The “fighting forms” we practice help train us in techniques and incorporate a series of opposites and, just as Yin and Yang are opposites that complement rather than oppose one another, forms teach high and low, fast and slow, left and right, hands and feet, and powerful and soft movements as complementary parts of a complete system with timing being the unifying element.
We seek self-defense and self-improvement, so we use combat-based timing rather than the “1 move, 1 second” approach used in sport-based systems. Generally, a block is immediately followed by an attack because this is the natural way of self-defense: you block and counter-attack before the attacker can recover. The first form starts with a block followed by a punch. If there is a pause between the two, the attacker will be able to defend so we move quickly from left block to right punch. The last four moves the form consist of two sets of two moves knife-hand block followed quickly by knife-hand strike to the neck) which must be done in rapid succession so the attacker cannot defend.
Proper timing may also require pause, such as in the beginning of Pinan Nidan shown above. We block a punch to the face and simultaneously st the collar bone with hammerfist in move one, then pause slightly while the attacker, knocked backward off-balance by the hammerfist, moves his center of gravity (Dan Tiann) away and extends his forward arm. We pause while his weight drops back and his arm extends toward us for balance, trap his wist and, continuing his arm-straightening motion, hyper-extend his elbow. The third technique immediately strikes the ribs below the chest muscles (pectoralis major) to shock the heart and it must be done immediately so the attacker has no time to recover. Without proper timing, this move will not work.
The counter-rotate/rotate sequence for the first move is clear and basic (quick right, powerful left) and the next two moves are done with a single sequence and in one breath (quick right breaks the elbow, powerful left with by weight strikes the ribs). Note the full side position (belt not toward the camera, attacker on the side), near-vertical forward hand, near-horizontal rear hand and full engagement of the leg, hip and abdominal muscles which is only possible if Dan Tiann is on the line between the balance points of the feet.
WHEN PRACTICING FORMS, STRIVE FOR:
• Rhythm and Timing
• Proper Stance
• Correct Technique
• Apply Speed and Power
• ALWAYS PAY ATTENTION TO THE CENTER
Right block, left strike.
Strike with hammerfist.
The practice of forms is an ancient method used to train for combat. It is safe and, properly done, teaches movement, balance, technique and rhythm for actual self-defense applications.
Trap left hand with your left, break the elbow with your right.
Practicing the old forms develops breathing and concentration.
The beginning moves of Pinan I, shown below, show the dynamics, technique and leverage needed for effective technique.