Kung Fu, time-honoured traditions, rethinking the DNA of 12 animation principles

The ‘12 principles’ are embedded within the history of animation, animation education, and the way animation is produced. We might redefine these principles as being the ‘DNA’ of animation; the fundamental building blocks we use to review, refine and enhance animation. Traditional Kung Fu martial art systems also base their fundamental instruction on building blocks: understanding how the body moves in the context of martial applications; developing skills based on observation and complex body movements. But how is this connected to animation pedagogy? This paper discusses the interdisciplinary relationship between these respective fundamentals and offers comparative thoughts on how they can help us reconsider models of animation education. The paper will also examine how we can repurpose movement analysis from Kung Fu to the context of animation education. The discussion will focus firstly on how these connections are introduced to a group of first year BA Animation students, and secondly on a pilot scheme where a small group of students are inducted into fundamental Kung Fu training principles, discussed and performed with attention to the perspective of animation. The animation exercise they produce in response to this will evidence this symbiotic relationship and allow us to review its successes and failures. Finally we will conclude by asking questions on the legitimacy of this re-contextualisation of the fundamental principles of animation.

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