No, young Jedi... it has nothing to do
with the "Force"--
UNDERSTANDING SENSITIVITY TRAINING
FOR COMBAT READINESS
By Lt Col Al
"It is very clear that KCD must be felt. Much will be revealed that
cannot through reading and video. All the drills lead up to the actual
application of KCD. I have found that only those who have developed
their inner abilities to a great extent have some grasp of what the
drills are about and those are very few. Most of the internal arts fall
far short of high-speed real world application.
Many people try to re-create KCD without actual experience. No amount
of verbal argument alone will give anyone insight. The exercises are
designed to enhance the average martial artist's basic abilities and to
guide the KCD student when a class is not available.
No fight is necessary to feel the fluid freedom that KCD can give a
person. KCD training stands alone as a method of physical meditation.
You cannot go far without internalizing the concepts. This is a pure
fact. All the principles that can be learned from the book and videos
will put a student in the right direction for enhancing basic power and
all the other attributes. Physical initiation can give a spark toward a
The ultimate result is to feel like water and then vapor. This is not
an esoteric mind game. It is real. You can get along very well just with
the external methodology that KCD offers and stay viable in most
serious altercations. The higher levels are there to be discovered even if only
for the art of it... "
-- Grand Master John Perkins
Folks it doesn't get any clearer than that.
However for the purpose of this newsletter I will try to elaborate on
what Grand Master Perkins has said and offer some of my observations on
this subject as it relates to sensitivity. I have found that when
teaching Ki Chuan Do (KCD), students must not only understand the
principles of the art and their application to real fighting but must
be totally immersed in the principles which I have also discovered is the
best and fastest way to develop the attributes otherwise they quickly
Through total immersion training the body begins to work on autopilot
and thus flows with the program even if the cognitive or left side of
the brain cannot fathom everything that is going on. This idea falls in
line with the Zen Warrior Monk concept of "Mushin" in which you become
totally immersed so that your subconscious mind can rapidly learn.
Through this process even when you make what are perceived to be
mistakes, you're still learning but at an accelerated rate. As a matter
of fact, through this process the faster you fail and correct your
mistakes the quicker you develop.
What I will attempt to do in this
newsletter is to explain the importance of probably the most difficult
principle in the art and that is "Sensitivity." The reason it is
difficult is obvious: it requires direct contact with another person so
no book or DVD can do it full justice, it can only provide you with a
logical frame work of the concept from which to work from. However,
once you have felt sensitivity from an adept in the art of Ki Chuan Do the
methodology used to develop it becomes crystal clear.
THE PATH TO SUCCESS:
PRINCIPLES OF MOVEMENT
With that said I would like to offer a few "Zen" like pointers to
consider throughout the remainder of this news letter.
1. When training surrender your ego, trust your sensitivity and
work your greatest weaknesses to continually improve.
2. You must develop your sensitivity with regard to being hard and
soft by training in the extremes of the concepts of Yin and Yang. You
must learn to be hard and soft all at the same time.
3. Through your sensitivity you must learn to recognize when you
have defeated an opponent's attack so that you do not waste time and
motion dealing with him. You must also use your sensitivity to
recognize when to give something up lest you be sucked into a death trap.
4. In order to achieve the higher levels of the art you must learn
to use your sensitivity to "defeat the art within the art." In KCD there "are"
rules known as the "principles" (i.e., balance, looseness,
sensitivity, body unity and freedom of action) and just like playing
chess the rules or principles do not change just the levels of mastery.
The more skilled you are the more you can do since like the great chess
masters you can see more moves sooner. So, just as the chess master
knows all of the possible moves over the novice through your
sensitivity you must learn to "make the art work within the art in order to defeat
5. In order to fight and move with supernatural speed, you must
start off extremely slow ensuring that every fiber of your being is
moving as one, feeling as much as you can, allowing for your sensitivity
to drive your motions. It is your sensitivity, both kinesthetic
awareness and spatial awareness, which drive all of the other
principles and allows you to develop your body unity to the nth degree.
Sensitivity is the catalyst for all body unity.
6. By allowing your sensitivity to drive your actions you are able
to stay several steps ahead of what the other person is doing; this will
also allow you to appear hard and soft all at the same time and by
using your sensitivity to pulse people and create false surfaces in order to
hide your movements. Below is a brief definition of Sensitivity as it relates to fighting.
