Monday, May 22, 2017


I recently attended a seminar where I learned two forms.  The main reason I attended was to learn a form (Tsuken Sunakake Eku) using the Okinawan weapon that looks like a boat oar - the Eku.

Before we learned that form, though, we were taught a White Crane empty-hand Kung Fu form he called Paiho.

Now, I didn't have to learn this form.  This was the first form taught in this seminar, and I could have come for the second half to learn the Eku form.  This seminar was about an hour and a half's drive from my house on a Saturday morning, mind you, and I would not have minded being able to sleep in a little bit.  I run hard most of the time, and a couple of extra hours of sleep time would have been nice.

Nope, I drug my carcass outta bed, drove down there for the early part of the seminar, and learned the form.

Well, I tried, anyway.  I can't say I've LEARNED-learned it, but I know the basic moves and can do them solo, if it's still pretty clumsy and ugly.  A real White Crane stylist would probably cringe if they saw me do this form.  I cringe at myself when I do this form. 

I have zero background in any of the Chinese martial arts, mind you (unless you want to count some tai chi in the park when I lived in Las Vegas, but that wasn't much and I don't really count it).  I also don't see myself being able to take up study of any of them in the near future (although it is on my bucket list).

Additionally, I'm not a huge fan of forms in general. I know some of us love doing them, but I'm ambivalent about them. I see the usefulness and the need, but man, I'd much rather be working on drills, if I get a vote.  It's just not my "thing" in the martial arts.

So why did I bother?

I am a big believer in trying new things in the martial arts when I get the chance.  Not because I want to do what everybody else does, or incorporate what other styles do into what I do, necessarily. 

I know some of us out there will do this.  They collect a bit of this, and a bit of that (via seminars and short-term attendance at various schools) and mush it all together into a hybrid style they call their own.

Yeah, no, that's not what I'm after. I have no interest in crating my own "style" and I'm not necessarily going to incorporate everything that I've I learned that isn't in my core style into what I do (and thinking I could, or should, based on a two hour form class is kind of silly anyway).

I worked hard on learning a form from a style I may never actually study or incorporate because I like to stretch my mind, and I like trying to understand a different point of view so I can look at what I do with a critical and more educated eye.  I believe in getting out of your comfort zone, too, as I think that's necessary in order to learn and grow.

It was hard work, trying to move as the form demands, and doing things the way they wanted me to do it, even in a single, relatively short form.  My brain was buzzing and I immediately started connecting what I was being taught to what I already know and do - what's different, what's similar, and why that might be.

I've added another little tool to my toolbox, and that's always a good thing!

If you get a chance to spend some time learning something that's way, way out of your style's system, I think you should do it from time to time.  Again, not to necessarily do what they do, but to examine what YOU do, and see it from a fresh angle.  It's really fun and totally worth your time.

When did you step outside of your comfort zone and study something that's way outside of your normal style?  In your system or style, is this sort of thing encouraged, or discouraged?  Let us know in the comments!