View Full Version : AMOK! - Knife Fighting Goodness or Cult?

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8/20/2006 5:27pm,
Sounds like they believe in sparring so that's good. Their terminology and tribe talk is a bit over the top for me though.

Guys like clubs...

8/20/2006 6:56pm,
that tom sotis guy looks absolutely nuts. knifers code?

8/24/2006 2:31am,
I've had some training in Amok! under Tom Sotis when he came over here for a series of seminars. I did one day with him and found him to be very clued up about his stuff. The day was spent learning basic drills and repeating them over and over again for a couple of hours, then we moved on to counters and some intermediate stuff. The day closed with some duelling and Tom encouraged everybody to try and win pretty much at all costs.

The person who brought him over for the seminar series packed up and moved to the US to be able to continue his training in Amok!

There is one tribal leader here in the city I live in, he'll be the first to claim he's not an instructor, just had a bit more exposure to Amok! then the rest of us.

8/30/2006 12:32pm,
As far as AMOK! and the group leader thing, If you dig around on the website it will say right beside a persons name what level they are at. The group leader is more for getting a group started and keeping it going, in no way does any weekend class give you any title or belt or anything other than a basic relationship with the group and a place to start when no formal group exists in that area. A good example is the Hawaii group that started by one guy "David" flying to the east coast many times to learn from Tom and then taking it back and making it what it is today in the Islands and Oceania by hard training.

Let me say these are my words and I'm not speaking for the group but just relaying what Ive seen. I would say it is self defense but a more offense orientated defense. While most of the participants are male there are more than a few women in the group. One of the things to consider is the woman you show in the picture on this thread "NOK" is very very good with a knife. She got a basic start and worked very hard to get where she is. I have personally watched her sparring with and overwhelming big American guys with years of martial arts training. She is around 5 ft tall and barely a hundred pounds, The knife gives her an advantage over any unarmed attacker no matter what their martial art background is. This is one of the keys of knifefighting, offensively and defensively, The knife gives you an advantage and winning is everything in a life and death struggle.

I registered on bullshido today to just do some looking around but I felt compelled to post here as most of the questions seemed genuine, I have never heard anything negative said about Tom Sotis, for that matter I have never heard anything bad said about AMOK and would challenge anyone to bullshido it if you can, Ive looked pretty hard and found no complaints or bullshit. For anyone interested you can look on the website and find a contact or register and post on there, check it out and report back what you find, <www.Knifefighting.com>

As far as AMOK being a cult and its reference to Brotherhood, It is more a reference to a group of like minded people with one goal when they are together, become better at using knives in any and all circumstances. You will find skilled firearms users "CCP, Military, LEO" and even vegetarians and those who have never even touched a gun helping each other to learn and improve within AMOK.

As far as other martial arts, stick fighters, and firearms oriented groups who are now getting into knifefighting to sell more videos, Tom has been around for a very long time. As far as I know AMOK has never made and sold any Video nor are there any plans to in the future. There is no bullshit advertising involved, no secret knowledge that cost extra and no store related to the website, for that matter I have never seen anything for sale on the site other than some training knives made by "NOK Training Knives" and a few real blades for sale as 3 custom knife makers are members of the group.

If you want a AMOK! t-shirt you will most likely have to make it yourself. As far as I know the ones going around were made by members and sold for cost.

8/30/2006 2:19pm,
Thanks for the info. Its all good as long as the AMOK! guys gear up and bang...

1/14/2007 5:33pm,
Sotis is for real, had his Kuntau training from Frank Masiello....fucking nasty! Anyway, they study the blade primarily and are very good.

1/31/2007 4:12pm,
I had Kuntau training from yo mom

1/31/2007 4:16pm,
does this mean that it's amok time again?

10/18/2009 8:12pm,
Sotis is the real deal.

One of the things he emphasized was saying, "I may be completely wrong about everything. Go try it and prove it for yourself." and then there was "Things that work for one person may not work the same for you -- go test it and find you own truths."

