One form, one kill- IKF August 2007

ikf-august-2007Inside Kung-Fu

“One Form, One Kill!”

By Michael Janich

August 2007

Pg. 32-36

One of the longest standing controversies in the martial arts in the value – or lack thereof – of traditional solo forms. To hardcore traditionalists, forms are the heart of an art and carry with them all the secrets of its combat application. They also supposedly allow the practice of techniques that are so deadly they cannot be practiced with a partner.

To the modern, combatives-oriented martial artist, forms are anachronistic, overly stylized and do not support the kind of contact-based training that is necessary to develop real fighting skill.

No matter which side of the fence you’re on, most martial artists agree that when it comes to relating the movements of a solo form to combative application, a lot gets lost in the translation. In fact, the only way to truly relate the movements of a particular form and their original, prescribed function is to have learned them both simultaneously from the founder of the art in question.

For traditional styles whose founders are not longer with us, we have no choice but to rely on the instruction – and invariably the interpretation – of their students. Unfortunately, like most things, the farther you get from the source, the less accurate the material. When you factor that some instructors have altered the applications of their arts to either purposely hide or, in some cases, arbitrarily change their function and relationship between form and function becomes pretty tenuous.


Short of a séance seminar with departed masters, the best means of relating movement to combat application is to establish a parallel structure of form and function from the ground up. This ensures that the meaning and combative significance of every motion is clearly understood every step of the way. Done well, it also promotes a much deeper understanding of the true relationship between movement and fighting function. This approach is the foundation of “Argument of Movement,” a revolutionary approach to self-defense training developed by Joseph Simonet.

Simonet is no stranger to traditional martial arts training. An eight-degree black belt in Tracy’s Kenpo, a black-sash-level practitioner of wing chun and a certified instructor of Yang-style taijiquan, doce pares eskrima, eskrido and Indonesian penjak silat, his 35-plus years of martial arts training have included the practice, mastery and analysis of dozens of forms. Yet despite this extensive experience, in every traditional art he studied there was always a high degree of ambiguity when it came to translating form to combat application.

“All worthwhile training should have a clear purpose,” Simonet explains. “If I am going to spend hours of my training time practicing a movement or series of movements, I want to know exactly what it does and how to apply it in a fight. I also want to know that now, not five or 10 years from now when I’ve ‘mastered’ a form.”

Simonet’s curriculum is built upon an in-depth analysis of all the arts he’s studied with a focus on linking them at a conceptual, functional level. The overall curriculum is known as “KI Fighting Concepts,” but the two primary building blocks of the system are a series of two-person drills and forms called the “Argument of Movement” and the “Art and Science of Mook Jong” – solo form that utilizes the wooden dummy most closely associated with wing chun gung-fu.


Argument of Movement consists of two phases: Defend, Neutralize, Annihilate (DNA) and Seamless Transitional Integration. DNA is the form portion of the training, but unlike traditional solo forms, it was specifically developed as a two-person sequence of movement.

“Developing the form from the ground up as a two-person format maintained a focus on functional structure and practical application,” notes Simonet. “This eliminates the ambiguity and speculation that makes many traditional solo forms almost meaningless as a reference for combat application.”

Structuring DNA as a two-person form also allows it, by design, to have both an “A” and a “B” side. Rather than one partner simply serving as a punching bag for the other, the DNA form teaches and promotes the idea that, in a real fight, your opponent will actively counter your technique. Learning how to accept and overcome that is a key process in learning how to fight. The DNA drill gives you that experience and teaches you how to counter your own techniques. In this way, you not only identify the potential weaknesses of your techniques and perfect them to greatest degree, but you also learn how to immediately re-counter your opponent and flow into a back-up or series of back-up techniques.

Similarly, training both sides of the form helps you experience all the movements from both perspectives and refines your understanding of the energy, structure, strengths and weaknesses of every move. Nothing is left to speculation; it either works or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, it’s because it’s been countered and your job – as taught by the sequence of the form – is to react to the counter, flow past it and win the fight.


Once the DNA form is learned as a basic sequence, it is practiced with greater intensity and with different energy levels to simulate different types of self-defense scenarios. One practice run might allow the “A” player’s counters to determine the pace and intensity of the flow, in the spirit of traditional one-step sparring. In another run, the “B” side might emphasize his counters and take a much more aggressive role. This forces the “A” player to perfect his initial techniques, immediately recognize their counters, and quickly respond with a back-up technique.

The second phase of the Argument of Movement is a series of partner training drills designed to isolate and develop the individual skills that are the functional core of the DNA techniques. These drills include refined versions of some well-known training methods like Filipino hubud-lubud and wing chun’s chi sau, but they also include a number of drills that Simonet has developed to hone specific combative skills and reflexes. “The drills I have included in my curriculum are designed to allow training partners to focus on specific core skills, reflexes and structures,” he notes. “By isolating them and practicing them in a format that allows both high numbers of repetitions and high intensity, you develop usable combative skill very efficiently.”

Some self-defense practitioners might argue that practicing drills only makes students good at the drills themselves, not at fighting; however, Simonet’s method also has an answer for that.

“Once a student becomes comfortable with several different drills, we take him out of that comfort zone by introducing integration of the drills,” he explains. “He may start out doing one drill, but in the flow of the movement I initiate a transition to another drill. His job is to recognize the change, respond with an immediate defensive reaction, and instantly flow into the new drill pattern.”


As the name indicates, Seamless Transitional Integration is a structured training method that programs a fighter to seamlessly transition from one drill to another. Each of these transitions is prompted by a different stimulus – either visual or physical – than that “expected” based on the sequence of the drill. Dealing with the new stimulus effectively programs incredibly quick reflexes and ultimately helps a fighter react to virtually any attack from practically any situation.

Once a student is adept at both the DNA form and the individual training drills, the next step is to integrate their functions and explore spontaneous applications and combinations. This is done by isolating portions of the DNA drill, cross-referencing them with the drills that fuel their structure and reflexes and experimenting to unlock and discover other combative functions. In the process, students learn to recognize and emphasize structures, reference points and physical relationships, and immediately seize those opportunities to take control of a self-defense situation.

The other key element of Simonet’s approach is wood dummy training – specifically the mook jong “Slam Set” form he developed. “

“Mook jong training is the most effective form of solo training because it enables you to practice all your movements realistically and with full force,” relates Simonet. “Unlike hitting a heavy bag, the structure of the mook jong allows you to strike, grab, block, parry and effectively simulate almost any technique that can be done to a person. The fact that its structure does not exactly match the physiology of a human body also forces the student to bridge the gap between the dummy expression of a technique and its application on a live person, promoting a deeper understanding of the relationship between form and function.”

When performed at speed, Simonet’s Slam Set is a one-minute form that distills all the key structures and movement patterns of his decades of training. Predictably, it also provides a parallel structure that complements the Argument of Movement training methodology and allows a student to recognize, understand and apply all the key anatomical structures and physical principles that fuel effective fighting technique.

Ultimately, a real fight truly is an argument of movement. And like any argument, the more articulate, fluent, and adaptable you are, the better your chances of emerging victorious. Joseph Simonet’s powerful combination of form and application training teaches the language of combat quickly and effectively and provides a logical and definite link between martial form and fighting function.


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