by Lt Col Al
"In all forms of strategy, it is necessary to maintain the combat stance in everyday life and to make your everyday stance your combat stance...whether you move fast or slow, with large or small steps, your feet must always move as in normal walking..."
- Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings
In his newsletter, Power is Worthless if You Have No Balance, Guided Chaos founder Perkins offers the following:
It is possible to be effective in KCD without being particularly strong. It is, however, advantageous to have strength. To acquire the wiry, internal brand of strength (which is the best form) you should develop from the inside-out...Basic tai chi-style exercises like our Ninja and Vacuum Walks are imperative for proper KCD study...
In the first part of this series on Balance, I discussed some of these concepts. In this second part, I'm going to present an exercise regimen to guide you toward developing a root that can't be found.
As stated in the previous newsletter, in virtually any physical activity, the less you have to think about it and the more natural your actions become, the easier it is to perform such skills. The same is true for fighting, which is why we focus on training principles along with utilizing KCD Contact Flow exercises to refine the concepts without having to consciously think about them and allowing the subconscious processes to take over.
I can remember being being pushed around in a training session with Master Carron and being asked afterward by Matt Kovsky what I was feeling during the session. I replied, "My legs were crushed instantly." At first he was a little surprised that I was feeling it mostly in my legs but I explained that while he had looked like he was hardly moving, I could feel his root bearing down on me.
It was like trying to push against a willow tree: while the branches are supple the trunk is immovable. In past conversations I've had with Grand Master Perkins on this he had explained to me that many people over the years have tried to "mimic" Master Carron's seemingly immovable root but can't, because they fail to realize that in order to achieve this, you have to do the leg work. He also explained that while Master Carron seems like he doesn't move, in truth, he actually does, by making slight adjustments in his body position and foot placement. However, because his root is so strong, he is able to move as little as possible. He is also able to seamlessly transition to a new root point, thus hiding his root.
Before I continue, there is one more concept I need to present for your consideration. In the figure below, in order to penetrate the center of another person, you must be able to shift your root instantly from one root point to another. Notice in this diagram that the root as shown by the white "+" sign (Center of Gravity, COG) is now all the way over either one foot or the other, meaning that your center of gravity is directly over the center of the root foot when the foot is flat to the ground. Again, this transition must be smooth, allowing you to "ghost" your movements as you shift to a new root point.
Notice in the diagram above that there are multiple arrows corresponding with the footwork. Each arrow indicates the direction that one can strike with power in relation to your root from the rooted foot. Also notice that there are some strikes that appear to point backward from the foot. This is because as long as you are rooted and your hands and feet, shoulders and hips are working together in line with each other ("Threading the Nine Pearl Gates") you can strike from any position and drop hit with power.
JUST ONE MORE POINT...
Now I'm going to move into the exercises. As stated before in Part I, all diagrams in this newsletter are crude representations to provide you with a basic idea how they work. Do not limit your imagination to just what is in the diagrams; they are only meant to illustrate a principle.
I have presented the series of exercises below from the perspective of a beginner. In this way I don't miss anything and I am able to ensure that the most critical aspects are at least covered. I'll only cover in detail those exercises that may be unclear or are taught within our schools or on the Attack Proof Companion DVD's. Obviously there's more that I could add but I believe these are the foundational exercises, without which many of the more esoteric ones as taught by Grand Master Perkins would be difficult at best without the prior leg work.
I have provided a few diagrams to aid in understanding the drills. I have broken this training down into four phases. Phase I lays the foundation and probably has the most critical exercises. Without them none of the other exercises and skills are possible. Phase II begins to "crush" the legs. Phase III begins to add the ability to step to a new root point. Phase IV is designed to give you a root like an Oak tree for bone crushing power.
Roll the Ball--when performing ensure that as you move back and forth you root completely over the other foot.