AMOK! and Sotis are very dedicated to finding what works through sparring and dueling as realistically as possible.

A key element of AMOK! training methodology is to start with and emphasize fighting over training from the very start even for beginners. See what you know, what you can already do, find some truths for yourself, AND THEN train your weaknesses and those things where you technique is insufficient.

There's much more to the methodology, like explicit ways to tie 'training' (think mostly solo drills, or set pattern partner drills, or any body conditioning) to the 'practice' (think limited partner training with significant restrictions and set attacks) to the free sparring (at various intensity levels and with various complicating factors) which is given the prime focus.

If it works, use it. It is fails, avoid it. If it works some of the time, then find the conditions and contexts where it is useful and use it there while avoiding it in other situations.

Test. Test. Test.

Tom does explicitly disclaims being the best "knife fighter" in the world; but honestly and unabashedly claims he is the best "knife fighting teacher"....

He is likely correct, or so close to it that it doesn't matter.

10/22/2009 10:17pm,
I have trained in Amok it is not a cult The kinfe work is great. Also when you become a tribal leader you are not a teacher, you just are the head of a group that wants to train toghter on a regular baises. If you do not live near a school you start a small group and bring a teacher in a couple times a month . then your group gets together and trains on what the teacher shows you. When he comes back if you are ready he gives you the next peace. We do not hind anything. It is truely a mixed martial art you are encouraged to seek out other styles and make your self a well rounded fighter. It also mixes well with all styles.I found it to be a very open and diverse group. From solders to law enforcement to teachers all find a place in Amok

10/22/2009 10:57pm,
My old Kali teachers trained under Mr. Sotis. A couple years back I took a seminar that he did at the school, and thought it was excellent.

He explained what he taught very well. He set up an easel with a large pad of paper so he could draw out diagrams for the attendees. He'd start by describing, then he would explain how that principle could be applied in combat, then he would have us test/apply his teaching with sparring/practice.

He's definitely in to a certain vibe with AMOK, but he's also got a sense of humor about it. His seminar was all straight talk, practical stuff. There was no woo-woo, flowery language, or in-your-face sales pitch for the system. He also treated everyone with respect, regardless of their experience in the arts. I didn't see him dismiss any questions with a "You don't have enough experience to understand" type of attitude, nor did he have an "I'm teh d3adli3s" attitude.

FWIW I enjoyed the seminar very much, and would train with him again without hesitation.

11/01/2009 12:38am,
I visited the site. I did not look at the techniques. I did review his curriculum vitae from the site.

I'm calling full BS mode. Too many red flags to count. I'm sure some of his techniques are valid in the context that they are taught. Based on what he's actually done.... who knows if they will work.

The mall security threw me over the edge.

11/01/2009 1:26am,
His job background has exactly jack crap to do with his blade skill. He has trained under two people who are widely considered some of the better blade instructors around in Leo Gaje and Frank Masiello. So, what exactly are you calling BS on? I agree that some of the attitude and talk is over the top. However, I would also point out that the tribal concept and attitude is something that is quite common in FMA in general and in some styles more than others. No one around here seems to have a problem with Dog Brothers giving everyone a "dog name" and opening and closing all of their letters and correspondence with "woof" or talking about announcements like they are a fire hydrant to give the perception that they are dogs communicating. Is this really any more weird than that? Again, the attitude may be odd and I would not disagree, but his skill is legit. Of that there is no doubt. In addition, they spar and train hard. If you don't like the attitude, great, stay way. To call something BS when you nothing about the system or even anything about a related system makes little sense at all...

11/01/2009 3:27am,
I took the Oct classes in Killeen, TX and a couple of points are worth mentioning, especially about any cult (or rather lack of it).

There was practically none of that in Killeen -- maybe they have de-emphasized it since earlier classes or Internet postings, but it pretty much started AND ENDED with this:

Words to the effect: 'We are a brothers. We are brothers because we care enough to lend our bodies to our training partners in return for reciprocation so we can mutually learn how to protect our lives. We are brothers because while we fight hard and fast, and without pity to avoid instilling false confidence in unworkable techniques, we also truly care enough about each other to do our utmost to avoid any serious or significant injury.'

