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Monday, May 04, 2009

My Lessons With the Masters: Stuff I'm Working On...

--If someone drops on your arm, you must, with as little movement as possible, yield and then reattach in a different position, i.e. having moved your center.

--When doing slower contact flow, you have to remember to move with the same dynamics as a full-speed, full-power fight. Avoid the temptation to move only as little as the slow-speed energy level demands in order to get your strike in sooner. For example, a student will sometimes slightly pocket a slow aligned strike to his left chest, while striking back with the left arm. He thinks this is economical and efficient, minimizing movement and time to strike. At low speed with low energy, it seems as if this would be possible. All you have to do, though, is imagine that the slow strike is being throw full-speed, full-power, full-body by a big, angry guy, and you'll realize that the slight pocket without any other change in the body would not save you at all. You'd be whacked completely off-balance, and your counterstrike would never land. You'd realize that you have to pocket, sink, turn and move your center to avoid being bowled over by the strike. Your counterstrike then naturally comes from your right arm as you turn. Moving slowly, this might appear to take a lot of time and movement. Full-speed, however, this movement actually allows for the fastest and most devastating counterstrike, that hits with maximum balance and alignment while the aggressor is still extending and committing into the impact. You want this kind of movement to be reinforced by the slow training, not the "shorter" yet unrealistic movement described earlier. The benefits of slow contact flow are immense. Do not, however, lose sight of the true dynamics of a full-energy fight. To do so is to implant unrealistic expectations in the subconscious mind that could get you killed in reality. This is also a reason to practice contact flow at all speeds once enough balance, looseness, sensitivity, control and trust have been developed. Understanding the dynamics inherent in higher-speed flow enable you to keep things realistic at lower speeds.

--To break base legs, the force of your kick should penetrate and angle downwards to pin the target leg to the ground, leaving no way for the target leg to escape out into the air. Of course, just casually jabbing your steel toe into the ankle just above the foot can do great damage regardless.

--The downward intention of your body, no matter what direction it's actually going, creates the unstoppable "weight" of Guided Chaos striking and unbalancing from any position, without any actual commitment of balance.

--John knows so many devastatingly subtle and surprising ways of using all possible ridges of the body (e.g. fingertips, second knuckles, many others) to damage other bodies . . . it's just WRONG!!! And it's possible only through mastery of the principles and the GC training exercises. Without a ton of balance, looseness, body unity, sensitivity, and slam bag practice, none of these evil methods would even be possible.

--As your mastery of the GC principles progresses, your teachers can increasingly show you more and more possibilities and "tricks" regarding movement and tactics, and your subconscious will increasingly quickly absorb and integrate them into your spontaneous movement. John is able to simply show and explain various ideas to the GC masters, and they are then able to utilize them free-form with very little additional practice or thought. Great example: John had Tim show Michael Watson some subtle uses of the fingers and wrists for control and cutting angles (at least that's what it looks like from the outside). Minutes later, Michael was utterly befuddling the rest of us by using these methods. It's the mastery of the basic principles that allows this. (Of course, Michael's subconscious integration and use of these methods will improve even further with additional practice, as with anything.) If John were to show me or another lower-level student the same idea, it would likely be close to useless, as my body does not yet move well enough (i.e. in line with the principles) to understand and utilize the idea.

So, time to go work the principles. . . .
--Ari Kandel