How to create your own forms

Kung Fu Wang

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I have a lot of fun to create my own forms lately (I have created 4 forms so far). Since I no longer compete in tournament, I try to use form training for health purpose (endurance, balance, flexibity, speed, power generation, ...). In order for me to have strong motivation to train such forms, I have to create some forms that I truly enjoy of doing it.

I may use a traditional form as the base. Pick up a small part that I like. I then add some moves before and after that part. The idea number can be 16 to 20 moves. I try to make sure that I have at least 3 kicks in it. I then make a reverse version of that form. Finally, I link the new form and the new reverse form as one final form (the final form can be 32 to 40 moves).

The advantage of this new form are:

- Have fun to train it.
- Record useful information.
- Different MA systems techniques can be integrated.
- The ratio of punch and kick can be adjusted according to your favor ratio.
- Every move is trained on both sides.
- ...

What's your opinion on this approach?
 
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skribs

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I think there are a few reasons why creating your own forms can be a good thing.
  • If the meaning of the older forms have been lost over time (or never really transferred to begin with), then you have something that means something to you. If you then teach it, when your students ask the meaning, you can be sure of the answer you provide them.
  • If there are things you dislike about the forms you've learned in the past, you can correct those errors. For example, one thing you hear in Taekwondo is "You should end on the same spot you started", but many forms don't actually end on the same exact spot.
  • You can highlight the moves or combos you like, and downplay or remove the ones you don't like, or at least don't like as much.
Another big thing is that in creating my own forms, I've come to appreciate things about the forms I've previously learned. For example, in the Taekwondo forum, I started threads about mirroring on both sides and similar things. I have come to an appreciation of the Taegeuk forms that I didn't have before. Stylistically, I did not enjoy them as much as the other forms I learned, but they did stack up better in the metrics I wanted to use for my own forms.

My Taekwondo Master had forms that were more as you described. For example, my organization (Kukkiwon) has a form called Koryo. My Master has a form that he calls Koryo Il Jang (which roughly translates to Koryo #1, which is weird, because I'd call it Koryo Yi Jang for #2). In his version of Koryo,
  • The first set of combinations, repeated left and right, are 90% the same, but the ending block is different.
  • The second combination, which travels forward from the starting position is 90% the same, but with a few kicks added in the middle.
  • The third combination, repeated left and right, is 100% the same.
  • The fourth and last combination is entirely different and of his own design.
Similarly, the second black belt form in KKW is Keumgang. Keumgang Il Jang is the first and second half of Keumgang, but with a long string of techniques in the middle.

This was my Master's requirement for the school, which isn't very common in KKW schools. However, I believe that in ATA TKD (American Taekwondo Association), I believe this is a common practice for black belts to have forms that have a start and an end, and then a requirement to have X amount of moves created in the middle.

Personally, I'm not really a fan of my Master's version of the forms. It's something I would suggest to do with caution. His versions often involve a ton of techniques done seemingly at random, which are not repeated on the other side. His third and fourth variant forms are much better about this, but unfortunately only learned by a very select few students who make it to 3rd degree.
 
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Kung Fu Wang

Kung Fu Wang

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  • You can highlight the moves or combos you like,
That's one of my goals. For example, in one of my forms I have the following combo.

- left side kick, right palm strike.
- left side kick, right spin back fist.

This way, no matter how my opponent may block my side kick (spin my body to my left, or spin my body to my right), I have at least one follow up move ready for it.

I also like to add some combos that don't exist in my traditional forms such as:

- right side kick, left turn side kick.
- right roundhouse kick, right side kick.
- ...
 
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Jared Traveler

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Do you ever just shadow box techniques? No set pattern, free flowing, incorporating offense and defense?
 
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Kung Fu Wang

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Do you ever just shadow box techniques? No set pattern, free flowing, incorporating offense and defense?
I strongly believe in plan (set up, or combos). My fighting theory is as long as I can keep my opponent busy, that will be to my advantage. So in self-defense, I will throw right jab, left cross, right hook, left hook, right uppercut, left uppercut. I don't care if I can hit my opponent or not as long as I can put my opponent in defense mode. May be my 6 punches combo is shadow boxing by your definition. I'm not too sure.

For example, I may do:

- jab, jab, cross.
- jab, hook, uppercut.
- hook, hook, cross.
- hook, back fist, overhand.
- hook, horizontal back fist, cross.
- ...

