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Rawb_Prime
11/01/2009 9:59pm,
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.


oh ok!
:lurk:

herbm
11/02/2009 12:24am,
One other thing I intended to mention:

In my opinion Tom Sotis & AMOK!, Gabe Suarez, and the Dog Brothers might all say something like:

'Unless and until you test it at real speeds, with realistic pressure, against fully resisting opponents attacking with realistic techniques and opposing will then you don't know whether your martial art is real or just another form or dance.'

AMOK! fighters are less likely to actually HIT each other (at least in these courses which are their intro modules) except on the arms or in other safe places. They DO strike hard against the arms right from the beginning.

(And they have other courses focused more on empty hand with strikes and [hard] takedowns.

Tom mentioned that he is trying to work through the issue of new students (and maybe some others) not having good falling techniques and much of this training is done in ordinary venues with tile or carpet over concrete floors.

We did do some limited groundwork (not the focus of this course so it was in the nature of an intro) and most people DID end up with significant bruising on the forearms unless they had learned from earlier courses to wear arm guards.

The NOK knives are reasonably safe -- from most strikes except direct thrusts to the eyes, throat, or groin, even for reasonable slashes to those and other areas.

At higher levels, some training does make use of both metal training knives and occasionally live blades.

Again, the goal is to survive a real world encounter, and so getting sliced and diced in practice is not something most people want to do, at least not very often.

A big part of the reason they can fight so hard and fast is that these NOK trainers do very little damage (I ended up with an abrasion 'cut' on my forehead, and my training partner has both some bruised ribs from a hard thrust and a pretty ugly bruise on his neck from a hard slash.

One guy jokingly? wrote (in another forum) that someone (not me) had possibly broken his nose, and one of my own partners ended up with a bloody nose from my unintentional forearm. (Hey, his elbow hit me in the nose at almost the same instant since we were closing aggressively.)

Again, this was NOT full contact with hands, feet, and throws, but it was fast and hard and....

...A WHOLE LOT OF FUN

jdp29
11/02/2009 2:13am,
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.

Frank Masiello does not teach the blade...He was one of Toms empty hands instructors. I know Tom, I currently train with Frank Masiello. I have trained in AMOK! and can tell you that Tom Sotis worked very hard to develop his art. He is an incredible instructor, extremely generous and someone you would not want to have to face if the threat was real. All I can say is go spend a day at one of his seminars and see it for yourself. Tom is Tom, he does not want to be anybody. He travels the world teaching AMOK!, and how many people can say they get to live their dream. One thing I can say is this...go search Google long and hard and find me one quote from Tom where he talks bad about another art or instructor. That says alot about the guy. I am lucky to live close to him and have gotten to train with him fairly often. He is passionate about his art and believes in it 100%. Just go take a class if you can. You will come away with some very good training.

jwinch2
11/02/2009 9:21am,
My bad, it was my understanding that Mr. Masiello taught blade work as well. I had heard others discussing his name in the FMA circles in that context but I must have been misinterpreting what was being said. I apologize for any misunderstanding. As for the rest, I again have heard nothing but good things about Mr. Sotis in regard to his knife skill or his teaching ability. If he does a seminar in my area, I will more than likely be there...

jdp29
11/03/2009 1:05am,
no problem dude! If you can get with Tom you will be glad you did

BackFistMonkey
11/03/2009 6:19am,
Well these last posts clear up a number of my questions except ummm .. What the hell are these people learning ? Is it a video course that the Team Leader watches then teaches or what ?

and of course

Who is making the money and how ?

herbm
11/03/2009 6:21pm,
From the website (page) listed previously in this thread:
http://www.edgedweaponsolutions.com/service/become-a-trainer.html
(http://www.edgedweaponsolutions.com/service/become-a-trainer.html)



Explain AMOK! Methodology - Trainers must be able to verbally explain the basic components of our methodology: the triangles, functionalization, context, discovery, and pressures. If you study the articles for each, through training and asking questions you will manage this in short order.
Lead a Seven Realms Workout Like a sports coach learning how to hold practice, the SRW is a cycle of tactical scenarios that realistically subjects trainees to the various types of problems they may encounter. Learning to lead a SRW can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days.
Have Accessing Skill because most self-protection situations start out one-sided assaults, reality demands learning to manage knife attacks while empty-handed in order to safely access and deploy your folder. The duration to learn this varies depending on the individual.
Have Dueling Basics once a folder has been deployed for self protection, one must know how to use it, and thus Trainers should be versed in the basics of weapon-to-weapon fighting in case the assailant continues the assault.

