TODAY'S TIP: Give this mental trick a try: If, during contact flow, your arms feel stuck and resistant, imagine you have no arms and continue to move your body effectively. This works for some people to allow them to let go and stop resisting pressure at least for a moment. Extend this to any part of your body that gets stuck or controlled. He's pushing against your chest? You have no chest and your body continues to move in. Stopping your shoulder? You have no shoulder etc. Of course, this is just a step along the way. You want to train yourself to not give any resistance in the first place, to remain unavailable yet unavoidable. . . .
TODAY'S TIP: From a 2010 lesson with Tim: Back in the day, someone asked who would win in a fight between John and Tim. John's response: "Whoever gets there first." Think about the many mental and physical meanings behind that. . . .
TODAY'S TIP: "Don't judge me by your own shoddy standards." From John, on people out there declaiming that it's impossible to successfully deal with multiple attackers. Yeah, it's impossible IF you have no real-world-applicable skill and knowledge.
Here are some (not all) key points concerning multiple attackers:
1) Until you reach a high level of finesse in your GC movement, your best bet against multiple attackers will usually be lighting-fast, aggressive preemptive attacks (chops, palms/eye strikes) delivered with rapid STOMPS into each attacker until you can clear space to escape. Don't stay in one place or engaged with one guy for more than a split second. "Pin-ball" between them, striking to kill with each stomp, until you can "make a hole" to escape. Lifting your knees and stomping hard maximizes your balance and ability to move in any direction while making it tough for anyone to get a good hold on your legs. Move in a low fright-reaction-esque position as you explode on the bad guys. If you're not attacking to create space to escape, you're losing.
As you advance in GC, more subtlety will become available to you, especially when dealing with multiples. You will be able to move less yet accomplish more in terms of remaining unavailable to the bad guys while making your strikes unavoidable. You'll be able to move closely around bad guys while manipulating their balance to make them get in each others' way while striking them down. This is very different from the "running around the group" ineffectually that you sometimes see, in that it requires far less movement, making it doable even if you are slower/older/weaker and in confined space.
Of great importance:
1) Do NOT offer any direct resistance to anything. This is how you remain disengaged in order to maintain your freedom of movement.
2) As the action begins, choose one guy on the periphery of the group, attack him and move around him. Don't try to engage several at once or waste time second-guessing whom to go after first. Do not back away from the group once the violence is on--move to the side and in.
3) Remember that because you have GC single-leg balance, you DO NOT have to stop moving or "set" yourself to strike powerfully. As long as at least one foot is on the ground, you can strike effectively in any direction, even while moving.
4) Box stepping and reverse box stepping are critical to being able to cut angles around attackers quickly and efficiently while maintaining balance.. .
TODAY'S TIP: Not really a "tip," but a funny thing: John was having us practice some gun takeaways, where you twist the gun out of the perp's hand after clearing the line of fire and striking him. He warned that he doubts most people would have the wherewithal to execute such precise movements under pants-soiling stress. (Being able to remove the gun regardless of the perp's strength and movements requires a lot of knowledge and precision.) The few times he had to deck a perp holding a gun on him, John simply cleared the line and struck, and that was that. However, he feels it's worth it for us to at least be aware of such possibilities. One thing he commented on was the speed required to make such tactics work. To demonstrate, without rising from his chair, he had me hold the gun on him, and executed the clear and disarm at high speed--such high speed, in fact, that he RIPPED THE PLASTIC TOY GUN APART. I was left holding the intact grip and part of the trigger guard, uninjured. The rest of the gun was ripped off and crushed in several pieces. I'm not just talking about removing the slide from the frame. This training gun was one-piece hollow plastic, and had survived unharmed through a LOT of vigorous training with big guys, including flying around the room and bashing into everything. Kinda makes you think of the benefits of GC movement combined with slam bag training for the hands!
TODAY'S TIP: Remember that in general, you want to be either so far away from a threat that he can't touch you or hurt you, or, if you're forced to get physical, so far into his space that he can't get his balance or space to do anything useful. Apply this idea in your contact flow training. You're either staying away from him (FAR away, so that he can't touch you or preferably even shoot you) or moving through him as if to make your spines fuse. NOT in-between--NOT sparring distance, no "stand and trade" nor "feeling out," etc. If you're going to get within his kill zone, you need to render him incapable of drawing a weapon or moving decisively until you can easily escape and create BIG distance. The only reliable way to do this is to take away his space and balance as you attack. Most people are most comfortable, through experience, hitting at medium distance, like kickboxing, and wrestling at close distance. One thing that makes GC unique is the trained ability to apply devastating striking within "grappling range" via looseness, balance, body unity and dropping (guided by full-body sensitivity). So move into where he can't hit you effectively but you can devastate him. If you happen to take him out on the way in, well, such is life. . . . At any moment in contact flow, if there is free space between your bodies, whoever fills it effectively (with balance) first will usually have the advantage. Note that this is a general idea, not absolute.
