Kung Fu Forms.

7starmantis

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Originally posted by arnisador



One often hears of Vietnamese kung fu (e.g., the Vietnamese snake style) or Malaysian kung fu (e.g., Phoenix-eye fist, Chuka Shaolin), for example--arts that are clearly kung fu but that have been practiced in a nearby country to which they migrated for long enough that they are considered to be that country's "kung fu" now. Sometimes the term kuntao is applied to such styles.

That is true, but I must say that Kung Fu is a CMA. To say Vietnamese Kung Fu is like saying Russian American Money. The money is either Russian, or american. The term Vietnamese Kung Fu would be a Vietnamese Chinese Martial Art. That doesn't fit, so I would say that it is mis-named, or more apply, mis-understood. It is the same way that people outside of martial arts call all martial arts Karate. "So you take Karate eh?" No, I study Kung Fu. I think that its the same thing, someone a little misinformed, thats all.

My own humble opinion, thats all.
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arnisador

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I have mixed feelings about the approrpiateness of saying "Vietnamese kung fu" though I certainly grant that they wouldn't use the literal term kung fu (any more than they'd say "Vietnamese"). Kung Fu is now English for CMA, I think!

How many forms are there in 7 star praying mantis?
 

7starmantis

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If my memory serves me correctly, including weapons forms there would be right about 53. Differnet clans teach differnet ways, some combine a few, but going through my head, thats what I counted. I will have to ask my Sifu for an "official" count now, you have made me curious! :) Again though, that would be my Sifu's count. Differnet clans claim different numbers.

And I agree about Kung FU being basically the english term for CMA. I guess Wu Shu would better describe Kung Fu. In its traditional deffinition.

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YiLiJingLei

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Forms training is useful practice for martial artists when used as a context to practice applications with training partners. The instructor has to understand the form(s) they teach on many levels for this to be practical training. The instructor needs to be able to present the forms with applications according to the principles (of power/structure/technique) and strategy (timing & entry) of the system they teach.
In this sense, even boxing gyms train in "forms", as a coach will teach various combinations for the fighter to drill, solo & with a sparring partner.
Forms training is impractical when they are only presented as a pattern of movements to memorize, just for the sake of tradition or simple coordination. If the teacher of any given school teaches forms as an athletic curiosity, without showing how & why they work according to the principles & strategies of a given system, they are doing a great disservice to thier art & thier students. Meaning, if the forms practiced look radically different from the way that sparring or self defense techniques are applied, then the teacher doesn't really understand thier own art.
Teachers to avoid:
Example 1): Famous Wushu coaches who teach dozens of precise & flamboyant forms for competition, then teach sloppy kick-boxing for "San Shou"/self defense...
Example 2): Commercial Martial Arts "McDojos" where dozens of forms are taught only as an empty tradition to uphold, as some kind of combination of vague, mysterious coordination drills, then for self-defense training, presenting a half-baked version of Muay Thai & grappling methods presented from what they saw on the last UFC video tape...
Example 3): Secretive, public martial arts schools that claim to present one art (such as Shaolin Chuan Fa/Kung Fu, for example), with several rambling, clumsy forms, some goofy weapons twirling, then teach applications & self defense drills with something completely different (Kempo or Hapkido, for example)...
The whole point is, train to use what you learn. Only learn at a school that is able to teach the practical interpretation of the forms of the system--the forms should look like the self defense drills, the self defense techniques should look like how the practicioners spar--it needs to be comprehensive. The more forms that are expected to be memorized is an indication of that much less time you will spend learning how to use them. A warning light should go off in your head if the teacher starts telling you he can teach you a few dozen different forms, for so much $$. If you have no idea how to practically utilize the movements & principles of the forms you learn in a system, quit the school & find someone that does. Don't waste your time memorizing forms if the self-defense applications taught are totally different--the forms teach proper technique, but only if the teacher knows what thier used for. If the teacher substitutes some kind of kickboxing drills for the practical content at the school, and the forms you learn are a complete mystery, you have 2 options if you really want to understand an art:
1) Quit the school & find a teacher that knows how to teach a traditional system & how it's used
or
2) Quit the school & find a good boxing gym or Muay Thai stable.
Don't do half-assed forms, then half-assed kickboxing--that is a contradictory waste of time, you spin your wheels & go nowhere fast, other than inflate a false ego. Either do one or the other, and learn how to use SOMETHING. This is how real martial arts (especially Chinese Martial Arts) are degenerating into a mish-mash of sloppy kickboxing--From teachers that don't understand the art they teach, offering dozens of forms that mean nothing to no one, then "supplimenting" applications with something completely different that they (think they) can use. if you need proof, go to any regional or national open martial arts tournament--if you don't see the depressing difference between the "Flash & Trash" forms & sloppy sparring, then you haven't been to a good enough martial arts school yet to know the difference, so keep looking.
 
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YiLiJingLei

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Hi, Matt & 'Chiduce',
Just seeking some clarification...

Chiduce said:
...The single change palm in baguazhang consist's of as little as 13 movements...

Yiliquan1/Matt said:
...seems I...always disagree with Chiduce... The movements of a form are not commonly referenced with the exception to Taijiquan, and then only to distinguish between compulsory forms in wushu competition. I have never heard of a 13 movement Bagua form, or a 175 movement something else form... Separate postures within a form are named, but not numbered. The only other numbered reference, beyond Taiji, that I have heard of have been the 108 movement wooden dummy form from Wing Chun...

Chiduce was referencing the Dan Huan Zhang, Bagua's Single Palm Change, which is sometimes referenced as one "posture" (also read as "series of movements") in most any particular style of Bagua's group of "8 Mother Palms" (Ba Mu Zhang).
Since Bagua's emphasis is on a continuity of motion, each one of those 8 Palm Changes within a Bagua form consists of several sub-catagories of movements, or "phases" within a "posture", each one of those "sub-phases" have thier own name, just like Taiji "postures".

