The Limits of Extremes

Here is an area of martial arts and combat that has not been worked to it's full potential. This is where an art that successfully blends the strong points of both yields combat supremacy to the trainee.

Most martial arts lean either toward the internal at one extreme (Tai Chi Chuan) or to the external at the other (most forms of Karate). By internal concepts we mean the cultivation of balance, body unity, looseness, sensitivity, alignment, gravity, momentum, efficiency, and relaxation through a highly trained nervous system that does not rely on sheer muscular exertion. By external we mean the delivery of power through gross muscular exertion.

Some of the various forms of Kung Fu attempt to develop a synthesis of the  two concepts. Most of these fall short in that the level of internal practice does not go far enough especially when a real confrontation occurs at warp speed.

Sensitivity and Grappling

A big advantage that today's grapplers and some mixed martial artists have is that they are applying one of the most important facets of internal fighting which is sensitivity. Although it may seem that these strong and often brutal fighters must be the farthest thing from sensitive, it is not true. If you examine closely you will see all of their training is up close and personal. They must be able to read when an opponent is going to move one way or another with split second timing. They must know whether or not to move one way or another or to apply strength for control or relax for an escape. This is very internal. This is also why most martial artists have a difficult time sparring with a well trained grappler.

As good as the grapplers and kung fu arts are, most of them do not create a segue between hard and soft.

This is true for a number of reasons. One of these reasons is that most of the arts are caught in the idea of learning by memorizing a particular response to a particular stimulus. Of course in the case of sport fighting you must practice this way because certain techniques are called for based on rules designed to keep participants from killing each other. Strikes and locks as delivered in sport fighting are designed to control, submit and stun--not maim, penetrate, cut or kill. To quote  Professor Brad Steiner, President of the International Combat Martial Arts Federation:

"A choice must be made. If a method can be practiced full force in a competitive venue, then obviously it lacks crippling, maiming, and killing skills — all of which, whether it is popular to say so or not, must be taught and embedded in the student’s psyche and nervous system. If a system is fully combat worthy, then any competition or full contact training in the skills (except against dummies and other insentient training aids) is nothing short of insanity."

Spontaneity is King

In extreme internal arts emphasis tends to be on strict form to the detriment of creativity and real killing strikes practiced full power against targets or half-power against uncooperative opponents. Regardless, whether sport-based martial arts or classical kung fu and karate is trained, the tendency in most styles is to stiffen the practitioner's ability to flow spontaneously with movement that approximates realistic movement in a completely free-form and un-patterned manner. While the forms and choreographed demonstrations of classic kung fu and karate seem like a mix of internal concepts with external application, the actual defenses and attacks are not based on what actually happens in a life and death altercation and when something upsets the preconceived notion, stiffness and awkwardness ensues.

This can be said about any martial art/sport that is not truly spontaneous. Again, I am also including seemingly spontaneous MMA matches because by their very nature they only allow rules-based types of attacks and defenses involving only one assailant.

What I am trying to reiterate is that in the more internal/external arts, realistic and effective flow can only happen in a natural, non-patterned way to be effective.

To practice self-defense properly you must always move in a non-cooperative, pattern-free way.

The primary principles of balance, body unity, sensitivity, looseness etc., along with the auxiliary principles of evasiveness, speed, grace, and penetration must be a constant focus while practicing under the most awkward positions whether standing or on the ground.

Most of the internal/external martial arts/sports practice with choreography or from very structured positions and postures.

I realize that in order for an art to have a specific identity the practitioners must demonstrate a particular way of moving along with certain stances. This is fine if you don't intend to go into harm's way during your life dependent on this type of training. Remember, when you are the target of a homicidal maniac or a group of thugs and you have a fraction of a second to react you'd better be right.

Cooperative vs. Non-Cooperative Training

Also, remember that nothing is a guarantee of success. We are, at least, attempting to prepare you for the chaos of a real life and death altercation where no rules apply including armed or unarmed single or multiple assailants. Even the time of day makes a difference. The weather makes a difference. Are you on a stairway or in a vehicle or asleep in bed when the nasty visit happens?

The first step toward proper training in the various arts is to have a person move from the point of cooperative movement to non-cooperative movement for at least brief periods of time.

