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Why Do We Do Forms
Forms (Katas and Pinans, as well as advanced Shaolin Chuan Fa forms) are a series of pre-arranged movements designed to simulate a fight against multiple attackers. Many martial arts systems include forms as an integral part of training. Students in our system start learning forms at the third belt rank – Orange Belt. Forms require memorization and coordination, and at each belt rank the forms become longer and more complex. Many of our forms incorporate elements from the Five Shaolin animals: Tiger, Leopard, Crane, Snake and Dragon.
Forms, when performed with intensity, provide an excellent workout, and also serve to build internal strength and energy. In fact, doing forms with focus and power is one of the best workouts a martial artist can do for cardiovascular, flexibility, strength and coordination benefits. Forms can also help us to overcome shyness and anxiety as we learn to immerse ourselves in the complexities of the routine/imaginary battle and focus on execution rather on those around us.
At more advanced levels, "empty hand" forms are supplemented with those involving weapons (i.e., bo staff, broad sword, fan, sai, etc.). Weapons forms take practice to an entirely different level, as the practitioner must work even harder to make the weapon a true extension of their body.
Forms require patience! It's not a race to see how quickly we can learn the moves ... and we are never truly "done" learning a form. As our training increases, the technique, power and speed must inherently increase in the form. The understanding and interpretation deepens. We often tell our students, "You are a Brown Belt now. You learned One Pinan as an Orange Belt, but that doesn't mean it's an Orange Belt form. It is now a Brown Belt form and needs to reflect the skills for that rank". We should always approach forms with intentional respect for the long tradition of teaching and training they represent.
Please ask your Instructors if you have questions regarding forms and the correct sequence of moves. We are happy to help!