1. [n] The ability to respond to affective changes in your
2. [n] The ability to respond to physical stimuli or to register
small physical amounts or differences
3. [n] Physiological responsiveness to external stimuli
Sensitivity-- both Kinesthetic Awareness (which is based on your sense of
touch) and Spatial Awareness (or sub-cortical vision which is based upon
using your sense of visual perception in response to controlling your
sphere of influence) are the "genesis" of all combative movement and
development. Your sensitivity is based on both your neuromuscular
anatomy as well as what you visually "perceive" is going on. This is
not only based on being trained on what to perceive as a threat but also on
your sensitivity to external stimuli. In other words as you feel
therefore it becomes, based on what you feel.
As you flow your sensitivity controls all movement and drives all of the other
It is your sensitivity that tells you where and when to be balanced,
when to move your root and where to move it.
It is your sensitivity which tells you where, when and how to become
pliable or loose and by how much or how little.
It is your sensitivity which tells you based on what you feel in
relation to your body, how to align your bones, how much force to use or
how little. It also tells you how little or how far to move and it
controls all of these things all at the same time.
Your sensitivity is able to do this because the receptors in our skin
and our muscles feel even the slightest pressure, change in direction
or motion. Since we are born with this, all we have to do is to learn to
use this ability for fighting.
Understanding this we can learn the following information:
1. A sense of position - For example, we can 'feel' where our feet are
in relation to our arms when striking.
2. A sense of movement - We can accurately feel the speed and direction
of the movement of our limbs. This allows us to co-ordinate our limbs
in relation to our bodies and our sense of balance while we are moving.
3. A sense of force - This is the amount of effort your muscles need to
make to produce accurate movement, which is particularly important when
flowing, sticking, pulsing, bouncing people or dropping into strikes.
It's just Yin / Yang.
YIN/YANG MAKES IT HAPPEN
Several years back I was teaching a class in Nyack and I stated that
your ability to distinguish between the Yin and the Yang should be as
distinctive as distinguishing between black and white and like a razors
edge you need to be able to go back and forth between the two
Grand Master Perkins added,
"You must also become so refined in your sensitivity that even within
the shades of grey you can distinguish between the specks of black and
white. This is because if you train to the extreme between the Yin and
the Yang, eventually as your sensitivity develops everything in between
is always available to you." ...Or words to that effect.
As Grand Master Perkins has discussed over and over you want to learn
to be unavailable to his strikes, actions and motions and yet your strikes
actions and motion to him are unavoidable. You always seem near and far
at the same time. You want to train to the extreme principles of yin to
become like vapor, a ghost, while also developing the ability to be extremely
yang and so hard that you could punch a hole in people or stop their motion
instantly without over committing on what you are doing.
NOW HERE'S THE SECRET...
While you want to be Yin and Yang, the times that you are Yin
is 99% of the time, and the times you are Yang are for a micro second in
time. Remember that punches are like vapor: amorphous, ghost-like, then
for a split second they become like water and then for a microsecond like
ice and then back to vapor again.
My Experiences with Master Carron
Now I have to confess when I first came to the art of KCD I did have a
major advantage over other students and that was the privilege of
working virtually every week for a year with Master Carron. Without
getting into detail let's just say Master Carron gave me a whole new
appreciation for the importance of following the principles. It was
through these workouts that I learned that while size, speed and
strength do matter, through the application of allowing sensitivity to
drive his motions he could "easily" negate my speed and power while
appearing to hardy move at all.
Even worse were the times when he would be pummeling me while watching
what other students were doing in class. He could do this because his
sensitivity was so developed that he merely needed the slightest
contact to be able to control the fight.
Here's a funny story along these lines that I just thought of and I
have to tell this because I still get a chuckle out of it every time I think
of it, I was once working out with Master Carron and during this time
Matt Kovsky was there observing "the lesson". Well right in the middle
of me being thrashed back and forth like a pin ball, literally, Matt
begins asking me questions like, "What are you feeling now? What is he doing?
What's going on?" I kid you not! I'm getting thrashed in ways I can't
even describe and this guy is asking me questions like I'm getting a
foot massage or something. The nerve...
By the way for those who were wondering, the same thing still happens
when I work with him, the only difference being I now have enough sense
to try to stay out of his way. The point is even though my level of
sensitivity has improved over the years there are all different "levels
of sensitivity," levels way above my head.
"The higher levels are there to be discovered ..."
