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Elmsford Program Offers Unique Self-Defense Classes

Trainers Matt Kovsky and Albert Ridenhour lead a warm-up exercise called the Wash-Down. Balance and motion are some of the fundamentals taught in Guided Chaos, a type of martial arts self-defense program that is now in Elmsford. Video Credit: Samantha Kramer

ELMSFORD, N.Y.  — It's World War II hand-to-hand combat combined with Modified Native American ground-fighting, weapon defenses and internal principles similar to tai chi's.

Guided Chaos, a unique martial art created in 1978 by former Yonkers police officer and homicide investigator John Perkins, recently moved its training center to Elmsford. Perkins developed Guided Chaos to teach people how to defend themselves based on the violent crimes he encountered as a police officer.

"Knowing how to act when crimes occur and the movement within a crime helps me teach people how to defend themselves from it," said Perkins, now a Nyack resident.

Partners Matt Kovsky and Albert Ridenhour lead classes in open-contact flow, defense combative and combat conditioning at their new Elmsford facility, 8 Vreeland Ave. Ridenhour, a former U.S. Marine, said everybody has the "moral right" to learn self-defense.

The classes are unique in that they stray from the sports-like combat often seen in UFC fighting and instead focus on the principles of self-defense, Ridenhour said.

"You learn how to adapt, to quickly regain control of yourself," said Ridehour, of Hartsdale. "It's these skills and fundamentals that you have to learn."

The slow-motion movement exercises help the body learn to control its equilibrium and react to an attack, Kovsky said. While violence is chaotic, there are exercises that can help you read the movements of your attacker.

"We teach you to adapt and improvise based on the principles of motion," Kovsky said. "We emphasize loose movements, how to make yourself unavailable."

Roberto Casanova has taken Guided Chaos classes at its Manhattan location for 14 months, and said he feels confident knowing he is more prepared for troublesome situations.

"I had the desire to know how to defend myself — just in case," said Casanova, who stops by the classes after work in the Bronx. "It's a good idea for people to learn this. I just hope I never have to test it."

For more information on classes offered at the new Elmsford training facility, visit the Guided Chaos website .

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