View Full Version : Applications of the forms

kungfu cowboy
04-27-2001, 07:41 AM
I have seen a few websites and books with examples of applications of the forms. As I understand it, the forms are more encyclopedic in nature and training in function. In other words, they have no imagined choreographed combat. While I can see how the movements that make up the form can be each individually demonstrated as an entity in itself, I don't see how (especially SLT) they can be performed as a string of prearranged segments against an opponent, and demonstrated as such. Whaddya think?

kungfu cowboy
04-27-2001, 07:48 AM
By jove, I think you're right!

04-27-2001, 08:02 AM
Its like trying to learn to speak
Chinese or Spanish or English.
SLT is just the first step in learing how to speak.
You learn the letters first then the words,
then you can put senences together,
after a while you can have conversations(chi sau)
Any help??

kungfu cowboy
04-27-2001, 08:08 AM
What I meant was that the forms themselves are being shown as choreographed fighting.

old jong
04-27-2001, 01:33 PM
Hi again Cowboy.
Well,the forms are not there to teach how to fight in wing chun!They are like a catalogue of the motions and a study of the use of energy(chi kung?)The motions are putted in a convenient order to be practiced but this order is not a prearranged sequence in any way.In wing chun ,we learn to use the motions in two men drills and chi sao and with times and lots of practice we can become "fluent" in the language of wing chun...We could say that"If other system teach you what to think...Wing chun teach you how to think!"
Ciao Buddy ;)

C'est la vie!

kungfu cowboy
04-27-2001, 05:43 PM
Ok. I will say it again: I know the forms are supposed to be like a library of moves. But I have seen in books, magazines, and on the web, people demonstrating the forms as if they were supposed to be rehearsed moves against any imainary opponent. Isn't this incorrect?

(Please God, let me have made myself clear this time!)

04-27-2001, 07:57 PM
I sympathize with your plight.where did you see
these demonstrations? was the whole form presented as a choreographed fight?if so,this is clearly wrong. I can see taking a short segment of
a form and demonstrating it's combat application.
For example,the roll from bong sau to tan sau in the first form.If what they were showing was in
the context of being able to pluck techniques from
the forms,and mate them together to suite a specific application,I believe that's one of the purposes of the forms.But if it is taken as a " one size fits all" series of techniques("if you're jumped,just do the bil jee form and you will win!"),then someone has some 'splainin to do.
can you imagine?"yeah,this is the quart of blood technique.do this,and a quart of blood will drop
out a person's body". At least when you rent a hooker you KNOW you're gonna get screwed. :D

04-28-2001, 01:32 AM
I have a question. The letter-to-word-to-senteces-to-converstion concept is very cool I think. I was just wondering if Wing Chun is the only system that uses this approach or if there are other systems out there (somewhere...) that also uses this approach. As i udneratand it, for the most part, long fist systems (both Northern and Southern) forms are really a collection of technqiues/combinatoins/applications, albeit still embodying important principles. Meaning that a section of a long fits form is in actuality a given application for a particular situation. But what about otehr short-fist systems - like Bak Mei or Wu Mei or Southern Mantis? Thanks for any info.

...don't think you are, know you are...

Danny T
04-28-2001, 03:28 AM
Over the years my position on forms has changed from one of disdain to that of conditional appreciation. I once believed that if a technique in a form is not performed exactly the way it is applied in the street, then it should either be changed or discarded. I now realize, within reasonable limits, it is acceptable to see some deviation between a fighting technique in application, and how it is executed in a form. This is because the different movements in the forms do more than simply teach self-defense movements. Some build strength, others flexibility, still others use repetition to ingrain some basic movement or presentation of the "tools" into the nuromuscular memory of the practitioner. For example, visualize the movement of a rising front kick to the groin of an opponent. This same movement in a form may legitimately rise as high as the imaginary opponent's head. From a real self-defense perspective kicking to the head weakens, rather than strengthens the defender's technique: however, from a training perspective, not only is the high kick acceptable but, in many ways is desirable. When used is self-defense a technique has one and only one objective: disable the opponent. When practiced in a form, however, its purpose is broadened to serve additional functions like; teaching the proper basic movement, and, body conditioning.

Teaching the basic movement is critical for the movements are and principles they are based upon are the building blocks of techniques. In any fighting technique, a parry - any deflection - is simply a movement. A punch, an elbow, kick, or whatever is another movement. Learn any system, style, or fighting art's movements and you have what is needed to create you own techniques.

"Learning an art's movements" involves much more than simply learning to put the hand here or the foot there. It means developing a thorough understanding of a movements purpose, mechanics, and underlying principles. Understanding motion, the presentation of the proper tool, and the movement provides you with everything you need to create your own techniques. This is what you do when advancing beyond practice and into the realm of spontaneity: in a fight you spontaneously create your own techniques.

