One of the best books on throws, self-defense, and martial arts period is Tim Cartmell’s Effortless Combat Throws. He classifies throws into the basic movement the person being thrown follows: arcs, circles, or spirals. That is a much simpler classification to remember, so it seems easier to think: “what do I want my opponent to do?” than to think about a hundred details of “what do I do?”. However, I haven’t gotten to the point where I can get to something so efficiently. I think I do have to go through a process of “forms” to get to relative “formlessness”.

In that sense, yiquan’s idea of formlessness is really difficult to understand. I just don’t see how one can arrive there without learning and then sort of “forgetting” or “generalizing” or “reducing to essence” some techniques. Sure, then variations of a few basics might be much easier to understand or even create or even just do on the fly. To put it in more basic math terms, I don’t think one can start at 0. I think one has to start at 1, go to 10 (whereupon combinations will mean 100), then maybe subtract down to try to approach “0”. In the meantime, I’ll try to think about arcs, circles, and spirals.

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