Appreciation Forms


by John Miller

Introduction

In October 2017 I had the opportunity to visit a black belt test at the school attended by one of my daughter’s friends. Early in the test, the students were required to execute a series of “appreciation forms.” These looked a little goofy at first; they were almost entirely hand techniques (although the later forms included some stance changes).

After careful consideration, I came to realize that these forms actually offered a lot of value to both the student and the instructor. Their compact nature makes them suitable for use when traveling, when only a limited space may be available. They may be executed a low-energy, low-impact internal (Taijiquan-like) manner, unlike many conventional forms that depend upon dynamic balance (as for example when executing kicks or jumps); this makes them especially suitable for people who are experiencing or recovering from physical impediments. They allow a special focus on hand techniques by isolating them from the overall movement of the forms, making them suitable for remedial work with students (the distinction between low punch and low block comes most immediately to mind).

An online survey of “appreciation forms” shows that there is no consistency in the forms across schools; indeed even when two schools are doing forms that are recognizably supposed to be the same, they still differ in details of execution and even sometimes in the omission of certain moves. In addition, each school’s appreciation forms seem tailored to the techniques particular to that school (for example, whether chambering is done in a covered core, cup-and-saucer, or dynamic tension position).

Consequently, rather than present any pre-existing series of “appreciation forms” here, I am proposing a set of exercises with the same philosophical objectives as the appreciation forms, but specifically geared to the Mountain Academy techniques, and organized in parallel to the progression of our standard forms through Passai. The earlier sets principally work the techniques in isolation, but the later sets work combinations of techniques that commonly appear together in the forms. With very few exceptions, the sets involve stance changes but no motion.

Because I tend to obsess about those sorts of things, I have provided Korean nomenclature for many of the techniques.
Unless otherwise noted, in all the techniques that follow each step should begin with an inhale and be completed with an exhale timed to coincide with the block, strike, or other technique. Exceptions are specifically noted in a couple places where remedial attention has historically been needed for students who confuse the purpose of certain moves.

Set 1: Blocks (Makgi)

A drill covering the basic blocks of the Mountain Academy forms. Omits knife hand blocks and the more complicated cross, scissor, double outside, and reinforced blocks. Adds the forearm block.
Begin at ready stance (joon bi seogi).

      1. Step into horse stance (jo choom seogi). Chamber the fists on either side of the waist.
      2. Covered core to left up block (ulgool makgi).
      3. Covered core to right up block right.
      4. Covered core to left down block left (arae makgi).
      5. Covered core to right down block right.
      6. Look left. Covered core, pivot 90 degrees left into left back stance (dwi kubi seogi), left inside-out block (bakat makgi).
      7. Look right. Covered core, pivot 180 degrees right into right back stance, right inside-out block.
      8. Look left. Covered core, pivot 90 degrees left into horse stance, left forearm block (bakat palmok makgi).
      9. Covered core, left fist chambered by left ear, left ouside-in block (an makgi).
      10. Covered core, right forearm block.
      11. Covered core, right fist chambered by right ear, right outside-in block.
      12. Return to horse stance, fists chambered on either side of waist.

Baro.

Set 2: Punches and Strikes (Jireugi and Chigi)

A drill covering the basic punches and strikes of the Mountain Academy forms. This drill omits techniques other than punches and palm heel strikes. Targets are: high – to opponent’s nose; middle – to sternum body; lower – to trunk directing force downward through trunk toward base of spine.
Begin at ready stance.

      1. Step into horse stance. Chamber the fists on either side of the waist at belt height.
      2. High punch left. High punch right.
      3. Low punch left. Low punch right.
      4. Middle punch left. Middle punch right.
      5. High palm heel strike left. High palm heel strike right.
      6. Middle palm heel strike left. Middle palm heel strike right.
      7. Look left, twist trunk counterclockwise, untwist and punch left.
      8. Look right, twist trunk clockwise, untwist and punch right.
      9. Return to horse stance, fists chambered on either side of waist.

Baro.

Set 3: Ki Cho Hyung Techniques

A drill covering the principal blocking and punching techniques of the Ki Cho Hyung as taught at the Mountain Academy (Ech Chan Cho Bu, Ech Chan E Bu, Ech Chan Shim Bu). The particular focus in this set is proper distinction between punches and blocks in both purpose and execution. The alternation between block and strike with opposing arms early in the set is intended to help this, as is the use of the horse stance instead of the front stance. Low blocks should be carried far out to the knee (farther than would be typical in a front stance) to emphasize the difference in arm placement from a low punch. This set includes a single step left/right into front stance to emphasize a problem in Ech Chan Shim Bu needing special attention (the erroneous addition of extra punches after the inside-out blocks early in the form).
Begin at ready stance.

      1. Step into horse stance. Chamber the fists on either side of the waist at belt height.
      2. Covered core, left down block.
      3. Right low punch, rechambering left.
      4. Covered core, right down block.
      5. Left low punch, rechambering right.
      6. Covered core, left up block.
      7. Right high punch, rechambering left.
      8. Covered core, right up block.
      9. Left high punch, rechambering right.
      10. Look left. Covered core, pivot 90 degrees left into left back stance, left inside-out block.
      11. Inhale while extending and rotating left arm preparatory for a step-punch.
      12. Step forward into right front stance, exhale with right middle punch.
      13. Look right. Covered core, step around 180 degrees right into right back stance, right inside out block.
      14. Inhale while extending and rotating right arm preparatory for a step-punch.
      15. Step forward into left front stance, exhale with left middle punch.
      16. Return to horse stance, fists chambered on either side of waist.

Baro.

