View Full Version : value of forms/katas

03-18-2000, 02:57 AM
Hi everyone:
I been thinking about traditional forms/katas
and their value in modern martial arts training. Since most forms/katas were created hundreds of years ago do they have any self-defense value today? For example: say you learn a form from Monkey kung fu(just an example no offence intended to that style), does the rolling leaping and exagerated movements have any real value?
I am a self taught martial arts of over 15 years with only a little formal training and have only ever learned a couple basic forms/kata(which I can't even remember fully now) and have never been sure of their value in todays society. Looking for your opinions.


03-18-2000, 07:45 PM
Keep in mind, the human body has not changed from the time all the styles and forms/kata were invented and revised and reformed and continued. They are as relevent today as they were at first inception.

If you took the time to stick around and actually study an art, you would see that.

This is not to offend you. I'm sure your martial art is quite useful--practicing fighting for 15 years, you're bound to be good, and I applaud your efforts.

Surrender yourself to nature, and be all that you are.

03-19-2000, 03:58 AM
As I tried to tell mr wootang on the other board(he obviously didn't read my reply since he asked the same question again today), you have the wrong view of forms. That is in part to the way/category that forms have been utilized here in the west. We in the west have a traditionally Japanese way of looking at the Martial Arts. In fact, we've taken it to extremes that they never would have thought about. In the Kung Fu styles, the forms ARE the style. Everyone learns the forms and THEN learns how to utilize them. In effect, a person could learn a form from a teacher, and then spend the rest of his life mastering it. In the Japanese martial arts, they took it a step further-they developed pre-patterned sparring techniques based on the forms(3 step sparring.) This basically allowed for the "doling out" of techniques over time to students. In the States, we have taken it further. We only concentrate on the sparring and perform the forms to music to win competitions. Forms were originally there to teach the person how to do the individual techniques efficiently and effectively, which means powerfully. This has created a disparity that I find among martial artists everywhere in America-lacking power. It is often a surpise to a well trained American Karateka that aperson wont just fall into a mass of "quivering jelly" after a fancy, flashy diplay of techniques. It is a missconception to most that a person does the forms to use them exactly in the manner that they occur within the form in a real fight. Boxers do what is called the "Joe Louis Shuffle" in conjunction with a left right sequence. Are you going to fight in that manner and pattern when you step into the ring? No. But what it does is that after countless hours of doing the Shuffle, your brain subconciously transcribes the movements so that when you are in the ring, you will move with maximum effeciency and be able to punch with extreme power without thinking about it. Forms in the martial arts are no different.

03-19-2000, 04:05 AM
Hey stickfighter, I am a white belt in a jiu jitsu school and have only learnt one kata so far. Sorry but I will not be of much help to you. But maybe you can help me.

I am interested in chinese martial arts but there are no schools in my area. I am trying to do the impossible by learning tai chi chuan from a book. I know that you can not learn it fully without a qualified teacher but I am just to interested. My questions are how do you train, books, video tapes what? Also I would like to know what styles you train in. Who do you spar with to ensure that your techniques are applicable on the streets.

I would greatly appreciate a response from anyone else. Wish I could have been a little more informative.

03-19-2000, 07:12 AM
What style of JJ?

03-20-2000, 01:02 AM
Well rogue my style is called don jitsu ryu. It is founded by a 9th dan called Don Jacob. Website is www.purple-dragon.net. (http://www.purple-dragon.net.)

03-21-2000, 02:57 AM
Jeizen: Most of my training ideas come from various influences, magazines, books, videos, ect. I've also come up with some training ideas from watching martial arts and action movies. The key is to have an open mind, look for ideas everywhere. My favorite magazines are Black Belt and Inside Kung Fu, I find they have the best overall coverage. As far as learning Tai Chi, you are better off trying to learn from a video rather than a book, I find it much easier and there are many to choose from.
RobinF: Thanks for the vote of confidence. There are many various reasons why I've not continued on any one style. In the region that I live access to real training is limited. I trained for awhile in Goju-ryu karate but didn't find it to my liking. Then I trained in Hung Gar & Lohan Shoalin but my Sifu moved to finish his own training. I also trained with a local dojo that taught a self-defense oriented style that didnot involve forms/katas.
But I've based my solo training on Kung Fu, particularly the Five Animal Style and of course the Filipino styles of Kali, Arnis and escrima.


[This message has been edited by stickfighter (edited 03-21-2000).]

03-21-2000, 07:10 AM
jeizen, don't take this the wrong way but what's with all of Prof Dons black belts in so many styles, even styles without black belts? I mean 8 black belts? He probably knows what he's doing but he needs to rethink his PR. I always get a little irritated when guys name a style after themselves. Do you study with him personally?

03-21-2000, 11:51 AM
Katas= useless.

Jeizen, go find a good judo school in your area. That guy seriously apprears to be full of it. Is there anything he HASN'T done?

[This message has been edited by Vitor29 (edited 03-22-2000).]

Wong Fei Hong
03-21-2000, 01:04 PM
Aaaaargh excuse me while I get stressed why do people not understand that a form or kata is just a collection of the moves you learn so that you can know them all together and remember them easier. You are never going to go on the street and start practising your kata when being mugged by half a dozen 7 foor basketballers.
Its just like counting ok when you learn to count its easier to learn 123456 if you were taught 25 33 46 65 then you would get confused same thing with forms it collects all the moves and it a good reference.

<Insert picture of smiley pulling hair out here>

Eyes Like Lightning
Fists Like Meteors

03-22-2000, 03:04 PM
people must understand this!!
without the stances, you have nothing
you practice the stances first to
train you muscles to preform the
moves. with out stances you have no
foundation. it is like building
a house on sand. it will be a house
but it will not be as strong as one
built with a concrete foundation.

