The Practice of Forms

Function follows form in the Kwok systems, not the other way around. If form followed function, we would have one application per move and base the form on the application alone. In our method, we have a base form, a middle path, that with slight variations in movement and intent, stems multiple applications. Each move in our system has at least three, but often half a dozen or more applications. Applications range from beginner, intermediate to advanced.

Deviation from the form to overemphasize one application eliminates other possible uses of the move in self-defense. Strict adherence to form is crucial, as it is the basis for efficiency in movement for martial usage.

The true form changes from beginner to intermediate and advanced based on difficulty in movement, but the principles stay the same. This evolution of form teaches new subconscious techniques and allows the practitioner to put the whole picture together. Though every advancement, new subtle applications are intimated, and the awareness of potential power increases.

Forms teach focus, foundational stances and timing of the whole body to maximize power potential in movement. By training forms diligently, over and over again for perfection, students develop muscle memory for the movement and physiologically they develop white fiber that is the fast twitch muscle that creates speed. Power is not strength directly, it is a formula of mass multiplied by speed so unified, full body, fast twitch fiber development is of absolute importance.

Forms teach a routine workout, one that can be practiced over and over, developing discipline and providing goals of perfection to strive for. Forms are the foundation of combat ability in the Chinese martial arts. Only once form is perfected, internal power and combat timing are truly begin to develop.

Form teaches the body to move in harmony. Maximum range of motion used to deliver power in martial application. Physiologically, maximum range of motion develops the most fiber strength of the muscles through the full range of motion possible.

Form in the internal arts teaches how to maintain Peng ability developed from Static Qi Gong; Zhan Zhuang, Yi Quan and the 8 Ba Gua Animals, into dynamic movements.

The form shows the effort and dedication of the Martial Artist to their tradition and personal practice. Forms are generally measured in quality by the following factors; stable footwork, exact stances, taught spine, exact posture positions of the arms, timing of arm movements with leg work, even cadence from posture to posture, fluidity in movement, stability, active eyes and alert use of head movements, flexibility and ultimately speed. However, speed in practice is not as important as good form. Speed is derived from efficiency in motion so practicing slower and moderate timing for accuracy and quality are better than fast and sloppy movements for sheer ego and showmanship.

Forms are the heart of Chinese martial arts. Take them seriously, develop routines and perfect your form. The journey can take a lifetime or one can achieve the highest ability by practicing eight hours a day, everyday, for ten years. This was Kwok’s standard. Very few, even myself, are able to commit to his level of steadfastness, however, these standards are set forward for future generations to know what is possible. Forms are one book you can judge by the cover. Seek to have the best forms, put the time in, and the rewards of your practice are sure to come.