So the last two require SOME physical skills, Accessing (under pressure) and Dueling Basics. Enough to force other students to deal with realistic attacks and defense.

The first two requirements require the trainer to have some explanatory teaching skill and a knowledge of how to run the training in the AMOK! format which is STRONGLY geared towards "Fight first and most" then "train your weaknesses".

Remember even Tom is claiming to be the "best knife teacher" because he can beat everybody (perhaps he can beat most people, but he disclaims being the best), but rather because he has the best techniques for both actually fighting AND for making sure you teach them to yourself through sparring and other activities.


The 'money' is covered in the next section:



Trainers' fee is only $150/year or less, depending on the number of members in your group, or the country in which you live. That is not a typo. Not $150/month, but $150/year.
Keep 100% of your private and group income! (AMOK! levies 0%).

A trainer could charge for lessons, anything from enough to cover a training location up to what the market (presumably his students would decide if he deserves this) or he could charge nothing -- in fact I believe that most of the trainers I know do charge nothing.

So, Tom and the AMOK! organization are making a little ($150), growing the size of the AMOK! community (where ostensibly each trainee pays AMOK! something like $20 a year -- but the price is not currently on the web site), each trainer/group (probably) stimulates attendance at training events, and likely each trainer is a market for attending or sponsoring future training events which are usually about $100 per day or $200-250 for a 2 day or 2 day, 1 evening class.

Tom's prices for a day's training are VERY reasonable -- typically lower than other other quality martial arts and shooting training (that I have attended or considered) prices.



He's making some money, and he is NOT getting rich. (He could get rich if he had many thousands of members some day.)


The trainer might make enough to afford going to a(nother) seminar or pay for training knives but is likely NOT making a living nor even much more than beer money.


In my opinion new trainers are doing this mostly to aid in getting a group together so they will have practice partners.


There is ONE DVD available, on gun accessing and using the gun while under knife attack. It is featuring Marc Human, Tom's South African business partner in AMOK!.

Tom himself seems to eschew making DVDs.

One of the largest problems with learning AMOK! is there are no books and (almost) no videos. Mostly it is attend a seminar, then find or start a study group.

After posting all this, I may consider doing it myself.

My MA training partner and I have been basically running a "group of two" for a couple of months (after I initially attending two events.) We would like to get some more participants. I would expect to make NO money and probably wouldn't even charge unless we need to pay for somewhere to train or to buy some (group) knives and other equipment.

My partner has a real nice "little private gym" (with real mats etc -- and he gave me a set of NOK knives after I came back from the first (free) seminar and started showing him stuff -- but his gym is likely too far out of town to attract a large group of regular participants. It's also too small for much more than about six people.

[FYI: Tom does NOT market the knives or any equipment to my knowledge.]

Tonight, I am going to visit the Killeen group -- I will ask them how long it took them to become trainers (there are two there) and so forth.

BackFistMonkey
11/03/2009 7:29pm,
So there is not much quality control ? You pay for your seminar then it is up to you to come up with material to continue to teach ?

I am not trying to give you or the system a hard time, I really am not seeing how this works or benefits anyone involved .

jwinch2
11/03/2009 7:47pm,
Is it that hard to understand that sometimes people cannot find a style that they are looking for in their area? So, in order to train that art they want to start a training group of their own. They get some basics at the beginning to work on with some like minded people. One person typically take a leadership role in that he/she goes out to get additional training on a regular basis and brings that knowledge back to the group. This gives the leader the benefit of direct training with a qualified instructor often times allowing him to defer the cost by the dues he collects in the group. The group benefits as they get to train in an art that otherwise cannot be found locally and most of the time at a lower cost then they would otherwise be charged for such training. Many times, the group leader goes on to become a recognized full instructor in the art after many years. I have even seen many of these situations where the original group leader who started off with no training ends up become the state director for the art's parent organization.

