The forms are useless, but ...
I am talking of choreographed forms which are composed of several techniques simulated in emptiness.
I was fortunate to meet many talented practitioners and masters of martial arts, they shared with me the forms and exercises that I practice today.
After all this time, I want to say whether for combat for energy development or the spiritual aspect, forms are useless.
In terms of combat, exercises that change the qualities of the practitioner (ie, its strength and "heart"), are sufficient to prepare the basis for addressing the physical confrontation.
The forms provide only an illusion of technical feasibility and fantasy. They take valuable time to practice for which we would be better to work seriously ... but I never met a fighter who did not have a good technical training, based on the work forms, or at least forms of the body. There are a few forces of nature, rather rough and nasty ... but outside the scope of the practicioners.
For the use of "vectors of force”, respect for the structure in action and the transfer of force, repetition of forms may be a good idea. In addition, the fluidity of the gesture, not parasitised by the thoughts because the mind has had time to integrate the learning of the form, allow the training of strikes ... keep the balance ... hummmm.
I do not speak of the "unique" moves , those that are the latest "exit the jing" but the forms "dancing".
For the work of blood circulation, therefore energy, just relax, and “it will come"... The idea is to make movements that are supposed to" circulate energy "or" open the meridians "! Yet it is evident that certain gestures develop and strengthen certain parts of the body. This development leads to better circulation, and therefore a greater flow of energy. Could it be that these movements have been craftily combined to extract some "forms"? If it was not done, it seems a good idea.
The forms that I could find in the internal arts of Taoist influence, those who are not from yesterday, have this feature to promote an equitable circulation throughout the physical structure, to "pull" on routes of the meridians of Chinese medicine and all that expense in a minimum of gestures. We can do without it, but as it is already there ....
For spiritual practice, we will see it another time ..
The forms are not used for combat, but the practice will "relax" and strengthen the qualities of the fighter. They occupy a strange place, but not essential ...
The forms are useless, but without the practice of these, the road seems longer.
I practice the "routine" has always been, I believe useful.
But it seems to me that there is a paradox regarding their role: they are not for the reasons they are used.
Athletes or practitioners of the sports of combat do not know this. They focus on "unique movements, techniques and applications.
In the internal arts, training forms is often followed by the training of unique movements. The gestures are often extracted from forms, which one is working alone, to enter the "no thought" and to learn to exit the force.
Each gesture is then worked to become more powerful and relaxed, then integrated to link it to the form.
The exercises and training methods may be sufficient, as in yi chuan for example, but yet the taste is not the same.
There is something "magical" in the forms, a spark of the past, contact with something else.
I am a lover of rare or old, for the pleasure of the mind or to learn how to "exit" the jing in a defined system. At the same time, they seem of little use, but still essential.
Among the professors I met, one does not even practice the forms, or just to teach them. On the other hand, they often practice free, nourished by the shapes they had used before. At a certain level of freedom of body and mind, the form can not contain himself within the pre-established structure, but formless freedom is hard to find.
The role of "routines" is much finer than it seems.
There are basic moves, which are worked at first.
The exercises and training methods of internal arts, the 'nei gong and wai gong ", will make these movements of gestures that will be able to gain strength and relaxation.
Then you learn the forms, structured dances that incorporate the basic moves.
In these routines, the basic movements are often used differently than in the basic exercises, it gives them a freedom and an additional movement. The link between the actions, the combination of movement and continuity of force over the form must do a specific job.
The management of distance and concepts of combat will emerge from the implementation of "form" of basic gestures.
In the internal arts, basic techniques are often more focused on the development of body and its movement as the base for "strikes". The strikes are often used later in the exercises of exit of force of the "unique movements”.
Why should we practice forms today?
I think there are still three good reasons to do so:
* - Preparing the body for the movements of the style,
* - Combining all the techniques that make the style,
* - Focusing the "utilisation" of the style in a form.
In the form it will be possible to combine the way to move, the mechanical movement, the concepts of combat and management of the distance. None of these principles will be really visible, they can be transparent in our practice if training methods are not known.
The problem is that, over the centuries, the movements have evolved as a movement and not as principles. Why was a gesture created to carry out a specific action, often ignored the practitioner, may be subsequently be modified without the practitioner would understand the reason. This will result in a "pretty" form, more adapted to the young master, but more distant from the original creation. Gradually, the style loses its "heart" and nourishes his "coating".
In addition, techniques that were used long ago, in a specific situation, are now obsolete. I think particularly to techniques of combat in armour, or combat for cavalry, which seems unnecessary for the street today. Even if you are unfortunate enough to be attacked by a knight in armour!
Every movement of the forms should be trained to express the power, and speed while staying relaxed. Without this training, the forms are "empty", even if the actions are there, they lack the strength and precision, they are useless, but pretty.
For art is alive, it must evolve. A master proud to have a form that has not changed since the creation of style underlies two things: the first is that if his style is "usable", he decreed that the ways of fighting have not advanced. The second is that people have become idiots in recent decades and therefore unable to move or think.
Having mastered his art, I repeat it: having mastered the art, it is desirable to change if necessary, or leave it as such.
New knowledge of people in anatomy, cardio-vascular techniques to increase proprioception, understanding of the increase in strength and training exercises in speed ... all this can lead to change how we practice. If you prefer to ignore all that knowledge and practice as 300 years ago, it is a choice ... which is often a waste of time, precious time in practice.
"You have to find everything in the middle, I think that is the solution. Traditional forms must be nourished by the knowledge of today, but we must not give up profound knowledge of the ancients, to the magic of transmission of knowledge.
The specificity of a good number of internal arts lies in the apparent innocence of the practice.
To develop deep changes in the body and the spirit of the follower, it is important not to give him exercises too "clear", otherwise he will try to put strength and speed.
If you can train without "intent" for a transformation, everything is easier. To reproduce gestures that express the force through a unprepared body, or to develop power in a fragile wrapping is to put a heavy cannon in a boat: the first shot, the boat sinks.
In the internal arts, focus is on the preparation of the structure for its use. The form will allow us to test the structure, through an elegant dance, which summarises the theories of style. After many years of understanding through practice, exercises and training methods will feed the form that will "teach" the practitioner.
For all these reasons, the forms "are" for ancient arts, "the soul" of styles and therefore they do not "serve" anything.