Everyone wants to get to that next level. Here are some tips for your next belt test. These tips can help you truly learn the form. A common theme they all have is that each is about removing external aides that we use to learn forms, like “Turn towards the back wall…”, and focus on you learning the form and internalizing it in its purest manifestation. Once this is achieved, the form can be performed anywhere, at any time, under any circumstance or variation.
Face different directions
A secret tip about forms is to not do the form the same way, facing the same direction, every time. The last thing you want is to freeze up simply because we ask you to face the back wall or the windows instead of the flags when doing a form. Remember – it is the same form, no matter what direction you need to face. This technique removes the aide of the same walls at the same points in a form.
Similar to the last tip, try facing a corner of the dojan instead of simply a wall. This will help you understand whether or not you truly know the turns and directions in a form itself. This removes the aide of knowing when your turn has completed – as in, stop whenever you are facing a wall. This is especially effective if the form deviates from the classic “capital I” pattern and has non-90 degree turns in it.
Outside the dojan
Along the same lines, try practicing at home (of course, be safe about it). The surroundings are completely different. This can also help you when it comes to tournaments, where the entire venue is different. No more relying on using any landmark at the dojan to know what move or turn comes next.
Telephone booth forms
Are you stuck in small space, like a cubicle, and want to practice for that big tournament coming up? No fear – practice your form as if you were in a telephone booth. Take 1 step, and then slide your front foot back as your back foot moves forward. You’ll stay in the same physical area, but will simulate the act of moving throughout the form itself. This is yet another way to exercise your brain and to truly internalize the form itself, away from any other visual or physical aides.
If all else fails, there is a very simply technique that can be used, as long as you are safe about it, anywhere at any time – simply close your eyes and do your form. To make it fun, use a blindfold. This completely removes the sense of sight from the equation and lets you focus on your memorization of the form and your techniques.
You can tell that someone loves blindfold forms… 😀
Backwards or reversed
If you are really daring, you can try doing the form on the opposite side – swapping left feet and hands for right – or even do the form reversed – start from the end and work your way back to the beginning like a recording was being rewound!
And if you are a true legend, do the form reversed backwards!