Saturday, April 15, 2017

Gaining Freedom from Form

Forms are great and fun to practice, but in order to really learn and understand a martial art one should progress from the solo and two person forms into application and free form.  While it is tempting to just proceed directly into free form sparring, this approach many times results in sloppy and/or poor usage of techniques.  Much of the problem is due to not knowing when to use a technique or being unfamiliar with using it a various angles and/or situations. However, this can be addressed by making incremental progressions towards free form using simple application and progressing to complex ones.  For example, a common way to practice applications is to use a technique in response to a simple straight punch, but this is typically not enough to learn how to use in free form.  Using a technique in response to a straight punch can be progressed in a few ways.  One method is to increase the speed of an attack until full speed is reached.  This becomes limited relatively quick because the defender knows what attack is coming and the attacker is very restricted.  Another method is to make the attack more complex by adjusting other variables such as the level of the attack (high, mid, low), the angle of the attack (right, left, up, down) or multiple techniques in combination.  Yet another progression is to allow the attacker to move as opposed to the typical step in and punch that is commonly practiced.  The attacker can punch and then retreat or step to the side.  There's almost an infinite number of ways to vary the attack by also including kicks and grabs.  The goal is not to practice every variation imaginable but is to learn how to use techniques in a number of different situations and to experiment with performing them at any angle or distance.  By incrementally increasing complexity and speed, these drills will become closer to free form sparring.  In addition to a great transition into sparring, this progression aids in understanding the essence of a technique and when and how to best use them.  The understanding gained from the drills and free form then also improves forms practice as now there is more intent and focus behind the movements.  This method can also be applied to any style or physical practice to make achieve instinctive reactions.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Spring/Summer Practice

Starting next month we'll be practicing outdoors again.  It is Seattle so make sure to check the weather before you head out!  There's plenty of room outside so we'll be focusing on forms and applications during this period.  If you're interested in internal martial arts RSVP on our meetup page and come join us!