The Fog of Fear

A person must understand that when attacked suddenly they will, in the vast majority of cases, experience all of the Tachy Psyche phenomena that has been often described by all of the experts on close quarters battle. This is why I teach Point Shooting before Aimed fire (this is a subject for a whole other article). This is also why I teach the most basic World War II style hand-to-hand methodology for beginners and why we constantly drill extreme multi-hitting drop-step drills (using Guided Chaos "Dropping Energy") against one and multiple targets at warp speed with all of the distractions for sight, balance and hearing, including being hit from all sides.

This does not preclude training the development of internal concepts (as is found in arts such as tai chi, bagu, hsing i and Guided Chaos) as many orthodox-close-quarters-combat-only proponents contend. When you add the extreme balance, body unity, looseness and energy sensitivity training of the internal systems you will find that even in extremis you will enhance your ability to carry out the basic hand, elbow, foot, knee, head, palm strikes to the most vulnerable parts of the attacker's body.

Can More Coordinated Movements Be Carried Out Under Extreme Duress?

Do you think that Barishnikov would slip and fall just as easily as an untrained man when running for his life? Don't you think that a well trained circus performer would be better able to evade and strike an attacker with whatever he could get his hands on?

How many old folks were saved during falls because they knew tai chi?

When I was 10 years old me and my friend John Sinatra were attacked by a huge mentally disabled 25 year old psycho. He had us up against a wall while we were wearing roller skates. He and his sick buddies decided to hit me and my friend hard in the solar plexus. My friend went down and I was knocked into the wall behind me and remained unhurt because, though I was literally crapping my pants, I fell into my basic training and absorbed when struck. i didn't respond with a block or rely on "abs of steel" (which wouldn't work anyway). I guess that if I had learned to skate faster that would have helped also.

Is Relaxation Possible Under Duress?

When a missile goes straight at you and you get a glimpse of it do you go into a spasmodic striking attack of the object or do you evade it? If one goes toward your head causing you to duck and the next one goes toward your head from a lower angle, don't you just drop to the floor? Yes you can and so will most folks. Yes you are not completely relaxed but to accomplish the task properly you cannot tighten up and accomplish the task at hand.

If during an attack you have a split second of time to evade the first blow, wouldn't it be great to have the extra capability of balancing and returning to attack your attacker? If you can't evade, wouldn't it be advantageous to have a serious heavy root to attack your attacker from for propelling yourself forward into his face while delivering devastating multiple blows? Yes--you can simply practice close quarters combat without practicing extreme dropping force or extreme balancing or having the ability to have your body evade or absorb blows from close distance by feel. But these principles can be put into play under extreme duress--it is fallacy that you cannot perform anything other than gross motor movements. If you are in a car accident and are still capable of moving you will be able to operate a seat belt release and door lock to rescue a child from an exploding gas tank--and this is without training. Many of our students in the battlefield and in the prisons and on patrol in the streets or subways of NYC who have had various levels of training, were able to put most of the principles to use while striking or warding off an attack either bare handed or with a weapon.

If you have only a short time to train for self defense then, by all means, basic WW2 close combatives training will be the easiest and best method to learn. If you have some more time to train then you can add the Guided Chaos principles of balance, body unity, looseness, sensitivity and adaptability to your combatives regimen. Remember---most of the Guided Chaos strikes are taken from the basic atemi of Jiu Jitsu which all World War II combatives strikes derive from.

What You Can and Cannot Do

If you examine Guided Chaos closely you will find that the strikes are all simple. The big difference is that we practice delivering them from as many angles as possible no matter how awkward. You never know where or in what position you will be when a sudden attack occurs. If you have the time to go into even the most rudimentary attack position of Close Quarters Combat that is fine. Sometimes even that is not available so the ability to keep your balance and move from no stance at all can be life saving.

While training Guided Chaos contact flow exercise (a free-form, anything goes energy drill) it is important to move slowly in order to develop all the above principles. Remaining as relaxed as possible allows a person to practice and develop speed gradually until you are able to move at blinding speed during practice. After a long time even the more flexible strikes are ingrained. It also behooves a person to practice many scenarios which are reality-based so that some form of mental preparation can be accomplished.

