Anyone who has taken any type of martial arts has practice a kata or two. For this article forms are also referred to as katas. Most forms (katas) start out quite simple and progressively get harder as the student gets better and moves up in belt rank.
Forms teach you how to move from one technique to another smoothly in a series of choreographed fighting movements performed against an imaginary opponent or opponents with a fixed starting and ending point. Forms are the beauty, the art, of the martial arts, without forms there can be no martial arts there is only fighting and self defense techniques. Form training creates inner peace and helps keep you healthy. This article will look at nine different ways to practice your forms.
Each of the following 9 method will add a new level of understanding to the form and each method offers different benefits to the student. There are 3 parts of each movement in a form, you have direction, your stance and the techniques. You move in a direction and land in your stance and perform your kicks, and or punches, pause briefly, and then move in the next direction, set your stance and perform your kick or punch and so on.
You must learn and practice the 3 parts of each movement to be able to perform the kata smoothly. After learning the pattern of the form, practice will enable you to move smoothly from one movement to the next. When you get up and demonstrate a form in front of the class, or at a tournament, the kata is performed correctly when it is performed with power and intense concentration and passion.
It take years to achieve perfection to perform a kata well, but once someone perfects their forms, watching them perform a kata can be inspiring. Continue reading and discover 9 ways to practice your forms to help move you towards form perfection.
Regular Style This is the most common way forms are usually practice each movement is performed, sharply, fully, and powerfully, pausing briefly between movements to distinguish one technique from the next. Speed is desirable from the beginning to the end of a single Amovement, but is not desirable when connecting one movement to the next. The regular-style forms training develops balance, coordination and power, both physically and mentally. It is the style you use when competing in tournaments or taking a promotion test.
Concentration Style In concentration-style form practice each movement is executed with intense power, concentration and proper breathing is emphasized. No kiais (yells) are used during concentration style practice. There are actually 3 types of concentration styles you can use to practice your forms.
The first style is when you relax your body and concentrates on breathing and executing the techniques in a slow smooth manner. You should breath using a ten count on each movement. Inhale through the mouth with a count of one through 3 as you start the movement, hold your breath on count 4 through 6 and exhale through the mouth on 7 through 10 as you finish the movement.
The second method is where you tense your whole body, tightening the muscles, keeping them tight as you perform each techniques at regular speed. Perform your breathing the same an in the first concentration method.
The third method require you to tense your body and you want to breath the same as the first method. While your body is tense move slowly, smoothly and powerfully through 2 thirds of your breath and movement. You want to executes the final one-third of the movement in a explosive, powerful manner exhaling sharply. Concentration-style builds strength and endurance through dynamic tension and isokinetic exercises. This method improves focus and proper breathing and improves your inner health
Ballet Style In this style you want to perform each action with absolutely no tension in your body. Each movement should flow into the next with out pause between movements. Perform the complete kata without any conscious thought. The smooth flowing movement illustrates the grace and beauty of the martial arts and develop physical and mental flexibility.
Combination of styles This is a blend of regular, concentration and ballet styles and will develop creativity, as well as reaping the individual benefits of each method of training. This is a useful practice style to use for getting ready for tournament competition.
Directional Styles You begin your form facing a different direction from the normal position you use. Most forms start with you facing the front of the dojo. By changing the direction you face when you start will free you from depending on landmarks for proper performance and distance. Another way to do this style is to perform the form against a wall. Face a wall starting just far enough away so that your your first movement will bring you just up to the wall so you almost touch it.
Perform your next movement and instead of moving forward, you can't, merely change your feet as though you had step forward. This is an excellent practice method and it will help you when you find yourself in a confined space, such as an office or crowded bar and you have to defend yourself. room etc.
Blind Style You perform this style with your eyes closed or with a blind fold. The object is to end up at the end of the form where you would end up with your eyes open. This will develop your sense of direction and create a kind of sixth sense which allows you to better feel and anticipate things. This is a powerful way to improve your martial art skills.
Practical Application Style Here you want to perform each movement of a form with a partner. Your partner assumes the role of the assailant, attacking from the left, right, front and back in the order the form requires. You can use more then one student to help you with this practice placing them in position where you can engage them throughout the kata. This style of training will help you to understand the form and helps you to develop your imagination and to think ahead to your next move
Breaking Style To conduct breaking-style form training you must first set up the materials that you want to break at the point in the kata where you want to break them. Choose a few points in the form so that you can perform a certain technique that you would like to emphasize in the form. Work through the kata and break the board or brick at the point in the kata where you want to demonstrate a particular technique. Practicing this style will help improve your organizational skills and is used for exhibitions.
Musical Styles Musical forms training take's a kata and choreographed music to the movements of the form. The ideal is to start on a specific note and end on a specific note. This type of training will help you to perform the techniques at the same speed each time you do that kata. This type of form practice is sometimes used for exhibitions and sometimes for tournament competition.
Each of these 9 practice styles offer a slightly different perspective and a slightly different understanding of the kata for each style used. Is practicing forms 9 different ways contrary to tradition you may ask? The answer is not necessarily if the principal involved in each training method are consistent with martial arts philosophy.
The drill is simply an adaptation of traditional training and the training therefore innovative, yet traditional, and maintains the ART in the martial arts. Try practicing your forms using each of the methods explained here in this article and watch as you move towards form perfection.
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