Solo form is distinctive to Chinese martial art. Generally, a form can be done alone, with a
partner or with one (or more) weapon on hands. Each movement is created and
executed based on the martial art's offensive and defensive meanings.
The development of a solo form is the result of many generations of practical
and training experiences. A good solo form has many effective martial art
techniques, application and variations as well as tactics. Therefore, it is kept
secret and not revealed to the public. There are some solo form emphasized on
strong and powerful techniques, and there are others emphasized on soft and
- The solo form techniques
Martial art's solo forms have two major
characteristics. It is function as a performance art as well as training martial
art fundamental. It was created based on the martial art's offensive and
defensive tactics, static and dynamic movements, empty and full body weights,
hard and soft power, fast and slow speed. To compose a solo form that has
competitive, health maintenance exercise and performance art characteristics is
not an easy task. A good solo form has contribution from practitioners in many
A performance art generally has technical elements and mechanical elements.
Mechanical element divided into composition technique, segment technique and
complete sequence technique. The relationship among them is that they are
independence, connecting and relating to each other.
- Technical element
The technical element is referring to the
different components of fundamental technique in martial art. It has technique
involving such as hand, weapon, stance, step, body position and eyes movements.
The technical element must combine the information available and input from the
intent, spirit, breathing, power and rhythm in each movement's execution so it
It is referring to the hand is completing all the bare hand
and weapon forms technique and position.
It is referring to the feet is completing all the position
and the technique in motion.
It is referring to the leg is completing all the lower
body technique and position.
- Body position
It is referring to the position of the torso and
the different positions of the torso in motion.
It is referring to the eyes' movement in coordination with
the body's and hands' movements.
It is referring to the controller or coordinator of all
the conscious activity.
It is referring to the internal expression of the
movement generally project outward by the eye.
It is referring to the breathing and breathing
method apply in coordination with the movement. Generally, there are two
breathing methods use by martial art practitioner. They are deep breathing
method in which the abdomen goes outward when one inhales and go inward when one
exhales. The second method is called shallow breathing in which the abdomen goes
outward when one exhales and go inward when one inhales.
It is referring to the power express in varies physical
It is referring to the control, understanding and
execution of static and dynamic, empty and full, hard and soft, fast and slow
concepts in the solo form.
- Mechanical element
Mechanical element is referring to different
types of movements in a solo form. It is properly put together by varies
technical elements. The mechanical element has composition techniques, segment
techniques and complete sequence techniques.
- Composition techniques
It is referring to the technique
following a certain body mechanic. It is a bare hand or weapon hand movements
following a certain objective or mission to combined the technique together.
After one has learned these combination techniques, practicing these composition
techniques will be able to and easier for one to learn some of the more
difficult movements later.
- Segment techniques
It is referring to a series of composition
techniques put together.
- Complete sequence techniques
It is a series of segment
techniques put together. A complete sequences is completed with the beginning
movement, transition movement and ending movement. Practicing the complete
sequence can improve the proficient of each martial art technique as well as the
condition of the practitioner.
- The solo form's basic rules
Martial art has long history in
China. Over the years, there are many experiences and knowledge oversees the
development and propagation of this wonderful art.
Chinese martial art highly emphasized the concept of "Internal substances are
harmonized external substances." This is but an experience of demonstrating the
relationship and connection between martial art's skill and power. From the solo
form's essential elements, we can see these relationships clearly. Chinese
martial art is based on internal substances and external substances. External
substances are referring to the hands, eyes, body and feet movements and
positions. Internal substances are referring to the spirit, qi and power. The
body's every movement is controlled by the nervous system, influenced and
restricted by the internal organs. A movement is perfect only when it is able to
coordinate with the internal substances. At the sametime, the internal
substances will be improved and enhanced the result from external substances'
Internal and external substances are connected and complementary. External
harmonies dictated by the internal harmony. Internal harmonies depend on
external harmony. From a technical perspective, one should begin with the
training to transform the external substance so the internal substances can be
harmony. The martial skill will be improved from continued practice therefore
internal substances will be better harmonies accordingly. One often heard that a
teacher only show student the movement. It is up to the student how to apply the
information correctly. The Chinese martial art's internal and external harmonies
is based on the ancient Chinese philosophy called "Man and universe Harmony."
- The rules of the fundamental solo form
When one is performing
the bare hand form or weapon form, one must have correct position and variation.
The hands and eyes should go together. The spirit is concentrated and the energy
will flow smoothly. Breathing is proper. The rhythm is clear. All of these
different attributes are not separated. They should be together, connective and
It is referring to a completion of a physical movement.
It is a static movement in space.
It is referring to the movement of a specific body
part's action. A technique dictated the following:
- The proper positioning of different body parts.
