Forms challenges are a great way to see if your students really understand the forms and the movements and the reasons behind them, or if they are just going through the motions. This is also a great way to get kids excited about doing the same thing over and over again. The challenges below are of varying difficulty. Sometimes the more advanced students will have more trouble because of all the muscle memory they have of the correct way to do a particular move.
You can do most of these challenges in pairs or have one student do them with the instructor in front of the class.
In this variation, the student does the form on the instructor’s count. The instructor can either say the next number or say right or left with a degree. For instance, “Right 180” means that they have to turn and shift the frame half a turn to the right. The way to defeat this challenge is to block out external cues and do the form based only on muscle memory.
In this challenge if the instructor says “Plus 1” all the low moves have to become middle moves, all the middle moves have to become high moves, and all the high moves have to become low moves. So for instance a punch to the sternum becomes a punch to the face. Make sure to clearly define the targets ahead of time. The move itself doesn’t change, just the target of the move.
Questions and Answer
For this challenge, the instructor has to ask rapid-fire, simple questions. The person doing the form has to answer them as quickly as possible without messing up. The purpose here is to achieve muscle memory and free the student’s higher mind from thinking about the details of the techniques. Here are some good questions we use.
What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
Who is your favorite teacher?
Who is the governor? (president, senator, etc)
What year was our school founded?
When is your mom’s birthday?
What does M-O-S-T spell? What does R-O-A-S-T spell? What do you put in a toaster? (Most will answer “Toast” instead of “Bread”)
What is 98974535749857 times 0?
In the remote control challenge one partner controls the other’s form like it is a TV. Here are some of the buttons and what they can do. Consider allowing only a subset of buttons for less experienced students.
Play – Go forward normally
Pause – Stop on that move (good for crane stances)
Fast Forward – Rush through the form
Slow Forward – Go in slow motion (kihaps should be long and drawn out)
Rewind – Go back to the last move
Subtitles – Say the names of the moves in English.
Closed Captions – Say the names of the moves another language.
Channel Up/Down – Change to the next/previous form.
Volume Up/Down – Change the level of the kihaps
Frame Forward – Either skip to the next move (no chambering) or make short, choppy movements.
Power Off – Go limp and do falling technique.
For the iron body challenge get some soft swords or pool noodles and hit the students in their bodies throughout the entire form. The idea is to have them tune out the attack and concentrate only on the form.
For the inverse challenge, students must do some move that would correspond to the move that is in the form. For instance in Chun Ji, the first move is low block and the second move is step forward and punch. So the inverse would be any move that would go with a low block (for instance low kick) and then any move that would go with a middle punch (for instance middle block). They can do the move with regular stances or their own stances. For demos, you could do this with 4 people, one attacking from each side.
Of all the forms challenges, this is one of the most trippy. When someone who has been watching a form for decades sees this, something seems really wrong. It’s like when a native speaker hears a sentence that has poor grammar. The idea here is to just do the form, but each stance has to be a different one than the correct one. It’s easiest to do this by always replacing the same stance with the same wrong one. Oftentimes students will get halfway through and then do one move ‘correctly.’
The mirror image challenge involves switching left and right, but not front and back. If a student were doing the form normally, this is what their reflection in the mirror would be doing. It also feels weird, but is a really good training.
In the switch hands challenge, change all knifehands to closed fists and all closed fists to knifehands. Make sure to do this with a form that has some of each. Make sure that the students are correct on their chambering with this one as well.
This one requires multiple people. Place them in different patterns and facing different directions, and make something beautiful. The best ones are when everyone comes to one point (say, a punch) or when it looks like people will hit each other but they don’t at the last second. You can see an example of this here. You can also do this while challenging an entire group.
Have students try to keep a balloon in the air while doing a form. They will need to quickly switch their focus back and forth.
Each line of students does the form delayed 2 (or whatever) moves from the next line. So they stay in sync with the people in front of and behind them. Change the kihaps to some sort of school cheer.
If those aren’t enough, there are some special challenges that are extra difficult. For instance, do the first move from the first form followed by the second move from the second form, third move from the third form, etc. If that’s too easy, start with the last move of the last form and work backwards. You can also do the stances from one form with the hand techniques from another. You can also do a form in reverse. Reverse chambering is especially confusing.