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Tuesday, September 27, 2011



Q: In the NY class you were teaching me about how to isolate from my root so that I was utilizing less arm movement and moving to more advantageous positions using my body so I wouldn’t get stuck in grabs and be able to continue the flow. All I was wondering was if there are any drills you could explain to me where I could practice isolating from my root and any type of things I could do with the training partners down here so I could continue to cultivate this ability?

A: Two solo drill recommendations:

1) Psycho Tango. See the second edition Attack Proof book.

2) Something with no name that Al showed me a while back: Find a very non-resistant object at around head/shoulder/chest height. The traditional object is a leaf on a tree, preferably at the end of a long, thin branch. In my old apartment I used a string hanging from the ceiling. The object should move in response to the slightest pressure.

Here's how to get started: touch the object with your fingers, being careful not to make it move. Now, while staying in contact with the object with your fingers but not disturbing it at all, start moving and stepping all over the place with the rest of your body. This forces you to isolate the body part in contact with the object while maintaining freedom of motion with the rest of your body. This is a tough drill, it's not easy to keep constant contact while not disturbing the object at all, so don't expect perfection at first. As you get the hang of it, touch the object with other contact points, e.g. your elbow, and isolate around that. Vary the height of the object and the angle at which you touch it. Get as crazy as you can with the movement of the rest of your body. Use TWO objects (e.g. two leaves with various distances between them) and touch one with each hand, and isolate from there. If you find yourself with nothing to do, you can do this with any object you can touch (e.g. a wall), you just won't have the feedback regarding whether you've given any pressure. You can also do it very small and slow if you're out in public, i.e. moving so small/slow that to outside observers it looks like you're just touching a wall or table and standing there, nothing unusual.

In contact flow, what worked for me was playing with the idea of not letting the other person feel where I'm going. This forced me to isolate, either with no pressure or with constant/equal light pressure. Also, letting people grab me hard and just letting them have whatever they're grabbing while I step into position to end it.

--Ari Kandel

Q: It’s been many months since I was last able to
visit you in New York. Am I on the right track with the following:
Practicing Washing the Wall, later reviewing GCC Combatives eBook;
concepts started to click in place, not just individually but as a whole.
I was practicing Washing the walls, then thinking about Sphere of
Influence, I finally understood –“NOT JUST KNEW”— why you remain close to
your opponent until you escape. Besides not giving your opponent a better
chance to attack (which was demonstrated to me multiple times during my
visits), my Sphere of Influence is quite small. To strike back I need to
be close. Combining this revelation with the Box step, other footwork,
moving the “Sphere of Influence”, and remaining unavailable; staying close
to your opponent “FEELS” safer than creating distance. The opposite of
what I demonstrated in the workouts. If I’m off on a tangent I’d like to
know and correct it.

A: Great questions; we love it when people are so enthused they're training
on their own, making discoveries!

First off, the drills you're referencing are called Polishing the Sphere
and Washing the Body. With Polishing, you're envisioning you're inside a
giant glass sphere wiping off steam. the "sphere" is as far away as
whatever tool (weapon) you are using to polish. The movements are all
outward oriented.

Washing is the opposite; you're literally attacking yourself and getting
out of the way at the same time. Washing develops sensitivity, polishing
does not.

Your revelation is important: it's only when you are in "sensitivity
range" (direct contact) that real mayhem (and practical defense) takes
place. Everything else is sparring and thus B.S. Your Sphere of influence
is anything within reach. You need to be comfortable with all weapons,
offense and defense, within this range. Most people, because of stiffness
and over commitment, are ineffective at close range, where GC trained
sensitivity tells you what you need to do without thought or even vision.
So in summary, you are on the right track!

Remember, the closer you are, the lighter, more sensitive and more
unavailable you need to be (the opposite of most people).
--Matt Kovsky