KI CHUAN DO TRAINING TIPS #6:
WHY TRAIN SOLO?
By Lt. Col. Al
For students who attend our regular classes the information
below will be nothing new. Many have heard me pontificate
on these points at various times, however, I think it's important
to share this information with others to hopefully help them focus
their training in order to improve upon the quality of their workouts
especially when they train on their own. This piece doesn't get into
any specific training methods but merely highlights
"philosophically" the importance of practicing the exercises on
your own. For a more detailed reading please refer to our book
Like many of our students I've studied many martial arts systems
over the years and while I was able to develop a degree of skill,
like others I often felt that while cool looking, many of the
techniques would be useless in a real confrontation. This is
because many of the skills taught in about 99% percent of the
martial arts systems are based on a reality and a dynamic of
fighting that does not exist in the real world.
As we all know by now real fights are not "duels" like in the
dojo and the speed and ferocity of real attacks are lighting
fast and drastically contrast with choreographed attacks, which
often resemble the types of attacks that only happen in bad
low-budget "B" movie. Usually, (like always) when a real
attack goes down, the odds are in favor of the attacker(s), and
not by accident. Criminals want to above all else, win, and are
not bound to any rules or code of honor. I think everyone on this
reading list will agree with that statement.
What is meant by "respectful disrespect" is that when you look
at the movement of the masters within many systems and observe
how they move, regardless of the system they all share a few
things in common. The masters all seem to be better balanced,
more supple and relaxed in their movements, their timing is
always better and their coordination is generally far superior to
that of their average students. Much of this as they will tell you
is a byproduct of either practicing the forms over-and-over or from
performing the striking drills until the point of physical exhaustion.
However, if that were true then you should within reason see the
same thing in the majority of their students but often just the opposite
is true. In other words what they're saying and what they're actually
doing are two different things.
This is not to say that they do not train their butts off, because they
do. Even in sport fighting in order to perform the moves, an
incredible amount of hours are needed in order to master the
techniques, so do not misunderstand what I am saying here.
However, because real fighting is such a different dynamic all
together the skill needed to make such techniques work is at such
a high level that very few people including yours truly could ever
make them work when the spit hits the fan. To put it another way,
there are many football players who have played the game but very,
very few will ever play in the NFL.
Which brings me to my next point...
THERE'S SOMETHING TO BE SAID FOR TALENT:
Let's be honest: many martial arts masters regardless of style are
very talented people both mentally and physically and would
probably be good at almost anything they decided to put their
minds to. They have therefore subconsciously developed these
skills and I believe many are unaware that they are even doing it.
So no matter what they say they are doing, their actual movements
often reveal the truth as to what is really going on. And that is what
you need to be aware of.
A Grand Master of TKD may be able to kick someone in the head
in a real street fight but for the average practitioner that action is
not going to happen. So while there are things that the master can
do through physical ability and talent, the rest of us are going to
have to figure out something else.
Their students try to mimic the master based on what they
"outwardly" observe, never realizing that until they develop
the internal skills as explained in Attack Proof and various
books on the internal arts, their physically ability will only carry
them but so far.
This is what separates sport fighting from real principles of self
defense. Sport fighting due to the rules limits what one can do
and as a result requires a higher degree of physical skill and talent
in order the make the techniques work, whereas real self-defense
techniques, because they rely on sound principles, are universally
applicable regardless of body type, which is why we focus most of
our effort on training in the PRINCIPLES rather than techniques
that require great physical skill.
