Monday, April 7, 2014

F is for...

F is for Forms and Flexibility

Forms a.k.a. Katas are a series of movements performed in a specific order to create a finished sequence.  As I mentioned in B the sequence was changed to disguise the actual technique being done and therefore these forms are much more about fluid, graceful movement then they are about fighting.  (You have to take them apart and recombine them to see the fighting techniques hidden within.)
 Gi-Cho Hyung Il Bu- the very first form we learn.  'Gi-cho' means basic, 'Hyung' means form and 'Il' means One in Chinese, thus the full translation is Basic Form number One.

Forms vary in length (from around 20 or so moves to around 50 or so) and difficulty (upper forms include crane stances, jump kicks and a variety of other difficult techniques) and must be practiced A LOT in order to be performed well.  In our school we learn one form per belt level so the higher you progress the more moves there are to remember.  Needless to say, it becomes really difficult to remember each and every move when you don't get to practice the form regularly (the mid-level forms all tend to blur together for me, which becomes specifically problematic when I'm trying to teach them move-by-move to green belts '_' ).

Different schools place different emphasis on the importance of forms.  Some schools are much more about sparring and spend most of the time and instruction on fighting techniques and practice sparring.  Our school's forte is forms- it's what we're known for, what we spend most of our time working on, and subsequently what I myself am best at.

It's been said that the amount of time and training it takes to get insanely good at doing forms is a small fraction of the amount of time and training it takes to get insanely good at fighting.  I suck at fighting, so I believe this saying.  But I'm sort-of ok with that if it means that my forms can kick-ass.

Flexibility is vitally important for the proper execution of several of our techniques (as many of the comments about the crescent kick post suggest) and therefore stretching is as fundamental to developing one's practice as actually performing the techniques themselves.  Subsequently we stretch at the beginning of every class before we warm up and smart practitioners stretch every day at home.  While my flexibility is better than some (especially my arms), it's significantly worse than others (because I don't do it at home nearly as much as I should).  But like everything, it's only about striving to be the best YOU can be- not comparing yourselves to others and what they can do.
 Don't worry, I can't do a full front split, either.


  1. I really liked the diagram you added to show the series of movements. I think I might be able to do these. ;)

    I loved the Karate Kid remake with Jaden Smith. He was amazing!

  2. I always stretch before exercising, but I am far from flexible.

  3. When I was taking classes, there was one person in the entire class who could do a full front split. She was 9. :-P

  4. I need to work on my flexibility. I love that show of Jaden. He was so cute in that movie.

  5. Good form can be pretty intimidating. :)
    I can only do light stretching before I'm warmed up. Maybe it takes practice?

  6. I consider you a bad-a$$! When I was in FBI training, I took Shotokan. I loved the forms but not the actual kumite (sparring). I figured, that was what a firearm was for *to make up for my subpar fighting abilities*.

    Echoes of Olympus
    A to Z #TeamDamyanti

  7. Chrys- Yeah, they did a good job with it. I actually saw it with my Sah Bom Nim and tournament team members as a group outing- it was pretty cool.

    Alex- I hear, you. I'm obviously better than I would be if I didn't stretch a few days a week, but far from as good as I could be if I stretched every single day.

    Larry- Yeah, the little kids in our school are all made of rubber, as well. Makes me nuts!

    Sydney- Cute vs. kick-ass= whichever comes first.

    Krystal- That it can be! And yes, it take A LOT of practice.

    Sam- FBI training?!? Are you kidding me?!?! You my dear, are definitely the bad-a$$ of the two of us!


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