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Sunday, July 29, 2007

"MY LESSONS WITH THE MASTERS..." Ari Kandel's personal training blog. #29

Review of

by Ari Kandel

Well, I just finished watching "In the Eye of the Storm" for the second time through. It took a while. Six solid hours of instruction and demonstration take a while to get through, no matter how great your interest!

As long as it may take to WATCH the DVD, there's enough material in here for at least a lifetime of exploration.

And that, in a nutshell, is what "In the Eye of the Storm" primarily is: An audiovisual library of ideas to explore and experiment with in your training. It's not all "just" about Contact Flow. The reality of homicidal combat, self-defense scenarios, fighting out of hostile crowds, dealing with various kinds of movement (e.g. from boxers and grapplers) and closing distance are just some of the topics addressed, both purposefully and in "golden nugget" tangents by John, Al and Matt.

Most of the video consists of private lessons, in-class demos and some for-the-camera explanations detailing dozens of Guided Chaos principles and ideas. I believe just about everything Guided Chaos in the book is touched on here (besides some weapons and groundfighting matters), plus additional concepts that are not in the book (e.g. "Oneness Hitting"). As usual, it's not a "step 1, step 2, here's how you do it" presentation. The point of Guided Chaos is that real combat is not like that. However, through their explanations and demonstrations, the masters convey an idea of certain "feelings" and "ways of perceiving" that you can experiment with and discover for your own development. While it's tough to say what's basic and what's advanced, as different people pick up different things at different times, the material runs the gamut from simple ways of easing a person into contact flow training (e.g. "fixed-step flow") to esoteric ideas that I've never seen anyone except the masters utilize, and which I certainly don't "get" yet--but which ironically make combat even more "simple" for those who DO get it. Repeated with some regularity throughout the video in otherwise disparate segments are the essential core ideas of Guided Chaos that you're lost without. This is a very good thing, as even in the future when you may be using the very well laid out video menu (with nearly 60 chapters) to re-watch a particular concept you're working on, the DVD won't let you forget to e.g. be 99% yin and unavailable even while you're experimenting with the deceptive idea of equal pressure.

Matt really outdid himself with the production and editing of this one. From the amazingly tightly edited introductory verbal and visual explanation of contact flow, to the extremely useful visualizations of everyday experiences to understand sensitivity, to the fact that he's integrated footage from the 1990's through literally a month ago (including footage from the often asked about "master classes"), well, it's easy to now see why for months Matt showed up late to class, eyes bleary from staring at video screens all weekend!

As with Guided Chaos itself, it's impossible to do justice to this DVD through mere words. So here are just a few reasons why you should get it:

--You want to get an idea of what contact flow can look and feel like at all different speeds and skill levels.
--You want to understand how contact flow is NOT combat, yet applies to combat.
--You want to know how to make your Guided Chaos sing against:
a) boxers,
b) grapplers,
c) kickers,
d) stronger people,
e) taller people,
f) faster people,
g) surprise attackers,
h) groups thereof.
--You want endless variations of the basic contact flow exercise to expand your attributes and training.
--You want to know exactly what Al means in his newsletters when he talks about stuff like "Ride the Lightning!"
--You want to see a man who looks like Santa Claus move like the wind, effortlessly demolishing bigger, younger, stronger fighters trying their best to "get" him.
--You want to see a man who looks like a Marine Corps recruiting poster brutalize mere mortals with terrifying efficiency.
--You want to see Santa Claus casually smack around the recruiting poster.
--You want to see how Guided Chaos masters work with various people of various skill levels in order to make them better--in other words, how to teach.
--You want to discover that the masters really mean what they say, for example when they discuss flowing so slowly that you can hardly see any motion--or so quickly that the human eye cannot follow even from a distance.
--You want to see how an experienced, natural martial athlete processes and quickly absorbs new information through interactive learning.
--You want to be privy to immensely educational scenes that even regular Guided Chaos students rarely witness: contact flow between the highest level masters of the art, complete with slow motion and commentary.

And finally:

--You want to take advantage of by far the best (non-human) Guided Chaos learning resource ever. By paying close attention to the lessons in the DVD, contemplating them, and exploring them in your ego-free partner training . . . you almost can't help but get better.

That's what I plan to do.

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