I have just read this great post on Ikigaiway and started writing a comment: when it became too long I though it was a good idea to write my own post.
Most striking martial arts, being them bare handed like Karate, Wing Chun or Tae Kwon Do or weapon based like Iai Jitsu, Iai Do and Kobudo, use forms (Kata in Japanese) as a way or classifying various groups of techniques. Forms are usually increasingly difficult and they can be part of grading.
Forms, in any martial art, is meant to be a way of collecting a number of techniques, arranged in logical sequences, with to 4 main purposes in mind:
- solo practice, to allow the practitioner to keep training without an opponent;
- having a kind of comparable scale among different practitioner at similar level;
- practicing and rehearsing logical sequences of techniques that eventually should be applied to real right
- collecting techniques that otherwise might be lost in teaching over various generations of students: let’s not forget that until a few decades ago video recording or filming was not as practical and affordable as it is today and a book has lots of limitation is showing dynamic 3D actions.
In the first video shown in Ikigaiway post the young lady moves a lot, she is very acrobatic but most of what she does is not useful, if not dangerous, in a fight. The second video is more realistic: question here is: “if you push somebody away with a powerful yoko geri (side kick) what it the probability that his face will be there to be hit with an elbow?”
I am convinced that a form is (supposed to be) a fight against imaginary opponents that the practitioner attacks or defends against. Somebody practicing a form should always ask herself:
- “what is this (particular technique) for?”
- “would it really work?”
- “what about if a real opponent appeared now in that position?”
If the answer to any of these question doesn’t make too much sense than what you are practicing is not a practical form and, while it can help working out fitness, balance and flexibility, it will not ultimately help your fighting skills.