03-22-2000, 11:12 PM
I think of katas or forms as really long combinations or more practically a bunch of combinations strung together. It's more fun to practice techniques in that fashion than just repeating one move 10 times.

03-25-2000, 04:52 AM
Rivers: I agree that stance training is very important, I've developed routines to work my stance/footwork. What I'm unsure of is the value of the type of techniques contain in the traditional form/kata. I mean, what value is a lunge punch in real combat, would you really punch from the hip. Would you really perform some of the spinning, twisting, and jumping movements contained in some of the traditional kung fu forms. I think these forms are ok to learn for traditional and conditioning sake, but shouldn't someone take the time to create some updated forms to reflect more modern fighting?


03-26-2000, 09:13 PM
Why is it that people think forms or katas are useless but shadowboxing is ok?


03-27-2000, 10:39 AM
I am a practitioner of the Northern Wushu style of Bajiquan. In the past, before converting to Kung fu, I too didn't understand the purpose of forms in real fighting situations. I had a background in TKD and Kali prior to traditional wushu.

When I was in TKD, I didn't see the efficiency of the Tae guk forms. Also in tkd, the form wasn't really representative of the style, its kicking combos was representative of the style. As for Kali, we learned mostly drills and one form. Although the form seemed to be more of a representative of the the style than TKD.

Then I began my wushu studies. I then found that the forms of each style was the representative of the style. In styles such as Bajiquan, the forms help build the chi and leg stength to deliver powerful strikes. At a more advance stage, you break down each movement of the style and learn it's fighting applications. Without doing the form first, there is no way you can develop the energy to make each strike count.

Although most forms were practiced for over many generations, we must remember the political climate of when these forms were created under. Styles such as Preying Mantis and CHen Taijiquan were develop during times of war and family feuds. It's techniques were proven in the battle fields and if your kung fu was not good, you would not live to see another day. Also in places such as Shandong province, were bandits and thieves prey on the innocent, your kung fu techniques needed to be good in order to travel.

Without learning the forms, I believe that your kung fu will not have the power or coordination to be used in combat. Without learning your ABC's, then how can you learn to build words, then sentences?


03-28-2000, 12:25 PM
i don't know why i posted about stances only
last time... but i agree with wong fei hung.
they are just a collection of moves. it
is like practicing 10 different moves all
rolled into one. they are usually moves
that relate to each other. the fact that
they are all rolled into a form helps you
to practice all of them. if i use a punching
bag, i generally randomly strike the head
area or chest, or whatever. and i use only
a few punches... but with a form you do
many different moves. so i think forms are
of MUCH more value than people give them
credit. and if you want moves to become
instinctual, you must practice them
repeatedly. forms are a good way to practice
many different move over and over. but this
is just my opinion. you may find that
you learn more by doing one move over
and over, then moving to the next, and so on.
i feel i get more done, because i am doing
more moves.


03-31-2000, 01:05 AM
Forms also help to develop the clarity that
one might never develop with just sparring.
I think both activities serve MA well in that
they strengthen the two different states of mind-when we are doing forms it's easy to get
distracted about work,the clock,your girlfriend/boyfriend,hunger. Doing forms help
to quiet that part of the mind.
When we spar, we have to find a way to channel our adrenaline and stay in control and stay loose physically.
It's comparable to training in the theatre.
You might rehearse for weeks to perform a play once or twice. All of the rehearsing is
there so that when you're on stage(or actually fighting)you don't forget your "part".
If all you ever did were forms and prearranged fighting or bumkai,you'd be missing out,just as if you didn't have the
foundation of learning the forms to help develop balance and strength.

04-03-2000, 12:46 AM
Forms have alot to teach that cannot be taught under normal circumstances.

In karate, alot of the strikes that are at odd angles demonstrate pressure point strikes, and in one form of traditional okinawan karate, the kata includes counters against jiu jitsu and other grappling arts (actual grappling taught in the style was limited, it concentrated on deep stances and power knockdown blows), which were used by their enemies.

So, even though the karateka could not spar against the jiu jitsu practitioners regularly, they were taught the escape and countering techniques for attacks they were likely to encounter, and were prepared to fight a style which they may not have even sparred against.

They often have varied and hidden applications, which require excellent fighting knowledge, or a good teacher to pick out. So do not underestimate their value as learning tools, and certainly don't confine their use to demonstrations or to a meagre dance.


04-03-2000, 07:49 AM
Not all moves in solo fighting sets have direct combat application.

Some of these moves are designed to enhance one's motion, conditioning, and/or mindset.

For example, the spinning crescent kick in Northern Shaolin isn't necessarily a kick. It actually teaches a disciple how to spin quickly and smoothly without losing his balance.

The kick also increases one's agility and taxes his physical endurance.

Doing the kick in the prescribed sequence of the set may also allows for the requisite discharge of energy after the practitioner has wound himself up with a flurry of combinations beforehand.

The kick trains the mind to stay calm in the face of action - a requisite prerequisite for combat with a resisting opponent.

