The Importance of Forms in Martial Arts

Some martial artists don’t like forms. Street fighters don’t see the point and even some high ranking martial artists have considered taking forms out of their systems altogether. I suppose forms seem more academic than  applicable. However, I don’t agree. I think forms have certain value that enhance your martial arts training.


Obviously to perform a form well, you must have balance. You can’t be wobbling and off-kilter. You need to have a base and move and transition from one stance and position to the next. This is important for footwork, strikes, fighting, kicks and probably more. You don’t have balance, you can’t pull off much of a technique.


You need coordination to pull off multiple strikes and kicks, to use proper body mechanics, to be skillful as a fighter. Much of what you enhance with forms is your coordination. Done on a regular basis, forms can greatly improve coordination of body parts to bring together all the elements of a successful technique.


As you might already know, martial arts techniques are made up of moves, and so are forms. The better you can move, the better you can fight. Especially if you learn to move correctly and in complex ways.

martial arts weapons

Sustained Focus

Forms force you to sustain your focus on a long complex series of moves and footwork. This works brain and body and certainly is an aspect of why martial arts harmonize mind and body. Being able to sustain focus on something complicated for a prolonged period obviously helps out in other areas of your life outside the training hall.


Forms are a great workout. They work multiple muscles, improve range of motion and work your endurance. Go through your forms daily and you’ll know what I mean.

Burn in Technique

Repetition is good in martial arts. The more the better. It burns techniques into the brain and neural-pathways. It makes you better at what you do. Forms are just another way to repeat the movement of technique, footwork, etc.

long form 4


I know in Kenpo, forms are designed to teach the student principles in their martial art. There are lessons hidden or obvious in the forms. In this way, forms are an excellent teaching tool and also good for burning principles and technique into brain and body.

The Story

You learn to tell the full story. The story of the form. The form has a beginning and an ending, with lessons in-between. It is complete. You follow it all the way to the end and learn it’s structure, perform this full story for yourself or an audience. I think that has implications for your entire life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *