Short Form 1

Every martial arts system has their own beginning form, and Kenpo Karate is no exception. Although we have the Master 8 Fold form as our form of the ages across all ranks, Short 1 is the basic introductory form. Unlike the latter forms (Short 3 and later), Short 1 (and Long 1, Short 2, and Long 2), are considered fundamental forms. These introductory forms focus on basic techniques and movements. The first 2 – Short 1 and Long 1, focus on 90 degree angle movements, straight forward and straight backwards, along with basic stances, basic blocks, and some basic strikes. Short 2 and Long 2 now take modified versions of some self defense techniques and movement off on 45 degree angles.

The focus of Short 1 is on basic blocks, horse stances, and the basic L movement. Throughout the entire form you will be stepping backwards, so drills and motion we learn in the Master 8 fold form all come into play. The first half of the form follows a repeatable pattern, step back once block, step back a second time block, transition to the next section. The pattern of blocks follows the pattern from the Master 8 Fold form – Inward, Outward, Upward, and Downward. All pretty basic stuff. The second half of the form is essentially the mirror image of the first half of the form, stepping back with the right leg instead of the left leg and blocking with the left instead of the right. Just like the Master 8 Fold form, it can be done on a continual basis, circling through the form to gain additional levels of proficiency and competence during each cycle.

The keys here are ensuring you have proper foot placement, and your movements are fluid and not block. I’ve seen the form done beautifully with very low horse stances – and if you are going to be performing this form in a competition, that is what you want to shoot for. When doing the form for performance for CMATOS, we just need to see that the stances, footwork, and hand coordination are present and at a level proficient enough for this level. As you come back and review the forms at each stage of your journey, you can review how far you have come. Keeping a journal of your journey, or even video record of your performances is a great way to keep track of where you have been and where you are headed. Make sure to also take advantage of our mentoring and review so we can point you in the right direction and ensure your form is up to the level of proficiency needed to advance to the next rank.

Instructions

Opening

  1. Kenpo Salute to Ready Stance
  2. (Optional) Step out with the left leg to a square horse stance

First Half

Section 1 – Inward Blocks

  1. Step back with your left leg as you execute a right hand inward block.
  2. Step back with your right leg as you execute a left hand inward block.
  3. Head transfer to the left

Section 2 – Outward Blocks

  1. Step up slightly with your right foot to ensure you are in proper toe to heal position
  2. Outward block with the left hand
  3. Step backwards (in the new direction) with your left foot as you execute a right hand outward block
  4. Head transfer to the left

Section 3 – Upward Blocks

  1. Step up slightly with your right foot to ensure you are in proper toe to heal position
  2. Upward block with your left hand
  3. Step backwards (in the new direction) with your left foot as you execute a right hand upward block
  4. Head transfer to the left (should be facing the back side of where you first started)

Section 4 – Downward Blocks

  1. Step up slightly with your right foot to ensure you are in proper toe to heal position
  2. Downward block with your left hand
  3. Step backwards (in the new direction) with your left foot as you execute a right hand downward block
  4. Head transfer to the left

Transition

  1. Step up to a square horse stance facing the front again

Second Half

Section 5 – Inward Blocks

  1. Step back with your right leg as you execute a left hand inward block.
  2. Step back with your left leg as you execute a right hand inward block.
  3. Head transfer to the right

Section 6 – Outward Blocks

  1. Step up slightly with your left foot to ensure you are in proper toe to heal position
  2. Outward block with the right hand
  3. Step backwards (in the new direction) with your right foot as you execute a left hand outward block
  4. Head transfer to the right

Section 7 – Upward Blocks

  1. Step up slightly with your left foot to ensure you are in proper toe to heal position
  2. Upward block with your right hand
  3. Step backwards (in the new direction) with your right foot as you execute a left hand upward block
  4. Head transfer to the right (should be facing the back side of where you first started)

Section 8 – Downward Blocks

  1. Step up slightly with your left foot to ensure you are in proper toe to heal position
  2. Downward block with your right hand
  3. Step backwards (in the new direction) with your right foot as you execute a left hand downward block
  4. Head transfer to the right

Closing

  1. Step up to a square horse stance facing the front again
  2. Finish with the Kenpo Salute

 

Breakdown

Hand positioning and foot positioning are key in this form. For students just starting out in their martial arts journey, the foot position and hand positions are usually the most complicated bits to master. Once those have been ironed out, then the rest of the form becomes relatively painless. The basic motion of the form and though is that you are defending against a punch or a kick as you are moving backwards – primarily a defensive movement in nature. The basic pattern of the form, is represented by an L shape. You step back twice, then turn 90 degrees to the left, step back twice. At this point, you retrace your steps, going back up the L you just created. In the second half of the form, you are simply mirroring the first half of the form and making an opposite L.

