Softwork™ 2 - DVDs set
"Will enable students to master the grace and skill of the martial arts!

Softwork is a 195 minute DVD from Scott Sonnon, a former Sambo champ who's conducted extensive research into methods that will enable students to master the grace and skill of the martial arts. He teaches striking, kicking and grappling, as well as defense against the knife and stick, and the truth about the flinch reflex as well." - Black Belt Magazine, AUG 05

“Evolutionary martial art!

First Impressions: The Softwork™ is Scott Sonnon's "evolutionary martial art" approach based upon his research and development with various teams, units and departments around the world. This self-defense DVD set, which runs 195 minutes, is hammed with information, easy-to-see techniques and thorough explanations.
Why It Is Cool: 195 minutes of information, and that will keep you busy for a while. Among the topics covered, you'll get instruction on grappling and ground fighting, throws and takedowns, single and multiple attackers, throws and defense, pre-cognitive evasion and escape, emotional control in combat and much more. Sonnon demonstrates the techniques clearly and slowly, plus you have the option of watching the moves step-by-step."-  Grappling Magazine, JUL 05

“I just finished watching “Softwork”, and I have to say this is some of the most eye opening material I've ever seen! Not since I first saw "IOUF" have I been in awe of the material presented. I felt like a child when it was over and now realize how little I truly know. There's a whole new world out there for me now and it's time to "clean the slate" when it comes to my combat sports training.” - Bill Cogswell, Sombo practitioner

“I've just stumbled across your website quite by accident and have spent about 5 hours now looking at various pages, including a video of some movement demonstration that you were doing (Softwork).  Simply put, your movement is beautiful!” - Jan, UK

“Absolutely amazing stuff! I think this series really has gotten to the core of martial art and what it is to be a martial artist.” - Brian Bales

“This isn’t a product I can give a proper review. It’s like trying to review "democracy". I can only say will change the face of your training forever… This softwork is a lifetime endeavor.” - Robert Verdell, CST

“Just pick up the Softwork package, an it truly is amazing. For someone to move the way you guys were moving on the dvd's, that is crazy.” - Thomas Thornton

“ I saw viewed the softwork DVD and it was awesome. Coach, I must say that the personal trainers at my job    thought   highly of you and said you are "da man". Thanks for the experience.” - Bao Tran, CST


I got my copy of Softwork Friday. I managed to watch just the Shockability portion before I was run out of the       house for the weekend! I finished watching yesterday and was amazed. I now finally see the whole RMAX package.  A believer in Warrior Wellness™ and Body-Flow™, it was nice to see that it's more than just tumbling on the  ground  or flipping over picnic table. as fun as that is. Growing up, I was a big Tarzan fan and always wanted to move like was described in the books but I never cold quite mange the fluidity that Scott and Dan have achieved. It is like they have achieved movement at the most primal level as was discussed in the video.  I must admit as well that I have not been the most studious of people when it came to Body-Flow™ but I can   honestly say the now I see a full application, I will most definatly increase my daily practice.  I know that RMAX is not a martial art itself, but it is nice to see some martial applications to it. I think that in the  future, people will be saying that what Bruce Lee did for Martial Arts, Scott did for fitness.  Reading the article people have posted on this forum about Body-Flow™ and the wave principles and structure,  really came to life for me in this video.” - Dale Moss

“I got my copy of Softwork and managed to view the first DVD. Hope to find time to view the second DVD soon. It is an amazing video. There is a ton of stuff in there to absorb.” - Roland Beauregard

“Softwork™ is a positive addition to any serious MA collection. Serious study of the ideas presented in Softworks should help any MA person master their personal style and improve their skills regardless of the art studied.” - Dave Randolph

