Anything Less and You Will Die
 By Lt Col Al Ridenhour USMC, Guided Chaos Master

Lately, through conversations with Grand Master Perkins and observations in our Guided Chaos self-defense classes, I've begun to notice a disturbing trend, one which can lead practitioners of the art down the wrong path toward the "Dark Side" so to speak and that is the tendency to "play" at self-defense or what I call "Gaming the Game". This is where practitioners, rather than focusing on developing a set of skills that will help them survive a real life and death encounter, focus on developing their skills only for the sake of winning a duel or contest within the confines of the class setting.

This way of thinking is not only foolish but can prove fatal in a real fight to the death. As we continually state over and over, it all starts with your mind set. Without the proper mind set, no amount of training, no matter how well taught or developed, will help you because above all you must have the will to use your skills to their fullest. Anything less and you will die. It really is that simple.

For those who attend our regular classes, most of what I'm going to say here is old news, although from my perspective we don't hear it enough. I probably won't be making any friends with this one. No matter. In this news letter I will focus on what you should be thinking about in your training and hopefully, if nothing else, you will come to understand "What Guided Chaos is Not!"

Plain Talk About True Horror Beyond Your Imagination

Anyone who has attended our seminars (especially the women's seminars) will be quite aware that when it comes to making people understand what we are up against we pull no punches. So I will once again speak plainly as to the true horror of a real street attack.

You see in the real world, unlike what you may think, the true nature of violent crime is much worse than you can possibly imagine. When people get jumped the bad guys rarely interview you. Usually they just come up on you if your guard is down and pummel you and then either rob you or stomp your skull until your head becomes a big sack of gravel. And if their friends are around they are more than willing to join in on the fun.

When you hear stories about some poor young girl's body being found in some remote location, oftentimes partially nude, what the police don't tell you is the sort of condition they found the body in. They leave out the part about how the fiend took out a knife and a pair of pliers and cut and peeled her skin off while she was alive. How their body had every orifice penetrated. How they had their hands cut off or how they were sexually mutilated. Forced to do degrading things, engage in sex with their friends, strangers etc... as in some of the horrific group attacks you may have heard of.

Trust me when I tell you, no horror film or Silence of the Lambs-like movie with all its gore and over-used cliches can even come close to the pure horror of the real thing. And no amount of begging, no amount of money, no sexual favor, "nothing" will get you out of such a situation if you are subdued prior to the act by the human monsters amongst us. This is why we implore people to not go to crime scene number two. For the benefit of our newer readers, what is "crime scene number two?" After they've already stopped, mugged, assaulted you or whatever right where you are, when they tell you "come with me!" or "get in the car!" they're not taking you someplace from which you're going to escape or be rescued by the Marines. It will be the place you died or wish you died to make the pain stop. I can assure you that they have nothing less than your rape and torture in mind, be you male or female. I could go on because unfortunately there is no end to horrific examples of the evil that men do to one another.

We Mean What We Say

With this understanding in mind it still amazes me that people still are confused by the intent behind Grand Master Perkins' training methods. People often ask how they can improve their skills, how they can become more balanced, looser and more sensitive and while they will not say it, I think sometimes they walk away disappointed when we tell them the same things over and over. And that is, do the exercises, focus on the principles during contact flow and focus on fighting for your life and not to win a duel.

For some reason there seems to be a school of thought out there that believes that just because we state or describe a concept of fighting in clear unambiguous terms without flowery language that some how there has to be more to it. They think somehow we are holding back information; that we are not telling them the full story. Even worse, from the comfort of their keyboards, they think that they know more about the art than Grand Master Perkins and even go as far as to try to "change" his exercises and concepts as if they're going to "improve" upon them. They think that through some mental effort they are going to find "the secret" or a "short cut" to developing what they need. Well good luck with that. The Guided Chaos principles are grounded in pure physics and tried-and-true reality and not some intellectual exercise or dojo horseplay. You can intellectualize these principles with all the mental masturbation you want but the core physical truths, forged by actual life-and-death violence, remain the same today as they have been for our ancestors over thousands of years of human warfare and violence.

Folks, I have to tell you I've been doing this art for nearly 20 years and have trained with "all" of the Masters, so harken to what I say: There are no shortcuts outside of the basic exercises and principles of Guided Chaos. However, at least in my view, I think that people want to believe there is more to it than what we say. I believe it is because their minds just can't accept that, given all of the various fighting systems in the world, that very, very few even remotely discuss the importance of balance, looseness etc. and if they do it's more or less just lip service or they do not have the slightest clue as to how to develop them.

