COMBAT TAI CHI FOR FIGHTING AND SELF DEFENSE-- DOES IT STILL EXIST?
The American art of Guided Chaos is NOT tai chi.
But it applies internal principles for combat in a free-form, dynamic
way that many high-level tai chi instructors have said is closer to true "combat tai chi" than any other martial tai chi fight training available.
"There are some people who can flat out kick your ass. I met a couple of them this weekend.
Chaos should be required training for anyone interested in push hands
and the self-defense aspects of the internal arts...It is a fighting
Through Contact Flow, I was recognizing skills that all
internal artists -- especially those who practice push hands and
close-up fighting skills -- should develop, but many of them don't.
yet, he [John Perkins] has captured the essence of something that has
eluded many internal artists. It should be required training for anyone
in the internal arts. Hell, it should be part of any martial artist's
There is truth to discover in Guided Chaos, and it fits
perfectly into whatever internal or external martial art you are
Ken Gullette is certified as an instructor with the U.S. Chen Family
Chen Jiajou Taiji Quan Federation, connected directly to the Chen
Village tai chi school through Grandmaster Chen Xiaoxing. Ken has
students all over the world, studying with him through his Online Internal Arts school and Internal Fighting Arts blog.
more I train your methods and watch the DVDs, I see the genius of your
"I will be 68 in 6 days and started Martial Arts training when I
was 18, Tai Chi when I was 33. Bagua, Hsing I and Aikido are also in
You guys without a doubt have the most common sense approach to
self defense and the internal aspect of the arts. All the bullshit has
I wish you guys continued success in all your
endeavors." ---name withheld by request
"I have been a
baguazhang and tai chi practitioner for about 16 years and I have
studied high stress combatives based on the WWII combato and defendo
system. You do the best job of anyone I have seen putting this stuff
together in a usable package." ---Bill Goble
"John Perkins has mastered the real world application of Combat Tai Chi" ---Dr.
Drew Miller, Coordinator of Degerberg Martial Arts Academy, Chicago
Illinois, former senior student of Tai Chi Master Wayson Liao. Owner 1st Army Military Supply
"Having trained in a number of systems over the years I can honestly say
that while there may be many masters who can fight as well as he does, John Perkins is the only master I have found that has created a proven
methodology that actually teaches you how to develop for yourself the combative
attributes mentioned in the various internal martial arts."
"I am a long time student and teacher of Tai Chi Chuan. The Guided Chaos training I have had this week has been extremely beneficial. You and your instructors have taught me more about internal martial arts, in a few days, than I could have possibly imagined. Although both Tai Chi and Guided Chaos offer challenging training, most people doing Tai Chi never get to the level of proficiency Guided Chaos delivers because they become caught up with external form. By concentrating on essential movement principles rather than superficial choreography, GC methods provide the best way to gain competence, expertise and even mastery of both self defense and internal martial arts. Grand Master Perkins is absolutely correct when he says that in GC, form follows function--and not vice versa. I will still have to put in the practice time, to get the most from your help, but what I need to work on is now clear to me. Thank you John, Al, Matt and Patrick for setting me on the fast track. " --Michael Coplon
DO YOU THINK REAL FIGHTING LOOKS LIKE THIS? (Movie: Man of Tai Chi)
IF YOU ANSWERED YES, STICK TO FANTASYLAND BECAUSE WE'RE NOT FOR YOU!
WE TEACH: Free-form combat based on strict internal principles.
• No "dancing", flowery moves or ritual uniforms • No useless techniques, pushing or repetitive patterns without any basis in the forensic reality of true violence
• Truly applied internal power, sensitivity and the ability to flow and adapt to chaos
When fighting to save your life,
don't think outside the box.
Get rid of the box.
•You've trained hard, yet you feel something's missing...
...or you've been in a serious fight and couldn't escape and somehow, in the face of real violence, everything became chaos. You couldn't get your balance, your brain was reeling, you couldn't find your range and all the push hands practice or techniques that were so easy to execute in class... you just couldn't get them off. Maybe you were seriously hurt. And then it hits you:
•You’re a dedicated Tai Chi “push-hands” player who, after 20 years, suddenly realizes four things:
1) That you're no closer to finding the true meaning and martial application of tai chi principles such as silk reeling, leading, following, borrowing, folding, receiving, turning, collecting, empty-solid, yin-yang, peng ching, etc. then when you started.
2) That you’re no closer to understanding or performing mystical feats of “Chi” then when you started.
3) That endless microscopic examination of proper form is preventing you from seeing the bigger picture: that practicing patterned techniques and forms doesn't make you formless, spontaneous or adaptive to the chaos of REAL violence. In fact, it cripples your ability to apply internal principles to true fighting.
