If you always do what you have always done…. yada, yada, yada.


I was talking with my guys on Monday evening about this thing we do, when we started discussing Forms everyone was on a different page, no biggy we all come from a different place for different reasons, but we did need common ground to progress.

Everything we do in my school relates to fighting, so that is always our cue.

Fighting is really easy, we just hit someone before they can hit us.

The tricky bit is developing the skill set to do this consistently and at will.

This aspect is called training, and central to most Martial Arts training are Forms {or Kata}.

Forms are a physical manifestation of the concepts that govern our chosen style{ for us Wing Chun}, they are an accessible way to explore the concepts that govern our style {Wing Chun}.

At their heart Forms are just patterns, no more no less, on some level, they are even posturing patterns designed to impress potential mates or intimidate opponents.

On your next visit to the training hall look around, many students doing Forms are just Peacocking, sending out subliminal messages about how well they move and how dangerous they look starring themselves down in the mirror.

“I will be too busy looking good”… Jim Kelly, Enter the Dragon. 1973.

Then it gets a little weird when we experience the segment of the Martial Arts community {Fecking YouTubers} that thinks Forms are a kind of shamanistic ritual that can grant access to an interdimensional Super Force inaccessible by normal human means.

But that is not for me.

I like to keep it real.

Keep it physical.

Keep it Human.

Forms are Range of Movement exercises that improve articulation and define the parameters of the needed movement to use a particular Martial Art style in my case Wing Chun Kung Fu.

Like any R.O.M. Exercise there re different levels and intensities depending on the required outcome.

Building strength, developing co-ordination and most importantly training motor patterns.

I doubt many would disagree that it is easier to be successful in a violent situation if we are faster and stronger than our opponent.

One of the most important factors to moving quickly is knowing where and when to move our body, this reduces hesitation and confusion and makes simple, confident, effective moves very rapid.

Although much is made of the “Mind/Body Connection” this is a bit of a misnomer, they do not ‘per se’ work together, the “Mind” operates the body, the “Body” follows instruction there is very little cross channel co-operation.

Do fish know that they live in water?

Apart from following or minds instruction our body never knows what it is involved in, it is just working, being physical.

This is the good news, and it should bring into question the relative value of spending countless hours working on “Mind Force” as opposed to ‘natural physical force’.

When we engage in any physical activity, be it Wing Chun, Bicycling, Football, Jogging anything at all our body does not know that these are different functions.

Our mind does and yes there are some linkages and connections that can affect, but not many and they are not that important, in acute stress the Prefrontal Cortex all but shuts down.

But I digress and that conversation about the PFC and the availability of any kind of trained Mind Force when it would be needed {violence between non-consenting adults will be a time of acute stress} is for another time.

Our body just knows that it is required to work at a higher level than in other situations.

Better movement, better co-ordination, more purposed functional strength, better aspiration, better blood flow, awakening tendons, ligaments and tissues, dipping, rising and continuous foot movement.

We do this by working harder, moving faster, by applying more physical strength, working dynamically across different planes and angles.

Forms are designed to work across a style specific range of movements and angles to inform our decisions to enable quicker, smarter decisions.

To be expected over the years I have been asked a variety of questions by my students concerning Forms, especially “HOW”.

When it comes to “How” we need to begin with two teaspoons of common sense.

All training is task-specific, I think we can all agree with this by now, training something in one way and one way only will only bring about one specific outcome.

If you always do what you have always done…. yada, yada, yada.

Many of my contemporaries do their Forms in the same way day after day, month after month, year after year, super slow and devoid of purposeful external activation.

I understand the thinking and to a certain extent as a precursor component I agree with it, we are trying to understand how to move as naturally as walking.

Doing everything as naturally as walking is great when you are going to be walking, but what happens when you need to run or jump?

Defending against violence is nothing like a stroll in the park.

This is the reality, dare I say the dichotomy of Form and Function.

Think of it this way, if we are in training for a 100 or 200-metre sprint race what amount of training time should be spent walking?
5%? 10%? 50%?

My call would be 0%, just walking to the car exhausted after training.

What amount of time should be spent sprinting? Weight training? Stretching.

Your training, your call.

When it comes to the “HOW’ of it all we should be doing our Forms in as many different ways, different speeds, different intensities and different combinations as possible.

There are some specific markers to be aware of in all the Forms, markers that can help us get a deeper understanding of how our body works with these chosen shapes.

The value of these markers is in not in understanding “HOW” they will be used but rather in “WHY” and “WHERE” they will be used.

If our training does not reflect how we will use it can we expect it to work?