Lessons from My Masters 12: Observations-Timing

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“There is a timing to it…”

–Grandmaster John C. Perkins


Piggy-backing off of the last offering where I discussed Anticipation I’m going to jump right into this. When it comes to fighting, in all things there is a timing to it. We see it all of the time in sports but it is just as important when fighting for your life. There should be no ambiguity about this. Now when we are talking about “Timing,” like anticipation what we are really talking about is the concept of “Fighting in the Future.”

It is concepts like this that in my mind makes Guided Chaos the most well developed and greatest reality based fighting system ever devised. Period.


It’s All in Your Head


When understanding this concept, you first have to get it in your head that it starts with you and your mind set which is influenced by how you perceive yourself, your capabilities and how you can move in the fight.

This basic understanding is important because if you can’t get out of your own way mentally, you just can’t get to where you want to be no matter how hard you train and work. How you think about it influences how you move, which reinforces how you think about it.

But there’s something else…


Compressing Time and Space


So anyway, I’m working out with Master Martarano one evening and he’s trying to figure out how I’m getting out of the way of his strikes while appearing like I’m barely moving. So I said something like,

“You remember how I told you that Tim used to always get on me about moving too much?”

He’s like, “Yeah…”

“So what I’m doing is this thing that John does where he’s not just turning his body, he’s moving off line very little and pocketing or what he calls ‘pre-pocketing’ either on the way in or if you try to strike. His hand doesn’t just skim along the surface he’s also allowing your strikes to slide through his hands, arms or whatever. He’ll even use his body as he does this and sucks you into your death. You see him do this to me all of the time. It’s a weird feeling because at no time do you feel like you’re out of the fight until it’s too late. He creates space for him and takes it away from you all at the same time. It’s not a one, two, three step thing, to him it’s just one movement.”

So Joe then states,

“So what you’re telling me is he’s ‘stacking’. He’s doing it all at once so it’s like stacking a lot of weight on you where he suddenly makes you try to lift it all at once.”

I’m like, “Exactly!”

As a side note, this understanding of what Joe calls “stacking” is one of the things that really separates John’s movement from everyone else’s. Whatever he’s doing, it generally is all happening at the same time. He makes you deal with everything and so it compresses time where you don’t have enough time to deal with what he is doing.


Everything Takes Time


In order to get there from here you also have to be willing to accept that there is a dimensional aspect to movement that cannot be ignored. As the Grandmaster has stated to me before,

“It’s not so much that I get out of phase with people as it’s like I’m in another dimension. It’s kind of hard to explain because it’s not an exact thing and I’m really not thinking about it. I just go.”

He then discussed how, ever since he was young, he always when moving with people tried to make them feel awkward in relation to his movement.

While I’ve discussed this before I understand that for some this may not make any sense but none the less it is true. If you over think this your head will explode because it is paradoxical to everything that we’ve been taught about movement etc. There are some things that cannot be intellectualized because there really isn’t an easy or logical explanation as to how and why they work. It just is.

Truth be told at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter as long as you know how to train to it to develop it. However, if you don’t practice it, I don’t care how advanced you are you can’t do it or at a minimum do it well. Over the years I know there are folks who think I talk too much or about this stuff but the truth is I don’t say it enough. I will explain.

You see if what we say about Guided Chaos as being based on the laws of physics and human physiology is true (because that’s what we say!) then the understanding of how humans move within Time and Space is crucial to your understanding and development.

Everything takes time, anticipation takes time, striking takes time, being unavailable takes time, dropping takes time, yielding takes time, turning takes time, stepping takes time, pre-movement, well, takes time. Everything takes time!

The ability to move sooner, more efficiently and better within time and space in relation to your attacker is a huge advantage and a great equalizer when dealing with bigger, stronger and faster opponents.

More importantly, the ability and understanding of how to, for lack of a better word, “manipulate” time and space in relation to an opponent is a huge advantage due to the relative nature of time and how it is perceived.

As John has said to me thousands of times over the years:

“It’s all about the principles, ten percent more balance, ten percent more looseness or sensitivity is one-hundred percent advantage!”

