Interview with Bob Orlando, Part One

A while ago I mentioned Bob Orlando’s new DVD on “The Fighting Forms of Kuntao-Silat” Well, Bob was kind enough to answer a couple questions for me regarding this project. Here’s the first part, enjoy!

Q: Your previous material covered mainly concepts and drills of Kuntao-Silat. Why did you decide to bring out a forms video when many people nowadays feel forms are not the best tool to learn fighting applications?
A: The reason I decided on teaching those specific forms was because I learned sooooooo much from them. Further, we continue to teach forms in general because we believe they contribute to the overall effectiveness of what we do.

In my opinion what we do is extremely effective, but not for the reasons most folks might think. First, what we do is NOT effective because the chief instructor is a modern day Bruce Lee or Dan Inosanto. No. What we do is highly effective because of the system–a system where we balance drill training, self-defense techniques (only 47, believe it or not), impact- and edged-weapons training, heavy bag work, and forms practice and study.
For clarity’s sake; We do not spar. This is because many of our techniques are simply too dangerous. No, we’re not claiming to be the baddest school, but a realistic kick to your partner’s knee that penetrates just one inch too deep can result in serious knee surgery and subsequent lengthy recovery for the student. Not a good thing.

Q: What’s the main message you’d like people to remember from the DVD?
A: Specific benefits gleaned from forms training are:

  • Serious leg strengthening and conditioning
  • Improved ability to move from position to position and stance to stance
  • As a solo training tool.

When we practice forms we generally practice them very strictly. For example, when dropping into a horse, the stance would be a little deeper than what you would use in a fight. Our feet would be approximately a shoulder-width and a half apart and they would be parallel to each other. Our weight would also be more toward the toes than the heels. (We generally practice all of our stances deeper which really strengthens the legs). That stance work, coupled with being able to move fluidly through various training stances in practice means that moving through the same stances in the street under the adrenaline rush of a fight (where they won’t be anything near as deep) will be a piece of cake. For me, those reasons alone make forms training worthwhile. But there remains the solo training benefit.

How often are we teachers asked, “What can I practice when I am out of town?” I am asked that a lot! Doubtless, you know my answer: Practice Forms. For those of us that shoot firearms regularly, dry fire (practicing handgun control and trigger pull with an empty weapon) is frankly, boring; but I cannot think of a cheaper way to practice (bullets are getting more expensive) and a more critical skill that is developed. It is no stretch to call “dry fire” practice “Form Training” for the shootist. Simply put, it provides a critical part to well rounded firearms training. (Sounds a lot like what “Forms Training” provides the martial artist, doesn’t it).

One of my students, Ron Richardson, said it very well when he said: “Forms, like techniques, teach principles – principles that you might not pick up from doing, say, bag work. Forms training allows you to think outside the proverbial box and to explore movements and fighting strategies. That alone makes forms training a valuable learning tool.”

I’m not the smartest guy in the world, but I train with some REALLY smart guys!

Click here for Part Two

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