TODAY'S TIP: Remember, hitting someone is easy. If a guy were to politely stand still in front of you, you could lay into him pretty well with only minimal training. The problem arises when the guy MOVES and tries to hurt YOU. In this case (i.e. reality), you need to learn how to MOVE WITH him, to adapt to his movement to constantly put yourself in position to hit effectively without being hit. If you get this down well, effective hitting goes back to being easy again. If you can move with the guy very well, he might as well be standing still with regard to your ability to damage him. Therefore, in your contact flow, concentrate on improving your ability to move with people such that you can remain in position to hit without being hit. That will make hitting easy. Too many people in contact flow just try to hit without moving the whole body with what he's doing. This renders hitting difficult, no matter how much you try it! You want to always be moving your whole body to where you are UNAVAILABLE yet UNAVOIDABLE! If during contact flow you get the feeling that his movement is frustrating your ability to hit him, your mindset is wrong. You are not moving with him, but trying to force your hits instead. When you are moving with him, his movement CREATES and FACILITATES your hits!
TODAY'S TIP: There's no such thing as a BAD training partner, so long as 1) he doesn't have any intent to really hurt you, and 2) you are disciplined enough to ignore your ego and focus on improving yourself through the GC principles. Even if your training partner is stiff, spastic, and keeps changing speed, as long as he is not really damaging you, you CAN stay relaxed and learn--IF your ego allows you to. Always try to move a little slower than your partner (whatever speed he's moving) and stay balanced, loose and unitized. Yes, if he keeps changing speeds and applying strength, he'll miss out on the learning opportunity and you'll get hit a lot. However, as long as those hits are not damaging to your body nor hitting the eyes, throat or groin, they DO NOT MATTER from an ego perspective, and you should simply try to move with them, not caring whether you're "successful" or not. In this way, you'll be able to remain loose and balanced and COMFORTABLE, even while your training partner messes around with strength and speed. Again, the only limitation to this is if he really has intent to hurt you, or doesn't understand his own strength and speed to the point where he'll hurt you accidentally. If that's the case, simply don't work with the person, or ask to slow things down. If your ego doesn't allow you to do this, you're wasting your time trying to learn GC.
TODAY'S TIP: The subconscious seems to "digest" things and work things out during down time. If you never give it any down time (breaks from training), it may never get a chance to absorb the lessons from the previous training session. Therefore, while it may seem good to train non-stop every day, you do need breaks and down time (measured in hours and days, not minutes) to learn stuff best and avoid spinning your wheels in the mud and burning out. Helps balance your life a bit too, which is actually more important than physical balance. Of course, most people have the opposite problem: not having ENOUGH time to train as much as they'd like. Be comforted that this gives your subconscious more "absorbing time".
TODAY'S TIP: Most martial arts training will give you the impression that your arms and legs are the weapons, and that you shoot them out like rockets from your more or less stationary body, which is the launch pad. In GC, your whole skeleton is the weapon, and the striking ridges on your limbs are simply the parts of the weapon that happen to make contact. If you want e.g. your hand to hit his head from where it is, do NOT simply extend your arm. This will be easy for him to feel (due to the obvious muscular change), it will open you up to counters, and it won't pack much wallop. Instead, move your whole skeleton to "carry" the relaxed hand/arm to the target.
A useful exercise in slow Contact Flow to get a feel for this: Reverse the standard "Puppeteering" drill. Instead of controlling your feet with your hands, control your hands with your feet. Your right hand or elbow cannot move unless your right foot moves correspondingly below it. In realty, your movement doesn't have to be this robotic with a 1:1 foot:hand movement ratio, but this exercise can give you a feel for hitting with your whole skeleton and using your feet/body to move your limbs.
TODAY'S TIP (via thoughts from John 8/24/2010): The EGO is the #1 obstacle to learning Guided Chaos, for ALL students (especially if you don't think it applies to you). It can manifest in many detrimental ways, from wanting to "win" or be the "top dog" in training to wanting to please the teacher or "show" your knowledge or improvement. Even the briefest ego-driven emotional response to hitting or being hit in training can devalue that training. Simply put (and it ain't simple), ego clouds perception of truth--and lucid, detailed perception of absolute truth moment by moment is required in order to adapt to the chaos of violence. As in AA, the first step is admitting you have a problem. Then you can identify the problem and work on it. We must know ourselves honestly in order to perceive the truth about others. Sounds "out there" but John can make it feel pretty darn concrete.
Guided Chaos Instructor