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Friday, June 25, 2010


Courtesy John Farnam's DTI Quips
2010 by DTI, Inc. All rights reserved

8 June 10

Last Friday, an off-duty LAPD officer was washing his car
in his own driveway. Fortunately, he was armed with his G23 (concealed).

A van pulled up, and the driver exited. He had a pistol in hand as he
approached the officer. He said to the officer, "Where are you from?"
This LA street-slang loosely translates to, "What gang are you
affiliated with?" The officer was alert and plainly saw what was happening.
He knew that, after asking this question, the interrogator customarily
shoots the interrogatee. But, in this case, the suspect wasn't fast enough!

The officer quickly moved off the "X" as he drew his own pistol and fired
at the suspect, striking him multiple times. The astonished suspect fired
at least one round, but the officer was not hit. The badly-injured suspect
limped back to his van and drove away, but he didn't get far! He soon turned
up at a local hospital. He, and two additional suspects, were arrested.
Suspect's condition is currently listed as "stable." No one else was injured
in the incident.

Lesson: Any place! Any time! Any occasion! You're either ready,
or you're not. These VCAs are not playing games, and you won't get a second chance!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


"Two questions:
1) I have a duffle bag stuffed with rags in place of a heavy bag. I have no
place to hang it from where it can swing freely. It is hung up against a
wall. Will striking it when it has no place to swing backwards, hurt my
joints? If you strike a heavy bag properly, that swings freely, there
should be very little swing of the bag, anyway."

A. I can't tell you exactly without feeling the bag but probably not.
Remember that old time karate men would beat their fists on solid
makiwaras and wind up with calluses and lots of arthritis later in life (or earlier). As
long as you never feel you're hitting concrete you're probably ok. You
should try and save up to purchase a BOB; they're better than heavy bags
in many ways: no swing, greater realism, improved targeting, etc.--MK

"2) In the attackproof book, there seems to be
no emphasis with rotating your hips with the
strike and no emphasis on the sharp exhalation of breath with the strike.
Should'nt both of these techniques be used in conjunction with
dropping when you strike? Looking forward to getting the paperback of the
GC Combatives book when it comes out. Thanks for your time."

A. You do use your hips, it's just that it's only a PART of the chain of
power, not the whole enchilada, like in karate. That's why we stress body
unity. As we say in the book, the origin of your power is your feet which
is then threaded through all the joints, including the hips. Focusing on
just the hips (which are in the middle of the body) is akin to holding and
snapping a whip from its center instead of the handle: you won't get the
full benefit.

Exhaling on strikes is important, and we do stress it many of our drills
but again, it's only part of the formula.--MK


"I have been practicing Guided Chaos for several years now, and even mixed
in the better aspects of Jeet Kune Do, a few Filipino Arts, TFT from Tim
Larkin, and Vladimir Vasiliev's Russian Systema. However one question
still remains in the back of my head. Most Krav Maga practicioners I meet
are closed minded and believe their system alone is the best on the
planet. While I know it's the fighter not the system that makes
effectiveness count, and I am never one to show what I know or "share my
secrets" I do wonder what is the difference in an overall perspective
between GC and Krav Maga? I have never had any interest in it, nor do I
plan to, so I do not know much about its tactics or methods, but I thought
I would consult you as an expert source and expert GC instructor."

A. Great question. The original Krav is actually derived from
American/British World War II Combatives. The first level of Guided Chaos
(Guided Chaos Combatives) is also derived from World War II Combatives.

From there though, there are many differences. Most Krav you will find now
is a mish-mosh of MMA, Muay Thai, JKD and whatever other TECHNIQUES
(specific-patterned movements) the school mixes in and may bear little
resemblance (or efficacy in some cases) to the original functional Krav
(but of course every Krav school is different).

GCC has the original simple striking tools of World War II Combatives but
with some Guided Chaos motion principles (not techniques) added for power
and balance improvement.

As far as Guided Chaos itself (the mother art) and Krav, they couldn't be
more different. GC in principle is much closer to tai chi and bagua but as
you probably know does not teach techniques. It focuses on free-form,
spontaneous, UN-choreographed adaptability using nothing but motion
principles. No one that we've ever come across (and believe me, we've
worked out with many practitioners, from MMA to Systema) trains the way we
do. GC has a unique feel that is different than Systema and must be
experienced first hand. Once you feel it, all questions fall away.
Nevertheless, we encourage our students to work out with everyone from
every style they can find to improve their adaptability and keep their
minds open to all forms of movement to enhance adaptation.
If you can, try to get to a class or
seminar on the road. Subscribe to our newsletter and forum to see if one
is coming to your area.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Guided Chaos & Body Building: Do They Mix?