04-05-2000, 04:14 PM
Let me throw in a comment or too even though I am a visitor to this forum. Since my training began in the arts back in 1968, I've heard the same comment about forms/kata being useless in real fighting. Here's my take on the statement through the years.
The forms are meant to teach you the alphabet of your style and one use for the series of "letters" in that particular style. A good teacher encourages his/her student to come up with additional ways to use the form(s) and practice. Then, during sparring practice, the good teacher teaches/shows/demonstrates the way to keep using the style, during the heat of combat. It's always up to the student to be always thinking of move/countermove/finish type of stuff and the BEGINNING POINT is the form, not the end point.
Some styles in my experience are better than others to teach the use of the forms (and fighting technology if you will) than others.
I had trained 2 styles of Karate and then Hung Gar Kung Fu before I was trained in XingYi and the use of fighting techniques and angles in our system compliments the alphabet of the forms quite well and I feel much better than the prior training I received.
It's always a combination of the student, knowledge, advice from the teacher and self-experimentation that wins the day.
Now, a interesting story from my Karate past. Had a friend, we were all Black Belts at the time, who was a big fan of sparring, thought forms didn't teach you the right stuff etc.
This guy eventually leaves a Chito-Ryu style school to go train with a Wado-Ryu school. After a number of years, shortly before the founder of the system died, he met the founder in Japan. (The Wado-Ryu founder was one of Gichin Funakoshi's students at the dawn of bringing Karate to Japan. He invented free sparring in Japanese Karate against Funakoshi's wishes, Funakoshi always thought Karate too dangerous for free sparring) and his Wado-Ryu players became quite good at fighting! He asked the founder "how do I increase my sparring ability?" The guy answers "Keep practicing your kata", which completely blew this guy away! He came back with a new appreciation of form(s) and form practice.
Good luck to all.

04-12-2000, 05:38 AM
First and Foremost, I respect all martial artists and their arts. The views that are presented here are very good. Especially the analogy of learning alphabets. Forms are like text books. Do you recite your entire collection of books to answers one question in a written exam?

Why is it okay for shadow boxing and not forms or katas practice?

True what's the difference?

Because Bruce Lee said so...
Becasue it's memory work ...
Because it not instant gratification...
Because, because, because...

The list goes on and on ....

The real reason is that the western view of physical action has nothing to do with the mind. Physical movement is corpal not mental. They are seperate entities. It will not improve your mind's intelligence from physical action nor vise versa. The result? bull fighting, not smart fighting. One of the aims of Kung Fu is to educate a person to view the body, mind, and spirit are one. Your body is an intelligent ecological system. So are your mind and your spirit. They interact with each other and with your opponant(s) and with the rest of the world. Because of the western world view many never takes Kung Fu seriously. It's really a shame. Read Bruce Lee's stuff closely you will find traces of it. Unfortunately, Bruce himself has a very short attention spent. so, form isn't really for him. I know many masters, who have really life combat experiences, practice forms and speak highly of those inspirations.

Ultimately, It's your call. There are no superior methodolgy but principles that works.



04-12-2000, 09:47 PM
Personally, I see forms training as pretty limiting. I think if you wanted to learn the individual "letters" of your system of fighting wouldn't two man drills be a more effective way to learn them and if you wanted to learn to apply them wouldn't sparring be the best way? Ultimately it comes down to one simple rule, you fight the way you train and it seems to me the best way to train is to train as close to a real fight as possible. If there was going to be a streetfight between two people, one being a traditional martial artist and the other a combative sports martial artist, I think I would almost always put my money on the combative sports martial artist as they seem to basically be better trained. I think the traditional MAist loses a lot of adaptability with forms training and in the real world that can be deadly. BTW, yes I do shadow box alot but there are two major differences between shadow boxing and forms or katas, first when you shadow box it is a live pattern, meaning the movenments are spontaneous and not some set pattern developed one hundred years ago, and second in general the way you shadow box is pretty much the way you are going to fight, now all of you have basically said that the way you do your forms is not the way you fight.-ED

[This message has been edited by GinSueDog (edited 04-13-2000).]

04-13-2000, 02:14 AM
I will keep this very short seeing as how you have all posted very valid reasons for katas/forms. The only one I noticed not mentioned was that forms have the benefit of training transistion. Transision from a kick to punch turn change stance and so on. Transision from one move/stance to another is VERY IMPORTANT in my opinion.
(o yeah please excuse my poor spelling)

04-13-2000, 06:45 PM
Good catch, Dustin.

And you never have to appologize for spelling around here. None of the rest of us can spell either.

04-13-2000, 08:20 PM
sorry to get off topic, but this response caught my eye....

GinSueDog:"If there was going to be a streetfight between two people, one being a traditional martial artist and the other a combative sports martial artist, I think I would almost always put my money on the combative sports martial artist as they seem to basically be better trained."

i agree, but for a different reason. the people who play martial sports usually aren't better trained. who is the last NHB or UFC fighter you saw who did Iron Jacket/Iron Palm/Muscle-Tendon Exchange/Golden Bell, etc.?
the reason i feel the martial athlete would win is because he is that. an athelete. he/she trains everyday for an extended period of time. not just stances and a form or two, which is how most (not ALL) of the traditionalists train in this day and age.
in a nutshell -- not better trained, just training better.

04-14-2000, 12:54 AM
Iron Buddha,
No, what I am saying is take anyone from a Combative Sports Martial Art and they will generally be better trained because there training is in general more intensive. Take your average everyday joe training Muay Thai or Sambo or Shooto and they will be able to mop the floor against the average everyday joe studying forms from some three hundred year old CMA nine times out of ten. Yes a finger jab hurts like hell, but nine out of ten Kung Fu fighters out there cannot pull one off because they only train it in forms and cannot apply it when they really need it. It comes down to one simple rule, you fight the way you train, when I practiced Muay Thai, it was only twice a week after work for an hour and a half, but most of it was sparring, heavy bag work and heavy pad work. By the end of a year you know how to apply what you have been practicing and you know what techniques you have been practicing actually work.-ED

04-15-2000, 02:16 AM
Thanks for the replies, the topic generated the "heat" I was hoping for. Someone mentioned shadow boxing. It has always been my opinion that shadow boxing is more like a drill exercise than a form. To my knowledge there is no set pattern in shadow boxing compared to patterns in forms.
I still feels in modern society that learning forms without sparring and realistic drills is dangerous. When was the last time you saw someone use a deep horse or crane stance or use some of the acrobatic moves contained in some Wushu and Nothern kung Fu styles or some of the high jumping kicks used in Tae Kwon Do in a real fight. I fell it is much better to concentrated on sparring. Maybe if someone took the time to update the forms to work in modern society I might feel different but till then I'll stick to drills and sparring. /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif


[This message has been edited by stickfighter (edited 04-15-2000).]

