Forms, kata, hyung, poomse, jurus, djurus…. whatever. I don’t really care what you call them. They are basically an organized series of movements intended to communicate a systems body culture to you in a repeatable and correctable way.
There is always a back and forth between those who train in forms and those who don’t. Some say they are the embodiment of what they need and for others they are an anathema.
Here’s what I can tell you from my own experience. They do not realistically represent combat. Again, they aren’t fighting! And one more time, they really, truly, aren’t fighting.
To try and mask that, somebody came along and decided that they could more closely mimic real fighting by creating “two-man” forms. But over time, these too have been seen as not representing “real” fighting. And again, I’d agree.
For those people who want something even more realistic, there are smaller two-man forms that people like to call “drills.” Often these are fairly short and may or may not be performed in an equal manner by each side–often known as “give-or-take” drills. The purpose is to give both people a repeatable platform to develop movements, ideas, and, yet again, application or technique. But people who have truly fought recognize that these don’t really represent anything more than wishful thinking as it concerns personal protection.
So there you are with both sides whispering and bickering in each ear. Good…. Bad…. Good…. Bad….
In reality, the essential aspects of each, for both drills and forms, are identical. Yep, the same. They are not designed to teach you to fight. They are designed to teach you to move. They are designed to be repeatable. They are designed to be correctable. They give you a pattern that you can practice at any time. And they can develop needed attributes and skills such as coordination, timing, range control, disruption, etc.
That doesn’t sound too bad does it?
In my very limited experience in martial arts (about 30 years) I have trained in forms, and drills, and two-man forms, and just application, and just sparring. And frankly, what I’ve walked away with is an understanding that the actual keys to unlocking these forms in whatever manifestation they come in, is the most important part.
Are all forms created equal? Hell no! That much is very clear. And that part is easily ascertained if you have the keys. It’s not magic, but it requires someone who is willing to risk the broken bones, the bloody noses, and the bruises to sort through it, as I’ve done (as well as those who lead PSP have done).
Look… there’s a lot of rabbit traps in talking about this stuff. There are loopholes and caveats and bad eggs but here’s the other side. Boxers users forms. Yep. In their method they are called “combinations.” They are short, and they are meant to be recalled, and applied, and added to, and taken away from. They aren’t the end all. They aren’t sacred. They are a simple delivery system for training. They increase the speed of the boxer’s attacks and the speed of recall because of the repetitive nature of their practice.
They aren’t long necessarily. Four to Five strikes at most (usually). And that is why they are “more” effective. In addition, the boxer themselves is able to create their own personal combinations.
Jurus should be treated similarly. There’s a reason for their existence –you don’t always have someone to spar with. They are meant for those times and they are meant to be adapted in 1000 different ways. They are a blank piece of paper that is meant to be written on the way that YOU need to write at any given moment.
Be looking for more posts on Jurus in the near future.