- When one is in motion, different parts of the body's motion should be move proper and
- When one is in motion, concentrate and discharge powers
should be proper and accurate.
- Body position
The body can display many positions. Generally, it
is referring to the different positions and variations of the torso positions
when one is engaged in offensive and defensive maneuver.
The body position is not isolated. It is connecting to all the body parts
that are engaging in offensive and defensive maneuver. Since the torso is the
major connector between the upper and lower body, when one is in motion, the
torso must move according to the feet. When the feet step forward, the body must
follow. When the body moves, the feet must step to support. This type of
execution is correctly expressed the hard and soft interaction, coordination and
balance. When completing each body position, one should pay closer attention to
the waist and feet. When the hands and feet move, the body should move
accordingly to support. In order to place the body position properly, one has to
research, analyze and understand the offensive and defensive meaning in each
movement. This is especially true among the transitional movements.
- Eye movements
It is referring to the eyes movements in
coordination with the hands and body movements. The eye is the window open for
the spirit. Therefore, people often said that eyes and hands must go together to
express the internal substances meaning so that when the eyes there, the hands
should be there as well. In the solo form practices, if one is not correctly
apply the eye movements, the body movement has no spirit and it is a lifeless
solo form. If the eyes' movements are incorporated in each technique, one is
able to express the true meaning behind each technique. In the solo form, the
eyes serve two functions. It is to focus and it is to follow. To focus is for
the eyes to concentrate on a specific subject or direction. It is often applied at
the completion of a movement. To follow is for the eyes to follow a specific
part of the body or weapon until a movement is completed. It is often applied at
the beginning of the movement all the way to the end. The characteristics of
this following is generally have the eyes and the hands coordinate together.
Coordination of the hands and eyes is one of the critical criteria to
determine the correctness of a movement. If the movement is not correct, it
affects the spirit's revelation as well as affected the quality of the movement
itself. When a movement is missing either component, it is not a perfect
This is referring to the condition of the concentration,
the martial art's offensive and defensive meanings when one is executing a
movement during the bare hand form or weapon form. It is also referring to the
understanding and involvement of martial art's offense and defense meanings,
rhythm, power, breathing and gracefulness.
It is referring to a specific type of power in martial
art. It is generated under the control of intent, mind and qi. It is commonly
referred to as "jing" among the practitioners from the martial art community.
It has soft and hard components.
The delivery of this power should not be stiff or too hard. The power is not
measured by large or small. It is measured based on follow through the technique
or not. When discharging power, one should pay attention to the coordination and
integration so the internal and external substances work together.
When one is practicing the solo form, the breathing
should have a specific standard, control and rhythm. Therefore, in practice, the
breathing should according to the nature of movement. Generally, inhale when one
is executing a rising and opening movement. Exhale when one is executing a
falling or closing movement. Based on the nature of a movement, additional
breathing is also divided into lift, suspending, concentration and sink.
- Lift breathing
This is referring to the diaphragm contracting,
expanding the chest cavity and shoulders stretching outward. When one is
executing this lift breathing method, the qi comes upward. The center of gravity
will come up as well. This method is often used when one is in a lower position
going to a higher position.
- Suspending breathing
When inhalation almost complete, one
forcefully repeats another quicker and shorter inhalation. This action has the
air remain in the chest cavity longer to support completing the movement. This
is often applyed at the end of a high or low position.
- Concentration breathing
After completing the inhalation, one
delays the exhalation to better coordinate with the movement and delivery more
power. Generally, this happens when one is executing a strike movement. In
striking, one speeds up the exhalation so that inhalation and movement go
together. This method can increase the amount of power in discharge.
- Sink breathing
It is a deep breathing. When the abdomen sink,
the chest relax. This will lower the center of gravity so that it is better to
balance. It is often use when one is into a lower position.
One can see that a proper breathing method provide many benefits in a
movement's completion. It makes the movement look better, improves the body
condition, position and technique. This type of instruction must have a
knowledgeable teacher's oral instruction to prevent any damage to the body.
The rhythm in martial art is referring to the pace of
executing the movement. It is often demonstrated in speed, transformation and
orientation. It involves the following concepts: Dynamic and static, empty and
full, hard and soft, fast and slow.
In the solo form, how to properly treat these connections and relationships
directly affects the rhythm and the quality of the solo form. If one is not able
to correctly treat the solo form's rhythm, the solo form is not good and it does
not have much to offer. In demonstration, if a solo form does not have any light
movement, it cannot reveal any heavy movement. If the solo form does not have
any soft movement, it cannot reveal any hard movement. If there is no slow
movement, it cannot reveal any fast movement. Therefore, one must execute each
movement with extinction. When one is able to express the meanings of these
concepts of soft and hard, dynamic and static, fast and slow, empty and full
correctly, the rhythm is very obvious. The solo form is very good, attractive
and offers many functions. Following is a further explanation of these concepts:
- Static and dynamic
In the solo form, dynamic and static are
important elements. The movement in the solo form should be based on the number
of movements divided into static and dynamic. This division will reflect the
dynamic and static movements of the solo form.