I can link these 5 combos as a 15 moves form. By adding the reverse form, I will get a 30 moves form. This is just a 100% punching form. I don't mind to train it. But It may not be the best form for maintaining health (such as flexibility, balance, ...).

I can do a lot of this kind of 100% punching form. It just won't make me feel tired. If I don't kick, my body will feel very uncomfortable.
 
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Buka

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I have a lot of fun to create my own forms lately (I have created 4 forms so far). Since I no longer compete in tournament, I try to use form training for health purpose (endurance, balance, flexibity, speed, power generation, ...). In order for me to have strong motivation to train such forms, I have to create some forms that I truly enjoy of doing it.

I may use a traditional form as the base. Pick up a small part that I like. I then add some moves before and after that part. The idea number can be 16 to 20 moves. I try to make sure that I have at least 3 kicks in it. I then make a reverse version of that form. Finally, I link the new form and the new reverse form as one final form (the final form can be 32 to 40 moves).

The advantage of this new form are:

- Have fun to train it.
- Record useful information.
- Different MA systems techniques can be integrated.
- The ratio of punch and kick can be adjusted according to your favor ratio.
- Every move is trained on both sides.
- ...

What's your opinion on this approach?
I love it. It's not for short timers to do, but someone with your experience, I think it's terrific.
 

Gerry Seymour

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I have a lot of fun to create my own forms lately (I have created 4 forms so far). Since I no longer compete in tournament, I try to use form training for health purpose (endurance, balance, flexibity, speed, power generation, ...). In order for me to have strong motivation to train such forms, I have to create some forms that I truly enjoy of doing it.

I may use a traditional form as the base. Pick up a small part that I like. I then add some moves before and after that part. The idea number can be 16 to 20 moves. I try to make sure that I have at least 3 kicks in it. I then make a reverse version of that form. Finally, I link the new form and the new reverse form as one final form (the final form can be 32 to 40 moves).

The advantage of this new form are:

- Have fun to train it.
- Record useful information.
- Different MA systems techniques can be integrated.
- The ratio of punch and kick can be adjusted according to your favor ratio.
- Every move is trained on both sides.
- ...

What's your opinion on this approach?
I think once you have a certain amount of understanding of a style, creating new forms can be a useful tool. Even for styles that don't use forms, adding your own can be useful if they:
  • Challenge you somewhere you need to work on (pivots, balance, kicks, whatever)
  • Give you something new to challenge you or engage your mind
  • Give you a solo practice while you're away from the dojo/gym/whatever for a while
  • Let you explore how forms work and don't work (most useful for systems where forms are already a part)
  • Are fun for you
While my primary style has always used what would be considered kata (forms) for indvidual techinques (in that there's a restricted approach to how they should initially be taught), it never had longer forms (more than one technique). I started creating longer ones when I was traveling - initially just chaining together the shorter forms with transitions between them. When I started working out my own approach to teaching, I added in some of those forms. I've been through three iterations of them, and liked all of them, but whittled it down to a small set of relatively short forms (10 "movements" in each of the 5 forms), since most students don't attend enough for it to be worth spending more time than that. Now there's a base footwork pattern that is the same for all 5 forms: classical (first 10 "classical" techniques in the art), strikes (a mix of basic strikes and body movement), single stick, double stick, staff. There's a 6th I've never taught, except to my wife (because she asked nicely) that I'd intended as a fun piece for advanced students: sword.
 
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Kung Fu Wang

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A: There are a billion forms out there. No need for any more.
B: Those new forms are not for teaching but for self-training.
 

skribs

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A: There are a billion forms out there. No need for any more.
B: Those new forms are not for teaching but for self-training.
As a beginner, you are so disoriented in martial arts that you need a mentor to guide you. Whether that mentor is called instructor, coach, Master, Professor, Sifu, Sensei, or whatever else they may be called. In this time, it matters more what your school teaches.

When you are an expert, your progress is largely going to come through collaborating with other experts and through teaching those with less experience (or no experience). In this time, you have four sets of forms available to you:
  1. Those which you have trained
  2. Those which you know of, but have not trained
  3. Those which you do not know of
  4. Those which you create
I'm guessing that #1 and #2 don't total to a billion forms. I'm guessing that for most people, it isn't even over 100. If what you know doesn't cover what you want to do with the forms, it makes more sense to create a form than to try another one of the billion and see if it's what you're looking for.