"The most well made tools are worthless in the hands of those who
are unskilled in their use"
--Alexander The Great
The quote given by Alexander The Great is just as true today as it
was then and no tool no matter how well made is of any use unless
you have some skill behind it. As I always say just because you own
a hammer doesn't make you a carpenter. I want to turn out carpenters
so that when you draw a tool from your bag of tricks you have the
skill to use it. Since the fight is "what it is" you must be able to adapt
as quickly as the fight can change. You must be able to deliver the
chaos as well as control it. Understand that we are "Brand X"
martial arts so we build the foundation first rooted in principles of
human physiology and physics, we then hard wire in the skills and
then provide you with the tools so that any tool that you place in your
hand can be instantly applied for whatever purpose at the time you
I once asked Master Perkins (he hates it when I call him that) about
how Master Carron became so good. The answer was simple, he
practiced everyday in the exercises and skills, sometimes for hours
at a time. By the same token I'm often asked by students, "How can
I improve my skills?"
My usual answer is, "Do you do the exercises?"
I usually get either a "no," or that "deer in the headlights" stare,
which reveals the sin of omission in their training.
I wish I could tell people something different but like anything in
life whatever you put into something you generally reap what you
have sown, and the ability to develop the attributes needed for real
fighting or at least to deal with the kind of violence that visits people
everyday on our streets is no different. While there's no substitute for
training with another person, I've personally found that solo practice
is equally important and usually it is the missing piece of the puzzle
in one's training.
When you learn to punch and kick, what you are learning are not
skills on how to fight but developing tools, however, how you use
the tools are entirely up to you.
The trick is how do you make the tools work when you need to
make them work? Will you choose the right tool for the job?
And, therein lies the rub...
Solo practice resolves this dilemma by allowing you to develop
the foundational skills to improve and without it I've seen that
students and even instructors tend to "plateau" in their ability.
So while one can improve through two-on-two practice "to a point"
without developing the foundational skills of balance, looseness,
sensitivity and body unity, no matter how physically gifted you are,
you can only improve but so far.
* It is the balance drills that enable you to step to a new root point
effortlessly at lighting speed and strike with maximum power.
* It is the looseness or pliability drills that not only allow you to
avoid being penetrated as you move but give you the ability to
yield, align your weapon with your body, cut off angles and
strike with maximum power from virtually impossible looking
* It is your sensitivity, both kinesthetic and spatial, that allows you
to know where the other person(s) is in relation to your weapons
allowing you to seemingly always know what they are going to
do before they do it.
* It is the body unity drills that enable you to always have your
body behind your strikes so that when you strike your are able
to do so with power from any position.
* Finally, it is the proper mindset toward fighting even in your
training that enables you to strike from virtually any position
within your sphere of influence.
My question, which only you can answer for yourself, is if you
knew sometime today you were going to be in the fight of your life,
how good would you want to be? That is the mentality that you need
to train with, because in truth it very well could be today! I don't
think there are too many homicide victims out there who ever
thought their time would be up the day they passed on.
SOWING THE GOOD HARVEST:
Although I hate to use sports analogies when it comes to real
fighting I also understand that the mindset required for training
is really no different. Imagine a sprinter or distance runner who
never practices the foundational exercises on their own and just
shows up to run only during the meets. Failure is inevitable.
Imagine a power lifter who never practices his lifting technique?
No matter how strong or naturally gifted he is, he will never achieve
to a high level. The same is true for any sport. Imagine if in school
you never did your homework, given the limited amount of time
you have to absorb the information in class there is no way that
one can develop even a modicum of proficiency. At best you'll
be no more knowledgeable than the last time you had class and
the same is true for the martial arts.
Nothing, no sport, no course at school, no job, no success to a
high level is achievable without working at it. Therefore there is
much value in solo training in the foundational exercises of KCD.
Also it is equally important to train properly and not just train for
the sake of training. Once again, much heartache can be avoided
if students would just follow the book and practice on their own.
All of the exercises are clearly outlined in Attack Proof (as well
as our videos) as John Perkins has developed them. As a corollary
to this, while it is true that one can obtain some level of fighting
skill through training in class alone, (because let's face it: without
contact there is no fight), I have seen throughout the years that
those who rapidly achieve a high degree of skill are also the same
individuals who also practice the exercises on their own.
I think not!
