ADAPTIVE STREET AND GROUND FIGHTING SELF DEFENSE AND INTERNAL MARTIAL ARTS

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   SELF DEFENSE NEWSLETTER ARCHIVES       #274 TAI CHI INSTRUCTOR REVIEW OF GUIDED CHAOS SEMINAR       #239 HOW TO HIT HARDER WITH MAXIMUM SPEED AND POWER       #264 HOW TO GET AS GOOD AS YOU CAN AS FAST AS YOU CAN     

   

IS GUIDED CHAOS THE ONLY REAL TAI CHI LEFT?
Some tai chi instructors think so. But Guided Chaos is NOT tai chi.

Read this little article dug up by Ari and see what you think. Sounds like he's describing GC...


YOUR QUESTIONS:

Q. "What's the difference(s) between Guided Chaos and the Russian Systema?  All of the video clips I've seen on both styles look very similar. Are the two styles compatible?"

A. As someone who formerly practiced Systema (regular classes plus seminars with Vladimir Vasiliev), and who has now practiced Guided Chaos for almost 4 years, I'll give you my view of things:
 
1) Guided Chaos and Systema sometimes LOOK similar because a) both use natural, spontaneous motion rather than set techniques and preplanned responses, b) both emphasize looseness/pliability, and c) both use "unconventional" methods on the ground (rather than strict grappling). However, the similarities end there. . . .
 
2) In my opinion, Guided Chaos has extremely effective training methods: well-defined, repeatable solo and partner exercises that directly develop the five priniciples (Balance, Looseness, Body Unity, Sensitivity and Freedom of Action) and subconscious control. Systema (as I experienced it) has none of this--the learning process is very nebulous. I noticed in Systema that while Vlad and maybe a couple other very experienced guys (notably, from Russia) could do some crazy stuff, most of the students were just "mimicking" Vlad and I had much less confidence that they could really pull anything off. Often they would fall back on previous training (pre-Systema) or brute strength when put under pressure. Again, just my experience and observation. In Guided Chaos, when I first joined, almost EVERYONE was whippin' my ass using the Guided Chaos principles, no matter what I tried to do to them! I attribute this to the training methods that John Perkins developed that allow each student to develop his maximum potential, rather than try to mimic John. We have several Guided Chaos students who formerly had a lot of Systema training and who feel that Guided Chaos actually delivers, quickly, what Systema promises but rarely delivers.
 
3) While Systema goes off on impractical tangents such as "no-touch fighting" (it's just mind games, useless for real combat--I've had it done to me and I've done it to others) and various Spetznaz stuff, Guided Chaos is FIRMLY grounded in the streets of American cities. John Perkins often references incidents he took part in or did the forensics on. Guided Chaos training is strictly focused on what will work to keep you alive.
 
4) Guided Chaos training starts with WWII Close Combat methods and tactics to give students immediate self-defense ability, before moving on to the more esoteric, long-term training. Systema starts right away with the esoteric stuff, with the result that students learn to protect themselves only gradually, if at all. Guided Chaos teaches effective tactics for self-protection, while Systema tends to stray into the "theoretical" stuff or stuff that only Vlad can seem to pull off.
 
5) You could theoretically take Systema classes while also taking Guided Chaos classes or while doing the Guided Chaos exercises. It would only help your Systema to get better, faster. However, the reverse would not happen, and I think you'd discover, like several of our students did, that time spent in Systema class when you could be in Guided Chaos class is a waste of time, relatively speaking. Note this: A bunch of former Systema (and other Russian martial arts) students have switched to Guided Chaos, but no one (as far as I know) has gone in the other direction.
 
You should really check out the book Attack Proof. You'll see very clearly the different focus and the practicality compared to Systema. Just seeing a few video clips is not nearly the full story.
 
I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent in Systema--mostly nice people, interesting training. It did give me a slight head start on understanding looseness and natural, spontaneous motion when I came to Guided Chaos. However, it was Guided Chaos that taught me how to make it all actually WORK for protecting myself and improving my abilities.
 
Just one guy's experience. Your mileage may vary. . .
--Ari K.