Who wouldn’t want a 100% advantage over an attacker? I like those odds.

For them to hit you (regardless of size) you have to be available to them. Longer reach? You have to be there for it. They want to push or pull by using their strength? You have to resist but if you’re already unavailable to them it can’t happen. If they are faster? If you can throw their timing off or fake them out they just make the mistake sooner. So when they over-commit they just get to the wrong place sooner.


Just a Few More Points


To reiterate from Lessons from My Masters 11 on Anticipation, remember

  • We occupy a physical 3-dimensional space.
  • Once we are in motion because our movement requires time to do things this movement or time can be referred to as the “4th Dimensional Aspect of Combat.”
  • As time proceeds no matter what we do the only thing that is set is the Past. The Present or as the Grandmaster calls it “The Now,” is always constant.
  • The past also informs on the present or current observation, which shapes the character of the future decisions and actions.
  • The Future is what I call the “5th Dimensional Aspect of Combat.”
  • Once you arrive at The Future you are able to anticipate possibilities and probabilities of the other person’s actions which, I refer to as the “6th Dimensional Aspect of Combat.”

Now, since:

  1. you are able to get ahead of another person’s movement (The Future);
  2. because they don’t have enough Time (4th Dimension) to react to your movements;
  3. you are able to anticipate their actions to a high degree of probability (6th Dimension), which creates what I call multiple opportunities or possible futures for you in which;
  4. each future option is generally the right answer. In addition, if you can get to the future your ability to predict possibilities and anticipate probabilities, then;
  5. it has an inverse effect where it significantly narrows their options while exponentially increasing yours

At some point if you are able to reach the degree of Creativity where it doesn’t matter what they do because they can’t move fast enough, to get ahead of your movement, and ability to anticipate their motion, this area or dimension I refer to as the “7th Dimensional Aspect of Combat.”

At that point they’re just swinging because as they are getting hit they have no idea why you hit them the way you hit them, when you hit them, because they can’t see what you see because it’s your future not theirs. They can’t see the possibilities that you see because they cannot see it from their perspective.

Again, one point I want to make about all of this, and this is crucial to understanding this, is that this is not a linear process as I’ve laid it out, but all of these things are taking place simultaneously. Thus why I call them “dimensions” and not “steps,” etc.

That’s why they cannot catch up, they have to move with their body in a way to stop everything. There are just too many monkey wrenches being thrown at them at the same time to deal with them all.

This is how you want to be able to move and it is just as much a mental process as it is a physical thing, probably 90% mental and 10% physical.

When you train you want to keep these concepts in mind to help focus the body’s movements on your intent. This is only for training purposes to focus your mind to direct your body to move in the proper manner. The body follows the mind and the body reinforces what the mind perceives which reinforces the movements in the body and so on. You cannot, I repeat, cannot separate the two.


The Vision of a Warrior is Crucial


When you train, at the forefront of your mind you want to focus on fighting for your life. Everything you do flows through this understanding, this vision or mental prism, and nothing else other than what you are trying to develop should be in your mind when training.

Never forget. If you had to fight for your life, how fast would you want to be able to move? How hard would you want to be able to hit? How elusive would you want to be? How efficient in your movement? And on and on… you get the point because in a real fight there’s only two things: your sword and their sword and nothing else.

Anything else is all bullshit.

Well that’s it for this installment hope you got something out of this.


Thank you.

LtCol Al Ridenhour

Senior Master Instructor


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Al Ridenhour

Al Ridenhour is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps with 28 years of active and reserve military service with multiple combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. Although he was an instructor in unarmed combat for his unit, Al Ridenhour knew he had found the right self-defense system in 1992 when people half his size from John Perkins' school could strike him at will with "penetrating force," yet remain elusive to his own strikes. Even though he'd traveled the globe with the U.S. Marines and trained with a variety of U.S. military and Asian martial arts instructors, Al's first thought was "if this works for them, it'll work for me." He resolved then and there to become a student of Perkins' unusual, free-flowing and highly adaptive art. In 2019, after rising to the rank of 7th degree master, Al Ridenhour left the Guided Chaos organization.

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