What are the key elements in form/kata performance?

JowGaWolf

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I'd have to disagree with that, respectfully. Untrained kids lack focus and control and can easily hurt each other. I realize that when they begin kata training, they don't really understand why they are doing what they are doing, but that's on the instructor to provide that information and explain how it works.
Sparring can always be monitored even when kids have no focus. That is up to the instructor to do that. Once the get a good visual of incoming punches and kicks, Everthing else becomes easier to do and understand when doing forms.

It's common for Siblings to play fight and to rough house. It's only natural. We see this not just with humans but also with other animals. The risk should be minimum if supervised properly. As for focus loss It's like dodgeball. It won't happen often after the ball nails them a few times.
 
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isshinryuronin

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If it was my choice, students would fight first then learn Forms. A lot of people who do forms don't have a good reference for knowing what an attack looks like or what defending feels like. This creates a disconnect of purpose when doing forms

I'd have to disagree with that, respectfully. Untrained kids lack focus and control and can easily hurt each other. I realize that when they begin kata training, they don't really understand why they are doing what they are doing, but that's on the instructor to provide that information and explain how oit works.
I may, or may not, agree with JowGa's first sentence, depending on his meaning of "fight." If he means sparring, then I disagree along the lines of Bill's comments (and I think it applies to adults as well.)

[While reviewing this post, I see JowGa has responded to Bill and has confirmed the above meaning]

If he means practicing the fighting techniques found in kata with two man drills (as Kung Fu Wang suggests) prior to learning the kata, then I agree. This was actually how it was originally taught in Okinawa. In other words, kata was used to practice techniques already learned, rather than a tool to initially teach the techniques. (IMO, advent of larger public classes led to this change of methodology.)

Kyan Chotoku (founder of Shobayashi Shorinryu and student of Bushi Matsumura), laid out his order of instruction in 7 steps in 1930. To skip to the relevant parts: #4 was learning strikes and kicks. #5 was learning seizing and immobilizations (which can't be learned solo.) After this, #6 was kata, and lastly, #7 was kumite.

While I agree with Kung Fu Wang in theory, I admit to following a middle course. Sometimes I choose the easier, more structured way (to me) teaching the kata first to concentrate on good form and other basics, and then teach the fighting applications. Sometimes, visa versa, depending on the student.
 

JowGaWolf

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If he means practicing the fighting techniques found in kata with two man drills (as Kung Fu Wang suggests) prior to learning the kata, then I agree. This was actually how it was originally taught in Okinawa. In other words, kata was used to practice techniques already learned, rather than a tool to initially teach the techniques. (IMO, advent of larger public classes led to this change of methodology.)
I mean literally facing each other in a sparring environment. Even if they don't hit each other they will have a clear understanding of the challenges that they will face as the learn the basics, punching, kicking, blocking. So when I tell a child to imagine a punch coming in, they now have a reference of what a common punch looks like for someone of their age group. The non-System A punch off the playground stuff.

I can post videos of how our kids from years ago used to move in sparring. You can tell which ones did quit a bit of it vs those who never did it. They moved better than a some of the Kung fu master vs MMA videos we have seen. The footwork that they developed is naturally theirs from sparring. The more comfortable they felt moving around sparring, the more likely one would see them try to actually do Jow Ga techniques.

If this is the only reference for what incoming attacks look like then, no matter how well that person can do the drill they will not be able to do this in free sparring. They have a chance if they have sparred before and use that as visualization. But if they have never seen a incoming punch similar to what most people throw, then you'll never see the techniques he's talking about. If a Wing Chun practitioner thing I will stand in front of him like his fellow Wing Chun classmates, then he's going to get a big shock.

I'll try to upload a video of my son's 2nd or 3 time that he's ever sparred. The first time he didn't know what to expect. He had no references and took a hard shot to the gut. For him that's all he it took for him to figure out stuff. Some of the things he did during the video he learned on his own. He didn't learn it from class. He understood how his body moved and based on that he knew what he could do next. The only thing I can think of is that he was watching me closer than I realized, and then trained it on his own without me knowing.

By "fighting" I don't mean full on fight. Even when I increase intensity and power, it's never a full on slaughter my opponent deal. Some may see it as fighting but for me it's now. For me fighting is unforgiving to both involved. If my thing is to spar to learn, then you know I wouldn't train students differently.
 

JowGaWolf

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I admit to following a middle course. Sometimes I choose the easier, more structured way (to me) teaching the kata first to concentrate on good form and other basics, and then teach the fighting applications. Sometimes, visa versa, depending on the student.
Sometimes you don't have a choice because a student's basics are so horrible that there is no way for them to progress without correcting some of those fundamentals. I've had classmates and students who were so uncoordinated that, I was amazed that they were able to walk in the door. To me it was like their brain was on vacation and the limbs were just going to do their own thing. lol

Each student is different. My son picks up techniques incredibly well, but lacks the fighting spirit. He's gotten a little more as he's gotten older. I think the schools poisoned his mind about fighting. Schools would rather a student take a beating than to defend themselves and I think that's destructive on so many levels.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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I wouldn’t.
Do you do groin kick, groin kick, face punch? The 1st groin kick is real. The 2nd groin kick is fake. The 2nd groin kick is used to set up the face punch.

