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Monday, January 22, 2007

"MY LESSONS WITH THE MASTERS..." Ari Kandel's personal training blog. #3

Tim Tuneup Continued...
I should probably mention at this point that throughout this blog, I will be referring to ideas and principles explained most thoroughly in the book "Attackproof." You will understand the blog better if you've read the book. At the very least, in order to learn about the basic principles of Guided Chaos, you should subscribe to the free E-newsletter. The first newsletter you receive upon signing up will contain an article explaining the Guided Chaos concept and its four major principles. Note that you won't find this article in the Newsletter Archives (where you'll find loads of other valuable information)--you need to sign up for the newsletter to receive it.

Picking up where I left off in my last post, my first lesson with Tim:

As the initial beating calmed a bit, Tim started to give me tips about how to improve my movement.

The first tip was to stop raising my shoulders for no reason. I never before realized how much I did this. Tim pointed out how my shoulders frequently shrugged up when there was no need for them to. (Raising a shoulder could be warranted to protect the neck or head from an incoming strike or to gain new attack angles.) The effect of the randomly raised shoulders was to raise my elbows, decreasing protection of my torso, and reduce the reach and range of motion of the arms. It also introduced unnecessary tension into my arms, reducing my sensitivity. Well, the most basic effect was that every time I did it, I got hit! Point taken--I'll have to work to break that habit.

Another of my problems was failing to constantly stick to Tim's arms. In my effort to be light and not push or overcommit, or while moving to strike, I was often losing contact. I can get away with this against some people. Not against Tim! Every time I lost contact with one of his arms, it hit me. I have to work on getting that balance between sticking constantly yet not pushing (which is overcommitting), and not being lazy in cases where I can get away with not doing it right. That just brings on bad habits.

In general, Tim was ramming home to me that ANY superfluous or incorrect (i.e. not in line with the Guided Chaos principles) motion with any part of the body could get me killed. Also, he was critical of how I tried to strike the several times he asked me to hit him. He said that I used way too much arm effort and not enough body, resulting in weak strikes that exposed me to counters. I felt that he was breaking down everything I knew (or THOUGHT I knew!) in order to build it back up again in a more efficient manner. What follows is how he did that.

He had me stand in a good, rooted L-stance (not a T-stance, which would imply crossed legs), with the front foot pointed straight towards him and the rear foot pointed 90 degrees away. He told me to distribute my weight perfectly 50/50 initially, so that I could move it forward or back depending on what was dictated by my sensitivity (never remaining double-weighted once the action begins). He then had me grab his thumbs, which he was holding maybe 18 inches in front of my upper chest, and just let my arms hang limply from his thumbs. He pointed out the position this put my arms in: relaxed, shoulders down, elbows hanging low and naturally in front of my torso, the forearms covering most of my torso. He then had me add just enough tension to the arms to keep them in that position without actually resting on his arms. This would be the basic position I would use to stick to his arms during contact flow.

From here, settled in my 50/50 L-stance and sticking to his arms with mine in the basic relaxed position, I was shown how I could negate any advancing pressure or any attempt to penetrate my guard by simply turning my waist and shifting weight appropriately to maintain balance and space, while keeping my arms in the same basic position relative to my body. In this way, I was always sticking to his arms with my relaxed arms in-between his arms and my vital areas, never getting out of position or making superfluous movements ("moving behind a guard" in Attackproof). From there, I was able to use the natural rebound of the waist turning back to center and beyond to counterattack with body unity, using rocker-type motions of the arms to whip out chops, elbows and palm strikes powered by the turning of the whole body (driven from the legs) while keeping his arms far from my vital areas. This was a very efficient way of moving that brought all the Guided Chaos principles into play with minimal movement!

Tim gradually turned up the difficulty level for me as I tried to apply this simple way of moving while remaining loose, balanced, sensitive and unitized. The few times I did everything right (or right-ish), I received a "Good!" or something like it. The rest of the time, I got hit whenever I made a mistake.

Too soon, the physical part of the lesson was over. Tim and I talked for a few minutes, during which he gave me some additional advice and philosophy for my own practice:

--It all comes down to the BASICS, and the better practitioner is the one who makes fewer MISTAKES.

--EVERY time you get hit, it means you made one or more of the following mistakes: you were off-balance, you weren't loose somewhere (i.e. you tightened up and didn't move with something), and/or you didn't stick.

--Work very slowly; DON'T speed up, even to avoid hits; and work with your eyes closed.

After this first lesson, this was my interpretation of Tim's teaching style contrasted with John's, Al's and Matt's (keeping in mind that this is only how these guys teach ME--they may work very differently with others, based on the student's needs):

Whereas John, Al and Matt allow me to experiment in contact flow while subtly and gradually nudging me towards fuller and more efficient expression of the Guided Chaos principles, Tim immediately punishes any deviation from good movement according to the principles, conditioning my body to do nothing BUT good movement. It's an interesting contrast, and from my perspective, both methods are extremely useful. That's why I'll continue to take lessons from as many Guided Chaos masters as possible--and you'll get to read about them here!

I waited about three weeks before arranging another private lesson with Tim, because I wanted time to work with the advice he gave me and to try to eliminate the bad habits he pointed out. You'll find out in the next post how well I did, what Tim thought about it, and what else he decided to teach me. . . . Stay tuned!!!

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