2014 Apr 18
During my martial arts career, I've learned that if you simply want to "learn that form" or "learn those techniques," that is exactly what you will do. You will learn how to perform something - much like a dance routine. Many young martial artists focus on exactly that - performing requirements for a test or demonstration correctly. That isn't necessarily a bad thing as it is part of the journey to discovery. Through repetition you build muscle memory, but the real trianing starts when you bring the brain to play as well!
By visualizing the technique being used on an opponent, you are adding a mental component to your performance. Practicing and performing with the correct intensity and intent makes your performance become less of a dance recital and more of a simulated fight. (That is what you are taught that forms are, right?) If you are simulating a fight every time you practice, you are closer to "training."
Training involves learning how a technique works, why it works, and what it works for. Training is taking "movements" and making them "techniques." This allows you to know you don't have to do a jump-spinning kick to get a punch out of your face. Training also lets you know when you can simply side-step a punch rather than make any kind of contact at all. Why? Because you've been simulating these situations over and over whenever you practice.
Traveling this path eventually leads you to discovery. What are you going to discover? I don't know. It's different for everyone. That being said, you should find that small discoveries add up into larger ones. Whether it is something that makes you reach an few more inches in a kick, a way to adapt a technique to a different situation, or something that changes how you do every technique you've ever been taught, your discoveries are what makes you the martial artist that you are.
Embrace what you discover. Practice it. Improve it. When it has become part of your "style," share it with your training partners. They may have made the same discovery, or maybe they have discovered something else that relates to yours. Training with others helps you (and your school) mature in the art and develop a style to call your own.