Fear and Adrenaline: Your Friends

Of course, the certain knowledge of a life and death attack cannot be simulated. Even after hundreds of small and serious fights I still feel the flow of adrenaline. Now I know not to fear the body sensations of adrenaline and use the adrenaline to enhance my strength and speed. It does not allow the most fancy kung fu moves to work because they are based on patterned, choreographed motion and techniques. Your brain is not a computer that can pick the precise choreographed response to a given attack under duress. It will freeze, just like a computer. However, if you train free-form, spontaneous and endlessly adaptive movements that are enhanced by movement principles that follow laws of physics (balance, body unity, looseness and sensitivity) rather than limited, stylized, sportive or rigid techniques, your nervous system can respond appropriately and creatively because it hasn't been locked into a specific pattern-response box. Its natural animal reactions will then be enhanced by adrenaline instead of repressed by it via technique or rules-based sport training. You learn to flow with the violence instead of against it. This is why we call it Guided Chaos.

And for a slightly different Point of View...

by Damian Ross

I received a returned video from a well meaning, but severely misguided, former customer. This is a rarity since over the
past 2 plus years and hundreds upon
hundreds of videos shipped; I can only count 3 returns.
One was unopened, one included a note that the recipient
thought the videos would be something else,
but he intended to buy the rest of the videos we offered,
hmmm smells a little fishy (incidentally, this person has
been banned from buying anything from us again). And lastly,
this well-meaning person. The note inside prompted me to write
this article.

He identified himself that he was an orange belt in Krav Maga
and that he has been instructed to "relax" and be loose
during a life or death struggle. Now, I have not trained in
Krav Maga nor do I know anything about the modern version of it.
My focus is on the "relaxing" strategy; which I have heard
from a variety of different "experts" during my 30 plus on the
mat. For efficiency of movement and economy of energy,
there is NO DOUBT, that being relaxed is better.

In combative sport it is essential that you conserve your
energy and use it when an opportunity presents its self.
Unfortunately, that's not how it works when
your neck is on the line. There are two instances that
"relaxing" in a real fight can happen. The first is you have
had hundreds of life and death confrontations. This allows
you to be inoculated against the stress (some times). In that
case, I want to meet you. Now it is IMPOSSIBLE to
replicate fighting for your life in training. You can get
intense, but it's not even close. Because deep down, you
know you're not going to die, no matter how intense you train.

The second is you're a sociopath. In that case you should
be arrested. Let's look at a non-fighting example: Most of
us drive, some better than others. When you're driving and you
get cut off, what happens? A shot of adrenalin and your
moving before you can even think about it. Your heart
rate increases, you start to breathe rapidly and you spit
out the nearest obscenity. Are you "Relaxed?" Most of us
drive EVERYDAY. If it's something as mundane as driving
(unless you're driving with Clint, in that case it IS a life or death situation) why aren't you able to RELAX when you are
about to crash? Simple, because you realize that your life
is at risk and your body prepares for the worst. And
there's NOTHING you can do about it. Now don't start telling
me about some Grand Dragon Wizard Master. I'm talking about

Here's another example: First responders, people who deal with
life and death regularly, Fire Fighters, EMT's, Police and
Soldiers all get that  gut-churning feeling when they know SOMEONE'S life is at stake. No matter how many times they go
to a call, they get the same feeling. That's why training is simple, routine and repeated thousands of times. You need
to perform common tasks during uncommon circumstances. And
this is the ONLY way to do it. It's only your training
that prepares you. And it's the repetition of high
percentage techniques that will save you at that
critical moment. It has to be instinct.

During these times, your body is only going to allow you
to perform certain functions. Relaxing is not one of them,
pissing your self is. On the site I talk about the effects of
your body's mobilization for battle (
These are biological functions you can not over ride.
IT IS AUTOMATIC. This is where combat sport and real combat
part ways. No matter what is "allowed" in competition, you
know the other guy is not going to kill you. It doesn't matter
if it's the UFC or the Olympics, you may get beat up, but you
won't get dead. You will be nervous, tense, and even
scared. But deep down you know that if you get into trouble,
the fight will be stopped.
This is ALL the difference.

Men like Carl Cestari, Charlie Nelson, W.E. Fairbairn,
EA Sykes, Biddle, Applegate and others all experienced this
first hand. Even Bruce Lee talked about using the "straight
blast" when really pressed. Why not use the straight blast
EVERY time? This is the value of the videos @ are why they are so
successful with military, police and seasoned martial artists.
They know the difference. When you fight for your life your
body operates in a way that is beyond your control.
You need to train in such a way that allows you to operate in this "zone".