“Just pick up the Softwork package, an it truly is amazing. For someone to move the way you guys were moving on the dvd's, that is crazy. I told you coach that my training before I came to rmax was in a reflex base system, but I know understand after seeing it why the response base approach is far better. Jay, an as well as the others who stated it, I to can see where Warrior Wellness™, Body-Flow™, or Priming Bioenergy will enhance the Softwork set. I won't stop untill I achieve a level of flow as Coach Sonnon, even then I'm still gone push my buttons. My daily practice is going to become a must no if's, and's, or buts, you know what I mean. Wonderful job!!” - Thomas Thornton

“Why do fighters have to train faster and faster and faster? "If you do not move, you will get hit, so train to react as fast as you can". I heard this many times. On the other hand, I did hear "Train relaxed and it will come when you need it". Ok, if you train for 50 years and have the life of a zen monk. What it looks like is that the key to "see" at higher speeds and react accordingly is diminishing your fear-reactivity. Our bodies can move at fantastic speeds, when our mind and bodies are relaxed. You do not move all the time fast, only until you unbalance your oponent (in the case of Martial Arts). From that point, everything can be fluid, solid, slow, if you wish. The fighter train fast because he has to overcome his own fear, his own stiffnes, so he can react against a threat. What if he gets rid of this fear at first place? Makes sense? (This came from Coach Sonnon, from Softwork DVD - lots of things learned over this weekend). This does make sense to me, for I have experienced it on myself. That opens a whole new universe of possibilities ahead of you.” - Gustavo Castilhos (Brazil)

“I have been seriously impressed and inspired by Softwork™, and thought I would post a review of it. For those who don't me, I am a former Affiliate Instructor with Systema UK, so have experience in a systema style of Softwork™, alongside former instructor in JKD/Thai Boxing/Escrima and a few other arts. It is clear to me that Softwork™ differs from anything else I have trained, and on seeing and exploring Softwork™ I knew I had to get Scott over to the UK, and cant wait to see him in October.
Anyway, here is my review:

Softwork™ DVD, Scott Sonnon

After 14 days of eager anticipation, it has arrived, Scott Sonnons ‘Softwork™’, and it’s even better than I anticipated. It’s difficult to know where to start due to the vast amount of information on the two DVD’s, but I’ll give it a try!

First, the presentation looks great, beautiful cover design and the content on the box instantly grabbed my attention. It’s a two-disk set, and I wonder how much better that would have been if mastered onto a dual layer disk rather than two disks, hell if nothing else I get to do some Body-Flow™ as I engage the DVD player to swap disks.

The DVD is broken into sections, as most are these days, sections covered are:

Disk 1

Shock Absorption
Leg Fencing
Touch Response
Putting It All Together
Ground Evasion

Disk 2

Blade Work
Stick Work
Ground Fighting
Guiding Flow
Coaching Guidance

Overall there is over 3 hours of content, and that is a lot of value for your money, but not only that, the content is great, informative, well explained and contains non-stop demonstrations.

For those with RMAX experience, you will instantly recognize RMAX core components and how they all come together, namely as Softwork™. The methods of Shock Absorption, Body-Flow™ etc, are all there in abundance and are demonstrated beautifully between Scott and Dan. The DVD is exceptionally complete, structured, progressive and inspirational, taking you through component after component in such a way it makes me want to run out and get a few of my students together and go ‘play’. This is the culmination of RMAX, what many of us were probably looking for, how Arthrokinetics™, Leg Fencing(TM),  etc come together in a complete format. For those without RMAX experience, then quite simply it will be spellbinding, demonstrating sophisticated motion and grace, alongside what many would call high-level martial arts ability. If viewed correctly this DVD has the capacity to alter how you train, and how to maximize your training methodology. It will bring to you many principles and applications, such as how to strike and absorb strikes efficiently, introduce you to the world of relaxation and intuitive movement, show you how to go with the flow and move efficiently within your environment.

Continuing the voyage, Scott shows you how to gain a deeper understanding of fear reactivity, how it can inhibit progression, and how Softwork™ can break those binds, allowing you to train constructively and progressively. Then we move onto groundwork, blade and stick, grappling and more, all covered on disk 2, and again each section follows a continually structured path. Watching the DVD you can see how to take drills and apply them, and for the beginning martial artist or seasoned martial artist the drills presented can be applied to existing training, or for moving on existing RMAX training.

