JerseyKenpo.com

Roy Travert - American Kenpo 

FORMS

"The Numerical Process"

Most martial artist will at some time in their training study a FORM (Chinese term) or KATA (Japanese Term).

A form is a set number of self-defence techniques or basic movements that are practiced in the air predominately without a training partner. This can be likened to shadow boxing whereby you are practicing the basics that make up your defensive as well as your offensive techniques.

The benefits of training like this are numerous, by practicing a form we learn the basic movement patterns of our system. This enables us to internalise those movements into our subconscious mind. It is only by repeating a move over and over again that we will start to internalise that move, or movements whereby we will be able to react spontaneously with it in an actual combat situation.

The forms enable us to practice the same principles of technique without the fear of being hit or injured, and should be likened to shadow boxing where you spar in the air with an imaginary opponent and victoriously beat him every time.

When we practice a form it is important to visualise your imaginary opponent attacking you with full force and power. By imagining your opponent attacking you in this way, you will be able to place proper emphasis on the execution of your self-defence techniques.

Block - Strike Combination

Practise Breathing Correctly

Your breathing should be synchronised with the settlement of your body weight. All your movements should flow effortlessly from one move to the next. There should be no jerky movements and worse still absolutely no slapping yourself. Your moves should be executed with precision and accuracy, whilst developing crisp clean movement executed with snap and torque.

You never see a boxer slapping themselves do you? no you don't!
So use trampolining and rebound action to a minimum. 

Point of Origin

Remember weapons move from their point of origin. Because we have no fear of getting injured from a training partner when we practice a form, we are able to place correct emphasis of movement where it should be in the form. Timing of your hands and feet should change according to the situation, if for example your opponent is viewed standing upright then greater emphasis may go to increasing your hand speed.

If however your opponent is viewed in a prone position, i.e. laying down on his side, then emphasis may go to pinning or restraining them. In all of these situations you must have a base system to draw from, by learning forms you are able to alter the base moves to fit each situation accordingly.

It is important to have an understanding of why you are practicing a form. For most people the idea of spending many hours on the development of forms has no appeal, as they would much prefer to spend that time Freestyling or performing drills on heavy bags.

If however they were taught the relationship between all these areas of the arts, and that they all reinforce one another then you may be more willing to spend time developing your forms. 

The Numerical Process

American Kenpo teaches forms in a logical and systematic order. All forms are numbered to help identify each form. This helps student retention and understanding of the forms. The forms start with the number one and progress through to number seven. Although this may be added to in the future.

The first form to be taught is short form one, as the name implies this is a short form and is the first form of the system. The next form to be taught is long form one, at each number up to and including three there is a short form. This is taught first and a long form that is taught second.

The short forms are taught first, as they are the base forms from which the long form will expand from. You could say the short forms are paragraphs of motion, whereas the long forms become dictionaries of motion and all forms above and including long form three are encyclopedia of motion.

We should view the forms as a way in which we index our base movements of American Kenpo Karate. Remember motion without definition is useless motion. Therefore if we have a logical and structured way of learning motion, we will be able to retain the information taught to us much easier.

Remember the forms in American Kenpo are designed to be progressive. There is no point in trying to teach a beginner who is just starting to train in the art, a form far in advance of their abilities and understanding. For a student just starting to train, it is important to have an introduction into the basics of the system, which starts with short form one.

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