Ninja and Vacuum Walks --[see Attack Proof]
Rooted Multidirectional Step Drill --[see diagram below]
The Rooted Multi Directional Step Drill is really an off-shoot of the Vacuum walk. In the figure above, as you can see, it provides the general direction in which you want your foot to move to the front, side and back. As you root over your leg you want to keep your center of gravity over the center of your rooted foot. Sinking your weight, keeping the knee slightly bent over the rooted foot while controlling your balance. As you become more proficient you will want to start adding strikes as you move your foot. It should be noted that while the diagram above represents a pattern, you really want to learn to move your foot in every direction. Start in any direction and begin to move the foot from the center and out to one of the directions indicated by the arrows and then back to the center then out in another direction and so on.
Key Points: keep the foot flat to the ground and resist the temptation to slide the foot on the ground; you should be able to pick the foot up each time and place it on the ground. Start slowly and gradually increase the speed controlling your root over the rooted foot.
Long Stepping / Gorilla Walk - [see Attack Proof]
Polishing the Sphere on One Leg - [self explanatory however focus on rooting over the center of gravity even when switching the legs]
Washing the Body on One leg then with the eyes closed - [self explanatory but again focus on rooting over the center of gravity even when switching the legs]
Contact Flow on the wobble boards* - this is basic contact flow but on the wobble boards facing your partner. Focus on not grabbing your partner to maintain balance.
Deep Rooted Rolling the Ball - sink much deeper, focusing on transitioning from one deep root to the other and resist the temptation to rise up as you perform the movement.
Atomic Leg Crusher (Deep Rooting flow hands exercise) --this exercise is the only time that you will be in the traditional martial arts horse stance. Stand with your legs equal distance apart at about shoulder width and begin to move the hands as if doing one of the flow hands exercises. Now you will begin to sink down. Drop down 2" inches then slightly rise up for 1" inch then down 2" inches and so on until your legs are at a 90° angle. Then you will begin to rise in the same fashion moving up 2" inches then dropping down 1" inch until you have returned to your original position.
Key point: since this exercise is very taxing on the legs, perform it no more than once per week.
Slow Puppeteering --[see Attack Proof]
Hacky Sack Drill --stand on one leg and bring the opposite foot up until you can comfortably tap it with your hands. Bring up the legs on each side of the body to the front, side and rear alternating feet and hands focusing on controlling your center of gravity as you move.
Rooted One legged Contact Flow* - rooted contact flow on one leg with your partner. Try to stay on one leg as long as possible and when your leg gets tired switch feet.
Deep Rooted Contact Flow* - as you flow with your partner stay low as if Long Stepping. Avoid leaning or over-stepping with your feet. As you move in every direction, stay over your center of gravity.
Contact Flow on Wobble Boards* - [self explanatory]
Switch Feet, Box Step Over the Line, Step Over the Line, Basic Box Step Drill and Circle Box Step- [for this series of exercises please see the diagram below]
Key Points: as you step the feet must come off of the ground; you should never pivot or slide on the feet and there should also be no hopping since this tends to raise your center of gravity too high causing you to loose balance.
Contact Flow on Wobble Boards on One Leg* - [self explanatory]
Ninja and Vacuum Walks with Weighted Bars --use either the padded weight bars as found at most fitness centers or use dumbbells. When performing these exercises the padded weight bar will be placed on the backs of your shoulders if not available you can use dumbbells. Hold the dumbbells by your side and perform the exercises controlling your center of gravity as you move.
Long Stepping with Weighted Bars - [same as above with the Ninja and Vacuum Walks]
Battle Axe Box Step --[see Attack Proof]
Contact Flow on Wobble Boards on One Leg* - [same as with the previous section]
Off-Balancing Exercise* - first start off on the wobble board while your partner (remaining on the ground) attempts to push you off the board with medium tension. Focus not on striking (as a matter of fact don't strike back at all) but remain elusive, shifting your weight as you flow to avoid his push. Later transition to the ground and repeat this exercise and have your partner increase the speed and power as you progress. Remember: as you are being pushed, focus on shifting your weight, only now begin to step to a new root point but move only as little as you need to.
Striking Drills from the Wobble Boards (pads, shields, heavy bags etc...)* - focus on striking while remaining on the boards on balance. Focus on dropping into the strikes and avoid pushing your strikes by denting the pads/bag as you strike.
A typical work out may resemble thefollowing:
Weeks 1 and 2
Weeks 3 and 4
Last point: have fun with it, enjoy...