An easy way to do this form is in a room with 4 different walls (or in a place where 4 directions are clearly indicated). You start off facing the north (or the front wall, or the tree, or something straight ahead), turn to face the west (90 degrees from the first direction), turn to face the east (180 degrees from the previous direction), turn to face the south (90 degrees from the previous direction), and finally turn and face the north (180 degrees from the previous direction) to finish the form off. When performing the form you don’t need to face the actual directions, but you do need to be facing 4 different directions, 90 degrees from each other.

Foot positioning needs to be in proper toe to heal form. Which ever direction your face is facing is where your “toe” in the toe to heal should be positioned, and the foot behind you, should align with the heal. Additionally, you need to make sure that your feet are turned inwards on the horse stance, knees bent like riding a horse. If you need work on your horse stance, see the lesson on horse stances later in the white belt series.

Things to Work On

One of the things I love about doing forms, is that their practice can be a great workout in and of itself, and you should use this as an opportunity to help increase your overall level of physical fitness. As we discuss in other lessons, you need to have some level of physical fitness in order to be able to successfully defend yourself in a serious situation. Performing forms is one way of helping to raise that level of physical fitness.

During my daily martial arts practice I’ll go through all my material (self defense, forms, etc….) as well as practice and focus on the specific topic or form or technique I am currently working on for that time period. I will usually go through each technique and form 3 times before moving onto the next one.

  1. I start off going through the form at a slower than normal pace to ensure that I am doing each movement correctly
  2. I go through the form doing it in slow tension, ensuring that I am focusing on as much power and tension as I can manage
  3. I finally go through the form at its normal performance level speed to ensure that I not only capture the skill, but the speed necessary to be successful

You may want to space out your practice – work techniques on one day, forms on another, and then do a combined practice once a week. You might also want to focus on a single technique or form for an entire week or several days, just to make sure that you get the material down solid before going on. Again, this is not a sprint, but a marathon, the pace you pick something up is going to be largely dependent on your own individual circumstances. On, average, I would say that it takes the average student 1-2 months to successfully bring short 1 up to a level proficient enough to be considered for the next belt rank. Add in another 1-2 months for the rest of the material, and you wind up with students taking anywhere from 3-4 months during the first belt level practicing, and re-practicing their material until they have it down in their sleep.

Don’t rush this. It will only come to bite you in the butt, as you will need to continue to practice and perfect this form all the way up through all belt ranking levels. If you don’t perfect it now, you are going to be spending more and more time as you go through the ranks trying to re-learn and remember the previous material. Don’t do this, but rather, stay focused on this level until you are sufficiently confident with your material that learning the new material is 1) not going to confuse you and 2) not going to cause your previous material to become less effective or out of practice. To be truly successful in the martial arts requires a level of consistent practice for the rest of your life – this is why you hear many martial artists refer to what they are doing as not just hobbies, but a way of life.

Performance Cadence

Without seeing the form in action it’s a bit difficult to describe. Your cadence for the form should be about one move per 1-3 seconds. Too fast and the form just looks sloppy, too slow and it doesn’t look like a performance. Regardless of the pace you set for the form, you should be consistent in your timing between movements – each section should be done at the same speed, and every movement and technique should be uniform in its power and delivery.

Concluding Thoughts

Now granted, not everyone is going to find martial arts as their passion, but as they say, the amount of effort you put in is going to correspond to the amount of results you will see in the long run. The more you practice, the better you should become. When you first start working on Short 1, it can seem a bit overwhelming (especially if you haven’t studied any martial art before) – so don’t be afraid to reach out to us for assistance and guidence.

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