Long Form 4

Long Form 4 is the signature form of Ed Parker's American Kenpo. What does it take to be the signature form of Kenpo? It has been rumored that if someone was taught Long Form 4 and only Long Form 4 and knew it inside out and understood its concepts and principles thoroughly, they would be worthy of a black belt. It also takes being the longest form in the Kenpo catalog unless your school has a master form of all the techniques. It also takes being one of the most difficult forms for the level its taught at (often for First Degree Brown Belt or First Degree Black). It also takes being one of the most thorough forms out there that covers numerous techniques on numerous angles and has a variety of difficult transitions. It is also one of the most beautiful forms because of its circular motions.

It is also a form that is used quite often in competition because its difficulty, power, and beauty are instantly seen.

Long Form 4 teaches students speed, stability, and mobility in conjunction with a wide variety of angle changes, and offensive and defensive techniques. Quite often you completely switch directions or turn three-quarters of a complete circle between techniques. In Long Form 4, you will also find many of the techniques that Kenpo was built on: Flashing Wings, Gathering Clouds, Thundering Hammers and perhaps the most "signature" technique in Kenpo's catalog- Five Swords. The techniques of Long Form 4 were designed to defend against the the most common attacks encountered on the streets. Attacks like roundhouse punches, left- right punch combinations, overhead punches, and cowboy kicks followed with a punch. Being the second technique form, it deals with the next levels of attacks, punches and kicks.

There is so much to note with Long Form 4 that much of it has been set into separate articles. Included here is a basic description of some of the things you can learn with Long Form 4 as well as things to look at when doing this form. Other articles concerning this will be tied in and linked as well.

Long Form 4

This form is supposed to be one of continuous motion, and although one of the longest forms, it is a rather beautiful forms to watch performed.

In addition, despite that the form is for a variety of punch and punch/kick combinations, it primarily uses techniques for outside your attacker's arm as opposed to inside it. Within Long Form 5, many of the counters are the same. We move to the outside of our attacker's weapon to get behind them. There are occasional techniques in Long Form 5 that do go to the inside (Falling Falcon) but primarily again, we are to move to the outside of our attacker's punch.

When doing this form, watch your angles and watch how you pivot into stances. When people do Protecting Fans, people like to make it a deep pivot with big circular parries (hey, it looks flashy!) but in essence, these parries are similar to how a boxer would react; they are short and quick and your head gets out of the way, it does not go into the next county.

After Darting Leaves, the next odd moment concerns the additional little inward block that precedes into Unfurling Crane. It is there for a reason, so when doing this form, make sure you enunciate this extra block. The purpose is that your right hand will already be in the inward block position following Darting Leaves, by adding the extra oomph as you transition into Unfurling Crane, you are showing it as a separate move. You are also showing it as an intentional move as you proceed into that technique. Unfurling Crane has a diagonal back knuckle strike at the end of it; not a vertical as many would like to do.

The entire form hits the angles from the front with attackers coming from a range between 10:30 and 1:30 and then takes the 12 o'clock - 6 o'clock line, hitting parallel lines with the twists and steps with Flashing Wings and Gathering Clouds. These attacks also come from 12 o'clock, or in the case of Gathering Clouds, one attack does come from 6 o'clock. After Gathering Clouds we begin to hit the angles from the back of the form, twisting as attackers come at us from behind us or from obscure angles for the most part. The angles range widely as attacks from 10:30 and 1:30 as well as the other angles not yet covered, but nearly all attacks come from behind us or from that obscure angle.

The Previous Forms

As you learn Long Form 4, it is always good to see relations between what we already have learned. Within this form, movement is often seen that ties to movement already learned.

What is Next?

Long Form 5, of course. Now, how does Long Form 4 relate to what we will learn in Long Form 5? For the most part, Long Form 5 does continue from where Long Form 4 left off in concerns to dealing with mass attacks and dropping our attackers to where they'll be the most beneficial in creating a positional blockade against other attackers. It also complements Long Form 4 in many ways, including the ending which is opposite.

When doing Long Form 4, the attacks start out from in front of us. As they progress, the attacks begin to come from our obscure zones and from directly behind us. This does prepare us for Long Form 5, which is the form that keeps us out of position; a reason many find Long Form 5 uncomfortable to do. The attacks from Long Form 5 come from all angles.

Some common questions:

What is the relationship between Protecting Fans and Darting Leaves?

The kick-poke in Darting Leaves (same side kick-punch) is essentially just a category completion move for the kick-punch in Protecting Fans (opposite hand and foot). As you may have noticed, Darting Leaves is not a technique in the system. It was inserted into this form for a reason.

What is the relationship between Destructive Kneel and Flashing Wings?

Destructive Kneel and Flashing Wings use the same steps (step-drag, push-drag, pivot), but we reverse our intent in the techniques to get behind our attacker or in front of our attacker.

We do a lot of front crossovers with upward blocks, both in this Form and in the later Forms. Why? What is the value of this move?

The front crossover with an upward block is the standard method in Kenpo for moving from the inside of a punch (where we have to worry about the other hand) to the outside of the punch where we can apply over a dozen techniques. It does break a rule though; we don't do two blocks on the same weapon. So you can look at the inward blocks as breaks if you hold your attacker's arm after the upward block.

What is the relationship between Reversing Circles and Unwinding Pendulum?

Unwinding Pendulum shows a downward block and-then an inward block, while Reversing Circles shows a downward block with an inward block to complete the category.

Bowing to Buddha is related to which Orange Belt technique?

Bowing to Buddha is essentially Raining Claw on the low line.

What is the relationship between Five Swords and Twirling Hammers?

Five Swords show strikes going away from the defender using push power while Twirling Hammers show strikes coming into the defender, using pull power.

What is the relationship between Flashing Wings and Twirling Hammers?

Twirling Hammers is the mirror image of Flashing Wings.

What is the relationship between Repeated Devastation in the Form, and Circling Fans in Long 4?

Repeated Devastation from Long Form 3 essentially shows the same hand action as Circling Fans in Long 4, but in Repeated Devastation, the man is behind us.