What are kung fu forms for?

Aug 17, 2022

I love practicing old and discovering new forms.  I love watching superduper athletes perform, I love watching forms in movies and youtube.  We love pressure testing kung fu form movements in combat practice.  In short, I freaking love kung fu forms but don't forget that kung fu forms are no different from dancing if you don't apply them correctly.

Kung fu forms give all kung fu styles their identity, legacy, and culture.  Forms validate your lineage and add familial support to your self-esteem.   Forms are much like your Kung Fu last name, i.e. "Bob Wing Chun" or to not sound like a complete dork flip it like in Asia to "Wing Chun Bob".  Well, both names can be culturally dubious but I like their sound.   Kung fu nerds UNITE!

Kung fu forms are time capsules of what your predecessors created and wanted to pass on but remember unless you learned it from the form's creator, your forms have changed - 100%!   Every teacher/master/mentor adds or subtracts certain things in the form to fit their physical and mental attributes.  That's just the natural law of change.  For the better or worse.

The truest way to understand what your predecessor tried to impart to you via forms is to use it in combat but that would hurt plenty.  Practice kung fu combat in a realistic but controlled environment.  I don't mean sparring, doing tournament fighting, beating the crap out of each other in your garage, or running around in tights trying to be Daredevil or something.  Those have different tactics and mindsets.

Your Kung Fu forms are the same as speeches.  They are practiced numerically and stringent on how it should be done.  Imagine someone at Walmart asks you a question:  "Excuse me, your shoes are so cool.  Where did you get them."  and you answer "Well, Fore score and seven years ago, our forefathers..."  The response doesn't make sense.  Now imagine instead of asking you a question, that person is attacking you but, you respond by doing your form to defend yourself.    If your imagination makes you look like an action movie star kicking ass then keep smoking whatever your smoking and give me some since we'll need it for the pain.

Your Kung Fu form is a traveling manual that doesn't need to be read, doesn't need to be carried as a heavy wooden scroll or book, it won't fall victim to the author's shitty drawing skills, and it stays with you better since your body also remembers it - I hope.

You must tear your kung fu form apart, know every movement's intended definition within combat, and pressure test it in a controlled environment with trusted partners. 

If you teach kung fu forms, then for self-defense you teach kickboxing then be aware that you're doing some major slapping to your ancestors' faces.  Kickboxing is an effective martial art but it should be taught in a kickboxing school, not in a kung fu school.

A kung fu form is your style's lineage treasure and culture.  Keep it, treasure it, and learn it as how your ancestors intended.  If your combat forms are newer (under 80 years old) then you might have the luxury of asking the creator.  Forms are not "holy".  It's just a set of combat movements pieced together and should be scrutinized and changed to fit the attackers of your era.  You won't be attacked by a sword anytime soon, right?

The higher you climb in your martial art the more you should be able to derive from each kung fu form movement.  If your form says that a movement is to stop a straight punch then learn the "textbook" version inside-out then ask your sifu what other applications can be derived from that same move.  You'll know if you are progressing correctly when you're able to pull many variations to apply in pressurized combat practice.

There's a method to do this without learning another form or jumping to another kung fu style or martial art.  It's an age-old kung fu combat practice that we here, in King Kong Palm, have scientifically studied and organized in an easier "bite-sized" format.  Yes, this is a shameless plug about our KKP combat practice method for yourself or your school.  Please don't consider our KKP method as a challenge to you or your school.   We want your kung fu school packed with great, studious, and whiny students.

Your kung fu forms should be similar to your self-defense combat and vice versa.

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