Can You Do Both?

I'm often asked if Guided Chaos and Bodybuilding are compatible and if
developing large muscles interferes with GC development.

Body building and GC are not mutually exclusive in any way, shape or form.

As I have often said, weight training is a good adjunct to training for GC.
While stimulating the full gamut of muscular contraction during weight
training may, at first, get in the way of fluid, sensitive movement,
it does not have to remain that way.

By carefully stretching before and after body building or strength training
you can, in time, add the attribute of muscular weight to your arsenal.
It takes more time to control the extra muscle and strength but it can have
some possible advantages for some folks.

What's Your Body Type?

If you are an ecto-mesomorph (small bones/large muscles) like Bruce Lee,
then weight training is a plus right at the start.

If you are an ectomorph (skinny) then some form of strength training will help.

If you are a true Mesomorph (Hercules type) then you can do anything to
stimulate your muscular strength but may wish to hold back on too much

An endomorph (naturally heavy) person will gain calorie burning potential by
weight training because the more muscle you have, the faster you burn calories.

When GC and Body Building Mix Right

As you can see in these photos, Mesomorphs look scary--and they are.
Michael (on the right in the top photo) displays an arm that most bodybuilders
would be envious of. He is a 6th degree Master of GC and has integrated both
disciplines into his everyday training with great results. Nick, the other highly
developed Mesomorph (bottom photo) came to me after decades of real street
fights, most of which he easily won. He wanted to get more efficient in his ability
to take out an adversary with far less energy than he expended in the past.

He now is far more efficient and if anyone got into a close combative situation
with him they would rue the day they crossed his path. But now Nick can do
what he must with more aplomb, making it far less necessary to hospitalize
an attacker.

Michael is a living legend among GC practitioners as well as his many patrons
who find it very safe to eat, drink and make merry at the various establishments
he protects as a nightclub security person. He is the epitome of what nature can
produce when a strong frame and especially strong muscles are combined with
natural athleticism. He is to me the Sir Lancelot of our round table, to coin a phrase.
A gentle giant. Not really as big as the 400 pound giant bouncers I've worked with
in the past but even more dangerous. No kidding. Many stories could be told of
Michael's exploits.

When GC and Body Building Mix Wrong

I want to point out though that one should not seek to use bodybuilding as a crutch
to cover for a shortcoming in Guided Chaos skill development. Although in my youth
I was athletic and an accomplished power-lifter, various medical ailments
as well as injuries from my years as a street cop have greatly reduced my physical
abilities. Yet because of my devotion to the art and superior Balance, Body Unity,
Looseness, Sensitivity and Adaptability, I can still easily hold my own with these
two Samsons.
Everything else being equal, skill still trumps strength. Strength can
be an insidious trap that stifles your development of Sensitivity because you will
be tempted to block a strike with power instead of absorbing and eluding it while
simultaneously and efficiently bringing your own weapons online. Similarly, you may
try to bull your way through your opponent's defenses instead of "ghosting" around

This "power" trap is not unique to bodybuilding and GC. Tai Chi is filled with
practitioners who have lost the essence of their art, reducing the game of push hands
to what essentially amounts to a Sumo contest. We have seen this scenario played
out even among National Champions. Is it any wonder that some Tai Chi schools will
teach push hands as a form of sensitivity drill but then turn around and put gloves on
to teach "boxing" as the art's combative component? Something got lost in the sauce.

To sum up, weight training is not a detriment to GC training. However, there ARE
other ways to develop strength via Guided Chaos exercises alone. We will explore
some of them in future Newsletter articles.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Gun is Civilization

--By Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret)

Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that's it.

In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force.

The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang banger, and a single guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we'd be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a [armed] mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger's potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat--it has no validity when most of a mugger's potential marks are armed.

People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that's the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.

Then there's the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser.

People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don't constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level.

The gun is the only weapon that's as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weight lifter. It simply wouldn't work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn't both lethal and easily employable.