Coach Sonnon is not only able to demonstrate with great finesse, but is also able to explain with great clarity, and I can think of few people who have his ability to convey his ideas and understanding of how the body moves and responds. I have found that Coach Sonnon’s work has increased my knowledge and ability with Softwork™ and supersedes the training in this area I have had with other systems.

Overall I was impressed with both the quality of production and content, and find little to fault with other than a suggestion that an introduction at the beginning would have been great. For me this DVD is going to be watched over and over, as there is much to be gleaned, and much to play with.” - Andrew Usher, Director of Integrated Combat Systems (

“This isn’t a product I can give a proper review. It’s like trying to review "democracy". I can only say will change the face of your training forever. The thing that stood out most to me was how my Zdorovye™ and Body-Flow training is such a necessity to really digest this concept. Moreover, if one does not understand the premise Body-Flow is built upon, I don’t think they will "get" Softwork. I truly hesitate to take a review to other forums where people are not aware of the basic concepts of Body-Flow. It begins there. An understanding of "Shock Absorption" is also essential. This program seems to be based upon the idea that your opponents tension is his undoing and your own selective tension is the centerpiece of your own success. The Softwork can be compared to the playful training sessions of animals in the wild. There attacks are realistic, but done at a slower speed. Within the decrease of speed of the attack is the opportunity to find your "flow" and his tension. Whether you were standing, ground grappling, attacked by multiple attackers, ground fighting, knife fighting or stick fighting the concepts were all the same.

One could see by training in all the above areas, the principals of Softwork can become more imbedded in your arsenal. "Global" attacks, rather than "target fixation" was a concept that was truly worth the entire cost of the program. This really is the culmination of everything I’ve learn so far from Mr. Sonnon. He is as marvelous as ever as an instructor and his modeling of the tactics are just "mind-boggling" (worth the price of admission alone). You will never look at "small joint manipulation the same". The difficult thing will be finding people to work with. This is a program that truly needs partners working together for a common goal. I already tried a little with my girlfriend. I will try to get my LEO people to assist me, but again they have to truly understand certain principals. I have little hopes that the MMA and Judo crowds will buy in. But who knows! Also, this is transferable to any combative system. I saw places where it will help my judo, grappling, kickboxing and MMA. Yet, this isn’t about sport but a fight. Moreover, this is more of a training tool, rather than a system. To me, it’s like an element SPP of combat. I can’t see people who haven’t gotten a base of "timing" and tactics from a conventional system to be able to bring the Softwork alive. This is an excellent training method to weave in and out of "hardwork". One thing I could not understand is how Mr. Sonnon came up with this. Also, I wondered if he worked with several partners at his home to design this or did he do this alone. His "flow" was so smooth it appeared as if he had been doing this all of his life. This Softwork is a lifetime endeavor. I will have to review this material dozens of times to give a better review. I do know I missed an historical and magnificent event.” –  “The Softwork DVD is by far the best series that RMAX has produced to date – in terms of technical quality and in terms of presentation.

The picture quality and production values are superior. The sound is excellent, especially given the limitations of the live seminar format. Moving to DVD is a bonus -- the menu selections are clear and well laid-out, and navigation is a breeze. The technical aspects are so smooth as to be nearly unnoticeable, allowing you to focus fully on the content. What more can you ask from first-rate production?

There are two main reasons why the Softwork DVD is a pivotal addition to the RMAX cannon. Number one: this is the first time that Coach Sonnon’s martial arts materials have been presented in a comprehensive package. In the past one needed all of the tape series, and a liberal dosage of reading on the Tribal Forum, to grasp the big picture. Softwork presents this big picture in a comprehensive stand-alone format. This is perfect for viewers new to RMAX. The segments are well explained and are in no way dependent upon previous tape series.