They think that if something is that simple that it can't possibly be effective. I always have to point out the obvious and that's because simple is the reason why it works. Remember: Truth is simple; lies are complex.

So, when we say what something is, really, that's exactly what it is!

Enough on that.

Real Fighting Is Nothing Like the Dojo--So Get Over Yourself

"In a boxing match I can win by points. On the street I have to knock everyone out."

--Jack Dempsey

One thing that I think needs to be cleared up because I think it gets lost in the sauce is that when practicing, people often tend to miss the importance of Contact Flow. [Contact Flow is a completely free-form sparring drill]. Once again, for me, Contact Flow is not just an exercise but the place where I work to ingrain the principles of the art into every fiber of my being so that if and when I have to go into action I can do so without thought or hesitation to the best of my abilities.

I also try to focus on the type of movements that make up the dynamic motion that best represents the utter chaos of a real fight and not some weird fancy nonsense based on a reality of fighting that does not exist in the real world. This is why it is important that in the beginning you work very slowly so that your body can develop the proper body unity and movement dynamics to deal with the multitude of possibilities that you may encounter in a real fight. Obviously you cannot have an answer for every possible position you may be in but the idea is to cut down on the level of uncertainty in the split second you have to fight for your life.

As a final note on this (because I also believe that this is often misunderstood) I need to clear up the confusion over when I am instructing people and when I may have to fight. You see there are two things here: one is what I refer to as my "teaching game" and the other is my "fighting mind set". The two are not the same nor how the skills are applied. When teaching people I as well as the other instructors have to move in a manner that allows the person that we are working with the ability on some level to "feel" and "follow" what we are doing. This is done so that as we "guide you" in your development you have something to work with. If we just go out and pummel people all of the time they will not develop and all they will learn to do is get beat up and demoralized. This doesn't mean that we will not hit people, because we will, it is done in this fashion so that we do not work so far above those we are training that they can't learn.

However, my fighting mind set as well as the other instructors of the art is another matter. Let's just say that the level of authority and focus within the hitting dynamic are on two totally different levels and are as different as getting hit with a wiffle ball bat versus an axe handle. For those more advanced students who have worked on this level you know exactly what I am talking about. However it takes time for students to develop their skills to the point where we can hit them with authority and hit each other without fear of seriously injuring each other and even then we are not hitting with all of our might otherwise we would kill each other, literally.

The point is:

  • Guided Chaos is a serious martial art rooted in the brutal reality of real life and death street combat.
  • Guided Chaos is not for sport or fooling around with your friends to show them how "cool" you are
  • Guided Chaos is not designed to play around with bogus macho BS challenges but is exclusively designed for life and death combat which is why we also train with guns, knives and other improvised weapons

As far as I'm concerned, if you so choose to want to "spar" with me I will seal your fate. Taking a cue from our good friend Prof. Brad Steiner, president and founder of the International Combat Martial Arts Federation, I view any and all "challenges" as potential criminal assaults and will spare no quarter. The notion that you were just "kidding" or that you weren't serious is of no consequence to me. So any type of challenge that involves the possibility of me getting injured I view as a threat. If you want to train then we can train, if you get stupid, then I'll get stupid. If you want to keep your head, mind you own business and keep your hands to yourself. If not, I will shut your eyes forever!

[As a side note to this I encourage all practitioners of the art to adopt this mind set. Your training will progress faster and your workouts will become more focused and productive. More importantly, morons will be less inclined to want to challenge you. Even stupid people want to live.]

Makes sense to me.

Focus On Your Own Training and to Hell With Everything Else

"We must remember that one man is much the same as another, and that he is best who is trained in the severest school."

--Thucydides, "History of the Peloponnesian War"

The title of this section speaks for itself and that is focus on your own training and nothing else. Stop worrying about what other people are doing and focus on your own development because as I stated in a previous article,

"You and I don't know anything, the fight 'is' what it 'is' and comes from everywhere and nowhere from a seemingly infinite number of possibilities." More importantly, I can only deal with "what is" because whatever I bring to the fight, in that moment it is all I have and I have to use whatever I have for that moment and that moment only because there ain't no more.

Again, when the moment of truth arrives,

"There is no future, no past, no time; there is only the moment, my sword and your sword and nothing else. When I strike, I strike to kill, no more, no less. Your head or mine, it's that simple. I will do what must be done and consequences be damned..."

Why Being Civilized Is Overrated

Now before you get all bent out of shape here let me explain what I mean by this. One thing that needs to be addressed (because this is really getting ridiculous) and that is this notion that people do not have the right to defend themselves or that people should never take the law into their own hands. I'm not talking about people not being civil towards one another or showing respect and kindness. What I am talking about is this "Pollyanna" notion that there are no "bad people" they are just "misunderstood". That violence never solves anything, that if we just talk to each other long enough that any dispute can be resolved and on it goes.

