EXTENDED REVIEW OF THE
GUIDED CHAOS COMBAT CONDITIONING DVD
By Ari Kandel, GC 4th Degree
Just received the Combat Conditioning DVD. I've watched it straight through once, followed by lots of skipping around to different sections and exercises, the way it's intended to be used.
The DVD is just what it promises: Tons of solo exercises, each demonstrated for a long enough time that you can work out along with it, interspersed with some brief but interesting examples of the combat applications of the drills. The DVD actually contains several interesting drills I'd never seen before, which is an accomplishment after over three years of in-person training! I must admit that upon my first couch-bound viewing of the DVD, I didn't quite "get" the Native American soundtrack. A lot of it sounded hokey to my bland Top 20 ear. However, once I started actually moving along with the DVD (y'know, the way you're SUPPOSED to), I "felt" the music immediately. It really does enhance the workout by helping you get into the relaxed yet vibrant mushin state with your movement. I actually hope John starts playing Native American music in class again. (Allegedly he did this back in the day.)
"Be Careful, It Could Get Addictive..."
Here's the real crux of the matter: Since getting the DVD, I've gotten in some very productive Guided Chaos solo training every day. This has not always been the case. In fact, lately, with work being very busy and tons of other excuses popping up, my solo Guided Chaos workouts had fallen to maybe once per week, if that. Not good. The DVD provided the motivation, inspiration, freshness, whatever to get me going again. Be careful, it could get addictive: One night, I suddenly realized while working out with the DVD that it was after 1 a.m., and I had to wake up in less than six hours! The DVD should contain a warning: Use In Moderation. (It actually does contain lots of warnings, but I FF'd them.)
Sometimes I do some exercises along with the DVD, and sometimes I start with one exercise and branch off from there, letting the Native American rhythms carry my body into whatever it wants to do, experimenting with different drills and movement. It just makes you want to move.
Obviously I have an advantage in such training over raw beginners, as I already know most of the drills and have at least a basic understanding of what they're supposed to accomplish (although I'm deepening that understanding all the time, and have very far to go). (Sidebar: I realized while watching the DVD for the first time that I currently have an understanding of some of the exercises I demonstrate on the DVD different from what I had when the DVD was actually filmed! It still looks okay though--the differences are mostly internal, concerning feelings and perceptions. Go figure--internal martial arts!) It's suggested that beginners get the Companion DVDs along with the Combat Conditioning DVD for the explanations and teaching of the exercises that the Companion DVDs contain. While this would be optimal, I believe that a motivated student could get very far by using this DVD in conjunction with the book Attack Proof. The book contains the most critical explanations of most of the exercises, and you can read the book while watching the demonstrations on the Combat Conditioning DVD before giving it a whirl yourself.
Another valuable source of knowledge is the Combat Conditioning E-book you get free when you purchase the DVD. This E-book is worth WAY more than you pay for it! In it, Lt. Col. Al (with a sprinkling of Matt Kovsky) goes over the entire contents of the DVD, giving tips and advice about each drill and variations beyond those on the DVD, as well as broader instruction regarding topics like footwork, combat-applicable strength, upper and lower body development, use of equipment and pliability development. Lots of great information.
Use the Combat Conditioning DVD however you like. Follow along with it directly, use it as a starting point for experimentation, use it as motivation to get moving at all, or just use the sound track to enhance your movement. However you use the DVD, if it gets you moving and feeling your own body in action (i.e. improving your proprioception), it's enhancing your Guided Chaos, which is its purpose. For anyone interested in Guided Chaos or combat in general, it will accomplish this.