04-16-2000, 04:28 AM
I personally feel that forms/ sets does have a use. To me they’re very good to demonstrate to people who doesn’t know what style you train in. Other than that, all the things that people have mentioned a form offers such as endurance training, teach techniques, combinations, qi training, etc…can be achieved more efficiently by other means in your martial training.

Some people have mentioned the thing about shadowboxing and katas. The difference between the two is katas/ sets are codified form of shadowboxing. Shadowboxing is more realistic as you have to think for yourself and it allows for creativity. Its not because Bruce Lee said so…its because shadowboxing is really a better way to train than forms training. Shadowboxing is not just limited to western boxing mind you, I would think that one training in Xingyi doing the 5 Elements Fists in a random manner/pattern is shadowboxing. As Ginsuedog said already, the big difference is that it is a live pattern.

04-17-2000, 02:10 AM
Agreed, Stickfighter.

Without trying what you do in sets on unwilling opponents, solo set training is useless in combat.

This is the only way one can discern the difference between motions with exercise purposes (e.g. the mentioned deep horse stance) and motions with direct combat applications.

The neat thing is that 99.999999% of folks out there don't have the training nor knowledge to counter real kung fu techniques.

04-18-2000, 05:53 PM
agreed. I'ts also good for scaring attackers away. If theres a bit space between ya then look them right in the eyes and with a calm face, stand in a crane one-legged stance. Most dudes would run I think.

What do you think boys `n´ girls?

04-18-2000, 08:49 PM
Run and call their buddies to bring a video camera so they can make some money on World's Funniest Home video.
They they'd sell it to Fox as World's Worst A$$ Whoopings.

04-19-2000, 02:01 AM
Yeah, most dudes will run TOWARD a crane-stanced kung fu guy to knock him off balance.

In truth, the crane stance is more a training device to teach good balance and the ability to stand on one leg than it is a sparring stance.

Few people realize that a more practical application of the "Crow Spreads Wings" stance in the "Karate Kid" (used by Danielsan to kick John Lawrence into submission in the final fight) is that of a knee to the groin when the opponent is grabbing your anterior chest with two hands.

This move also has a groundfighting application, especially for women being attacked by men in the mount position.

04-19-2000, 02:26 AM
I DON'T agree.. any punk would be scared if confronted with a crane-stance victim. I don't think the crane is good for fighting on the streets but someone that never trained any MA would be scared, cause they would think:
"oh my GOD he is some sort o kung fu master o somthin! I'd best be runnin outta ere before he stomps ma A$$!"

04-19-2000, 02:36 AM
Actually, I think you would be inviting the "punk" so to speak to use your face and head as a speed bag. I once saw a video that showed real life streetfights, most of them I think from Canada. Anyway there was this one guy that ran out into the street with this big guy chasing him. Well the guy being chased suddenly stops and drops into a horse stance and fires a finger jab at the big guy chasing him. To make a short story shorter the finger jab missed and the big guy kicked the other guy's butt without any problem. Moral of the story is do not assume something is going to work, unless you have pulled it off, and never assume it will work all the time.-ED

04-19-2000, 05:56 AM
I agree, assuming a stance like the crane prior to a conflict, trying to scare of an opponent would not be disasterous, but down right funny. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif It would be far better to use a basic boxing stance. Performed correctly it would be enough give an attacker second thoughts. I'm not saying that a crane stance may not have it's uses in a fight, but it has to be "snuck" into the fight. http://www.kungfuonline.com/forum/roundtable/cool.gif


04-20-2000, 01:16 AM
Forms are fundamental to kung-fu. If you can't fight with your forms it is because your kung-fu is no good, not that the forms have no value.
I study Hsing-I and the forms/kata are directly translatable into very good fighting techniques. No need to use kickboxing techs when Hsing-I is SO GOOD for combat.
I have found, however, that shaolin students tend to use kickboxing because they never were taught how to make the transition from forms to fighting.
Pretty soon shaolin will be the same as dancing, lots of pretty movement but no depth.

04-20-2000, 07:50 AM
Has anyone out there met in person or fought a kung fu practitioner who could dissect his solo sets and use the techniques on an unwilling opponent?

I haven't yet, although I've noticed that a lot of those guys who CAN are probably posting here on this forum!

04-22-2000, 03:24 PM
Helooooooo?? Did anyone actually read my post? I NEVER said that crane stance would be fitting for street fighting but I think it would scare the HELL out of an attacker!!

04-22-2000, 03:27 PM
besides, whats the bad attitude against shaolin kung fu?

04-22-2000, 03:29 PM
Are we going down that pit hole again?

04-22-2000, 10:22 PM
I've noticed a few things creeping in again. First of all, I think crane stance isn't taught as a stance to fight for extended periods under, it is specialised, and very good for quick snapping kicks. It should be quickly assumed, attacked from and move into a more stable, defensive position.

Second, i keep hearing people say, if you drop into horse stance, you will be kicked in the balls (not too put too fine a point in it). The horse stance is designed for stability from the side, so guess where your opponent should be when you take this stance? To your side, of course, not like when you assume it and practice techniques in class, this is to provide a nice platform that allows techniques to be practiced, while strengthening the legs, this is not its combat application! This will prevent almost any attack being thrown at your groin, as it isn't even visible in the horse stance! If a stance is in a combat art, and it leaves a vital striking point (esp the groin!) open, you have the application wrong.

