How to Be Formless in the Martial Arts
Bruce Lee talks about being formless.
Zen teaches us to be formless.
This idea of being formless permeates the martial arts,
but what the heck is it, really?
To be formless is to be in the moment,
actually moving in concert with an attack,
and not in response to an attack.
It means you don’t react,
you don’t move in specific ways,
but rather in unspecific manner,
adapting to the motion of your opponent,
and not moving in specific manners
your training has dictated.
Here’s the problem,
there are total idiots out there
who hear about being formless,
and think that because they don’t study anything,
and especially a classical art,
they are formless.
they are idiots,
trying to make their lack of learning
more than it is.
here we go,
here is what it means in ways you can understand
and even adapt to your work out.
To be formless is to be like water,
pour it into a glass and it assumes the shape of a glass.
Pour it into a bowl,
and it assumes the shape of the bowl.
So it doesn’t mean you have the no shape
of somebody who knows nothing,
it means you are smart enough
to shape yourself to the attack.
Somebody punches and you block?
That’s a response form Karate.
Somebody locks you go with the lock
and figure your way out of it?
That’s a response form Jujitsu.
And freestyle is just reacting,
it is fighting,
no pouring yourself into a shape
that fits the attack.
Let’s say somebody pushes you.
How do you react?
Do you brace, then attack?
Do you grab and throw?
Those are specific responses
created by studying specific arts.
If you were formless
you would adapt to the push,
shape your body around it,
and that might entail blocking or grappling…
or unbalancing or shifting or…or…
but it would be unique to the situation…
WITH NO LOSS OF AWARENESS.
you would have more awareness,
because that is the result of the martial arts training…
if done properly.
If you do not study a martial art
you are certainly formless,
and a victim to the forces of the universe.
If you do study a martial art,
and then another one and another one,
you eventually become formless…
and the universe is victim to your desires.
So these fellows who study something and say,
‘I stopped studying so I could break out of that art
and become formless,’
are total and utter idiots.
They have exchanged their inabilities
for the right to sound stupid.
The BEST way to be formless
is to study an art,
maybe karate or kenpo or something,
then another art,
maybe Aikido or tai Chi or something,
and then another art…
and so on.
Eventually you learn ALL the options
for forcing or flowing an attack,
Then you have choice,
actual AWARE choice,
within the structure of the fight.
And that would be formless.
Here’s the obligatory ad…
I put Tai Chi here because most people study hard arts,
or arts requiring great effort,
and the best way to achieve formlessness
is to study an art that take little effort,
and which makes you think
and figure things out.
Make sure you check out the video halfway down the page.
Have a great work out!