In the dynamic condition, all the movement should be connected and continue.
One movement properly followed with another movement without any stop. One
should be able to clearly distinguish these static and dynamic concepts in
execution and in discharge power. A spectator should be able to see this
In the static condition, externally, the body is remaining still but the
muscles are in certain dynamic condition. Based on the nature of movement, one
should apply a correct breathing method to energize the body. The eye
concentrate to demonstrate the mental condition, the martial art's offensive and
- Empty and full
This is another very important concept in
Chinese martial art. Empty is lightness and yielding. Full is hard and really to
strike. Empty and full always within the same movement.
The concept of empty and full in martial art are always guided by internal
substances and external substances guided by internal substances. The
relationship between the internal and external substances is that it is
initialed by internal substances and followed by external movement. It is only
when one has comprehended the concepts and distinguished empty and full
internally can one is able to execute the movement properly with power.
- Hard and soft, fast and slow
The concept of hard and soft,
fast and slow appear on the physical level as speed. They are inseparable. It is
common that when the movement is soft, it is slow. When the movement is fast, it
is hard. When one is in motion, based on the degree of changing in empty and
full inside the body, the nervous system mobilizes the muscles to relax or
contract so that one is able to execute a movement hard and soft, slow and fast.
- The meaning of solo form
A solo form is made up of posture which is
commonly called a frame. A posture is made up of technique. A technique is
composed of the hand and the feet movements. A solo form is the warehouse of the
hands and the feet movements, techniques, body positions and steps. It is also
the warehouse of the many variations of the hands and feet movements, technique,
body position and step. Therefore, it does not matter that the solo form is a long or
short routine, it has the complete martial art information and ingredients.
- Solo form training
It is often said that martial art teaching is
more difficult than scholar teaching. In martial art teaching, a teacher has to
demonstrate the information as well as lecture it. One can see that to be a good
martial art teacher is not a easy job.
Traditionally, martial art teaching is taught by modeling. A teacher lets the
student stand behind the teacher and follow what the teacher does. Therefore, it
is necessary for a student to have a good teacher.
- Two methods of learning
Although there are many people that said
there are several methods of learning. One can learn strictly from lecture,
learn within a group and self taught. However, martial art is a type of physical
activity. The best method of learning is by behavior modification. Over the
years, martial art teachers have experienced that there are two methods best to teach
this subject. Therefore, generally, a teacher transmits the information one
movement at a time or several movements at a time all depending on the difficulty
of the movement as well as the learning ability of the student.
- One movement at a time
In this method, it treats each movement
as in one unit. One has to learn one movement, understand all the technique,
application and variation as well as the transformation inside the body
completely before move onto the next movement. Although this method takes time to
complete the sequence, since it is working one step as a time, by the time one
has completed the sequence, one has understand all the information and the body
is comfortable with it. This method is perfect for someone without any previous
martial art knowledge.
- Emphasize on movement
In this method, one learned the complete
sequence in a very short time. Later, one practices a segment of the sequence as
a time to understand the transformation inside the body as well as each
movement's application and variation. This method is better for people who have
previous martial art knowledge.
After one has learned the complete sequence, is familiar
with the movements, techniques and postures, to better digest the application and
improve skill, one has to practice the solo form daily. When one is in practice,
one should pay closer attention to the different parts of the body's
coordination and interaction. This practice can be summary as after one has
practice it a thousand times, the logic and reason will revealed themselves.
Although one has learned, understands each movement,
technique and posture from the above training, it is not enough for one to use
it for martial combat. One has to disassemble each movement and practice each
individual technique separately. One practices the technique such as the elbow
strike, shoulder strike, kick, step, knee strike and the hip strike. By taking a
movement apart, one will understand all the visible technique as well as the
There are many styles divided the same solo form into
many objectives of training. Each solo form training guides and fulfills a
specific objective. Generally, a solo form has a large posture is called the
Large Frame Form which is often demonstrate to the public. It has a performance
art characteristic. The solo form has a medium posture is called the Medium
Frame Form which is often use as a combat art. Each movement is executing
properly as defensive and offensive martial maneuvers. A solo form with a small
posture is called the Small Frame Form is often practiced as a qi circulation to
improve health condition.
The solo form has a direct connection to the defensive and offensive martial
tactics. If a student is engaging in martial art training and following the
described procedure, there is no problem to improve the skill and comprehension.