Link together basic stances, strikes, blocks and kicks into one long continuous movement
Open hand forms can be viewed as a type of “shadow boxing,” where you apply technique against an imaginary opponent.
Open hand forms are practiced a number of ways to enhance health and develop martial conditioning. If worked slowly, they build static muscle and connective tissue strength and correct natural body alignment. Correct alignment helps the body work in its most efficient way and helps enhance internal energy flow. Efficiency in self-defense allows the martial artist to stop an altercation as quickly and appropriately as possible.
If worked at medium speed, the form helps to increase dynamic flexibility and power. It enhances a feeling of expansion and contraction that is an element in the body’s generation of power. The student uses continuous movement which works the respiratory system and increases blood flow. Continuous movement also trains the student to respond to an attack with a number of counter techniques – one after the other after the other.
Working forms at full speed develops stamina and anaerobic capabilities. It develops dynamic and elastic muscle responses. The student feels how to use the entire body and its connectivity for effective counter offenses – penetrating power when striking, kicking or blocking- full body momentum when sweeping or throwing.
Sequences in the form can be worked separately as a means of working practical self-defense. The practitioner breaks out a sequence, has a partner simulate the attack the sequence represents and then applyies that self-defense to get a feel for practical uses.
Certain aspects of the open hand forms repeat, but end up at a different end point. Because of these unexpected segues, plus the memorization of the proper movements, makes open hand form a great tool for increasing mental clarity, recall and concentration.
There are 3 stages to forms practice
Throughout this three stage process, a higher intelligence is being developed. This higher intelligence is the unification of martial practice with universal wisdom.
The First Stage
The first stage consists of the practitioner’s outward appearance. The movements are drilled over and over to perfect the coordination, contour and alignment of the physical structure of the exercise. This is done to correct and ensure the person practicing develops the correct physical strength, flexibility and connective tissue strength.
The Middle Stage
The middle stage involves uniting the spirit with the fist. To transform that which is of the spirit, which is in essence invisible, into the sphere of activity and conduct. To be able to transform incapability into capability. In other words, to make the impossible possible. To practice the belief in possibility and potential.
This means you are creating a shield against harm when there appears to be none. You control the enemy in imperceptible ways, in ways they cannot fully comprehend. Learning to strike a man without appearing to strike him. To have the ability to meet the opponent with formlessness.
The Last Stage
The last stage involves learning to be diligent, careful and attentive in everything one does according to the Buddhist way. To bring into the “fight” a combination of the Buddha’s instruction of the Eight-Fold Path, with the development of the Buddhist heart and mind. This “fight” or “struggle” is the struggle against evil or wrong-doing among mankind. Shaolin Kung Fu is a method of using the doorway of martial art exercise as a means of entering the practice of Chan meditation.
Even more on open hand forms....
Short, Powerful And Highly Focused
Shaolin open hand form exercises consist mainly of small but robust, concise but powerful movements. The combinations recruit powerful momentum within terse and compact organization. The entire sequence is meant to be executed in a brief period of time. The main focus of the exercise is to concentrate as much force or energy within the human body towards a single objective or target. The entire sequence should be completed with one breath.
Inner Vitality For Any Endeavor
This exercise is beneficial to produce vitality, health and stamina for all kinds of tasks, not only martial arts. The process of training this way increases a person’s strength of mind and spirit for any type of endeavor they pursue. Their internal energy will increase. Once this vigor is developed, a lack of practice will result in a noticeable decrease in health and stamina.
Practical Self-Defense Strategy
Forms practice teaches the concepts of front line and angled attacks, when to advance and retreat, and what velocity to come in at in order to exhaust your opponent. It teaches when to “disappear” and when to take advantage of favorable conditions.
Destruction & Benevolence
To understand the form is to understand the power that resides in the body. One learns to produce the utmost amount of momentum and power in order to trick your opponent and prevent your capture. One aspect of the practice is to develop the highest degree of destructive force. The other aspect is to develop the highest degree of benevolence to others and the ability to defend others.
Shaolin Kung Fu, and all the abilities it can develop, can be practiced anytime, anywhere.
The Shaolin Temple did not always exist as a place to practice Kung Fu. Exterior pressures,chaos and politics sometimes forced its near extinction. (Over the years of its long history, like a bull laying in the grass, it rose up again and again.) One only needs a rectangular space about 6 meters long and a half meter wide to practice Kung Fu. Because of this, large training areas or elaborate Temples do not need to be the setting for the practice.