Beyound teaching practical self-defense and basic movement, body conditioning is the 3rd purpose of forms. Again for an example, I you practice kicking higher than necessary during training when warmed up then you should have little difficulty kicking the lower, more practical targets when in street clothes and not warmed up or stretched.

Beyond these basic function of forms there remains a classical mess. Many forms practiced today no longer teach relevant, practical self-defense movements. Most classical forms represent a method of combat radically different form the way we fight today. Many forms taught are from a by gone era and contain techniques and movements of evasion based on the premise that the opponent is, for example, on horseback and carrying a weapon common to that era but is unseen today. Or, the opponent is wearing some type of protective armor. Techniques designed for those circumstances might be completely inappropriate and ineffective today. These are some of the major flaws most classical forms have not addressed. Worse many of todays "modern" forms teach even less, it any, martial application. Unrealistic weapons usage and movement, backflips, splits, and moon walks now common are not martial art. As outdated and ineffective as some classical forms are they are at least based upon once-effective techniques.

Training forms are usually repetitious and often very basic. They teach what I call the movement and motion of the system. The form itself is a catalog of the tools of the system used with movement. The sequence of the forms may not and most do not constitute a practical technique, but practical techniques can be developed when the movements flow and are used in combination with each other.

Danny T
www.progressivemaclub.homestead.com (http://www.progressivemaclub.homestead.com)

Phil Redmond
09-20-2001, 10:13 AM
First you learn the alphabet(strokes in Chinese). Then you learn words/characters. Then sentences, paragraphs, and eventually, poetry.
Like music, you learn to improvise.

09-20-2001, 01:30 PM
No - they should not be shown in a fighting sequence. The forms are an exercise to develop tendon strength and/or proper form while also serving as a synopsis of some of the techniques within the system.

Continued blessings in your life and your training.

The key to understanding is to open your mind and your heart and then the eyes will follow.

09-20-2001, 04:38 PM
good answer redmond! :rolleyes:

09-20-2001, 05:58 PM
I personally don't believe it is not proper to have someone in front of you during the form to give the opposite response to what you do in SLT.

That is not the purpose of the wing chun forms. There are styles which utilize two man forms, but sil nim tao, chum kiu, biu gi, bat cham dao and the pole form are all done solo.

chi kwai

Juan Alvarez
09-20-2001, 07:07 PM
I say I would have to desagrre with everything said so far. In our lineage, we have an application forms for many basic forms, as SLT. To me, they serve the same purpose as forms in that they teach you basic counter-techniques to these forms. Now, in no way should it be thougt as a way of fighting, that would be stupid! When they are done fast and strong, they are pretty cool to perform though!
:) ,

09-20-2001, 10:16 PM
I was so out of it this morning. My previous post is senseless, and its too late to edit it.

To rephrase what I stumbled over, I don't think WC forms are supposed to be two man.

chi kwai

09-21-2001, 03:57 AM
What about structure? Does this have no bearing?

09-21-2001, 02:18 PM
His question was simply this: Should someone doing a form have a second person doing the opposing action for each step in SLT?

Its like trying to get into a fight and performing SLT as attack sequence. It would be like a bad comedy flick if it worked.

chi kwai

09-22-2001, 12:07 AM
i aggree with the opinion that regards forms as librarys of movements. But i would also like to point that every single move in a form, has its importance and must be made with perfect concentration. Even the half circles you perform with your feet at the beggining of shil lim tao are actually moves.
Two man form?? how about one man chi sao.

09-22-2001, 12:51 AM
I believe that it is incorrect to perceive one's forms as a sequence of techniques. However, where you look, while doing a form, is quite important. You must consider where your "opponent" is for "this particular technique", as is plays a large part in how the technique is effected.

09-22-2001, 01:33 AM
Who taught you the half circles at the beginning of slt are moves?(i believe you are correct sir!)

09-22-2001, 06:44 PM
I agree with the majority. David Petersen, an Australian representative of Wong Shun Leung has a nice analogy, likening the moves in the forms to tools in a toolshed. When selecting a tool to solve a particular problem, there is no obligation to use the tool next to your original choice. In fact, you may go your entire life only using a small subset of the tools in the shed.
In a similar way, in a fight, you can use a technique without the need to use the preceding or subsequent one in the form.

However, I think its nice to think of the very beginning of SLT as a sequence, because the first things you do are get your stance, find the centreline, and hit, which are the first things you would need to do in a real situation. Only if your first punch is diverted would you need to chisao. Needless to say, the measuring off of the stance, and the crossing of the hands are not important in the real situation, but the concepts are.

