Master Uechi's senior student is my sensei.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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I tried it once. Got it right and gave up.
I bought this guy's video many years ago. I tried to do my form as nice as he did. I then realized that I truly don't want to spend my valuable lifetime in solo form training. The best that I can do is to be another copy machine, no more and no less.

Repeating the play Romeo and Juliet 10,000 times won't make me a Shakespeare.


All my solo training is like this - few moves combo, repeat left and right.

 
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I tend to agree, Ive never felt the need to create my own form or kata. I prefer to perfect my systems, and on occasion borrow and practice others from different styles. That being said, if you enjoy creating them, and find benefit, it could be a useful training aid.
 

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When will you start to create?

MA training should have 3 stages.

1. learning.
2. polishing.
3. creating.

In order to have contribution to MA, to complete stage 1 and stage 2 is not enough. You need to get into stage 3.
I don't need to contribute in that way. I contribute by teaching. There is no need to modify what I've been taught.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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if you enjoy creating them, and find benefit, it could be a useful training aid.
Sometime it's not creating but add in the missing one.

For example, if a system has jab-cross-jab combo but doesn't have jab-hook-uppercut combo. To add in the missing one can be a plus. I can't speak for other MA systems. But for my long fist system, I'm 100% sure that jab-hook-uppercut combo doesn't exist in any of those long fist form.


 
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