This may sound good on "Oprah" but this way of thinking in the real world will buy you a dirt nap. Understand there is evil in the world and denial will not make it disappear. Too many people think that they are "too civilized" to have to resort to violence to protect themselves or that the possession of a fire arm for personal protection is the sole domain of the government.

Just from my own personal observations, many of these people have a strange, naive, almost childlike outlook toward their own safety and expect "daddy," the police or the government etc. to save them. They would rather risk going to their deaths in order to feel "morally superior" about themselves than fight for their lives. Puh-leeze!!!

A Rude Awakening

This mind set reminds me of a conversation with a prospective student I had long ago while teaching at the Manhattan school. This gentleman (real nice fellow by the way) came in to inquire about the school. After going through my normal dissertation about busting skulls and wanting to punch people so hard that their liver comes out of their mouth (hey, I know it's not possible but trust me it's not for a lack of trying) he made a statement to me that almost caused my head to explode when he said, "I want to learn how to fight but I don't want to hurt anyone."

I politely explained to him that was not possible and is not the reality of what happens in a real confrontation for your life. After a little back and forth on this he thanked me and left. I don't know who was more taken aback by the whole thing, him for hearing the harsh reality of real violence, or me as I stood there in utter disbelief to what I had just heard. Over time I've come to realize that this mentality is more widespread than I thought.

Now, I'm all about being civil and holding doors open for my wife, showing kindness to others etc. but there also comes a time when you have to be, for lack of a better term "The Butcher". There comes a time when you must become a raw beast, when you must have the single mindedness of purpose of the Lion fighting for his life on the plains of Africa. When your life or your loved one's are in danger of being snuffed out, you must summon up all of the emotion (pain, hate, and discontent) in your body and focus it into your enemy with all you have without hesitation. When you train "take no prisoners" self defense instead of gentlemanly self defense, you will always have the opportunity to back off from the maximum. If you train with a gentleman's mindset you will never be able to unleash the dogs of war when you need to. Anything less is certain death for you and your loved ones. As John Perkins' 80 year-old uncle explained to him, "you have to look at your enemy as 'prey'.

This is what we mean when we refer to your "moment of truth." It's not about being brave or a hero--it's about doing what must be done. One of the best explanations of courage I ever heard was:

"Courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to function in fear's presence""

Trust me when I tell you that I don't think I'm any tougher or braver than the next guy, which is why I still train in the art. I just know that the alternative to doing nothing is much, much worse and is not an option. Just remember: when faced with your own mortality, "hope" is not a plan! You can't just hope to get out of a bad situation, you need to work past your fear, gird your loins and grow some onions otherwise you may quickly find yourself on the other side of eternity.

Can you be that guy or that gal?

Only YOU Can Save You

Just as Smokey the Bear says, "Only you can prevent forest fires." well, "Only you can save you." Once again I am including some comments from a previous article written by Kevin Harrell, 4th Dan Guided Chaos (and former federal law enforcement officer):

"People have to realize that in many instances you and only you are responsible for your own safety and survival. The cavalry is not coming to save you. Awareness training in conjunction with realistic self defense training may be the only things that stand between you becoming a victim versus a survivor. You will never know how many attacks on yourself never happened because of your heightened state of awareness or the aura you give off of not being an easy victim that the thug can perceive and thus left you alone to find easier prey."

And this:

"The criminal element is out there plotting and preparing their crimes and they are watching to identify potential victims. So if you look at it as the criminal element doing their job (finding easy prey to victimize) while yours is to not be an easy victim, then you will see how awareness is key and paramount to your survival. Believe me, criminals are out there even though you may not see them or even be aware that they are conducting surveillance on you and others."

The Police Are Not There To Save You

Also, this notion that the police are somehow omniscient and know where you are and when you're in trouble and can somehow "transport" themselves to the scene of the crime and stop the attack on you in the nick of time is nonsense! While this always seems to play out well on TV, in the real world, here's how it goes: first there is the crime, then after the fact the police show up. If you're already a victim, game over. By the time the police respond it will probably be too late. While I'm all about "hope" and "change" (as many people are these days) when it comes to real violence, if "hope" is your plan, I have bad news for you.

Are you training for real or are you just "Gaming the Game"?

Are you more concerned with a "win" in class or victory on the street?

If you're not training for real you're just wasting your time.

Well that's it for now. Please keep these things in mind as you go about your training. I can only offer you what I know to be the truth. What you decide to do with it is on you.

The choice is yours.