One example of this would be to break from formal block/strike combinations and move in random loose handed attack/defense modes including attempted grapples and multiple attacker scenarios. This would allow for more creative practice. As long as proper balance, sensitivity and spontaneous movement occurs the practitioners will enhance their reality based fighting ability while not loosing their particular martial arts identity. A central tenet of this training however involves learning to listen with your skin and blend with the other's motion without technique or choreography, using only general rules of physics to guide you. Styles that emphasize this kind of training from day one are virtually non-existant.

Adding Guided Chaos Principles to What You Already Know

I consider Wing Chun to be one of the best martial arts for practicing sensitivity. In the recent past we have had the opportunity to work with highly regarded and ranked Wing Chun students and masters. In one particular case one of these talented highly skilled practitioners trained for three months. In the beginning he had difficulty in dealing with our non-cooperative form of chi sao which we call contact flow. He was used to some very powerful and very patterned movements to prevail, most of which relied on the opponent to present some structure to break down and attack. What he found was that there was nearly no discernible structure to attack.

Once he learned to relax and develop more sensitivity, his Wing Chun ability increased dramatically. He began to call it "Wild Wing Chun". He stated many times that he was having a true challenge to work in this manner. He felt that he gained all that he needed in the three months that he trained in mixing Wing Chun with Guided Chaos principles. He also demonstrated a more effective fighting ability when tested against various martial artists in our classes.

I know that much of what I say here is considered sacrilegious to most martial arts/sports but it is the truth.

Remember: It is not the martial art or sport that is lacking, it is the application of the basic principles that will enhance any of them.

Pray for peace, prepare for war


Q: My Question is during contact flow how close should we
be to our training partner?

A: You want to be all over him, constantly moving to neck-breaking range. Remember, if you have enough room to spar (just beyond reach) then you have enough room to run. Being a CO or LEO makes this difficult which is why you need to integrate batons, environmental weapons, etc. into your training.

Q (continued): My friend and co-instructor did something on Monday during class. He has a very long reach and is tall, he also kept me as well as the other students at a distance but we were closer than sparring distance. It was almost like sparring but not if you know what I mean. When I tried to close the distance he would
just move back and keep me at a distance.

A: When he moves back, you move back. If there's no engagement there's no fight. A very important concept to work is the multiple kicking (Mexican Hat dance drill) keep firing low bouncing kicks like the Rockette's while he's in range. With boots, this really gets their attention. It is important when he closes to box step in obliquely and weave like a mongoose, stay with his hands and follow them back when he retracts them. It is also vital to absolutely refuse in your training to use strength against strength (especially against a larger and stronger person). This can make your development go backwards! Get looser, softer and more sensitive and you will eventually be able to deal better with the strongest and
largest attackers (remember tho there's no getting around it: size matters). Develop a YIELDING root (from the various stepping and ninja/vac. walk drills) where you instantly abandon a rooted foot position against a powerful attacker and flip/flop to another one. This may only take a shifting from one leg to another or a tiny step in order to gain superior positioning, but you must follow yin/yang laws and be willing to, as they say in tai chai, "invest in loss" in order to make a gain. This Yielding will feel to the opponent like a trap door opened that he then falls thru while you simultaneously move in and attack at a slightly different angle. This will be clearly demonstrated in the Attackproof Companion Video Part 2
by Col. Al.

Q (continued): It was not until I stopped trying to close the distance that I was able to keep him from jamming me up and was able to strike him a few times. He is also very strong. If I was dealing with this kind of person outside of class I would just keep an eye on him and disengage. I thought that in KCD we are trying to take
our opponent's space to be unavailable but not unavoidable. Should we continue to practice this way? It seems contrary to the way contact flow should be done. I'm very loose and have great balance because I do the drills in the book. Should I attempt to box step behind him or around him when he does this or should I wait untill he decides to move forward and attack me. It seemed like riding the vortex might work in this stiuation. You see I'm always pressing the target off line and trying to be where my opponent is standing. I also thought that KCD is best suited for up close and personal fighting. I hope you understand what I'm asking.

A: This is how John demonstrates it: he backs up, you go away (keeping an eye on him). He advances, side step slightly (like a foot) if there's time  and slam him with multiple rapid fire low kicks (see the mexican hat dance demo on the APCV part 1 DVD) and stabs to the eyes. If he's on you in a flash, your close combat side step chop knee will work or at the very least your fright reaction
should deliver an elbow to the face (again, see DVD).

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