When I carry a gun, I don't do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I'm looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don't carry it because I'm afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn't limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation... and that's why carrying a gun is a civilized act.

By Maj. L. C audill USM C (Ret)

So the greatest civilization is one where all citizens are equally armed and can only be persuaded, never forced.

Saturday, June 05, 2010


Learning vs. Competing

It seems that a big challenge for many in contact flow is the idea of MOVING WITH your training partner, rather than AGAINST him.

While there are many ways to do contact flow, with many respective benefits, moving slowly WITH your training partners pays big dividends in terms of sensitivity and subconscious knowledge. Don't try to thwart, oppose or stymie your training partner, simply move along with him, allowing his movement to move your body with no resistance. To the greatest extent you can, do not judge, anticipate or look back on motion. Remain passively in the moment. Don't worry about "hitting" him or not being "hit" yourself. You already know how to hit people, this is about subconsciously absorbing the subtleties of human motion. If you keep trying to stop or thwart that motion, how will you ever feel it and learn about it?

The Rewards of Patience

Lots of people seem to want to jump the gun and impose their own will on training partners without ever understanding what the training partner is doing. In combat, this can work IF you always manage to get the jump on the bad guys, if you're never surprised (by e.g. hidden weapons, unseen bad guys, etc.) and if you're bigger, stronger, faster, meaner, etc. than all bad guys combined. . . . If you're lacking in any of these, you'll need to learn how to adapt, and in order to learn to adapt, you need to MOVE WITH your training partners, rather than AGAINST them.

Power Through Visualization

Here's yet another mental image that might help you to advance in GC. I'll write it the way I'd explain it in person:

Yank on my arm, nice and hard. See what happens? My arm gets yanked, and it affects my body a bit in that my shoulder is pulled forward and I get a little off-balance. That's normal, and that's how most people respond if they're being "loose." (If I were to tighten up and resist the yank, I'd get tossed and/or injured.)

Now, I'm going to imagine that my body has almost no mass--it's nearly weightless, like a small feather floating on the wind. If you touch one part of that feather, the whole feather is moved.

Yank on my arm now. See how my whole body is now slammed into you???

Try pushing straight back on my arm. See how my whole body whirls around, steps in and cracks you with my other arm? I'm like that floating feather. If you give me the slightest impetus, I can't HELP but be moved, as I can't resist even the slightest pressure. My whole body gets launched into motion. Now, the fact remains that I actually DO have mass, which drops with a lot of impact as I come to "rest" from the motion you caused. And my motion always tends to bring my center of gravity closer to yours than it was before you moved me, as if there's some gravity between our centers. In this way, I can be completely passive, but ANY impetus from my training partner launches my entire body into loose, united motion. The launching and movement are very "light," as if I were weightless, but the landing is HEAVY (but still loose) as all my actual mass comes down in the new location. In this way, I always move WITH what's going on, not against it, as I have no "mass" with which to resist my partner's motion. His motion simply moves me. No need for the motion to be large, just responsive and effective.

Play with it, see if it helps. Periodically review other such mental tricks in this blog and in the newsletters, as different ideas can help different people at different stages of development.

Some other recent discoveries/observations:

Play with objects that could be used as weapons, e.g. sticks/canes. Yes, practice the basic combative movements with them (e.g. strikes and thrusts with all parts of the objects), but also just toss and twirl them around to get a subconscious feel for their balance, inertia, etc. John "plays" with the cane free-form very creatively, NOT with an eye towards intentionally DOING any fancy flips or twirls in combat, but just to have a better feel for the cane and how it moves. This improves his facility with the cane in any combative situation.

Stop Taking Yourself So Seriously

A sense of humor in training, not taking yourself too seriously, seems to be an essential ingredient for advancing in GC. You should certainly take the ART and the TRAINING (and safety) seriously, but have fun with it and don't be afraid of looking foolish. I've noticed that ALL of the higher level GC black belts are a riot to hang out with outside of class, and are often nearly as funny during training, when appropriate. Some may be quieter and more reserved than others, but all have a great sense of humor about themselves and about life in general. John models this himself. He's very down to earth to the point of being the goofy "class clown," even while behind the facade it's obvious to those who know him that the gears are turning and he takes self-defense and survival VERY seriously. (It's too bad John's sense of humor doesn't usually come through on video.) I've seen folks who take themselves more seriously come through class, and they usually don't hang around for long. Maybe some people confuse the militaristic outward demonstrations of "discipline" common to conventional martial arts with real inner discipline, or warm bawdiness and self-effacement with foolishness. It's their loss. Remember not to take yourself too seriously and to HAVE FUN in your training. Not only is the mind most receptive to learning when it's in a state of "play," but the fact is that life is too short to spend too much time doing things that are no fun.