04-23-2000, 02:06 AM
Thank you for pointing that out, Shendon.

04-23-2000, 08:11 AM
I have been taught from my teacher that you first must learn the form, perfectly, then you are taught the applications of the form. This is vital if one is to understand the how and why of the movements and principles and applications. It seems to be working pretty well for me. I think that alot depends on how well, and how much you practice. It also vital to have a teacher that can do the the forms and knows applications of the forms, and is willing to show you . From what I understand this is how the Military still teaches and so there must be value in this approach. A good example is www.rovere.com (http://www.rovere.com) vidio (Body gaurd knife form) and the second (applications)tape. In the first tape you learn the form and the second you learn the applications.
(Just remember when all else fails do what you have been taught). ha ha .
Hope this helps. INFINOO

[This message has been edited by INFINOO (edited 04-23-2000).]

[This message has been edited by INFINOO (edited 04-24-2000).]

04-23-2000, 07:30 PM
I'd say you've never met anyone with good kung-fu.
This is because you have had poor instruction. Don't judge others by your own ability, just because you cannot use your forms for fighting don't assume others cannot. I've met many good KF'rs that can indeed use the techniques from their forms.

[This message has been edited by Monkey (edited 04-24-2000).]

04-24-2000, 01:55 AM
You're right: my instructors have been poor. So have been the ones I've seen.

That doesn't mean that I can't use my forms, thank God!

04-25-2000, 11:53 PM
at least we agree on something /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

05-03-2000, 09:55 AM

05-07-2000, 11:40 PM
Bahahahahaahahahahaha...it doesn't sound like you have done it yourself. I challange you to try what you just said and I am sure it will open your eyes to the truth, after the swelling goes down of course /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif-ED

05-08-2000, 08:31 PM

Well i think that you have missed my point.
i apologize for miscommunicating it to you. i tend to be a bit stumbly and drunk sometimes. but i will try to be succinct....

05-19-2000, 05:09 AM
HuangKaiVun stated:
"Has anyone out there met in person or fought a kung fu practitioner who could dissect his solo sets and use the techniques on an unwilling opponent?"

Hello. yes I have met people who could apply their kung fu to an unwilling opponent. The way they accomplished this was by reverse-engineering their forms to the point where they perceived said forms as manifestations of underlying meta-movements in the style. Then they could certainly apply it in a streetfight.
Let me define meta-movements as the underlying core techniques of manifesting power in a physical style. Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming calls them "jins" in his book "Essence of Shaolin White Crane". The point I'm trying to make is that the techniques that may constitute a form in some art must be understood as a way of manifesting force through muscular power and gravity. When you understand your art you can reverse-engineer the forms. Then you are at the point where you understand some of your art. Then you are not constrained by the need to perform some particular technique. You have several techniques on hand and you simply attack your opponent in his open areas.
I guess the way I should say it is that you have to approach your art logically and try to understand it's tactical perspective in terms of "bridging the gap". Then you have to train physically so that you can perform any technique in accordance with the underlying physical principles that make them effective.
Read "Principles of Effortless Combat Throws" and read my friend Marc Macyoung's latest book "Taking It to the Streets". Both are available at amazon.com

06-07-2000, 08:47 AM
My name is Stephen.
I have been studying traditional Karate
and kungfu since I was 16. I have 2 black
belts and one black sash.

I've read all of the responses, and I must
say that many were very intellegent, many
weren't. So I will give my humble opinion
about whether forms are useful for modern
western fighting.

I believe the first thing any MA practioner
must understand about fighting, at least hand-to-hand or weapons fighting (guns excluded) is that human beings have all fought
the same way since before recorded history.
Yes, I know that each culture has a form of
fighting, but if you look at them closely the
only thing that we can do is punch, kick, or
grapple. The Chinese way of fighting is the same as the African way of fighting, we only
assign different names to them.

Now, the other thing is that each culture's
form of fighting has developed set routines (forms) to pass on what the originator of the
system wanted the warrior to learn. This is
true of all cultures. Some do them as dances
(i.e. capoeira) some as set pattern. The important fact that we forget is that the
originator of the form could sure as hell fight with it. I don't believe for one
minute that the founder of the Black Tiger
system of Kung fu created forms for the
system simply for his health. He/She had
to defend himself and his family with what
he knew of his form or system. Not only that,
but obviously his students felt he/she could
fight with what he/she knew or else they would not have been the master's student.

The problem is not forms, but the people who
teach them AND the people who learn them.
Specifically, and I am speaking from experience, many times the people teaching
the forms have no godly idea how to fight with them. They've memorized the movements
to get promoted, but they have know idea what the movements are for. So if the teachers don't know how to use the forms
how in god's name do we expect students
to be able to use them. It is equivalent to
being able to read, but not understanding what you've read.

On the other side of that coin, students
perpetuate this travesty by not asking questions of the form, or of their instructor. The first rule of learning anything is not to take anything on blind
faith, but verify the truth for one's self.
Many times, when a form is tought out, a student will blindly follow the instructor's
comments on the form, practice the movement
in a preset situation, and leave with a false sense of security about the effectiveness of the technique from the form.
What a student must do, and instrustors must,
allow this, is ask questions of the for.
Actually STUDY the form and not just memorize
it. Repetition fosters memory, not skill.

How does one study a form? You have to break it down into its component parts and ask of
it "What is going on here?" or "What principle is contained in this movement?" The second question is probably the more important. I say this because every technique contains a principle or concept that makes it work. Once you understand the
principle or concept, YOU DON'T NEED THE
For example, I have a 1st degree black belt
in Shaolin-Do Karate. A couple of months ago
I was sparring with a 5th degree black belt
in the same system, but from a different
school. In our system we have several praying mantis forms in our system. I have not learned any of them! However, I have seen them on video tape. I study them, and when I come across an idea I try them.

