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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

Conversion Therapy

Long time readers of the blog, and anyone who's trained with me for more than a few days, know that I am NOT a big fan of learning tons and tons of forms (kata, anyos, whatever you call them).

It's just not my cup of tea.

I know, I know, hordes of Stick Chick blog readers are leaping into action to tell me why I'm so very wrong about not being crazy about forms, how awesome and important and essential they are, especially for solo practice in the time of COVID-19.

Yes, I know all that, and I concede your points.

Forms CAN be a very useful tool in martial arts training.

It's just not what I enjoy doing, personally.

I have a dilemma. I want to study using certain objects in a way that's painful for someone else, but I don't want to have to spend years learning and perfecting a ton of forms for each object, as that's mostly how they get learned (with some drills thrown in sometimes).

So here's how I'm trying to avoid the whole "Let's learn a jillion forms" problem.

I take the forms I already know and "convert" them into other weapons.

Take Stick Form One, Baston Anyo Isa, from Modern Arnis.

You can see it here in this video from the late Bob Quinn (which I still consider one of my go-to reference videos for these forms):

I have learned several different versions of these very forms, especially the first, Baston Anyo Isa, mainly due to different interpretations by different people.

So one time I wondered what would happen if I did Anyo Isa with a different weapon?

Like a jo?

This video is actually from a few years ago. I might interpret this a little differently now, since I've had a bit more education in the jo since then.

This solves my problem, doesn't it?

I can use the template of Anyo Isa (and other forms I already know) and try it with other weapons (or even empty hand), based on training I've already had, and work through what might work, and what might not.

You do THAT by taking elements of the form and turning them into drills, and then asking, "How would I get murdered if I did this?"

Weapons work has a lot of shenanigans in it because what we learn in forms is not pressure tested regularly or even questioned. Most of the Eastern weapons are learned this way - via forms - and don't do a lot of weapons sparring (unlike our Western martial arts counterparts, who are all about pressure testing).

Of course, as I've noted here on the blog before, it's impossible to perfectly pressure test weapons, due to the risk involved and the honest problem of most of us not having the intent to actually hurt or kill our training buddies.

But this is what we can do that's more than what drum majors and flag/rifle corps and baton twirlers do in front of marching bands, without memorizing yet another form.

Do you enjoy learning forms? Or are you like me, and form-averse? What have you learned that couldn't be learned any other way than via a form? Let us all know what you think in the comments!

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