The Master 8 Fold Form Introduction
White Belt Focus
You’ll notice that our curriculum does not cover many of the basic techniques used throughout the system. What we do, however, is teach the basics through the Master 8 Fold form. You’ll find most of the hand and foot techniques needed throughout all of the CMATOS system taught in this form. The form is designed to be relatively simple, with motion limited, so that the practitioner can focus on the basic strikes, kicks, and simple movements that are then combined in the infinite combinations that is Kenpo. The form itself isn’t designed to be just performed and forgotten about, but it is designed as a training tool so that you perform the form multiple times in each practice session. Performing the form over and over again will allow you to focus on your most basic strikes and movements, as well as starting to put together some hand and foot coordination.
In traditional Kenpo, these are taught out at the various sets (blocking set 1, finger set 1, kicking set 1, etc…), but the teaching and memorization of these different forms only serves to confuse many students. As you progress through the Black Belt ranks, you will be required to study and learn all of these sets, but for now, we have limited what you need to study in order to rank up to 4 basic techniques from Kenpo, 4 weapon and situational techniques, the master 8 fold form, a single kata, and some concepts and principles to learn and refine at each belt level. This allows you to focus your efforts on mastering the basics and the techniques, rather than spreading your studies across 32 techniques per level, 1-2 forms and sets, 1-2 katas, and all the principles that go along with it.
Your focus for this level is basically to memorize the basic movements and be able to demonstrate the ability to perform the form without mistakes. Your punches might not be the best, and you may get confused with the kicks, but as long as you have the basic movements and techniques demonstrated in the form, you will be successful. At this level it is showing your ability to mimic what you see to the best of your abilities.
Stillness, Movement, Stillness
There are a lot of hidden motions and techniques in the form that you will pick up as you progress through the ranks, the complexity and depth of the form is one of the reason we teach it at all levels. Sure you could rush ahead now and see all the hidden meanings and concepts in the form right now, but doing so would interrupt your learning progress. At this level, I want you to focus on the cadence of the form and notice that each of the folds follows a pattern of stillness, movement, stillness.
You start off with the kenpo salute, and then from the meditation stance you start your form. Starting from stillness in the meditation, you explode with your blocks. After the blocks are completed, you move, turn around, and then settle down into your horse stance facing the rear. You should have a noticeable pause at this point before starting your punches. In between each of the “folds” you should show a noticeable pause – this is to ensure that you are completely focused on the current section you are about to perform and not thinking about the previous section. Use this breath pause to clear your mind and envision the perfect performance of the next section. Because each section is isolated in and of itself, you should be separating each movement and technique so that you start to build up your overall level of skill.
As you progress through the ranks, you will always be showing this stillness, movement, stillness, but at the same time, your techniques and form will become more fluid so that the stillness and movement become blended together. However, at this level, you should focus heavily on emphasizing the stillness before movement.
At this level you should be performing each block, punch, kick, or step movement, one per every 1-3 seconds (1 beat), with a 3-9 second pause (3 beats) between “folds”. Your final meditation should be at least 30 seconds per movement (2.5 minutes). But remember, you should only do the ending meditation after you have finished your practicing for the day. I usually recommend doing 5-10 loops through the master 8 fold form per practice session so that you can start to build up both your stances as well as individual strikes. Remember at this point it is not a race, and we aren’t looking for the speed and power in your techniques so much as we are looking for the proper form and movements. Focus on ensuring that the cadence of each strike is consistent – a good tool here is using a metronome to help you maintain your cadence throughout the form.
With the master 8 fold form, the key is really consistency in practice. This technique set is designed to teach you all the necessary strikes and blocks found throughout the kenpo systems. Granted there are an infinite of other variations on strikes and blocks, but getting the master 8 fold form down will improve your basics tremendously. Remember, that this is the form you will be tested on at all belt levels going through the ranks. It should be your best set of techniques that grows with you as you grow within our system. I look forward to reviewing your forms and seeing you on the other side of the belt test as you prepare for your 9 kyuu belt exam. Remember, at this stage of the game, we are focusing mainly on remembrance of the techniques and proper form. Speed, power, and skill will all come in time (it’s what separates the beginning student from the intermediate student). Don’t worry about rushing things, and focus on getting the material down before progressing. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.