Long story short, using what little I knew
of the one mantis form I've studied on video
I mopped the floor with this INSTRUCTOR of
a much higher rank. He knew the same form
and could do it beautifully. But he could not use it. I DON'T EVEN KNOW THE FORM! But I can use it because I know what the form is
trying to teach.

All I am trying to say is that at each level
when studying forms, actually study the form.
Don't just memorize it, don't just take your
instructor's word or interpretation of the
form as gospel truth. Analize the form, ask
questions of it. Play with it. Try and fight
out of a particular stance. You don't learn how to ride a bike by not sitting in the seat and pushing the peddles. And you won't
learn how to use your forms by not trying
to use the movements on an opponent.

Good Luck


[This message has been edited by kungfukid (edited 06-07-2000).]

06-07-2000, 09:09 PM
It appears to me, you need to get out and actually look around you because you cannot make such large generalizations. This is not a attack on you. Yes, we all punch and kick and grapple, but we also all do it differently. Watch a pro boxer carefully, can you actually confuse his punching techniques with karate or TKD? Watch a BJJ competition, it doesn't look like wrestling to me. Yes each culture has it's own way of fighting and there own way of doing things, there own way of training and some are closer to others and some are completely different, but making the generalizations like you have is just plain wrong. Can you actually say an art like Capoeira can be confused with any other style in Brazil or anywhere else? I think if anything many japanize and chinese martial arts look similiar both because of the location they share and the fact that both were constantly at war with each other. What I am saying is that your conclusion maybe somewhat sound but how you reached it just generalizing on limited facts and that is unsound.-ED

[This message has been edited by GinSueDog (edited 06-08-2000).]

06-07-2000, 10:20 PM
Thanx for your reply. I appreciate it.
My reply does come from looking around
at other styles. I'm 30 years old. I've
been doing MA for over 1/2 of my life.
I've had a chance to cross hand with
many different martial artists from
many different systems. One thing is
constant, a punch is a punch, a kick
is a kick, a choke is a choke. Even though
we put different names on them and perform them differently, they are what they are.
So my point is this whether or not someone
thrown a kick at me who is a TKD or a Capoeira practitioner, it is still just a kick. I can use one of two principles to
defend against either kick, get out of the way or somehow block it. The kick may performed differently, but the principle of defense remains the same.

When I said we fight the same, I wasn't necessarily saying that we look the same.

Thanx again

06-08-2000, 11:09 PM
EXCELLENT POSTS KUNGFUKID! I AGREE WHOLEHEARTEDLY. /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

06-08-2000, 11:15 PM
SO KUNGFUKID? do you still train with MASTER
PRICE? /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

06-08-2000, 11:51 PM
There are more then just those two principles but is a completely different debate. What makes a system or style different is often the physical dynamics of it's technique and underlying concepts. The way a TKD fighter throws there kick is completely different then the way a Muay Thai or Capoeira fighter throws there kick and some may require you to take a different approach when facing them. As I said before it is a big mistake to generalize all these different styles based on only the chinese martial arts. It would be like me saying that all chinese martial arts look like wing chun or that kickboxing and Muay Thai are the same.-ED

06-09-2000, 12:59 AM
Hi, drunkenostrich!
Thanx for the replies.
My instructor is not Master Price.
My instructor is Barry Webb. I went to
Master Price's school for about a month,
then switched.

Hope to hear from you again.

06-09-2000, 01:17 AM
Ginsuedog, Thanx for your reply. I appreciate it. Apparently, I'm not communicating myself very well, so let me
try to clear the water here. It is obvious that there are many different systems of
martial arts in the world, not all of them base on the systems in Asia. However, even though these systems are non-asian in origin, they contain the same tool. And even though these tools are performed utilizing different dynamics, the principles for defending against them remain the same.
You are incorrect in saying that there are only to principles involved defending a kick.
If you were to say that there are more than two TECHNIQUES to defending a kick, then we would be in perfect agreement I think. For example, If a practioner of TKD threw a kick at me, say a sidekick, I could use a number of techniques to block the kick, but no matter what technique I use the principle
is singular in nature, that is impede the progress of the kick. My block may stop the kick, my block my deflect the kick, or it may redirect the kick. The bottom line is the progress of the kick is stopped. Again, I may decide to side step. I may go left, I may go right, I may go backwards. The principle is again singular, get out of the way. These two principle are what every fighter does no matter where there from or what system they practice.

As far as systems are concerned, It doesn't matter how you perform a kick or a punch or whatever. The dynamics of a kick to not change the fact that it is a kick. The dynamics of a punch do not change the fact that it is a punch. Nor do the principles of defending said strikes change. Timing and techniques my change, but the principles don't. So, I believe my point stands, but to try to bring clarity to this discussion, I will say what I said earlier a different way. There are many systems of fighting in this world that use similar tools even though they may be performed differently, they are still what they are, punches, kicks,
and grappling techinques.

06-09-2000, 01:31 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by drunkenostrich:
SO KUNGFUKID? do you still train with MASTER
PRICE? /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/quote]I see you're from Texas. Do you study with Master Schaffer?