That being said, those who have all of the previous tapes should still view Softwork. The material has evolved tremendously, the explanations are more natural, and everything fits together organically. An understanding of the Softwork series enhances all previous material. In fact, I personally see the earlier series as being supplemental to Softwork. If you’re drawn to the section on Ground Evasion, for example, you could pick up Plural Assailant Engagements to explore this area in more detail, with a wider range of drill ideas – but with the understanding and overarching theory espoused in Softwork.

So the RMAX martial materials are tied together. That’s one of the two reasons that Softwork is revolutionary. Fine. But it goes much deeper, because not only does Softwork tie together all of the RMAX venues – for the first time anywhere (to my knowledge) all of the individual aspects of ALL martial art are brought together in a cohesive overview that no longer accepts the separateness of the individual venues. There can no longer be any distinction between grappling and striking and ground fighting and weapon use. Softwork points to the fact that it’s all about movement and the application of force, that there are truly no distinctions.

This brings me to the second reason. Softwork doesn’t just tie together all of the martial venues of RMAX. It also ties in CST and Body Flow and Warrior Wellness™ and shows that there are no boundaries here either. The “health aspects” and the “martial aspects” are one and the same. Softwork can be seen as a partner-assisted version of Biomechanical Exercise™ where you help each other to dissolve areas of tension that you couldn’t access alone. Conversely, Warrior Wellness™ could be seen as a solo version of Softwork, a way to work on your “martial skills” when you don’t have access to a partner. Note that I said “could be seen as”. I’m making artificial distinctions for the sake of example, just as RMAX did with the early “venue specific” series. When you truly grasp Softwork you’ll have no need of these distinctions.

I think this will become clear as we look at some details. I’ve abandoned my initial plan of going chapter by chapter. There’s just too much to discuss. I’ll restrict myself to highlighting what I feel are important ideas - among far too many to cite.

In my opinion the Shock Absorption section was worth the price of the entire series. If this chapter were all I received I’d consider it money well spent. It goes far beyond the material presented in Shock Ability, Fisticuffs, and Maximology™ (in the latter I’m referring to the push drill, marionette drill…). Softwork presents a comprehensive approach to shock absorption from all angles, in a fluid manner that also encompasses the application of force with the entire architecture.

One problem with the original Shock Ability series was that the absorptions were shown in a Static manner. Somewhere near the end of the series there’s a brief demonstration of Softwork, but viewers lacked a clear way to get there. It’s like having a roadmap with a beginning and an end but not much of a middle. In my training group, thanks to feedback from the Tribal Forum, we figured out that we had to take those Static examples Fluid and so we crafted a drill progression to meet our needs (see my CST Magazine article Response-Based Striking). In the first chapter of Softwork Coach Sonnon presents this process with a depth and sophistication that I was only grasping at in my article.

Scott’s explanation of applying force with a loose, heavy, deep feeling, and examples with the entire architecture, go well beyond the material presented in Fisticuffs. He manages to convey a much better sense of “striking well” in order to disrupt breathing, movement and alignment, and this ties together all applications of force in a simple yet elegant manner.

I particularly appreciated the refinements in the Marionette drill because I’ve been making extensive use of it in my training group. Versions of the drill presented here bring in new angles that had never occurred to me – using the legs, standing on one leg, supine with the partner standing above… Viewers can easily extrapolate endless variations from this. That being said, the key that really expands the use of this drill is a refinement of the analogy from that of manipulating a marionette to one of pulling snags in a sweater.

The ‘snags in a sweater’ analogy ties in to the idea of using your partner’s chains of tension to engineer his downfall. This explanation opened the gates of perception for me personally, and was what made this first chapter worth the price of the series. This idea percolates Softwork -- every chapter, every drill. It’s one of those shifts in thinking that allow amazing things to happen. When you begin to grasp this idea you no longer see techniques or even principles, just chains of tension that you can use effortlessly. I understood things like the triangle point and joint mass center (from IOUF) intellectually, and to a great extent internally, but I remained a hair’s breadth away from being able to “throw at will,” as the series says. The idea of chains of tension -- simpler, more elegant, and completely tactile -- allowed me to make that breakthrough instantly.