4) As far as you can tell--Combat Tai Chi for self defense no longer exists.
The Tai Chi Problem: According to Wang Chiao Yu, there were two branches of T'ai Chi boxing. One was called Kuang P'ing and the other Pei Ching. For political purposes, the Pei Ching school only taught the soft aspects of the art, essentially neutering it for combat. This training endured and spread. But that was nothing compared to what happened many, many years later.
During the Communist Revolution, all the top combat tai chi fighters and masters were seen as threats to the government and were either harassed, jailed, expelled or killed. The lucky ones emigrated or went into hiding. Combat Tai chi for self defense essentially disappeared.
In the modern era, with the softening of the Chinese government, tai chi was re-purposed as a form of gentle exercise for the masses. The end result is that it is now nearly impossible to find teachers who can actually use combat tai chi for real street self defense. Not school sparring or sportive push hands competition but real, violent, blood bath-type self defense. Often a student will be instructed in forms for decades yet be made to wear boxing gloves for "sparring" purposes. (Many of you out there know who we're talking about). What happened to all the internal principles? Where is the live, free-form training and what happened to the varied open hand strikes and why can't they be trained without the deadening, sportive effect of boxing gloves?
"In the Art of War there are no fixed rules."
--Li Chuan, Sun Tzu, “The Art Of War”
A real attack is basically an assassination attempt on your life. The assailant is free to attack with impunity, since his tactics are not limited. He is not bound to any "rules" of combat, and you shouldn’t be either. Always remember that the best self-defense is Awareness and Avoidance with Escape the Number One objective--BUT--if you must fight to escape, you need methods that will give you the best chance to survive even if you're not an Olympic athlete.
Ironically, the movement dynamics of a real fight have nothing to do with the way most martial arts are trained, and everything to do with nature. Think carefully on this. Combat is ugly, nasty, and most of all--Chaotic. Classical training is very often beautiful, cooperative, and predictable. What does this all mean? Adaptivity and Improvisation is the only realistic way to train. We need to become masters of Chaos, not Forms. Guided Chaos Solution #1: Train Basic Tools...
Real violence requires real tools. In a matter of life-and-death, you'd be better suited diligently training crushing, shattering, piercing and gouging strikes proven by American soldiers in World War II in a free-form context than patterned pushing, grabbing and locking maneuvers.
Guided Chaos' Combatives does away with the boxing-grappling-locking nonsense that has become the "politically correct" standard of training for our soldiers in recent years. Instead of subjecting our military personnel to methods that could get them killed, Master John Perkins and Lieutenent Colonel Ridenhour USMC provide basic, effective methods proven in combat. The prospect of confronting Japanese Soldiers in the jungle skilled in Judo and Karate led to a training overhaul by our own military in the late 1930's. Colonel Rex Applegate, William Donovan and members of the OSS created a system of simple, devastating attacks used successfully by U.S. soldiers during countless close engagements against Japanese troops in World War II. These make up the basic tools of Perkins' Guided Chaos Combatives (GCC). But GCC is only the beginning...and the first level of Guided Chaos.
Guided Chaos Solution #2: Take Your Tools to the Next Dimension...
Now take those basic lethal striking tools and imbue them with core internal principles in a straight-forward, scientific manner devoid of mystical nonsense or esoteric gobbledy-gook.
Guided Chaos is a new and unique style of martial art created by ex-cop and homicide expert John Perkins. The premise of Guided Chaos is that all real fights are chaos and thus most attempts to use choreographed techniques will meet with disaster. As a former police officer and forensic homicide expert studying blood spatter patterns at scenes of horrific violence, John Perkins scientifically evaluated how people actually fought and died. He learned that in real bloodbaths, nothing ever happens the way you think it does. When he applied this knowledge to his police work on the streets of Yonkers, NY, what he found was that in order to adapt to chaos and survive, you have to liberate your mind from patterned technique training and instead develop free, adaptive movement principles based purely on nature and physics. Guided Chaos trains you to become a master of random motion, spontaneously creating your defense using principles of energy, movement and physics that have their roots in classical training but that have been largely ignored or forgotten over time.
HOW IS GUIDED CHAOS DIFFERENT?
Guided Chaos is different from other organized "styles" of martial arts in many ways, yet it can complement most of them. How different is it? First, and foremost, it has no forms. That is, it has no set and sanctified techniques, no prearranged specific responses to given specific attacks, no learn-by-the-numbers choreography to clog the mind and the reflexes with unnecessary strategic calculations. How is this possible? It does it by inverting the entire learning process. You start where most training ends. Why? Because during a real fight for your life, it is virtually impossible to deliver a stylized technique effectively; the speed, chaos, viciousness, confusion, and utter terror associated with a real fight prevents this. Your nervous system simply becomes overloaded with the flood of sensory stimuli. You can't treat your brain like an electronic dictionary of self-defense responses and expect it to select the right "technique" to counter a "matching" attack under extreme duress. It simply doesn't work that way. If you've been programmed by training a specific response to a specific attack, your defense will fail if the attack changes by even one inch from the way you've trained.