06-09-2000, 01:35 AM
I think you need to reread my post and your orginal post and reply to me. It was you that said there are only two principles, to move out of the way or to block or parry.-ED

06-09-2000, 10:26 AM
YES KUNGFUKID, i am an instructor for MASTER SHAEFER at his SAN MARCOS SCHOOL and i just opened up my school in LULING. i am a second degree black belt disciple who has been assisting MASTER SHAEFER for over two years.
I am originally from Louisville. i have lived here in texas most of my life but i still get up there to seminars and tournaments, and my father lives in louisville. i like your perspectives on the subject at hand. i hold those views myself. oh and my name is Jason. ginsuedog has some intelligent points to make sometimes
but i feel like he talks before he thinks. this original subject was about the value of forms and katas. i still maintain that the forms make you a fighter, and i am quoting directly from Master Mullins on this. and from my own experience. GINSUEDOG;where do you reside? and what style of MA do you study? does your school do many forms or none at all? from your reply to my last posts on the subject i would conclude that you do not do forms and if you do, you do not feel that they are important in your fighting. that test still stands in my last post and if you are in the texas area then i invite you to my school in LULING for an exchange of ideas and to spar,,,let me know and i will make good on my test, i will train only in forms and that is all and you train however you see fit and then lets spar and see who is right and who needs ice. you can bring the ice. respectfully ,,,JASON

06-09-2000, 11:16 AM
I currently study Jeet Kune Do Concepts and BJJ, in the past I have studied Muay Thai and Jun Fan JKD. At the moment most of my efforts are focused on ground fighting. The only traditional style I have studied was Shotokan Karate when I was living in Hawaii as a kid. I live in Southern California at the moment in the Orange County area. If you wish to exchange ideas my email address is listed in my profile. Feel free to email me.-ED

06-09-2000, 08:12 PM
I kind of figured you were a student of Master Schaffer. I had the pleasure of meeting him when the SDA Tournament was
in Louisville. He is a very nice person.
Have you ever met my instructor, Barry
Webb? Have you met Master Eric Smith? He's the one that really, really opened my eyes in the last five years of my 14 years trek through MA. IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, GET TO KNOW THIS MAN. Do you have AOL instant messenger?
if you do plug in master spw into your buddy list and chat with me some time. That goes for anybody on this discussion board. What are you working on now Drunkenosterich?


06-10-2000, 03:21 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Robinf:
Keep in mind, the human body has not changed from the time all the styles and forms/kata were invented and revised and reformed and continued. They are as relevent today as they were at first inception.

If you took the time to stick around and actually study an art, you would see that.

This is not to offend you. I'm sure your martial art is quite useful--practicing fighting for 15 years, you're bound to be good, and I applaud your efforts.

i too was a self tuaght for many years ,.. and oddly your choice of example is in itself
self tuaght but tried and true ,.. the monkey's that guarded the founder fo that style had themselves learned in nature to fight diffrently from each the other even though they are of the same species,..
point being,.. the movements of the kata are the movements that are effective in fooling the eye and drawing dominate of passive fear from a foe,...

p.s. please excuse my dyslexia

seek the tao and the void forgetting all catagory,..
letting engery wich wishes to exist , exist.

06-11-2000, 01:21 AM
Well KUNGFUKID i am just working on my 2nd degree material, trying to figure it all out.
i have been fortunate to get the material early on(before 2nd dgree and before that) so i dont have that much to get..but i am in no hurry to get the stuff or test. i have focused my training on the internal systems and MASTER ERIC SMITH is definately someone who i would like to train with sometime, he came down and had a seminar on the candle thing. i got to meet him then. i dont have aol by the way. did you go to the snake pakua seminar this weekend? i already have sections one and two..i am waiting for GMSThe' to re-teach the 3,4,5 sections which i dont have. would love to learn some snake forms, i haer that he is going to teach out somes forms if there is enough interest in the snake pakua seminars. i was at the louisville tournament in september of last year. i did mad drunk fist and drunken braodsword for my competition forms. the judges dont seem to like those forms as much.
but oh well i just do it to have fun anyway.
the drunk forms are a crowd pleaser. my e-mail address is CETANSKA@BCSNET.NET drop me a line sometime,,,,,,,,,,,,,,sincerely,,,jason

06-12-2000, 07:21 PM

I received my 1st black in june 1999. Not to brag (I'm pretty proud of this though) I got a perfect score. I am currently working on
tai chi and Pa Kua. They are shaping up to be my favorite forms, as far as applications are concerned. I am also working on the candle training. I've made quite a bit of progress in four months. I am at the point where I can vibrate my body and extinguish the flame from about 1 1/2 feet away. With a palm strike I've been able to do it from 3 feet away. Distance is a kicker for me. Also, being able to control my chi. I've inadvertantly dispersed chi into sparring partners a couple of times. I put a dime-sized bruise on a partner when I struck him using a mantis strike. He said his ribs hurt for days. Funny thing was I hit him no harder than i would if I were tapping the table when nervous. Go fig.

I won't be able to attend any of the seminars unfortunately. I am moving to Florida in three weeks and that is a hell of a commute for a seminar. However, I heard rumors about Master Eric Smith moving to Naples which is not far from where I'll be.
If he does, more than likely I'll try to study with him. I will certainly drop you an email in the future, if not today. My address is pakua78@netscape.net.



[This message has been edited by kungfukid (edited 06-13-2000).]

06-12-2000, 09:23 PM
COOL. wait until you get the hsing-i training
at 2nd degree(if it has not been taught out to you already) the hsing -i training is perfect for controlling how much you wish to channel into someone. when i spar i keep it under wraps,because i dont want to waste anything energy wise. also i do not wish to internally damage another should i strike a point, sounds like you skated by with just bruising your opponent, careful. i know mantis all too well to be poking folks in sparring. heh heh i was sparring a guy once in the school and i threw a mantis claw at his face and accidentally stuck my finger up his nose. it was controlled but very gross and very funny at the same time......thats all for now...

