Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Forms? Or collection of techniques

My sifu made an interesting comment which got us thinking, and changed our whole view on traditional Chinese martial arts forms. My Sifu said, "This look like a collection of techniques rather than a form?". We asked him, "What's a form and what's the difference?". He said, "A form is a form and a collection of techniques is a training method you use to internalize the form". Ha? I'm confused...

But after a deeper look we can see something.

On the whole, I used to practice at least 1 hour a day and usually for about 3 hours every day. Many years ago I used to do about 2,000 to 5,000 punches a day or forms' breakdown (i.e. I take a form, break it down into single techniques and do lots of repetitions with it. I changed that routine to doing more forms and breakdown repetitions now due to the following reasons:

1. Experience
I have many kungfu brothers who come to me when they feel disillusioned by their training. My Sifu only teaches the forms and never conduct sparring sessions so the students do not get to feel or try what they've learned. I was the same but my my experience in the UK has taught me otherwise. Practicing just forms CAN make you a good fighter.

So, what I did was put attackers in a line and each of them has to fight the defender for 2 minutes, no breaks between attackers. The defender had to fight 4 guys in continuous 2 minute rounds! And we have a Karate and San Shou instructors in the group!!! The other guy is 6 feet tall with size 14 shoes and many years experience in many martial arts! You can see the fear in his eyes but he could handle the attackers well. He has only practiced forms but the result was just amazing!

2. Reaction Time
I always conduct training with other Wing Chun styles in Kuala Lumpur and in these sessions I do the most common thing all Wing Chun styles have which is Chi Sao. And from these sessions I get feedback on my kungfu. I always find that I react better on weeks where I focus on forms and the feedbacks I get from my friends confirms it.

Recently I managed to get one of the practitioners to come to my class for a small session of Chi Sao and I was pleased because he was saying good things about my chi sao, even though I've not done chi sao or sparring for almost 2 years. Only forms.

I also find that I could easily catch falling objects which slipped from my hand or react to fast moving items better when I do a lot more forms' training.

3. Health
I have many instances where my students' blood pressure normalized after training the small flower form (saifakuen) and the Qigong. I've seen it so many times in fact, now I will offer to teach the Small Flower Form and Qigong everytime I meet somebody suffers a stroke or has high blood pressure. And it hasn't failed me so far.

Everybody who is in love with martial arts knows that Taiji is a martial arts form that many people have adopted for health purposes.

4. Technique
Of course by training the form we are also training the techniques behind them. I find it easier to apply techniques and only needing minimal amounts of energy to execute them whenever I practice a lot of them. Also, because we are focusing on the form, we are also focusing on the detailed aspects of the form, which would lead to good structure, strong foundation and a sharper mind and body.

I can't tell anybody what the difference between Forms and Clooection of Techniques yet. But I know, FORMS WORKS! Even though we don't understand them!


rikki tikki said...
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Wing Chun Works said...

Hahaha.... can recalled that conversation we had that day and still thinking about it. To me, at least now, forms are collection of techniques, and a collection of techniques merged into a sequence becomes a form.

As for just practising forms only for a person to learn how to fight, may take longer time... but I will never know... cos I wasn't brought up that way in the community and I can't reverse the process :)