The presentation of Dependent Striking is another vast improvement on prior material (and a sophistication of the idea of Shock Engineering). This is hinted at in Maximology™, although in the context of assessing someone’s density for CST Coaching (no boundaries, remember?). The drill I’m referring to is the one where A receives a strike from B which he allows to wave across his body and out the other arm, thus casting back into B who repeats and returns. When we attempted this drill in my training group our arms cast out with such force that we had to abandon the practice until we could think of a safer way to perform it. It seemed impossible to remain relaxed enough to let the returned blow happen, and yet ‘pull our punches’ enough to keep the drill manageable. With Dependent Striking Coach Sonnon has totally reworked this drill into a safe, incremental progression that addresses all ranges. And while it wasn’t shown, this can obviously be applied to the lower limb architecture.

Yet another revolutionary area that I’d like to highlight is the chapter on Leg Density. If you can grasp this concept alone your performance will skyrocket. Everyone has a stance, formal or informal, and a stance is held up by tension. By modeling different types of stances, real and invented, you allow your partner to experience different chains of tension so that he can learn to accommodate and manipulate them. The reverse lesson implicit in this work is the importance of releasing your own tension and bracing, a visceral lesson when you realize how easily your tension defeats you. Again, this ties in to the “snags in the sweater” analogy.

The chapter on Touch Response is probably the most obvious example of where Softwork and Body Flow meet. This is a totally new set of drill progressions, brilliantly conceived. At first glance it seems to be all about the receiver, who is trying to deform around the force being applied. But the person applying the force must also be sensitive to when that force zeroes out so that he can redirect instantly to a more appropriate insertion angle. The notion of “zero point” is crucial. This drill blurs the line with CST in the most obvious way, because it’s so evident how you can use touch response to help your partner find and shave away his areas of density.

The Touch Response drills carry over into weapon work, where a knife and later a stick are substituted for the empty hand. The blade work is particularly innovative because it starts with the knife against the body. Coach Sonnon points out the danger of only mastering middle and long-range knife work -- the range compresses immediately. You need to master the ability to fold around incoming force to be truly effective. Otherwise long and medium range skills are an illusion.

Finally, I’d like to highlight the section on Guiding Flow. In it Coach Sonnon takes smaller joint manipulations and condenses them into one generalized theory. It’s a fresh approach to exploring joint locks that capitalizes upon chains of tension rather than the misguided notion of “pain compliance.” You don’t manipulate the opponent with techniques, or even by specifically controlling certain related joints (like arm or shoulder locks). Rather, you use joint locks to facilitate the opponent’s movement so that you are building chains of tension around him rather than “creating locks” – you don’t manipulate the opponent, but he manipulates himself.

The video runs through several more sections – including Leg Fencing, Ground Evasion, Ground Fighting and Grappling – all tied together with the principles outlined above (stay tuned for the upcoming Integrating Structure DVD for the theory behind this practice). Further, implicit in all of this are the core beliefs of CST. The drills, from one-on-one to three-on-one, are incredibly challenging, but Coach Sonnon and Coach Chomicya make them look easy. It’s truly a testament to their dedication in both their personal and partner practice. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the chapter on Putting It All Together, where they present a taste of free-form Softwork that reveals the plasticity and cohesiveness of the entire system. It’s truly beautiful and exciting to watch.

If the Softwork DVD only reveals one thing, it should be the importance of daily personal practice. The connection between personal practice and ability on the mats is made glaringly obvious. It’s the foundation for everything. It IS the work. No distinctions. No divisions.

So what are you waiting for?” - Ryan Murdock, CST Head Coach, Senior Editor, CST Magazine

This is the perfect compliment to Softworks in my opinion. The material moves very fast, so I can see that I will need to watch it over (and over)again. IN MY OPINION, Flow-Fighting is 21st century martial arts at its best. - Mitch Simon, D.C.