What did the Zen Master say to the hot dog vendor?
Make me one with everything.

09-22-2001, 07:03 PM
Frank exchange did you ever hear that every movement has an application! :D

09-23-2001, 04:00 AM
"Two man form?? how about one man chi sao."

since when is chi sao a form?

chi kwai

09-23-2001, 02:07 PM
Did I ever hear that every move has an application? Yes.

The way we are taught, the techniques are secondary to the concepts. That way, a punch can become a tan, can become a bong, can become another punch, all dependent on the particular situation. So the concept of the particular move is important, the individual techniques grow out of the concepts, rather than thinking that a particular move has a particular application, and that is final.

So in my opinion, I would say that every move has an underlying concept, which may give rise to multiple techniques. Some people may find applications in certain concepts which others do not. That is only to be expected, everyone is different, they have their own strengths and weaknesses. That is one of the reasons we have the divergence of substyles within the umbrella of WC/WT/VT.

If you were referring to my regard of the opening crossing hands section of SLT as unimportant in a real situation, that is simply the way my lineage teaches it (WSL), as a concept of defining the centreline. I am aware that some other styles explain this as a block, and maybe other applications of which I am unaware. :)

What did the Zen Master say to the hot dog vendor?
Make me one with everything.

09-23-2001, 03:14 PM
I agree with Frank that it is the spirit of
Wing Chun that is more important than a set of techniques. To me without the proper concept, tecniques are just movements. So one can copy the movements but not neccessarily encompass the spirit of W.T. Which makes that kung fu not alive!!!
Once the concepts are properly practised the techniques would become ones own and not text book.
I was taught by one teacher to master the technique, but in all honesty what does that mean?
My present teacher (Tsui Sheun Tin lineage) says that the concept or spirit is the most important.
I tend to agree with the latter.

09-23-2001, 06:53 PM
I expect we agree due to the similarity in teaching methods of our respective lineages. Tsui Sheun Tin and Wong Shun Leung were contemporaries, were they not?

Wong always stressed the importance of the concepts over any particular techniques, so you could be the master of wingchun, and not its slave!

What did the Zen Master say to the hot dog vendor?
Make me one with everything.

09-23-2001, 09:14 PM
What are the concepts that you guys are referring to?

S73, I don't see what the problem is with this question. Perhaps you can enlighten me and everyone else as to how to best phrase this question...

Thw word "concepts" is being used quite a bit, in the more recent posts. I would like to know what "concepts" are in mind.

09-23-2001, 10:50 PM
IMHO, each "point" teaches physical training (positioning and the relaxation, flexibility, etc. needed to properly achieve it, etc.), offense/defense, and concepts. For me, a concept is something behind the application (with the application being an example of the concept).

So, if we look at the basic 4 punches, for example, the meridian punch teaches the concept of facing (engaging down the center), the side punch of flanking, and the single dragon punch (similar to what others have in Chum Kiu) of 4 directions (side and back engagement).

On another level, they teach aligning while standing, while turning, while stepping (you can change the application from punch to whatever but the concept remains).

When done with a partner, they can further show the concepts of Lien Siu Dai Da (linking canceling to bring in striking), Kuen Yao Sum Faat (the first comes from the heart/shoots towards the center of gravity), Chi Sao Man Lo (Sticking Hands Asks the Way), Bong Bat Ting Lao.

More elementary, they can show concepts of positional interception (where your weapons can strike the opponent but theirs cannot strike you without major body re-adjustment), chasing form (managing distance to keep control), etc.

Basically, chocked full of stuff. I think that's part of what makes them so interesting and allows them to be mined for so long.

What are your thoughts on concepts?



09-24-2001, 12:02 AM
Yes they were in the first ten students that Yip man had in Hong Kong.
WSL the "fighter" of the group.
Maybe one day we'll meet up and chi sau.
I like what you said about being a master of W.C.
not its slave.

Whipping Hand- You must know the concepts by now, after more than ten years of practice!
(be gentle when you reply. I might not be able to take it and ask you get banned
;) )

09-24-2001, 06:07 AM
contains more use than an average WC practitioner would ever imagine.

I once bought into the idea that it "defines the centreline". The centreline is there, no need to define it, for the sake of defining it. Define the air.

09-24-2001, 06:10 AM
I know only one concept.

kungfu cowboy
09-24-2001, 08:24 AM
Well, maybe each move in the form is open to interpretation. The way that YOU can best use it that is effective, while holding to wing chun concepts?

"If do right, no can defense!"----Mr. Miyagi

09-24-2001, 12:25 PM
Kung fu cowboy, I like it. nice idea.

Whipping Hand, what is the only concept that you know?


What did the Zen Master say to the hot dog vendor?
Make me one with everything.