10-26-2005, 08:36 PM
jeizen, don't take this the wrong way but what's with all of Prof Dons black belts in so many styles, even styles without black belts? I mean 8 black belts? He probably knows what he's doing but he needs to rethink his PR. I always get a little irritated when guys name a style after themselves. Do you study with him personally?

Please allow me to interject. I do know the Professor personally, he has 36 schools worldwide and has done nothing but study martial arts, and teach martial arts for the past 37 years. I have seen his techniques in person, experienced his techniques. I think his PR is working just fine. What difference does the name of the style make? The techniques, which are road tested work. I'm sad to say I had the opportunity when someone attempted to mug me with pepper spray a couple of years ago. You can see his seminars all over the Caribbean, in Miami and New York, and in Vancouver Canada. You are right he knows what he's doing.

10-28-2005, 06:00 AM
Here is a page regarding kata, that I wrote for the manual for my style:

The Essence of Kata
Kata is one of the central training methods used in the teaching of many styles of Karate-Do and can be defined as a pattern of blocking, evading and counter-attack methods that are executed against one or more hypothetical opponents who may be armed or unarmed. Progress with Kata is inherently up to the student.

When practicing, students should be aware of the common elements of correct kata:

&#183; Eye control
&#183; Breath control
&#183; Power control
&#183; Speed control
&#183; Zanshin
&#183; Physiological Factors (joints, major muscle movement, posture, vital points, etc)
&#183; Visualization

The implementation of kata must embrace these seven elements while remaining focused on the practical application of each technique. The study of kata from the perspective of creation enables the student to begin to understand the underlying meaning of the kata found in other styles, and allows them to interpret the techniques they use into practical situations reflected in a Kata's performance.

All kata should created with a serious (and practiced with) great effort, and all movements must be clearly understood by the students' instructor upon demonstration. The applications of technique in these kata should evolve from the experiences of the student as practiced in the Kumite and from those techniques that have proven themselves in actual self-defense situations when such have been available.

To master good kata performance, the student must develop harmony of mind and body. Some useful pointers to the student who desire to perform kata well are:

1. Be totally aware of all your movements, and position of body at all times.
2. Have good expression and be fully committed to rhythm, power, fluency of movement and body flexibility.
3. Never rush through a kata.
4. Keep calm even if you make a mistake.
5. Train kata daily, even if only for a short time.
6. Pay particular attention to the areas of the kata which are hard to perform.
7. Always start and finish a kata well, applying Zanshin.
8. Try to develop Mushin (where you don't have to stop and think about the next movement).
9. Concentrate on good Kime (focus). Remove tension often.
10. Strive to create a main purpose or application of each kata.
11. Implement Taijiquan principles as often as possible. Especially that of being relaxed.
12. Include waist vibration when striking, also called a fa'jing shake.
13. The whole body causes movement, whereas the muscles direct the strike, and are not for used power.

All kata in Shogerijutsu start with a block or evasive maneuver. Shogerijutsu is about spontaneous attack and or defense in a dynamic flowing manner. As kung fu practitioner's often say, be like water. As to exemplify the spirit of fighting without undue violence, which includes understanding the true meaning of Budo (the way to stop conflict) also known as Martial Arts. However, the primary difference between Shogerijutsu and Traditional Karate is that emphasis is not given to the counter-attack, especially the traditional punch or variation of handstrike or leg-strike. With Kata, and indeed Martial Art theory, the concept of striking as a means to defending is common. Thus, some allowances are made to the Shogerijutsu philosophy of self-defense, since this is an adaptive style which attempts to utilize any natural movement if the need ever arises. For each Kata, the student finishes facing the same direction in which they started.

Shogerijutsu takes from both internal and external methods, thus we do practice Taijiquan, and Qigong as well.

There are 10 essential points to practicing form in Taijiquan, they are:

Head: Held naturally as being supported by cotton from the centre of the crown. Tongue resting on the roof of the month.

Eyes level following the dominant limbs.

Neck: Erect, without tension.

Shoulders: Relaxed, soft and sloping.

Elbows: Always lowered and natural, never lift above the wrist.

Chest: Relaxed, never puffed out in army fashion. Do not slump shoulders and collapse the chest.

Back: Spine erect, pelvis tilted forward, relaxed.

Waist: Soft, flexible, relaxed and sunken.

Bottom: Tucked in.

Legs: Firm and solid, feet rooted, knees not locked.

The movements of Taijiquan should be initiated in the legs, controlled by the waist and expressed in the hands and fingers. All parts of the body should move in step, illustrating a balanced whole. It is the actions of the legs and waist which combine to form the basis of all Taijiquan actions. Students work toward developing their qi, thus at some point they should be able to apply both an'jing and fa'jing when necessary.


This page is intended for those wishing to create their own kata, and what to look for when people practice that kata, or when they demonstrate it during testing. Many of the concepts apply, and or overlap those of kung fu, and various other karate styles. Shogerijutsu strives to build on the foundations of both Neijia and Weijia concepts.

Hopefully this is helpful in some small way...


11-18-2005, 10:54 AM
very true.

11-24-2005, 04:08 AM
who is Master Shaefer, what style, and is there a website? This sounds facinating

11-29-2005, 11:33 AM
who is Master Shaefer, what style, and is there a website? This sounds facinating



Sifu Darkfist
12-01-2005, 10:44 AM
Forms, If you perform forms at combat speed and at full power it activates your anarobic conditioning.
So in effect, you get the type of training that you need for real fighting
Without anarobic power you are easily defeatable by a fighter that is skilled in Anarobic strength. I have seen it time and time again.

Forms are not the only way to get this power though, you could fight as well@!
However if you do 10 repeats of your favorite forms you will increase anarobic power as well as flow, and finally your understanding of the Technique you Master taught you