In a recent post on his blog Ross Enamait complains about Form Police in regards to criticisms on the performance of someone lifting 300lb in single arm dumbbell raises. His point is that sometimes you need to go for broke and form is not important at that moment. If you read what he says you’ll see that he puts forward a very decent argument, there are also some interesting comments.
Further, Form Police grievances in the traditional martial arts camp, where form is paramount, run along similar lines. The assumption is that aesthetics are important and that we should strive for perfect technique. Students will be corrected to the nth degree; a hand adjusted here, a stance corrected there even just by a few centimetres. This ensures tidy technique performed in tidy lines working in unison to produce a nice tidy all-kicking, all-punching dojo. If you spend any time on Karate Underground Forum, you will notice this view popping up over and over again.
Emphasis on aesthetics, or form, as Ross says is fine if you’re being judged on it in a competition, but when you’re performing the aforementioned lift, it’s not a huge issue. There may be very good reasons to prioritise over form in lifting and marital arts, for that matter. I once interviewed a friend of mine, a bodybuilder, for a module at University. He was telling me about how he prepared for a lift, a big lift. It was ALL about the lift, shutting down the senses and going for it. He would even do just one repetition; this was to prove to himself he could lift that PR in a given lift. This was an important psychological success, which outweighed (excuse the pun) concerns about form. Of course, he didn’t want to lift dangerously, so form didn’t go completely out of the window.
In martial arts, attention to form is important to a degree, of course. We want to avoid injury while producing as much power as possible. So rather than concentrating on perfecting the form of the kick and ending up with something akin to this, which while showing great balance and looking very pretty it will not get you knockout power like this or even this. So in this instance, at the very least, the Form Police would, by insisting on aesthetics, ensure we had a sub-optimal kick if we ever need to “go for broke”. That’s the trouble with emphasising form over function, the goalposts are moved in a sub-optimal direction.