Bob Orlando on forms

Take a look at this video of Bob Orlando teaching the Chow Kuen form:


Now, head on over to Bob’s site to read this great article on form training so you can get some insights on how he sees forms and why he teaches them.

Some thoughts:

  • First you see Bob walking his students through the form. He explains the key points they have to pay attention to while also making some individual corrections. This is a good teaching tool because some students always look at the wrong thing when they watch the teacher. By talking them through it too, he can explain what they should be looking out for.
  • Next he shows how to take the techniques from the form and use them against a specific attack. This is the most difficult part of teaching forms because students often lack the mental framework and experience to make the right connections between form and application.
  • I really like how he emphasizes that you only need to do some minor adaptations to make a technique work in real life when you take it from a form. The only thing you need to do is understand the form, the techniques and what their purpose is.
  • Perhaps the most important point he makes is that the form places you in the middle of the possibilities. This is something my Tai Chi Chuan teacher also emphasized when I started in that art and it makes perfect sense to me. The form is just the form; it is not the application. You’re supposed to tweak and modify it for street self-defense. That’s the whole point. But it’s so often lost on people.

I’ve been fortunate to have Bob as my teacher. Not only because of the skill he has but even more because of how well he teaches his art. This clip doesn’t do him justice so you’ll have to take my word on it: the man is an amazing teacher.

In my opinion, that’s mostly because of his analytical approach to martial arts. He breaks things down into little pieces and then re-organizes everything in such a way that it makes more sense than before. This is in sharp contrast to some of the other teachers I’ve met. Though they were highly skilled martial artists, they had a very chaotic way of teaching. This made learning their art difficult. Not impossible, but more difficult than it should have been.

Anyway, Bob has a bunch of books and videos I highly recommend. You won’t go wrong in getting these, even if you train in another art. I specifically recommend this one: Indonesian Fighting Fundamentals – The Brutal Arts Of The Archipelago by Bob Orlando

It’s available as a “Scruffy book” on the Paladin Press website until May 15th. After that, you pay the full price again so don’t delay and get your copy right away.


Become a Patron and get access to unique content: my newsletter, instructional videos, violence analysis and much more!


  1. Bob Orlando is an excellent martial artist, and true professional. Would highly recommend any of his material based on what I’ve see so far. Good post.

  2. Cool article.

Speak Your Mind