THE "FIGHT CLUB" MENTALITY
Now I'm going to delve into something that needs addressing as it
relates to sensitivity. I will spend considerable time on it because I
believe it to be the source of much confusion and angst. I believe this
has caused more problems, has retarded the development of more
students and in some cases instructors. It is the root of more doctrinal
heresies within KCD than I believe anything else. I call it the "Fight Club"
While there is no question that the ultimate goal is to develop one's
ability to be able to fight at an extremely high level, I have found
that the those that follow the principles, do the drills and focus only
on developing their abilities through the principles are able to
develop skills which transcend their physical attributes and talents
whereas those who train only to get good enough to "win" in class or defeat
"this" art or "that" art never achieve the levels they may be capable
They constantly speed up mostly due to their ego's not letting go, so no
matter how slow you tell them to move they just cannot resist trying to
score points as opposed to worrying more about developing their
sensitivity by following the exercise, in doing so all they are doing
is stealing from their own training. They're also confusing speed with
sensitivity so this throws off not only their timing, but their body
unity as well, since generally when people speed up it is usually just
their arms that get fast, thus they are unconnected to their root so
their strikes lack power.
Intuitively they feel their bodies are out of position to strike effectively.
As a result they try to "catch up" by
moving their arms faster rather than using their sensitivity to
align their bodies to a better position. Amazingly no matter how
many times this is said, people continue to go the way of the heathen on
Along the lines of speeding up, in my Newsletter #8 "I Need to Move Slower
to Get Faster," I address this and why it is a major flaw in their
"Let's face it when moving slowly anyone can counter another person's
movements if the person is moving slow while the other person speeds
up. However, if your were already five to tens times as fast as a normal
human being then you don't need anyone's fighting system because you're
'Superman'... But, if you can do it slow, then you can do it fast and if
you can strike in a unitized manner 'slowly' not only can you strike in
the same manner when moving faster but by unitizing the body in this
manner it ensures all of your power is behind the strike."
I remember working at high speed with Big Mike for our 3rd Attack Proof
Companion DVD and I can tell you there was no way I could stay with
Mike or better yet out of his way if I relied on speed because I'm not
faster than him. Now I still got hit [trust me I got hit because it took me
like "three moons" to recover from it] but by relying on sensitivity I
was able to stay just enough out of his way to not get penetrated. For
those who don't know the difference: a boxer with a glove on "hits" you...
a shotgun blast "penetrates" you, and a drop strike in KCD is closer to
MOVIE MAGIC OR COMBAT PRAGMATISM?
Don't get me wrong, no one likes getting hit in the head but we need to
keep in mind that we are not the mano a mano jump-into-the-ring-and-box
or grapple people, nor are we the levitation and yogic flying folks for
that stuff you will have to go elsewhere. We are the folks that if you
mess with us on our way home from work or in the parking lot you're
going to have to kill us because at the end of the day that's what we
train to do. Like the movie the Karate Kid, which from a philosophical
stand point is really a better movie than people give it credit, when
Daniel asked Mr. Miyagi if he won many tournaments growing up he
replied, "Daniel-san Miyagi no fight for points, Miyagi fight for
life..." That's what I'm talking about!
I think what confuses people is that the only fight that matters is the
one you're in for your life. So while you want to train seriously,
you're mindset should not be on winning in class from a competitive or
sportive standpoint but on training to win in combat whether on the street or in
You should work not only to push your abilities but your partner's as
well and they in turn should do likewise. Long ago when Uncle Larry
Granto was still living in NY, he, Matt and I would meet on a weekly
basis outside of class just to train and push each others abilities,
focusing on our weaknesses all for the purpose of improving each others
The speed we would work at would often vary mostly ultra slow and
sometimes as fast as we could move all while trying to the best of our
abilities stay true to the principles of KCD. Such workouts were not
only invaluable but reveled weaknesses in our application of the
principles that would have never come to light. About the only rule was
that whatever was the agreed upon speed you had to maintain it outside
of that pretty much is was anything goes.
The major epiphany we all came to was that moving at a slower speed
required "far" more skill than moving at full speed and was far more
beneficial to the development of our sensitivity than anything. It is
interesting over the years I've observed that from the slow contact flow
exercise, unless the person I am dealing with is at the KCD Black Belt
level or higher, when I move at warp speed I do not get hit at all and
if you are "stiff"-- man you can forget about it! You might as well be
standing still because there is no fight.
THERE IS NO MAGIC TO IT...
Unless you work to develop your sensitivity along with the other
principles of balance and looseness, you just can't get there from here.
