Why is it so difficult to do a group form? How difficult can it be to stay together when doing a form?

Group form has been part of my Taekwondo from the start. I’ve said several times that group form is our version of marching, after all this is a military art. The class is one team, one family. Everyone works toward helping each other progress.

Here’s a couple examples of what group forms should look like.
The traditional Karate competitions feature group forms.

Even Taekwondo poomsae divisions at the higher levels of competition feature group forms.

Why do group forms? There’s a few reasons behind this.
1) Systemized forms allow more students to be on the floor at once.
2) Since everyone is doing the same form, many different ranks should be able to synchronize to one speed.
3) Senior students become the example for how the form should be done and allows junior students to see details more clearly.

So, on to why the group of students can’t stay together. This list won’t be pretty.
1) Injury prevents full power/speed in technique (but the group should recognize this and adjust accordingly).
2) Not everyone knows the form completely/well (but the group should recognize this and adjust accordingly).
3) The student(s) lack discipline and/or focus to remain part of the group (more training can fix this).
4) The student(s) are selfish – overly competitive or attention seeking (This is one that only the student can change).
5) the student(s) are disinterested – they don’t actually care about the work (This is one that only the student can change).

In the end a group form is only possible when the student(s) are willing to work together. Different ages, leadership level, and goals can affect how the student works. No matter how much time and effort put into developing techniques, there won’t be a group form unless all in the group CHOOSE to train together.

This is an important factor. The student’s choice to work with others or not goes well beyond class. How much struggle is there for getting the student to help – work together – at home? How much effort is spent trying to get the student to complete daily tasks around the house? Do they need to be prompted to do chores (clean the litter box, take out the garbage)? Do they remember what day garbage goes out? After all, it is the same day every week.

These illustrate something that cannot be taught in class. These are the behaviors taught at home. Does the family work as a team? Does the family care about supporting each other? I’ve had several phone calls asking if we take 5 and 6 year olds in class. Many wanting help with “anger issues” of the child. Since we don’t have Kid’s class, that part is an automatic, “Sorry, we don’t take students that young but [school] does.” The anger issues part, though, is something else.

If the kid won’t behave for the parents, what make the parents think that the kid will behave for me? A kid…student…training with us will benefit from ALL of the things that the martial arts are supposed to do BUT only if they actually want to learn and grow. They will also find the support of a whole new family working to the same goal of personal development.

Author: Master Robert Frankovich

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