Via Potentia ~ Modern Self Defense Training

Our next free seminar on self defense and physical conditioning is Friday, July 29 from 6 - 9 PM. Call or email to confirm availability and save a space.

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Forms-practice is a routine part of Via Potentia (but secondary to sparring and grappling). However, our forms differ from common martial arts forms in a few ways:

  1. We recognize and readily admit that forms practice is not immediately relevant to self defense. Self defense training requires heavy contact with other people and heavy bag work (which we do extensively).
  2. We do not pretend that our forms simulate fighting multiple opponents -- in fact, we are very clear regarding how forms are (and aren't) useful. No "fantasy" techniques that have no hope of working in real life. This is built-into the forms, since they consist of the techniques taught during the term in question, and beginning terms focus on practical, self-defense techniques.
  3. We practice forms with as realistic movements and stances as possible, rather than overly rigid or formalized stances.
  4. We do not assign any philosophical relevance to the forms, but constructed them to act as an encyclopedia of moves learned, to assist with neuro-muscular memory. We arranged them by compiling combinations that have proven to be effective in real conflicts or competitions.
  5. Though forms are part of our practice and testing, we do not require form perfection to advance.
  6. We expect the forms to appear slightly different when practiced by different people, as they are adapted to each person's body, size and abilities.
  7. Whereas other systems have simple beginning forms that emphasize precision of movement and stance (but impractical techniques), our emphasis is upon practical combinations so that participants learn to flow moves together as soon as possible. Consequently, our forms are extremely complex relative to other martial arts in terms of the number of different techniques, and take 1-2 minutes each to complete.

Following are videos of our three beginning forms, performed slowly for demonstration:

Autumn Beginning Form ~ Primus (1st)

(As if responding to strikes coming from the front)
Outside high block step slide (s-s) back
Lead hand check/clear downward, reverse downward hammer fist to clavicle s-s forward
Lead hand drags to inside, outside elbow to head s-s forward
Reverse down block s-s back while lifting lead leg to check kick
Clear path with leading hand and reverse pincer strike to neck
Reverse side kick to lower abdomen (!)

(As if grabbed from behind)
Back leg stomp
Head butt back
Break out forward, elbow strike back s-s back
Back kick!

Breakfall forward
Reverse sitout to right
Back kick with right foot
Forward roll over left shoulder to back (with right arm stop) as if in scarf (rolling perpendicular to form path, to west)
Twist body, pulling left shoulder/elbow to floor
Trap with left hand, with right hand shove head back and hook head with right leg
Extend leg and sit up into side mount facing west
Right elbow strike downward to head
Half sit-out/kickover to assume front mount - now back inline with form direction, facing north
Left hand clears defending hands
Right hand pincer to neck
Forward right shoulder roll to standing, right leg forward

Two-arm circular grab clear
Reverse knife strike to neck/shoulder
Rising palm strike s-s forward
Side kick!

Turn around, reversing stance and hands, and repeat

Winter Beginning Form ~ Secundus (2nd)

Double hand outside (wall) block
Rising elbow strike to chin or xiphoid s-s forward
Right hand grab, left hand palm strike to xiphoid with s-s forward
Two hand grab and reverse knee! (to body)
Two-hand push

Reverse high guard
Leading inward palm hook to head
Reverse inward forearm/fist strike
Reverse front kick

Breakfall backward
Heel strike to instep, knee, lower abdomen (right, left, right)
Two inside blocks
(As if mounted) Trap, bridge and kickover with right leg into opponent's guard, now facing east relative to form direction
Right hand palm strike to abdomen
Hold abdomen/hips down with left hand
Femoral pass right
Drive shoulder into chest, reverse twist to clear guard into side mount, now facing north
Right knee to head (knockout)
Forward roll to back (as if someone on back with seatbelt hold)
Clear right hook and twist out to right - left leg goes underneath, now facing west in side mount

Sideways/backward roll to right knee - facing north again
High block and reverse spear to femoral nerve area
Stand up to straight palm strike
Snap kick (skipping)
Upward reverse elbow strike
Grab back of head and reverse knee to head

Inside block s-s back
Low reverse palm strike
Clear path and spear hand
Front kick! land facing reverse


Spring Beginning Form ~ Tertius (3rd)

Inward block (parry) s-s back, shift head to dodge strike
These three moves should flow together:
- Raking claw to face
- Inward reverse elbow strike to side of head
- Reverse roundhouse kick to thigh
Outward knife hand strike to neck, grab back of head or shoulder
Reverse inward crescent kick to head
Inward elbow strike to head
Double trap/block chain, clearing fence, with leading vertical punch, simultaneous step-slide!

Elbow spike down (as if defending a tackle)
Side fall to back/left
Left leg trip kick
Two shrimp escapes (right/left)
Clear arms with right arm, grab head and break down posture with left hand, right elbow spike to shoulder
Shove back face, plant feet on hips or body and launch
Defensive standup with right foot forward

Outward crescent kick to arm
Reverse roundhouse kick (targeting lower ribs)
Inward block
Reverse vertical punch to xyphoid!

Reverse outward block (grabbing arm)
Inward elbow strike (to arm)
Rising block
Reverse straight claw (to face)
Outward hammer fist (to jaw or side of head)
Reverse roundhouse kick! (to head) land facing reverse


Other Comments

The primary purpose of these beginner forms is to help people develop good stance habits and repetitively practice self defense moves so as to develop familiarity and speed with the techniques.

Though the kicks in the forms and videos are ideally at different levels -- foot stomps, knee, thigh, groin, abdomen, ribs and head -- we do not expect beginners to be able to kick above waist level.

We also have intermediate forms, which emphasize sport techniques, and advanced forms that are nearly insane in their technical difficulty and focus on demonstration. Our forms may change subtly over time as we analyze how they can be improved to better help participants develop effective skills. For example, the beginning forms were revised in 2010 based on analysis and input regarding ways they could be changed to help beginners better incorporate dual arm movement and more realistic ground techniques.

Tips for Beginners

We welcome comments, questions and suggestions for improvement.
Via Potentia, 805 NW Alder St., McMinnville OR 97128
Telephone: 503-437-3450

Copyright Via Potentia. All Rights Reserved. Consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program; consult a lawyer before making a legal decision. All information provided on this web site or otherwise by Via Potentia is provided for educational/informative purposes only, is subject to correction, and should not be considered legal, medical or other professional advice. Use at your own risk.

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