Set 4: Pyong Ahn Hyung Techniques 1

This set focuses on new hand techniques introduced in Pyong Cho Dan and Pyong E Dan, as well as knife hand techniques used in the knife hand and elbow technicals.
Begin at ready stance.

      1. Step into horse stance. Chamber the fists on either side of the waist at belt height.
      2. Covered core, single left knife hand down block (han sonnol arae makgi) (chamber right).
      3. Covered core, single right knife hand middle block (han sonnol momtong makgi) (chamber left).
      4. Covered core, single left knife hand up block (han sonnol ulgool makgi) (chamber right).
      5. Covered core, single right knife hand down block (chamber left).
      6. Covered core, single left hand middle block (chamber right).
      7. Covered core, single right hand up block (chamber left).
      8. Covered core, left hand to left ear, left inverted knife hand strike (chamber right).
      9. Covered core, left hand to right shoulder, left knife hand strike (chamber right).
      10. Covered core, right hand to right ear, right inverted knife hand strike (chamber left).
      11. Covered core, right hand to left shoulder, right knife hand strike (chamber left).
      12. Covered core, left hand to right shoulder, left knife hand strike to left side (chamber right).
      13. Bring left heel to right heel “side stance,” hammer fist left.
      14. Crane stance (left foot up), cup-and-saucer right, step into left back stance with double forearm block left.
      15. Rotate left foot back into horse stance. Covered core, left hand to right shoulder, right knife hand strike to right side (chamber left).
      16. Bring right heel to left heel “side stance,” hammer fist right.
      17. Crane stance (right foot up), cup-and-saucer left, step into right back stance with double forearm block right.
      18. Extend arms right, pivot 180 degrees counterclockwise into left back stance, double left knife hand low block.
      19. Extend arms left, pivot 180 degrees clockwise into right back stance, double knife hand low block.
      20. Pivot 90 degrees counterclockwise back to horse stance, fists chambered on either side of waist.

Baro.

Set 5: Pyong Ahn Hyung Techniques 2

This set focuses on new techniques introduced in Pyong Sam Dan and Pyong Sa Dan, including the spear hand, the scissors block, and various forms of reinforced blocks.
Begin at ready stance.

      1. Step into horse stance. Chamber the fists on either side of the waist at belt height.
      2. Covered core, inside-out left.
      3. Punching down block right.
      4. Scissors block (kawi makgi). Scissors block.
      5. Covered core, inside-out right.
      6. Punching down block left.
      7. Scissors block. Scissors block.
      8. Cup-and-saucer right. Pivot 90 degrees into left back stance, reinforced inside-out left (geodeureo makgi).
      9. Cup-and-saucer left. Pivot 180 degrees clockwise into right back stance, reinforced inside-out right.
      10. Extend arms right, pivot 180 degrees counterclockwise into left back stance, double left knife hand middle block.
      11. Left hand pushing down block, step forward into right front stance right spear hand.
      12. Step back with right foot into cross stance (right behind left) (kkoa seogi), reinforced inside out right.
      13. Extend arms to left, step around 180 degrees clockwise into right back stance, double knife hand middle block.
      14. Right hand pushing down block, step forward into left front stance left spear hand.
      15. Step back with left foot into cross stance (left behind right), reinforced inside out left.
      16. Step back 90 degrees counterclockwise into horse stance, fists chambered on either side of waist.

Baro.

Set 6: Pyong Ahn Hyung Techniques 3

This set includes techniques introduced in Pyong O Dan, as well as a few techniques from Passai.
Begin at ready stance.

      1. Step into horse stance. Chamber the fists on either side of the waist at belt height.
      2. Left pressing down block (nulleo makgi), san chen.
      3. Right middle punch, pivot into left diagonal stance (mo seogi), right back fist. Pivot into horse stance, left middle punch, pivot into right diagonal stance, left back fist.
      4. Pivot into horse stance, right pressing down block, san chen.
      5. Left middle punch, pivot into right diagonal stance, left back fist. Pivot into horse stance, right middle punch, pivot into left diagonal stance, right back fist.
      6. Pivot into horse stance, right cup-and-saucer, low cross block (arae otgoreo makgi).
      7. Rechamber at chest, high cross block (ulgool otgoreo makgi).
      8. Roll left hand under right, left knife hand strike (chamber right).
      9. Left cup-and-saucer, low cross block.
      10. Rechamber at chest, high cross block.
      11. Roll right hand under left, right knife hand strike (chamber left).
      12. Cover core, hammer fist right, elbow strike left, step into cross stance (right behind left) with reinforced left back fist.
      13. Step out with right into horse stance.
      14. Cover core, hammer fist left, elbow strike right, step into cross stance (left behind right) with reinforced right back fist.
      15. Step out with left into horse stance.
      16. Pivot into left back stance, inside-out left.
      17. Step into parallel stance (narani seogi) with right foot, right short punch left elbow strike.
      18. Step out right into right back stance, groin strike left, chop right.
      19. Inside-out right.
      20. Step into parallel stance (narani seogi) with left foot, left short punch right elbow strike.
      21. Step out right into left back stance, groin strike right, chop left.
      22. Pivot 90 degrees counterclockwise into horse stance, fists chambered on either side of waist.

Baro.

Conclusion

The sets outlined here are in the way of a proposal for extra training tools. I envision them being used as a remedial tool for students having difficulty with a particular set of techniques, as a training drill for students who have limited space outside of the dojang, or as a way to work techniques without the risk of tedium that can occur when repeating the same block fifty times over. By isolating the techniques in groups based on forms, I have tried to make them more focused on varying skill levels.

The acid test is the degree to which they prove useful to other instructors. As I plan to refine these over.