This principle can map into many techniques. You use a real attack first, you then use it again as a fake to set up something else.

What bother me is this important principle/strategy is not recorded in most traditional form. Why?

By using the jab, jab, cross, the 1st jab is real. The 2nd jab is fake (pull back 1/2 way). The 2nd jab is used to set up the cross.

 
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isshinryuronin

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Do you do groin kick, groin kick, face punch? The 1st groin kick is real. The 2nd groin kick is fake. The 2nd groin kick is used to set up the face punch.

This principle can map into many techniques. You use a real attack first, you then use it again as a fake to set up something else.
The attack you describe here is exactly one I have used in competition. Often the 2nd kick scored as well as the punch. For some reason, starting an attack off with two simple front kicks caught the opponent by surprise. Too often, I think, fighters are overly fond of high kicks and punches, or overthink tactics and neglect simple direct low line attacks.
What bother me is this important principle/strategy is not recorded in most traditional form. Why?
This is a valuable strategy. Such strategies/tactics are sometimes (rarely) found in forms, but sometimes the tree can't be seen for the forest. If we break the form down and look at each individual series, such strategies can occasionally be seen.

Another reason strategies aren't found in forms, IMO, is they are purposely not there. Forms were devised to "catalog" the physical techniques. The strategy and tactics were, as most things were back then, taught by direct oral transmission, along with the more subtle or hidden applications. Strategies are most effective when tailored to the individual opponent, so while the master likely taught various strategies, it made little sense to put a particular strategy in a set form.



 

Flying Crane

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What bother me is this important principle/strategy is not recorded in most traditional form. Why?
I wouldn’t know if it is in a form somewhere or not. I only know the forms that I have been taught. I don’t pretend to know all the forms that exist, even within the system I train, never mind all the systems out there. So maybe it is or is not found in a form somewhere. I don’t know.

But assuming for the sake of discussion that your comment is correct, so what? Ive said this before: forms do not contain everything. From past discussions I will point out again that it seems to me that you believe that for systems that use forms, the forms define all of what the system contains and represent the limits of what is “allowed” within the system. I find that to be untrue and inaccurate.
 

MadMartigan

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Another reason strategies aren't found in forms, IMO, is they are purposely not there. Forms were devised to "catalog" the physical techniques.
Exactly. The forms are the 'Dictionary' of the martial language you are learning. The forms set our how a move is built, what the different possible meanings are, and explains various ways it can be used.

You don't expect the dictionary to also have a work section where you drill grammar rules, sentence composition, and writing essays. That's what you have a teacher for; and you use the book as reference.
 

JowGaWolf

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The strategy and tactics were, as most things were back then, taught by direct oral transmission, along with the more subtle or hidden applications.
I think it's natural to not teach strategy in forms. Even when training today. The basics of doing a kick and a punch are taught separately from the discussion about the strategy of applying it. My guess is that strategy changes depending on how one fights and who they fight against. It probably would make training overwhelming mentally. Take 5 martial artists and you'll get at a minimum 5 different strategies. Considering that many of us have strategies that changes, identifying all of them and then trying to teach it all will be overwhelming and that doesn't include when strategy is different depending on who those 5 people may be fighting.

I can already feel trying to think of too much when I should only be focusing on other elements of forms.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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I think it's natural to not teach strategy in forms. Even when training today. The basics of doing a kick and a punch are taught separately from the discussion about the strategy of applying it. My guess is that strategy changes depending on how one fights and who they fight against. It probably would make training overwhelming mentally. Take 5 martial artists and you'll get at a minimum 5 different strategies. Considering that many of us have strategies that changes, identifying all of them and then trying to teach it all will be overwhelming and that doesn't include when strategy is different depending on who those 5 people may be fighting.

I can already feel trying to think of too much when I should only be focusing on other elements of forms.
A form can be a dictionary. A form can also be a book.

- The WC form is a dictionary. It contains words only.
- The long fist, praying mantis, SC, ... form is a book. It contains words and grammar (strategy).

If the following clip, you

- attack your opponent's leading leg. When he steps back, you attack his other leg.
- push your opponent. When he resists, you pull him.

If you don't record these kind of strategies into your form, where will you record those information? It's not a good idea that MA learning depends on the instructor's memory.

 

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gpseymour

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Personally I don’t like to think of the martial arts as art in the sense of the fine arts or the performing arts. I prefer the definition of “art” that means a skill in an activity, acquired through practice and hard work. That is essentially what the term “kung fu” means.