This is true whether you know one technique or one thousand. How will your body know when to deliver the strike if the sensory data it is being bombarded with has no correlation to your practice? Since all serious (non-sparring) fights are literally hell-storms of chaos, you cannot rely confidently on choreographed training. This is not conjecture. It has been proven through exhaustive experience, countless police and morgue reports, and testimonials by police officers with high-ranking belts from various styles who's classical training failed them when confronted by real violence.
THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE:
GET IT FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH!
Internal Power. We all want it. But what is it?
Power developed through perfect alignment, nervous system excitation and concordance with gravity. Not gross muscular contraction, which is External Power--what is used in karate and most martial arts that only young men and supreme athletes can use with any kind of success in the streets. That's all of us, right?
Now to get Internal Power, you can study Tai Chi or Bagua or Hsingi for a lifetime and maybe get a glimmer of it. Maybe. Because you'll be so focused on obscure or untranslatable Asian terminology, confusing drills and stylish uniforms that have no correlation to real violence or physics that you can get forever lost in the sauce. The Tai Chi school that teaches the real deal for combat is exceedingly rare (see "The Tai Chi Problem" above for political/historical reasons why this is so). And then you have to ask yourself:
"Did my instructor actually use this stuff in real combat?" i.e., not just in tournaments.
Now you may get lucky and be able to have someone of some "skill" interpret it all for you, but have they actually used it to help them survive repeated bloodbaths and mayhem? Have you ever heard the saying "That style worked for its inventor but not for its students"? In other words, something got lost passing it down through the generations--possibly even in the first generation.
Here's the cool thing about John Perkins: he created Guided Chaos on his own by being forced to fight from the age of 5 by his father and uncles and later by work as an emergency response cop during a very bad period in the urban jungle of Yonkers NY, involved in over 100 brutally violent arrests where people routinely went to the hospital or morgue. In other words, he didn't spend his career handing out traffic tickets. He was also an unlicensed pit fighter (real no rules) on the docks of Newark and New Orleans.
On his own, forced to adapt, Perkins discovered so called Adaptive Combat Principles that only later were corroborated by tai chi masters to be similar (and by some experts) superior to what they were teaching. So when you learn Guided Chaos, you're getting it straight from the horse's mouth in English and concrete physics, not some 50th generation interpretation or re-imagining. Which is why his students can do it (and teach it) also.
IF GUIDED CHAOS HAS NO TECHNIQUES, HOW DO YOU TRAIN?
You train dynamic principles of movement only. The main ones are Body Unity, Looseness, Balance, and Sensitivity. There are many others, but they all focus on developing your subconscious neural pathways, resulting in what some would call "natural motion" and others would call "chi." These are developed through unusual drills and exercises and combined with the simple deadly strikes of Close Quarters Combat developed by Fairbairn, Sykes and Colonel Rex Applegate and proven in World War II. While no previous training is necessary for learning Guided Chaos, John Perkins has a reputation for teaching Black Belts how to fight better.
THE TROUBLE WITH PUSH HANDS
Too much pushing.
