I do agree with them on some points, as I believe most MA schools have lost touch with the purpose of the forms. Seeing as the art I do, Silat Zulfikari, is firmly based in jurus, or meta-movement forms, how do I address this?
Well, first, jurus are not a series of techniques you string together. There is no concept of “if he does this, you respond with technique X”. Jurus are used for two very important aspects, IMO.
They give you away to practice movement, by yourself, in isolation, to concentrate on the dynamics of that movement. You have to have a way to get your body used to moving in certain ways, and remaining in balance, and be able to control your center, and generate power.
Jurus teach all of this. They also allow you to feel where you may be screwing up a technique,
or movement. No Silat teacher worth his salt expects the movements to be used in the same context, or order that they are found in the juru, it is a training tool, especially when paired with the practice of langkah, or lower body meta-movements.
I use jurus to teach alignment of your body, the full range of effective motion you are capable of using in a given movement, and logical movement chains. Logical movement chains are no more than the concept of what movements will logicaly follow the previous one. It would not make sense to follow a straight punch with a with a spinning backfist, so a juru will teach you a more logical follow up, like a clearing motion, or an elbow attack.
Jurus also provide a way for you to practice the movement by yourself, when you have no training partners.Now, The proper way to train jurus is different from teacher to teacher. Guru Mushtaq has talked about being able to perform randon juru chains of different jurus, on verbal command, which, to me makes sense for a couple reasons. It teaches you to respond to different challenges and commands. Instead of just concentrating on performing juru 1, I now have to perform it, and listen for the command to switch to the second half of juru 3. This also avoids becoming locked into by rote performance of the jurus.
Jurus also become the basis where we derive all the movements for drills, buah(application), and where the fighting technique comes from. Not only do jurus teach the techniques, but they teach the timing, distance, structure, and base required to use them effectively.
As you can see, jurus are a very difficult subject to put into one article. They are the basis of silat, but not the straight jacket that kata or forms have become in more traditional arts. You see, Silat in general is a village based art, designed to take the villagers from no skill, to being able to defend the village from any attacker that may come. You will not know who, or what the attacker is, so you need effective movement to deal with it. Does that sound familiar?
Kind of sounds like a Self Defense scenario, eh? But, when you have limited time to teach and train, due to life, you don’t waste time on needless formality, and strict adherence to perfect, carbon copy form. You teach the form, and let the student make it his/her own. They also teach deception, decoying, weapons usage, and alot more, but that is something better experienced than read about.
I always remember the words of an Indonesian man, interviewed for Inside Kung-Fu’s article on the great Rudy TerLinden of Ratu Adil Silat. I am Paraphrasing, but he said jurus teach you how to move, and be flexible. And the rest is up to you.