So if putting one’s artistic touch on it simply means having the ability to apply the skills effectively and spontaneously, and creatively where necessary, then I can agree with that. But if it is meant more on the lines of being artistic for the sake of some kind of intellectual or visual aesthetics, not connected to actual function, then I can’t get on board with that.
I see the fine arts as an analogy, rather than a direct comparison. The personal flair and "soul" in art is analogous to the adjustment in MA that is based on a depth of understanding of the principles.
 

gpseymour

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I may, or may not, agree with JowGa's first sentence, depending on his meaning of "fight." If he means sparring, then I disagree along the lines of Bill's comments (and I think it applies to adults as well.)

[While reviewing this post, I see JowGa has responded to Bill and has confirmed the above meaning]

If he means practicing the fighting techniques found in kata with two man drills (as Kung Fu Wang suggests) prior to learning the kata, then I agree. This was actually how it was originally taught in Okinawa. In other words, kata was used to practice techniques already learned, rather than a tool to initially teach the techniques. (IMO, advent of larger public classes led to this change of methodology.)

Kyan Chotoku (founder of Shobayashi Shorinryu and student of Bushi Matsumura), laid out his order of instruction in 7 steps in 1930. To skip to the relevant parts: #4 was learning strikes and kicks. #5 was learning seizing and immobilizations (which can't be learned solo.) After this, #6 was kata, and lastly, #7 was kumite.

While I agree with Kung Fu Wang in theory, I admit to following a middle course. Sometimes I choose the easier, more structured way (to me) teaching the kata first to concentrate on good form and other basics, and then teach the fighting applications. Sometimes, visa versa, depending on the student.
I think both are workable (at least with adults - I haven't taught kids in twenty years).

I teach the two-man drills for grappling techniques before they learn the one-man kata that includes them. (I also show them a more realistic full "application" before I teach them the first static-start drill.)

I also teach basic sparring about the same time I start teaching strikes (before they get their first grappling technique). They learn "defensive sparring" first (just movement and shielding, learning to stay calm "inside the storm" and start learning to control space with movement). As soon as they show they can control themselves with that version, I start working with them on light-contact sparring (offense as well as defense). The first few sessions of this are open-hand, which reduces the chance of accidentally hitting hard.
 

gpseymour

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If you don't record these kind of strategies into your form, where will you record those information? It's not a good idea that MA learning depends on the instructor's memory.
Is it your impression that MA that have forms, that's where the instructor records their information? I've never met an instructor who hadn't written some stuff down. And after a point, things like gross strategy (like the jab-jab-cross strategy you mentioned earlier) are so well ingrained in your head that you really don't need them recorded anywhere else.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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Is it your impression that MA that have forms, that's where the instructor records their information? I've never met an instructor who hadn't written some stuff down. And after a point, things like gross strategy (like the jab-jab-cross strategy you mentioned earlier) are so well ingrained in your head that you really don't need them recorded anywhere else.
As a teacher, you can

1. teach your students the information in your head.
2. record your information in your form, and pass your form to your students.

I prefer 2 over 1.

Even the jab-jab-cross can be applied in many different strategies such as to use the 2nd jab to

1. lead your opponent to block into the thin air (without arms contact).
2. borrow your opponent's blocking force, change your jab into a hook (with arms contact).
3. pull your opponent's blocking arm back (with arms contact) while punch with the other arm.
4. ...

If you don't record those information in your form, you just depend on your good memory (or write some stuff down). IMO, it's not the best way to pass information down from one generation to the next generation.

I don't care about what our previous generation did. I only care about whether we have used the best method to teach MA or not.,
 
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gpseymour

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As a teacher, you can

1. teach your students the information in your head.
2. record your information in your form, and pass your form to your students.

I prefer 2 over 1.

Once again, you're presenting a false choice. There are a ton of other options between those. There are books and videos. Heck, if we just counted having instructors you've trained, that IMO is far more valuable to leave behind than a form.

Even the jab-jab-cross can be applied in many different strategies such as to use the 2nd jab to

1. lead your opponent to block into the thin air (without arms contact).
2. borrow your opponent's blocking force, change your jab into a hook (with arms contact).
3. pull your opponent's blocking arm back (with arms contact) while punch with the other arm.
4. ...

If you don't record those information in your form, you just depend on your good memory (or write some stuff down). IMO, it's not the best way to pass information down from one generation to the next generation.

I don't care about what our previous generation did. I only care about whether we have used the best method to teach MA or not.,
I see no reason to rely on forms (which can be most easily misinterpreted or practiced with flaws that lose the original intent) rather than teaching the information directly. If I want a record of the information, books and videos are far superior.
 

JowGaWolf

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If you don't record these kind of strategies into your form, where will you record those information? It's not a good idea that MA learning depends on the instructor's memory.
Record it in video and or photos. It's best if the instructor knows how to use it so that the strategy is very well understood, This is the path with least amount of corrections needed. If not then record someone within the school who knows how to use it so that the strategy can be identified.

I wouldn't trust anything to memory in terms of strategies. There's no way to remember all that a person would use within the year.
 
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