TODAY'S TIP: Remember that Sensitivity is at least as important on the ground as it is standing up. Balance is also--not only in the sense of rooting on various points (butt, hips, etc.), but also in developing your "internal gyroscope" such that you know exactly where you are in space at all times. This will allow you complete freedom of motion on the ground without becoming disoriented. John recommends that young children first learn swimming, then gymnastics to develop a good internal gyroscope. A good exercise for developing sensitivity and the internal gyroscope on the ground is to slowly roll around a furnished room with your eyes closed, feeling your way around and between objects in the room. Try to shoulder roll slowly through small passages in between furniture, feeling your way around things with your hands, legs (especially) and body. Take your shoes off to avoid damaging the furniture, and go slowly and control your weight to avoid damaging yourself. If there are lots of pointy baby toys lying around, even better. Stay loose. Of course, nothing can replace actual contact flow with other people on the ground.
TODAY'S TIP (via John 7/22/2010): To achieve formlessness and total freedom of motion, do Contact Flow just as if you're polishing the sphere and your training partner is washing your body. No resistance. No planning. No forming weapons. Nothing logical. Nothing set up. Completely intuitive movement. No defending or protecting. Just move into your training partner while polishing in his direction while your body moves with his movement as if it's being washed. Don't care about hitting or being hit. The goal is complete formlessness and elimination of conscious direction. Of course, to do this, you have to be able to do polishing the sphere and washing the body correctly, subconsciously, from your feet. If you can get it going, it's a very liberating exercise, and should inform all your contact flow practice.
TODAY'S TIP (via John 7/20/2010): In the instant you make contact, find a point of tension/resistance (or create it via pulsing) and use it to take balance just enough to move in and land killing blows. While doing this, stay offline by feeling where he's going and moving at angles to stay out of the way. While you want to remain disengaged and ghostly, sometimes you're forced to fight inside or head-to-head. In this case, it's useful to have the hand conditioning (via slam bag, horse shoe, dynamic tension, etc), looseness and sensitivity to severely damage anything you can touch with short, quick strikes with e.g. hammer fists, as well as to keep your body out of the way even with seemingly no room to maneuver.
TODAY'S TIP: Remember that EFFECTIVE hitting shouldn't "feel" powerful to you. If you feel a lot of "power" within your arm and upper body when your strike lands, you're KEEPING the power there and not releasing it loosely into the target. A good strike is like hitting a baseball with the sweet spot of the bat: It feels almost effortless, but your strike penetrates and has a huge effect.
TODAY'S TIP: A great way to get a feel for dropping is to have someone push you hard, trying to make you fly across the room. Most people would stumble away trying to get their feet under them. Your job is to stay loose and jam your feet into the ground as quickly and in as little space as possible. Instead of flying across the room, you peg yourself into the ground within a step or two. That's a basic drop. If you were really pushed by surprise, it should be a fright reaction.
I recently by chance came across a series of training tips I wrote back in 2010. Figured I'd gradually repost them here for students' benefit. Some of the tips have been restated or clarified more recently, but I'll include all of them to avoid painful editing time. ;)
TODAY'S TIP (via Al in a 2010 Tuesday evening class): You can train to disrupt even a big guy's motion by "getting there first": launch from your root to drop right on top of his limbs/body just as he begins to move, i.e. before his movement has developed much energy. Whatever he does from there, he's screwed, as you're in close and on balance in perfect striking position. This requires high levels of balance and subcortical visual sensitivity.
Heads up: I'll be in Atlanta, GA Saturday, April 8, training with the http://atlantacombatives.com/ crew. Looking forward to it! If you're local, don't miss it! Or even if you're not local. . . . Rumor has it that some folks from https://www.facebook.com/trident.tactical may make an appearance! Good times. . . .
Guided Chaos Instructor