The Six Simple Tricks to Mastering Lockflow:
1. Interaction between partners is a critical aspect of flow training. It is that specific energy that creates what we define as "flow".
As in Japanese martial arts there is an UKE and a TORE (IE: the thrown and the thrower, etc). But flow goes deeper than uke-tore type training. If you are the one doing the lock series, then you must be sensitive and aware of the opponents intentions and be there when he arrives. By this I mean, you read the vector of his force, the pressure of it or not. You must intuit the answer to that force or energy he is displaying, you yield to it. This is a type of focus known as "listening energy". It is not done with the ears. Need I say more? It is your touch and intent which listens and responds like an echo in an empty theater. It is of the moment, spontaneous and unpredictable. We "know" where to go or to be because the opponent tells us himself. To do this a calm spirit is required. Fear and anger cloud this ability. To flow, seek calm through interaction.
2. Speaking of "yielding", let's define this aspect and why so many arts value yielding as a way to sure victory. To yield is like setting a trap. To yield does not refer to a "defense only" strategy. That is to misunderstand the principle. What we mean is more like the old saying "give'em enough rope and they'll hang themselves". We let them commit, they do as they wish. Then in an instant we turn the tables on them. At that moment we take the lead and turn their attack into our victory. The minute they commit to a course of action we can understand. Alpha and omega, from beginning to end. Try going with their energy and making it yours in the process. To yield isn't a weak strategy, it is a clever strategy. In the combat field, it's their force you've stealed, all through the magic of yield.
3. A "universal entry" is always a handy item to have on tap. You must have something that allows you to enter the fray with authority. Entry skills are quite diverse (meaning there are many of them out there). So pick one that can do many jobs, attack, defense or counter fight - it must serve all and be simple to pull off as well. Enter strongly with a dash of deception and go for the goal. The goal is basically to get your mitts on this guy and use your skills to either lock (submit) him or snap the damn joint (break it). The universal entry you decide upon must be good for both static and ballistic threats. It must have a dual nature in order to work on weapons and empty hands alike. It should be some type of universal entry that will apply whether you are on your feet or laying on the ground. Armed or unarmed, ready or not. Time for rehearsal of things universal!
4. Two way pressure! Here is something I cannot stress enough! The constant interplay of two way pressure is a serious factor to incorporate into your locking skills. Why? Because without it not one thing will work. It will all just go back to force on force, no flow, no skill. Just force. So the two ways are subtle and simultaneous. Never one at a time. Some people can't sense the pressures, others can. It is about pressure and vectored force. The so-called strength of a good lock flow man derives from proper skeletal structure more so than from muscle. Yeah, it is a difficult thing to understand. But, it is more than do-able once you get the concept down and play around with it for a few days. Sometime when we are together just ask me, I can demonstrate how this works and pass it along to you. In order to play just keep the pressure two way!
5. Keep the number of locks down to a reasonable number at first. Five or six will do. Now make them work off one another, add a strike here and there as a half beat. The six locks should be ones you can do, one's you know. Remember we are seeking FLOW, lockflow. So you must already have some prior knowledge of locks eh? Then the locks you already know fit into the matrix of the "lockflow". That's the idea. The number of joint manipulations is not too important, you can always add or delete a lock here and there. As your partner pushes away, flow back with them. Perceive what is available to you at that point. Slow it down, this is about learning. With each of the locks remember to apply footwork and body mechanics as part of the package. Grip strength is an important element for a locker. Learn about improving your grip strength, learn too the different kinds of grips and the applications. Choose wisely your locks, let them flow between blocks, give his head a few knocks, choose wisely your locks.
6. Counters to the six locks are important. The counters are what your training partner does - the counters are the drive motors of the Lockflow itself. So the counters must be appreciated as much as the locks themselves ok? You both have duties to perform so that you get the idea of how to flow. The physical locks are simple when compared to the intangible, elusive nature of flow. The counter should be smooth and gentle. No one wins, this is a drill to teach sensitivity and movement. Work together, coach one another, do not compete. To compete makes learning most difficult. There are many kinds of counters you should try. Some are based on a physical technique that counters another physical technique. Others like "bump and dissolve" or "shiver and release" work on all locks. Such counters are more principle than technique. Slow down, stay on it, make the flow of flowing yours! OK, both partners should alternate roles at regular intervals. Know several counter methods, change them about some, challenge the set flow with new elements and it becomes real. Soon the slower flow will becomes fast and your abilities improve. Just don't "fight" stay smooth, allow the counters, learn to flow not fight. A counter-move in a lockflow groove is what we seek.
Lockflow is only a part of the greater whole that makes up close quarter fighting. Lockflow must be part of the strike, throw, cut, stomp methods you would normally use. If your attempt to lock breaks down then flow with the opponent until another lock can be found. Or simply break off lock-contact and smack the heck outta them as best you can. Flow is a recognized aspect of understanding the force ladder. The force ladder is a flow chart of actions, thoughts, tactics and tools. Lock flow is sensitivity and total integration of your abilities.
Never forget all locks are disarms, all disarms are locks: "Kunsea is augow, augow is Kunsea" / see the marvelous duality here. Really awesome!
Many times I have heard that only the FMA actually teach the concept of true limb targeting hits and limb destruction's. I see the idea there, but we must also realize that a joint lock taken to the extreme leads to joint breaking (destruction). This is also considered a limb destruction action. Any "lock" when done fast and hard can and often does destroy the joint, bones, sockets or nerves (or all of the above together). To find some combative value know both sides to this issue. Know how to control but not destroy. Know how to destroy and use the locks as deadly weapons.
Thanx for reading!
Jim Keating 8/22/15 (in the days of fire)