Did you know that a typical adrenaline blast lasts only 30
seconds? Then you need about 3 minute to "reboot".
That is a lifetime when you are fighting the unknown.
Weapons, multiple assailants, broken bottles on the ground,
snow, sleet- all must be factored in. Standing toe to toe
and practicing your contrived techniques….where does this
happen. Even trying to practice your breathing is ludicrous
(not the rapper, that's ludakris).

How many first hand accounts start with "He came out of no
where" or "he suddenly appeared". If you see him or
"mark" him, chances are he will pick another victim.
He will come out of no where!

The other element that should be mentioned is your
assailant. Personally, I train for the meanest, toughest
SOB I can imagine. I picture him appearing at my door.
I think about him coming into the door of my dojo and only
one of us is going home. And I guarantee you, if some one
is standing between me and my family- there's no question of the outcome. Incidentally, you should feel the same way too. It's
easy to practice to beat your training partner; it's easy to
do something on your friends or even the local blow-hard down
at the pub. That's 70% of the world. You should worry about
that psycho 1% and let the other 99% take care of its self.

If you think that you ARE trained you will be surprised what happens when you are in this situation. You never think you
are going to act the way you think you are. True story:
Famous Okinawan Karate man, was serving as a Marine in Viet
Nam. This person had trained in Okinawa under Choki Mobotu
for several years prior to his deployment in Vietnam.
During his training with Mobotu he endured endless hours
of makiwara training and bogu fighting. During a firefight
in Viet Nam the conflict degraded in to hand to hand. As
I am hearing the story, I was waiting to hear how he
decimated a V.C. Platoon with a reverse punch, I mean real
"One shot- one kill". Since grenades was all he had left and
they were too close to throw them, he proceeded to bash
people in the head with the grenades. After that, did he
start knocking dead with a front kick, no he proceeded to use
his helmet as a club and smash guys the enemy in the
face. Was his training a waste of time? Definitely not,
in fact, it was probably his training that gave him the
stones to do what he did. Did he ever imagine his mreaction,
no. But it worked.

The point is even if you think you're "trained, you won't
know what will happen when your life is on the line.
When your gross motor skills kick in and  you CAN'T EVEN SPEAK,
do you think you will be able to "RELAX".
©2005 See You On the Mat,
Damian Ross ZenShin Martial Arts, Health & Fitness
32 Wanaque Ave
Pompton Lakes, NJ 07442
1-866-JUJUTSU (585-8878)

I have the Attack Proof book, and after reading it, I'm confused about one thing. It seems that much is made of the concept of sticking, especially in the contact flow exercises. However, in several other parts of the book, I'm told to behave as though my assailant's skin is covered in a vile substance, that he is a swarm of bees, etc, which would seem to suggest that I SHOULDN'T stick. I'm just curious as to how those two concepts are reconciled. Thanks a lot for your time, and I really appreciate you contribution to "martial realism".

Great question. Your goal is this: you want to remain as disengaged as possible, yet still connected. In other words you maintain as light as touch as you need to still feel their intention, but you should in no way block, pull or suppress their motion forcefully. The reason is if you try to push or block a stronger opponent you'll lose anyway. Also if they move, you can be so committed to a forceful block that you will not only fall (because you're relying on THEIR balance and not your own) but you will be unable to sense and hit thru an opening in your opponent's defense should one develop. In addition, if you're disconnected and only use your eyes to sense strikes, you can be hit at will at close range because your eyes cannot cover the entire field of possible entries.

Here's a drill we use to develop this kind of sensitivity: hold a small object like a softball and make believe it's a hot potato. Your job is to carry it across a room without dropping it. You can't hold it firmly because it will scorch your hands, yet you can't drop it. Your connection is thus dynamic and not static, you maintain contact, but not in a suppressive forceful way. This allows you to adapt as the "potato" bounces around. When you Contact Flow, You need to be able to feel where your opponent is and where he's not and be able to adapt instantly so that you sense openings as they arise without being hindered by anatagonistic muscles and also remove your own openings. In KCD when you feel a strike coming, you don't try to move HIS strike, you move YOURSELF (the target) out of the way so that you can simultaneously slide in and strike: you want to be unavailable yet unavoidable. Yes there will be times when you intercept and destroy his weapons, but if you always train this way you will NEVER develop the kind of sensitivity for dealing with bigger, stronger, faster or more highly skilled attackers.

Matt Kovsky
Attackproof co-author

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