Today I’m diverting from the usual wine and dining posts to focus on my beloved martial arts, specifically, Kung-Fu Wu-Su, the system which I have practiced for 35+ years. If you check out the December edition of Inside Kung Fu magazine, you will find among the articles one on a specific form we use in our system. The article features your truly and fellow Master Robert Thomas showing some of the specifics of the form. In this case, Kung Lei Chuang, or the Skill and Power Form.
I know well the controversy about the pros and cons of forms, or what are called “katas” in Karate. For the uninitiated, forms (or katas) are a fixed series of different poses or continuous body positions that include ,many techniques within a system. The beauty of forms is that they enable a practitioner to practice a series of techniques in sequence. They put together the techniques in a certain combination and they strengthen the internal and external body components. The drawbacks with forms is that they are limited to the techniques practice by the master who developed the form.
Some masters, among them Bruce Lee, did away with forms altogether and emphasized teaching techniques only. Where forms were concerned, Bruce Lee termed it as the “Classical Mess.” I do not follow this thinking. I still practice forms, and I practice them diligently. We have twelve basic forms in our system, and we think that’s enough. It’s true, if we exclusively practiced forms we would have no students left in the Chinese Kung-Fu Wu-Su Association Forms are an integral part of our system but not the end-all be-all of the system.
The Skill and Power Form, for instance, is one of our advanced forms. It’s name implies what it is: a sequence of vital movements designed for hard strikes and tough encounters. Unlike most forms or katas, it is not linear. It traverses in four directions, each preceding and following a singular movement. This form is not only good for exercise but it can be used for fighting as well. It’s got two power kicks, but its emphasis is on the hands and turning, shifting (inclusive of one jump kick). To me it is a premier form. One never gets bored practicing it and you learn something anew everytime you do it. If all forms were as interesting and applicable as the Skill and Power Form, the debate about the usefulness of forms (and katas) would have been solved years ago.