Guided Chaos Close In
Sorry I haven't posted anything in a month. Been very busy--not much time for private lessons. However, I've still managed to make it to some regular classes, and as always, the learning continues. . . .
Here are some ideas I've been grappling (or Keeching) with lately:
John has mentioned in the past that one unique aspect of Guided Chaos is effective grappling-range striking, made possible by dropping, body unity and the ability to create space to strike in extremely close quarters via pocketing. A skilled Guided Chaos practitioner can be so close to an enemy that the enemy can't generate effective power, yet the Guided Chaos practitioner can destroy him. This is frequently illustrated to me when a) Matt Kovsky closes in and pulses to the point where I start tensing up and pushing to get space, giving him energy to work off of to smack me silly; b) Lt. Col. Al subtly moves in and drop-strikes with his torso, freezing and off-balancing me to allow his weapons to go to work; and c) John ghosts his entire body into the perfect close-range position to effortlessly take my balance and/or strike with finality.
Even when a Guided Chaos master is not actually at very close range (e.g. when I work with Tim, who rarely allows things to get very close), his body is usually still moving towards that position, however subtly. This is what allows him to take away space and cut off angles while bringing massive fully-body power to bear on the enemy. Even when Tim hits me from long range, toward the end of his reach and far from his body, his body is still moving as if to penetrate to close quarters. All the power of this body movement is condensed into his strike, the impact of which makes any further advance unnecessary.
Of course, one has to be able to do this while not getting impaled or stopped by the attacks of the enemy. This is where pocketing, turning, moving offline and subtle changes in the body come into play. The practitioner moves as little as s/he needs to in order to avoid obstacles to his/her body's forward-moving penetration. You cannot be stopped from closing in on the enemy if you give the enemy nothing solid to push or hit against to keep you away.
Your ability to feel the relative positions of your and your enemy's center of gravity also comes into play here. I was shown how subtle and powerful this can be when I got the opportunity to do ULTRA-slow contact flow with Lt. Col. Al, then watch Al do it with John. This is contact flow done so slowly that you can literally hardly see any movement at all. We started with the hands touching, then began slowly moving. The scary thing is, within very little time (maybe 10-15 seconds) and with very little overt movement (again, hardly observable), someone has already "won." "Winning" here means that one person, through subtle shifts in balance and alignment, has moved into a position whereby he can penetrate and take the other's balance before the other can readjust to survive without speeding up. Much of the movement could be considered "internal," in that it cannot be easily seen because it involves extremely small shifts in weight and the alignment of the joints in relation to the training partner. This has to be felt intuitively--it's too subtle and minute and involves too many variables for the conscious mind to completely control. John said that if in several minutes of this kind of practice, you're able to achieve even ten seconds of pure "mushin" or no-mindedness, you're off to a good start.
Beyond a basic level, so much of Guided Chaos really is mental. The key to functional looseness, for example, is not just the ability to free up your joints and move through your full range of motion without excess tension, but REACTIVE looseness: the ability to maintain your full freedom of movement in response to whatever other people are doing to you. I can be "loose as a goose" on my own, but when Matt pulses me, I suddenly feel hard as a rock. I need to jump that mental hurdle to allow myself to go with whatever comes, regardless of what it is--indeed, not to consciously attach to it and judge it to be anything in particular. There's nothing physically preventing me from getting reactively loose. It's just a mental block.
Likewise, you can never truly be "stopped" or hindered except by your own tension or attachment to whatever's "hindering" you. If you're blocked in your forward motion, it's because you're pushing against whatever's in your path, rather than going around it. Again, a mental thing: there's nothing physically forcing you to push against or remain attached to whatever's hindering you.
Anyway, enough ramblings for now. Hopefully I'll be able to do more private lessons soon. . . .