Once again, I found myself watching a fellow demonstrating applications of a form. He said “Ok, so this can be a simple punch…” “Or it can be this armbar…..or that…or this…”
I remember myself thinking: Heck, if I created a form, I wouldn’t want people to put ‘this or this or that’ on top of my movement!
Why? Simple: If there is one movement that is interpreted as several application, naturally, some of these applications will be good, others will be substandard, while the rest will be truly horrific (as was the case with the above gentleman). There is simply no way on Earth to
create an ‘universal’ movement, that could only be interpreted as several top-notch techniques; in this system, the onus of distinguishing good application from a bad one lies entirely on the practitioner!
And please, don’t give me any of that ‘every technique is good’ crap. It is simply not true, as any practitioner of styles where they actually fight can attest to. For example, crossing ankles while holding back mount is simply wrong – you just don’t do it. It is specially THIS KIND of knowledge that a martial art should teach you. Yet, under the above model of ‘every movement has multiple application’, it is actualy YOU who has to know the insider information about the techniques; the founder of the form just supplies the movement! Talk about paying a full price for a cheap seat.
If forms are good for something, they should teach you the ONE RIGHT WAY to do the technique; not myriad of techniques, hodgepodge of good and bad, with only you having to distinguish (and actually having to learn them elsewhere!)
Let me give you an example: If I come to conclusion that certain movement of kata means a hip throw, I want to be sure that somebody put a LOT of thought into that application; that it is the best thing I can do in the situation of the kata.
I certainly don’t want to know that this movement can be a punch if he stands in front, a throw if he’s behind me, drawing a gun if he stands 20 feet away, and a force field generation if he’s on the surface of the moon firing laser at me! Such a ‘universal’ movement doesn’t exist, so I am probably getting away with a substandard solution.
Moreover, if I have to study judo to find out whether I could or could not throw him in such a situation – what the hell is the kata good for?
At the core of the problem lies this dilemma:
Would you rather listen to a good interpretation of Mozart, or to an improvisation by some pupil
straight out of music school?
‘Multiple application’ people choose the later; Mr. Mozart just provides the notes, and the pupil rearranges them and improvises as he sees fit.
On the contrary, I say that while these pupils might be very nice guys, there is very little probability they have something better going on than Mozart had. So please, save the improvisation for your parents, I want the real deal.