Push hands is a wonderful tai chi exercise that promotes balance, coordination and health. Unfortunately, as it is typically practiced (your school may be different...but it's rare*), it has almost no benefit in training to fight for your life. Granted, push hands is not fighting, it's an exercise. Neither is GC's Contact Flow. But if you're going to spend time training self-defense, shouldn't it have some specific relevance to real combat? Top 4 problems:
1. Too much pushing. Any fight that involves pushing is one you should have avoided in the first place because it's not serious. Run. If you can't run, and you feel like you could die, then fight like your life depends on it. That means crippling, penetrating strikes to lethal targets. What does this have to do with slow push hands training? Well...nothing. Even high speed, full force pushing and throwing at the push hands competitive level...is still pushing. Do you have the skill to push someone twice your size hard enough to disable them? Maybe--if you're a grand champion. But even a 100 pound woman can stop a monster with a chop to the throat or stab to the eye. The trick--is HOW to get it past his defenses...AND elude his attack. All that pushing training, even initially, blinds and cripples your innate response to real violence the way it really happens. "But I could easily translate my pushing skills into crippling combat strikes if the need arose." Dream on. Forget about pushing or being pushed. Learn to feel, find, create and hit through an opening--and avoid the same to you. Solution: substitute every variation of striking from any angle to any angle with balance and body unity instead of pushing, but still maintain contact. You will still be working balance and rooting but from the combatively REAL dynamic perspective of "Kill or Be Killed." Push only to create an opening you can hit through and then hit...like a sewing machine. And what about kicking? Why not use your feet with the same offensive/defensive sensitivity as your hands? What do we call this? Contact Flow. How do you hit at close range without getting hit, getting tight, grappling or breaking contact? Stay tuned to coming Newsletters...or you can dive right into our DVDs...or better yet, come to a class. 2.Inconsistent speed. Practitioners will move slowly, feeling each other out, seeking the other's root, and then "faj" or explode rapidly to launch them backwards. This promotes utterly unrealistic reflexes. Two people fighting are essentially moving at one speed--super fast!--and one or the other may be going just slightly slower or quicker. Moving very slowly and then very quickly in partner practice not only destroys both your defensive and offensive responses--it creates in your mind a false expectation of violence. If 2 people are moving at maximum speed, can one of them suddenly go twice that? No, not unless they're Superman. Then why train that way? Solution: flow at one speed. If moving slowly, learn to create and seal openings at that speed, NON-COOPERATIVELY, without cheating. This promotes sensitivity and adaptivity, especially when training at consistent slow speeds.
3. Cooperative training. To expand on the above, any kind of patterned, cooperative partner training is worse than useless; essentially sabotaging your nervous system against future attacks. You CAN cooperate on speed and force levels because if you're overwhelmed you can't learn to sense and create...and wind up flailing and freezing...and getting injured. Speed and force can be added in later. You need to become familiar with interpreting and responding to unpatterned motion--chaos--right from the beginning, and we're going to guide you through it. If not understood, specific attributes such as Looseness, Body Unity, Balance and Sensitivity need to be isolated out through specific drills but they should never be mixed in with 2 person practice cooperatively or they become a future recipe for disaster. Contact Flow incorporates all of these within the context of fighting to save your life--even if you're BOTH moving at only 1 mile per hour.
4.False beginnings. How do you start push hands? By touching hands? By stepping in with a big push? By tentatively "reeling silk" until you have joined with your partner's root? This is fine for push hands but disastrous for training your responses to fight to save your life. If you can't run from impending violence you want to do what Professor Bradley Steiner (President, International Combat Martial Arts Association) recommends: Attack the Attacker! However, you do not want to just charge in like a Rhino (unless maybe you are a Rhino--in which case who would attack you?). You want to do what GM Perkins advises: Throw a monkey wrench into their attack. This entails moving in but offline simultaneously. This takes practice, and beginning your two-person practice like a waltz is another future recipe for disaster.
How to develop Contact Flow? See the Attackproof Companion Part 3 (DVD or On Demand Download) How to independently develop Balance, Body Unity, Looseness, Sensitivity and all the attributes mentioned above for use in Contact Flow? See the Attackproof Companion Part 2 (DVD or On Demand Download) and Combat Conditioning (DVD or On Demand Download)
*John Perkins can personally vouch for the tremendous tai chi ability of Chicago master Wayson Liao.
MAKE YOUR TAI CHI COMBAT-READY
We utilize the most extreme yin and yang combative elements of dynamic motion and practice them under the most chaotic conditions.
We take literally all the tai chi principles but we train them free-form to maximize learning speed, improvisation and the ability to create on the spot the defense or attack you need, when you need it.
We distill out the internal principles and strip out robotic responses, training you to adapt to changing attacks.
While the above flies in the face of nearly all classical Asian systems, it ironically blends perfectly with many Native American fighting traditions which stress "anything goes" and "catch-as-catch-can" practice. John Perkins was trained in these methods from the age of 5 by his part Cherokee father, a West Virginian coal miner. Perkins blended them with the World War II CQC taught by his uncles and only found out later that what he was doing bore similarities to tai chi. This he discovered when working with Chicago Temple-trained tai chi master Waysun Liao. The profound experience only confirmed that Perkins was on the right path, unorthodox as it might be.
Firearms Like it or not, real violence often involves guns. You need to know both how to use them offensively in a chaotic context and to defend against them. Master Perkins is one of the top handgun instructors in the U.S. and is a Certified Close Combat/Point Shooting Master Instructor under the International Combat Martial Arts Federation. Learn John Perkin's unique shooting methods to complement your hand-to-hand training.
NOTE: Because of how they are edited, Guided Chaos DVDs have more vital info packed into them than virtually any other self defense DVDs available. "John Perkins has mastered the real world application of Combat Tai Chi" ---Dr. Drew Miller, Coordinator of Degerberg Martial Arts Academy, Chicago Illinois