WHY DON'T PEOPLE TRAIN ON THEIR OWN?
When you look at the martial arts world and you look at
the styles that appear to have the most popularity they all
seem to have a few things in common. They're either very
cool looking, they promise "magic" or if they profess to be
reality based they guarantee overnight results. They sell an
illusion in the hopes that no one will pull back the curtain only
to see that there is no all powerful wizard at all. It's part of our
culture and we can't avoid it.
Look at your average infomercial: they promise "six pack abs
in 30 days," or the old Charles Atlas comic strip ad "Muscles in
Seven Days" and weight loss results in a time frame that most
doctors would consider dangerous at best. None the less, these
products sell in the millions of dollars and the only ones who
usually achieve success are the snake oil salesmen who profit by
peddling basic fitness tips as "revolutionary science" because they
know that deep down the "get rich quick", "get in shape without
exercising", "results overnight" mindset permeates our culture and
our base nature.
(To give Charles Atlas credit he was right about what he taught,
he just "slightly" exaggerated on his claims. Depending on your
age and overall health it usually takes about three to six weeks, and
you won't look like Mr. Olympia but the power you can develop
from his methods are incredible.)
"You Don't Bend the Spoon, the Spoon Bends You"
The other reason people don't train is just plain old stubbornness.
When you look at the exercises in the book, on our videos etc. No
matter how logical we present the information there are many people
who still don't believe that "it really is that simple" and until you
change the way you think about training in the principles, those
epiphanies that everyone looks for in their martial training will
Cecil B. DeMile use to have a saying about The Ten
"Those who throw themselves against The Law shall be
broken by it."
Since the principles are rooted in real things such as the laws
of physics and human physiology and not hocus-pocus fantasy
fighting, by practicing to develop these attributes you can't help
but get better. These "principles" are non-negotiable and do not
change, it is you and your mindset about training that must change.
You can uses the laws of physics to your advantage but you cannot
change them. You must allow the spoon to bend you and not the
other way around. If you continue to try to bend the spoon or throw
yourself against the law as they do in many fighting systems when
your world collides with reality you're going to find out in short
order just how big your house of cards really is and usually with
THE REST IS ALL MENTAL:
The last point I'm going to make on this is that by training in the
principles to the "nth degree" eventually you begin to realize that
because you don't have to think about your balance or your body
position, it leaves more time for your brain on a subconscious level
to process what it picks up through your senses and allows to
respond with what we call "Response - Ability". This is the ability
to be able to respond to stimuli based on what you actually feel as
opposed to trying to guess what another person is going to do,
something I never, ever try to do especially since I only get one
chance to get it wrong. Because you feel their intention, therefore
it becomes. After a while even the slightest movement on their
part triggers a chain of events, which allows you not just to match
their movements but to get ahead of the game just like a chess
match. The only difference being that instead of relying on a series
of moves to make this happen you are going for "check mate" right
from the start in order to end the fight as quickly as possible.
You can "click" your glass slippers all you want but doing the
exercises along with establishing the proper mindset are the real
secret to attaining a high degree or martial prowess. By developing
the base level attributes (balance, looseness, sensitivity and body unity)
the tools of combat such as guns, knives, fist, feet etc... are but a
mere extension of not only your body but your moral will. Anything
in your hand can now become a weapon. Anything you touch with
practice becomes an extension of your body. When you touch
objects you begin to feel their dynamic and you are able to within
reason manipulate whatever you come into contact with.
By training in the principles even your sense of visual perception
or spatial awareness changes. You begin to perceive the density
of other objects including people even without physical contact
through what is known as sub-cortical vision.
Your body unity increases to a point whereas your hands and
feet are never out of position because your body is properly
aligned in relation to others. Your are now not only able to
control your balance but manipulate theirs through feeling
their center in relation to yours
Remember in a real fight there are no points for second place!
Practice, Practice, Practice...
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"A true link between Internal and External Martial Arts"