Example: Dan Huan Zhang (Single Palm Change) can be presented as only 3 movements/postures/phases:
1) Crouching Tiger
2) Black Tiger Enters Cave
3) Green Dragon Whips Tail

or, in contrast, Dan Huan Zhang can be also presented in 8 movements/postures/phases:
1) Close Door, Cover Elbow
2) Lean to Inqire direction
3) Crouching Tiger
4) Lazy Dragon Wipes Gate
5) Black Tiger Enters Cave
6) Hide Flower Under Leaf
7) Wild Goose Leaves Flock
8) Green Dragon Stretches Claw

I can easily see how this could be broken down into further movements based opon the complexity of each different coil & twist, but really, whatever it takes for the student to understand the nuances, principles (Jin/Jir), and some potential applications of each piece of the "Posture" or Palm Change.

Also, most old Shaolin forms have a seperate poetic name for each specific sequence of a movement or 2, just like the Taiji forms. I think the names of the postures are just more well known in Taiji because Taiji is so widely practiced.

I hope this helps foster more understanding...:asian:
 

7starmantis

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I thought maybe this to be a good time to re-hatch this thread. I was reading some other threads and saw a refrence to this one. I think while it may be hard to remember and play all the forms, it is certainly worth knowing all the different ways each technique can be interpreted for application. I think the large numbre of forms is to help students understand differing applications to different techniques. Forms=Application in my school, so the more forms you know, normally the better fighter you are.

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Matt Bernius

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The one thing that I have read anyone explicity state is that another function of forms were to be a catalog of a system. They contained technique and concept. Therefore not only were they in theory teaching one how to fight, but also were used as a method to nonverbally transfer the concepts of a system for future teachers.

As such the real value to day to day training that forms provide is the ability to take a movement or series of movements and work them within and beyond the base context of the form.

From a teaching perspective, you should have all the necessary lessons plans by working to "decode" and disassemble each form into it's component ideas and technqiues.

- Matt
 

7starmantis

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Yes, many, many people do forms but are stumped by how they would teach the combat application to said form. I think that is a waste of time. We work very hard to teach the application to every move in every form. We do drills with them, and even get graded on tests for using them in our fighting.

The forms are to increase your fighting. In my system at least, the focus of the art is fighting. Everything you do should increase your ability to fight, if not, it isn't worth doing.

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Tony

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From what I know of my system I have learnt about 9 forms so far and there are still more to learn. But once you know a form and it can feel so nice when the moves are flowing!
 
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RHD

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Hello, new to the board, interesting discussion.
Hung Gar has origionally 1 form called Gung Gee fook Fu Kuen/I-Shaped Taming Tiger Fist. Currently there are 4 "pillar" forms generally accepted by various lineages and schools as the core forms of the system, though it can vary slightly. These are: Gung Gee Fook Fu Kuen, Fu Hok Sheung Ying Kuen/Tiger Crane Combined Fist, Ng Ga Kuen/Five Animal Fist, and Tit Sin Kuen/Iron Wire Fist. All of the weapons forms are borrowed, though single ended long pole, tiger fork, and butterfly knives are closely associated with the system and may be "older" and closer to its founders on an acquisition timeline. Some schools have many, many more forms in thier curriculums, from several other systems and tons of weapons.
In reality, though I've been practicing Hung Gar for 14 years, the only forms I practice regularly are the first two pillars, and the Iron Wire. Even these I will break down and focus only on parts of them at a time because forms training is not my focus. Also, it is pretty easy to see where even these three are made from combinations of shorter, related forms.
I've noted that Kung Fu forms tend to be much longer than say those of Okinawan Karate. For example, I have friends that practice RyuKyu Kempo, and they have two or three times as many empty hand forms, but they are much shorter, and much less complex in movement.
Another interesting point is that most kung fu systems seemed to acquire more forms in the last 60 years or so. I think this has a direct relationship with commercialism and the reality of guns being more prevelant.
Mike
 

7starmantis

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Welcome to the boards! Nice to have you here!

Thats odd, in my experience I have found that most japanese arts tend to have many less forms than my system of kung fu. I agree with them being shorter and less intricate as well, but most systems I have seen have many less forms than my system does.

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RHD

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7starmantis said:
Welcome to the boards! Nice to have you here!

Thats odd, in my experience I have found that most japanese arts tend to have many less forms than my system of kung fu. I agree with them being shorter and less intricate as well, but most systems I have seen have many less forms than my system does.

7sm
Sorry 7*, I meant only in relation to what I practice. You are correct that most kung fu systems have more forms than Japanese. However, I do stand by my assesment that most kung fu systems had less forms a generation or two back, at least amongst the Southern styles. Choy Li Fut being the exception;).
Mike
 

7starmantis

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Yeah, I can agree with that, although aome still had quite a few. The fact that some have been created in the last 100 years or so is proof to me of an alive system that is growing and "evolving".

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SK101

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Thanks for the points of information, and I agree with you that a single form could be enough! It was common for senior karateka in Okinawa to know perhaps three forms. My gut feeling is that less is more--how could one master and be able to implement 40 long forms? Still, I'd like to hear from more kung fu people who practice a great many forms as to what benefits they perceive from this training.

I would say the number of forms or other material really is based on your amount of practice. A student who only makes it in for a couple of classes per week and doesn't practice at home may be very well off with a small amount of material. A monk who trains several hours daily may feel comfortable with 100 forms since they can get in enough repetition to go from concept to application.
 

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