This was mostly said right at the end of the two days when everyone there are already demonstrated such caring. It was part of Tom's thank you to
all who attended and a reminder that 'giving your partner' the technique might be just as serious a mistake as training (a little) too hard.

So the message was safe but realistit training. It fits right in with the Dog Brothers concepts that everyone leaves as friends and no one spends the night in the hospital.

The two courses (1-day each) were "Accessing" and "Edge Weapons 1".

Accessing -- is about surviving an initial knife assault (at various ranges up to and including a surprise attack (where you are already cut) and holdups where the knife is near/touching or you are in the grasp of the assailant.

And from this initial survival being able to get enough time and distance to access your own knife (or gun) or just run away.

EW1 -- is a natural continuation of "Accessing". It teaches the basics of knife fighting once you are able to survive the initial attack and bring your own knife into use.

EW1 -- includes a LOT of full speed fighting with the NOK training knifes (which are an amazing tool) and a lot of full speed "practice"* where artificial limits are introduced to practice some limited skillset (limits include things like having to "hold a line" or the attacker only providing a limited (but hard/fast) set of attacks.

'Training' drills were given for later solo work -- ongoing personal training -- but the class does NOT waste large amounts of time trying to develop new muscles or doing these drills beyond a) the immediate value to remedy problems found in 'opposition' fighting or 'practice' fighting and b) to know and understand them well enough to train them over extended (later) time.

'Practice' is a technical term in AMOK! Framework which is distinguished from 'training'. Training is more about drilling.

Actually both courses include this. The methodology is that "Opposition" (full speed free fighting and dueling) is the MAJOR training components, with
practice (real speeds and retrictions) being less, and training (drills and physical development) being less still.

Summarizing: Find your weaknesses during mostly opposition fighting. Practice to eliminate those weakness, and train to improve your skills and physical attributes ONLY as needed.

BJJ emphasizes full speed rolling, but generally starts with physical exercises (stretching, strength training, attribute drills), the a "lesson" is given on specific techniques which are practiced, and finally rolling with a fully resisting partner.

AMOK! reverses the emphasis and the order while remaining committed to full speed and fully resisting partners.

Besides it is MORE FUN to fight first and fight a LOT.

11/01/2009 4:46pm,
Seems like these guys really really really want to be Dog Brothers.

Seems that way to me also....

11/01/2009 8:15pm,
Seems that way to me also....

No, except in the sense that a significant number of them are students or group leaders of Dog Brothers MA -- I have heard that some Dog Brothers (a technical term like a certification) are students of Sotis and AMOK! also.

AMOK! folks have their own methodology (not FMA but partially derived from that), their own unified framework for all empty hands and weapons tecniques, and they FOCUS on knife fighting and defense first (for reasons they see as most practical.)

They are related to and sometimes cross the Gabe Suarez "Defensive Firearms" work as well, in the same way that Marc Denny (Crafty) and some of the other Dog Brothers train and teach with Gabe.

Of course, as Crafty and other Dogs cross train in pistol or knife they still emphasize and typically start with FMA derived STICK work.

Gabe is not Dog Brothers and neither are Tom Sotis and his folks even.

All of these folks are related in that they MIGHT typically be expected to say (something to the effect):

'Gun, knife, stick, and empty hand training are all good but typically insufficient alone -- best used in combinations or by gaining skills in all'.

Some people cannot use a firearm for legal, political, ethical or other reasons of practicality. Some of these folks can use and carry a knife, but everyone needs to have a LEAST enough empty hands skills to survive the initial attack and to deploy any other arm available.

Some people conversely have very limited (age, infirmity, etc) ability to even develop empty hand skills (or perhaps even stick skills) at a high enough level for real street attacks and the knife or gun gives them another way to survive.