In other news, "on the road" seminar scheduling should heat up starting late summer, so make sure to get in touch if you think your area can provide enough bodies to support a GCC/GC seminar.

Finally, thanks for all the congrats regarding my becoming a certified GCC instructor. Be sure to extend at least as many congrats to all those who will soon do the same, especially seeing as it'll be a tougher test for them as they did not get "sneak previews" of the instructor manual by assisting with the editing!
--Ari Kandel

Thursday, June 03, 2010


From the desk of ICMAF President Bradley Steiner

The following report from "out there".
The Officer shall remain anonymous. Apparently, our tactics work!

During early-morning hours, in a hotel lobby in TN last week, a police officer who was armed, but not in uniform, was confronted by three masked, armed, robbery suspects.

The robbery was already in progress when the unsuspecting officer walked in on the scene!

At gunpoint, the officer was confronted and ordered to prone-out on the floor. All three suspects, although only in their 20s, were already multiply-convicted, violent, career criminals.

The officer, started to comply, but then suddenly drew his pistol and fired, striking all three astonished suspects. The injured trio immediately fled, but were apprehended shortly thereafter. Two are 'critical," one " stable." The officer was not injured, nor were any other innocent parties at the scene. Not one of the suspects ever fired a shot!

This question comes up often: When thus confronted at gunpoint, or, when a VCA is in the process of taking a family-member hostage, how long do I wait before taking unilateral action?

The answer is, as always: It's your call!

But, here are some things to consider:

Your attackers are at their weakest and most disorganized at the beginning of the ordeal. As the confrontation goes on, they will increase their control, as your options dry up, one by one. When you assume the posture they demand, allow them to search you, allow them to tie you up, et al, in the end you'll have no options. Likewise, when you allow them to escape with a family member under their control, you'll likely never see that family member alive again!

A student says, "... when someone has me at gunpoint, if I move, they'll likely shoot!"

There is no satisfactory, nor comfortable answer to that. All I can say in reply is, "You're dead anyway!"

When you act with precise, but overwhelming, force, you may yet prevail. When you dither, there is little hope for your survival.

Everyone wants the "no-risk" solution. This is fantasy! There is no such thing. "Doing nothing" is never risk-free, nor is any other solution you're contemplating.

The officer in the case dared boldly, and he snatched a stunning victory from the jaws of certain death.

Good show!

The rest of need to think about it. As I've made it a habit of saying, your Test is coming!

Who are not armed, trained, ready, and courageously prepared to act decisively, right now, have surrendered most of their options before the fight even starts!

Using and defending against a gun is even more important than target practice. A great source of info is the Bare Hands to Handguns DVD.
--Matt Kovsky

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


Developing Balance, Looseness, Body Unity and Sensitivity By Yourself

Think about how you might approach dealing with multiple assailants
and what you need to emphasize in your training. One suggestion is this:

Hang 3 small bean bags from a ceiling. Each bean bag should hang
at a different height. One could be at head height, the second could
be at shoulder height and the third at chest height. They should encircle you.

Next, push each one around with various hand weapons slowly and don't
let any one of them touch you.

Next, touch each one as they come into range lightly, causing them
to move even more erratically. Don't let any bag touch you. Step up
the speed very slowly and keep moving and ducking so as not to be hit
while simultaneously lightly striking the bags. Be conscious of where
all 3 are at all times. Remain very loose and pliable.

Next, repeat this while standing on a wobble board. Go very slowly.
Keeping a slow pace will develop your balance more than going fast.
Balance and body unity are the goals here as well as accuracy.
Speed up only for fun; don't thing negative if hit or if you lose balance.
Just say, "Oh well" and continue for a comfortable time. If you feel
frustrated stop and relax. Start again when relaxed. After a good while
we can add the feet to this. Hope you enjoy this exercise.
--Grandmaster Perkins