The equation is simple:
Balance + Looseness + Sensitivity = Body Unity (Grace / finesse, Chi...)
Body Unity is the culmination of Balance + Looseness driven by Sensitivity.
...UNLESS YOU TAKE A DETOUR
THROUGH THE DARK SIDE.
While no one can fully know just how good they will ever be you can
always tell the ones that fall into the Fight Club category by the
* They can't get their egos out of the way so that their mind's
can learn. In their minds they must "win" in class at all costs.
* They don't listen.
* They constantly speed up even after being told numerous times to
slow down. The flip side of this is that when confronted about it they
are the first ones to accuse others of speeding up. Typical...
* In most cases their strikes are a day late and a dollar short.
In other words they get hit and then instead of pocketing and getting
loose to deal with the strike they speed up to get "pay back" or to
* While they may get good even in the rare case of reaching the
Black Belt ranks, at some point they cease to improve. In fact as time
goes on in comparison to others they appear to regress, not because
they are getting worse, but because others are improving by leaps and bounds
while they have experienced no new growth.
* They rely on their physical talents rather than the principles
of the art. So while they do get good, by their own reluctance to trust
in the principles they can only get so good thus limiting themselves.
* They're notorious for offering advice they are not qualified to
give and teach things they don't know, or advice that is just flat out
* Here's the one I like: they teach a technique that they already
know how to defeat, they tell the student they're working with to try
it out and then when the student attempts it they get blasted for doing
the very thing they were told what to do. [I guess it's easy to make
anything work when you already know what they're going to do before
* They screw up our drills.
* Oh, did I say that "they don't listen"?
Trust me I could say more.
YOU CAN NEVER BECOME TOO SENSITIVE...
What "Fight Club" doesn't understand is that because they choose to go
down the path of "The Dark Side" so to speak they actually start
heading off on a tangent away from the art, "...fooling around in the leaves
and branches of a great tree without any conception of its trunk..."
As a side note I believe this is also how so many bogus fighting
systems come about. Someone discovers either through astute observation or as
in most cases, they are physically gifted or by chance they stumble on a
few basic principles of combat and then they create a whole system of
fighting based on a narrow focus to the exclusion of all else including
What they don't get, and trust me they don't, is that when I work with
them I work slightly above their skill level so they feel only what I
allow them to feel and what they are feeling is like the gentle breeze
moving across the surface of the pond. The breeze, which represents
their understanding of the principles of sensitivity only grazes the
surface of the pond, "clueless" of its depth.
There are levels of sensitivity unknown to them because they've chosen
to follow their vain imaginings and have abandoned the principles of
the art as laid out by Grand Master Perkins which are rooted in the laws of
physics, human physiology and the forensic reality of combat. Grand
Master Perkins has been working these principles for 50 years and has
real world experiences in ways that he's trying to forget.
My question is: who are you going to listen to? Every time I lay hands with Grand
Master Perkins or Master Carron "it's like I know nothing" because in
truth there are levels of sensitivity that I as well have yet to discover.
If your thing is wanting to learn the art for an ego boost or to engage
in mindless battle, or to go around challenging people, at some point
you may need to go elsewhere, because from what I've observed over the years
you will never, ever attain the levels of skill you desire with that
Listen, I understand there is always a time to mix it up and I'm all
about it because there is a positive benefit to doing this but it must
be done right in a controlled manner in which either both people are of
comparable skill or that it is understood up front that the person with
greater skill, or size, speed, strength etc... is being used to
challenge the ability of the other person in order to bring that
person's level up. Remember: we are not fighting for points or ego's
we're learning to fight for our lives. Big difference!
THE WAY AHEAD
Sensitivity even at the higher levels is 99% "mental". This is why it can
at times appear to have an almost spiritual element to it. As one delves
deeper into its aspects, the art becomes almost a free-flowing
meditation. When practicing one must learn to "feel everything". You
must become so sensitive that even the gentle breeze feels as if you are
When moving through the air, regardless of speed, you should be able to
feel the air around you when you move. After you get good at this it
begins to feel almost as if you are moving through a fluid medium.
This sensation will also allow you to begin to become more graceful in your
movements. Each move that you make should, within reason, feel graceful,
fluid and efficient as if moving through water. This also enables you
to strike with seemingly super natural speed and power.
