Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Alex Kostic - ever evolving!

First, sorry for the delay! I did not think it would take me this long to get to this installment…

So, as promised – a word or two about the highlights (for me) of the teaching that Alex Kostic presented during his annual “Training Above the Clouds” event, in June this year.

The main thing you need to know, especially if you have trained with Alex before but not recently, is that currently his focus is almost entirely on the mass fighting scenario in combat. The reasons are multi-fold and not my topic today, but this shift in Alex’s work lead to some interesting observations and conclusions/methods of training. Oh, and a cool new “label” for the whole approach – Wolf Pack Fighting.

Probably the technical chief aspect of fighting multiple adversaries (no tactical layers here! The entire thing is based more on the Russian cultural heritage, i.e. being in a circle of attackers and letting loose[1].) is the specific demand on one’s mode of movement and power generation. Specifically, it means that this kind of highly asymmetrical situation does not allow for the laser-focus approach to maximum technical efficiency and polishing. Instead, you have to move with authority and amplitude, nut not in an entirely haphazard manner.

When being attacked from all over the place and in full speed, there is simply no time to process the incoming information according to a typical OODA  protocol, so you have to act decisively and powerfully. And this is where the principle of individual frame full release comes into play! In short, it refers to making every move count and exude enough power to either knock one of the attackers out or hurt them enough to strike fear and hesitation in coming after you again. As you may have guessed, it does not work in slow motion…

The central mechanical element that makes it possible, and differing largely from most widespread RMA schools today, is the vertical component of all the striking and movement techniques. Namely, this is what will add both power to one’s hits and stability to their movement. That in turn requires loose articulation in the joints, even with short and explosive motions.

Now, while this kind of work may look crude and unpolished to an observer used to highly developed symmetrical combat systems, it dies not mean it is not technical. I took a close look at the people attending the camp, and everybody had to experience all those difficulties and confusion of facing the task of developing a new technical skill. Not to mention the phase of putting the individual moves/frames in succession and stringing them together…and then under pressure of being under the attack of a bunch of people around you!

Speaking of possibly having tried Alex’s work before, the notion of the individual frame full release dovetails really nicely with his punctuated flow concept. The difference is, as I understand it, that the latter relates more to the outer perspective, i.e. how things look when seen from the side, while the former is the “inner description”, or how things feel when done properly.

Last, but not the least, aside from bringing confusion and puzzled experience when learning the moves, the result of doing them in the real time and with full release is a special feeling of exuberance and…well, release. Hard to argue with things you have developed and experienced on your own, even if through the process of guided discovery, as this camp may be described.

[1] Heavily influenced by the traditional Russian martial school of Skobar, headed by Andrei Gruntovski of St. Petersburg

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