They can be for self-training. However, if you are at the point where you are making your own forms, I would hope you are teaching those to your students. This way, they get first-generation teachings instead of teachings long removed from the creative source.
 

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What's your opinion on this approach?

I like the requirement to have at least three kicks (one out of every 10 moves) but maybe four kicks!

One thing I have been doing is breaking down every move into line practice. The challenge here is to find an acceptable and remember-able opening and closing to each move, which also "fits", in a general sense. The simplest way to enter the move.

Usually I find the best way to do so is to add an entering move or a defensive move in front, and then at the end find some way to either follow up the move to return to a neutral move or simply relax back into wuji position and then close feet and bow.

It feels a bit like I imagine Iaido must be, where every move starts form the bow.
 
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Kung Fu Wang

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at the end find some way to either follow up the move to return to a neutral move or simply relax back into wuji position and then close feet and bow.
I like to start and end my form with fighting stance (30-70 weight distribution). I don't know why most of the tradition forms don't start from and end with a fighting stance.
 

JowGaWolf

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I started editing my beginner's forms. Nothing too serious (I don't think). I've been experimenting on how to add entering and exiting techniques into the form.
 

windwalker099

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In most CMA systems the forms are based on a theme intended to develop a certain skill set or highlight a strategy or skill based on a method.

An example might be "needle in cotton" a Tibetan White Crane" set said to be high level focused on internal skill sets.

Or Hung Gar , Iron wire" set also said to develop internal skill.

N-praying mantis, has many sets among the different branches....Each indicative of skill sets thought to be unique to that branch..

Once one reaches a certain level of understanding they might feel is unique , one way of passing this down is by developing a "from" for others to practice helping them to reach the same understanding...
 
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Kung Fu Wang

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What's the difference between a traditional form and a self created form? The 24 moves Taiji form was self created form. If a form was created by your teacher's teacher, will you call that form as a traditional form, or a self created form?

This clip is a good example of a self created form. The form was created by my teacher's XingYi teacher Liu Er Biao Zi. You can see that the first 1/2 of the form and the 2nd 1/2 of the form are identical. When I train this form, I like to change the 2nd 1/2 of the form into a reverse form. All my forms are created with semiliar length like this.

 
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Kung Fu Wang

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I have always want to create a 24 moves form that

- move 1 can set up move 2.
- move 2 can set up move 3.
- ...
- move 23 can set up move 24.

This task has never be done by any MA person as far as I know. It's not an easy task. Here is one that I have created many years ago. I'm still not satisfied yet. After the 24 move that you lift your opponent over your shoulder, the combo cannot be continued and the form has to end.

Advantages of this approach are:

- It can be a text book that record useful information.
- You can learn 24 different throws just from 1 form.
- Any 2 moves, move N and move N+1 can be trained as combo.
- You can predict your opponent's possible respond and take advantage on it.
- ...

1. Knee seizing (KOU)
2. 頦¢orward kick (TI)
3. 澹oot picking (JIAN)
4. 敶Spring (TAN)
5. Μverhead (CHUAI))
6. 蝞 Control (GUAN)
7. Inner sickle (DAO)
8. Front cut (QIE)
9. Hooking kick (TIAO)
10. Inner heel sweep (GUA
11. 琺aist Lift (WEN),
12. 頩咕lock (BIE),
13. 蝥Twist (CHAN),
14. Outer Hook (LOU)
15. Split (BAI)
16. Inner hook (HE)
17. Inner knee seizing (TAO)
18. 鋆Back inner hook (LI)
19. Trunk hitting (ZHUANG)
20. Advance squeeze (KAO)
21. 撏咀racking (BENG)
22. Send forward (WAN)
23. Tie (KUN)
24. Embrace (BAO)

Here is

1. Knee seizing (KOU)
2. 頦¢orward kick (TI)

 
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Kung Fu Wang

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Why do you want to create your own form? The answer is you want to polish your toolbox skill daily.

For example, through your daily training, you may want to polish your

- front kick, side kick, roundhouse kick, crescent kick, ...
- jab, cross, hook, uppercut, overhand, ...
- foot sweep, scikle hook, inner hook, outer hook, ...
- wrist lock, elbow lock, shoulder lock, head lock, ...
- 1 step 3 punches (speed generation), 2 step 3 punches, 1 steps 1 punches (power generation), 2 steps 1 punch (dynamic punch), ...
- ...
 
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