Below represents a basic "method" to enhance sensitivity through solo
practice or when performing contact flow. This I feel is necessary
because people are still confused when to use and not use more force--
which is the biggest source of unhealthy competition when doing Contact
1. Relationship to Human Energy in Motion (RHEM) - This is also
what I also refer to as "Mind KICH" [see the book Attack Proof for a more
detailed explanation]. In this exercise you perform the RHEM almost
like shadow boxing in which you imagine moving with a real opponent,
striking, yielding, stepping etc... at an ultra slow speed to ensure
that every fiber of your being is involved in the movement. As you
improve at this skill you'll want to perform it with your eyes closed,
on a wobble board, on one leg and you want to try to incorporate as
many facets of KCD into this, slow dropping, washing the body, polishing the
sphere, long stepping, box stepping, anywhere strikes, striking in
multiple directions on one leg, you get the idea.
2. Just "Being There" - Here's the deal, when performing "Contact
Flow" this is exactly what I am doing. When my arms are on top, I'm
just there, when they're on the bottom, I'm just there, when he retreats,
I'm there, when he advances, I'm there. I am neither pushing nor pulling
per se-- I'm just sticking with them only as long as necessary until I feel
the opening to strike. However, when I feel the opening I do not speed
up to strike. I continue to move and flow at the same speed. This
prevents them from discerning my intentions as I hit because there
is no sudden acceleration or muscular contraction from which to react
to and they are not able to feel the strike until they are already hit.
As I move I use my sensitivity to get in and reach my target. I am not
concerned about blocking since my strike is my block and my block is my
strike. They either deal with it or they get hit. Through my
sensitivity I can be a ghost or like a rock all at the same time. I can give equal
pressure and create false surfaces, or step off line and hit from an
entirely opposite direction.
However, if I get "lazy" and rest the weight of my arms on top of
theirs, I am done, because now I have, believe it or not, overcommitted even if I
think I'm being loose and light. This is a mistake. Also, if all I do is speed up in order to
control, I've committed the same mistake. By just being there I'm able
to move back and forth between the Yin and the Yang and differentiate
between the specks of black and white within the shades of grey. In
doing so I am able to get a sense of the "structure" of another person's body,
especially their center in relation to my own center, based purely on
what I feel.
You can begin practicing this feeling first on yourself by placing one
arm on top of the other and maintaining contact without pushing,
pulsing or pulling etc... I would try to keep the arms roughly shoulder height
and perform washing the hands, then the arms, eventually moving on to the
rest of the body, remaining as ghost-like as possible. The idea here is
to work on developing your sensitivity by feeling even the slightest
3. Ultra, "Ultra" Slow - Start off by doing contact flow with your
training partner moving so slow it almost resembles the speed of
hands on a clock. This type of movement is like the RHEM exercise only
with a partner. As you advance, incorporate some long stepping and
elongated movements employing a deep root staying as sensitive as
4. Super Slow, no Pulsing: When moving in this manner there is no
increase in speed or force, at all, ever (even dropping must be
performed at the same speed/energy level) so people are forced to increase
sensitivity, looseness, adaptability and creativity [for "Pulsing" see
Attack Proof for a detailed explanation]
5. Medium Speed, no Pulsing - Same approach as above then move to
medium speed, no pulsing, with your eyes closed.
6. Medium Speed with Pulsing - More force allowed, and of course
more speed to escape it, but if it gets out of hand (as it often does)
people must revert back to 4 or 5. Next, repeat exercises 4, 5, and 6
but on the wobble boards.
7. Three Person Contact Flow - If you have more than one training
partner you'll want to begin flowing with two people at the same time.
This force you to rely totally on your sensitivity and begin to develop
your skills toward dealing with more than one person.
8. Coin Dance (flow with 2 coins) - [see Attack Proof for an
9. Flow on One Leg - At the end of this you want to repeat
exercises 4 through 7 but only on one leg, focusing on controlling your
equilibrium. Resist the temptation to try and balance between two
points lest you become double weighted and lose the ability to instantly
change to your new root point.
Well as you can imagine the subject of sensitivity is a vast topic that
could literally be the source of an entirely new book [hey now there's
a thought]. When the Attack Proof Companion DVD Part 3 comes out,
Grand Master Perkins and I go into this in great detail along with ample
demonstrations which will provide greater understanding of this.
I hope this helps all of you who are trying to get that extra boost to
take your skills to the next level. For a more in-depth read on the
topic please read Attack Proof over and over because even I (though I
helped write the book) when I read up on Sensitivity, I always gain new
insight into something that I hadn't realized before.
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