View My Stats

Monday, May 18, 2009

Learning forms

I am learning a form at the moment. To do this needs a special form of concentration, slow repetition, frustration and imagination.
I am getting the core of the form of a DVD and this is a good medium vs VHS. The DVD player has A:B Repeat function and this allows you to segment the sections. My method is to plough through these segments and not dare move on until you 'get' the shape your on.

Once you 'have' that segment you go back to the start and re-stack the units so far. This needs discipline as you want to race ahead and get it over and done with. You may have to turn the sound down or off, as the repetition of phrases can be unbearable BUT on the other hand the ideas are being vocalised too and if you are an 'auditory' learner, then you may pick up these commands and make them meaningful.

To make the shapes stick in my memory I develop silly names / ideas and thread these together like a mini-story. The form I am focusing on has these 2 circular hand shapes at the start. I told myself they look like the 'Mr.Man' character Mr. Dizzy.

It is worth seeing the form 'done properly' by different people so you can see what is the margin of difference in expressing the shapes. In this DVD there is an elbow strike that hits an arm with a slap in one expression, or slides along it in another. Sometimes that hand is up like a prayer hand, sometimes it is flush to the forearm. A few years ago this difference would have phased me. "It must be one or the other or its all wrong", I would have thought. But forms are seldom like that totally. Its the idea/s in there that they signify that count more. I know this from the Wing Chun forms, their deviant expressions and simialrity. If you learn to look then you learn to see. I.E. Wood through the trees. The big idea can be expressed in varying ways.

Breathing is meant to me mapped on to the in and outward moves - or ying and yang type moves. This is hard. I find it hard to belive that the practitioner in the DVD gets a full breath in sync. with his moves. Only way I can get close is to go very S-l-o-w like tai chi nearly. It may pick up when I can swithc of my brain and do the moves with out thinking.

I know there is a debate out there about forms and why bother etc. etc. this isn't the place to go over this. But I would rather know them then not and realise they are the basis of teaching / learning and keeping the inventory of moves and ideas in your face. Without the forms you may regress into technique collecting. I think JKD could be accused of this.

Josh Waitzkin in his book 'The Art of Learning', however, does say it is possible to become a form collector in its own right. To avoid that you need to know the applications too. I have to go over the applications and the form again to keep it in mind, to avoid just doing funny shapes. I know from studying the Wing Chun forms that the applications are myrriad from the same moves. They can be literal or very abstract. The DVD only scratches the surface with applications, the man says so too You will have to use your imagination to eek out the meainings of this. One way to do this is by analogy.

Here is a link to someone useing imagination to the application to the same shape:

Another way to mix things is to do the form in differnt ways. Hard like uber-Karate. Soft like Tai Chi. Mixed mode etc. This could benefit you in different ways, breathing, reflex etc. This form I cannot do very fast and I am in slow mode for now. The DVD has the masters student doing it in 4 angles, fast too. This is useful.

No comments: