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Chapter 6  Contact flow

6.1  Introduction

The contact flow exercise is inherited from the “Guided Chaos” self defence system of John Perkins. It has some similarities with the Chi Sao exercise of Wing Tsun and the “Push Hands” exercise of Tai Chi. While all these exercises are originally practised without weapons, we have adapted contact flow to incorporate a longsword. A padded longsword is recommended.

Contact flow is similar to the free flow exercise described before in that the movements are not prescribed. They are basically free, but have to obey certain “conventions”. However, in contact flow, these “conventions” are quite different. In particular, there is no fixed rhythm of mutual attack and defence any more.

In preparation for the other free flow exercises, various closed loop drills are practised. These drills teach the movements that then enable you to practise free flow safely. For contact flow, this process is kind of reversed. We just start practising contact flow to learn its principles (see below), and then we add in techniques which can not be practised efficiently in closed loop drills. These are techniques which, e. g., imply simultaneous defence and counter attack or immobilising the opponent while attacking.

6.2  Principles

  1. Anything goes. This exercise shall prepare for the chaos of real fight, so use all you have. Use the blade at the oddest angles, use the pommel, take one hand of the sword grip to strike with the hand, use elbows, feet, knees, headbutts …
  2. Move slowly. In the beginning, move with about one quarter to half of the maximum speed. Imagine you are living in a universe where no matter can travel faster than one meter per second. When you have gained some experience, you can speed up to about three quarters or even full maximum speed.
  3. Keep contact. You shall keep contact with your opponent at at least one point all the time. The contact point may slide or jump to another location. The contact can be blade to blade, skin to skin, or blade to skin (the latter is what you are preferably going for). Skin to blade you should obviously avoid.
  4. Be loose. While you shall keep contact all the time, the contact shall be as light as possible. Do not use force to push. If you are pushed, do not use force to resist, just yield. Do not use force to block or deflect an attack, rather use the contact to sense the direction of the attack and just move the target out of the way.
  5. Attack the attacker. The exercise starts with the opponents not yet in contact, however, try to get already in contact with the intention of your opponent. Your first move shall be an attack that at the same time avoids the attack of your opponent. Do not aim at establishing the physical contact point, just attack. Contact will happen and then real contact flow sets in.
  6. Keep going. While you shall keep contact all the time, it may nevertheless be lost. This puts you in the same situation as at the start of the exercise, so attack immediately. Do never stop, with or without contact. In particular, do not stop if you are hit or if you “score” a hit. Keep moving all the time.
  7. Observe the principles. Someone who suddenly increases the speed or uses force may “score” more hits (as long as he faces a contact flow beginner), but he learns less. Be loose, move slowly.

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