Many newer arts spread in this fashion if not most of them. Hell, in the early days, BJJ spread in this fashion. In some cases, it still is being spread in this fashion. I know a few guys that started off training in an art on an intermittent basis and decided to start a group where they could practice what they had learned. One of them took the lead and organized training seminars from Royce and anyone else he could get to come in, or who was within a half day's drive. Now this person is a black belt under Royce and has a successful GJJ and MMA gym. It is hardly abnormal and perfectly legitimate to do it. The place I train Arnis is the exact same situation. All AMOK did was formalize what it takes to start a group and create a process by which it can happen.

BackFistMonkey
11/03/2009 9:03pm,
Is it that hard to understand that sometimes people cannot find a style that they are looking for in their area? So, in order to train that art they want to start a training group of their own. They get some basics at the beginning to work on with some like minded people.

OK this I understand fully and do / have done .


One person typically take a leadership role in that he/she goes out to get additional training on a regular basis and brings that knowledge back to the group.

Where does AMOK! come into this ? Where the quality control and guidance ? Is there a list of suggested schools/teachers?


This gives the leader the benefit of direct training with a qualified instructor often times allowing him to defer the cost by the dues he collects in the group.

I have issue with students teaching and learning 2nd hand . Especially when the art is based around weapons and self defense .


The group benefits as they get to train in an art that otherwise cannot be found locally and most of the time at a lower cost then they would otherwise be charged for such training

wait wait wait , I thought the whole point was to learn stuff not available locally ...

So AMOK is supporting undercutting the local Teachers and letting anyone with any skill set or lack of skill sets lead a group in what ever style ?



Many times, the group leader goes on to become a recognized full instructor in the art after many years. I have even seen many of these situations where the original group leader who started off with no training ends up become the state director for the art's parent organization.
Sure ... and this is the norm or a rarity .



Many newer arts spread in this fashion if not most of them. Hell, in the early days, BJJ spread in this fashion. In some cases, it still is being spread in this fashion. I know a few guys that started off training in an art on an intermittent basis and decided to start a group where they could practice what they had learned. One of them took the lead and organized training seminars from Royce and anyone else he could get to come in, or who was within a half day's drive. Now this person is a black belt under Royce and has a successful GJJ and MMA gym.

Awesome , but this is not BJJ where they have an ACTIVE quality control not AMOK! where there is no quality control .



It is hardly abnormal and perfectly legitimate to do it. The place I train Arnis is the exact same situation. All AMOK did was formalize what it takes to start a group and create a process by which it can happen.
I don't know I think snagging prospective students and having uncertified instructors teaching knife fighting , grappling , striking is kinda abnormal , immoral , and irresponsible .

... but that is just me .

jwinch2
11/03/2009 9:09pm,
If the students who come to AMOK wanted to study another style and that style was local they would do so. If they chose to study AMOK through training group leader, as long as that person is not putting themselves off as a full instructor, it is their choice. Nothing amoral about it at all.

herbm
11/04/2009 12:39am,
...

Where does AMOK! come into this ? Where the quality control and guidance ? Is there a list of suggested schools/teachers?

I have issue with students teaching and learning 2nd hand . Especially when the art is based around weapons and self defense .

....

I don't know I think snagging prospective students and having uncertified instructors teaching knife fighting , grappling , striking is kinda abnormal , immoral , and irresponsible .

... but that is just me .


Yes, that you think it is immoral, and that is your opinion but NOT "just you" -- others might agree.

It happens that I do not. I did attend a group tonight where there were two "trainers" (think group leaders as we are talking here) who are not (yet) instructors.

I was delighted with the training we did. I learned some stuff, and got to practice that stuff plus more stuff that I had been working on by myself or with my local partner.

These guys have been to some trainings with Tom (and other skilled instructors) and they are 'certified' (by Tom etc) to act in this capacity as leaders of the group -- their job is to make sure that the training time is not wasted on BS and other non-useful activities (e.g., get a beer and shoot the breeze after practice) AND to show whatever they know in the context of AMOK!'s "do first, show later" then "try it full speed (again)" methodology.

This means they can run an "AMOK! style" session and explain the framework as well as basic Accessing and Sparring techniques (they both can do more, but that is the minimum.)

If you cannot stay away from MY knife then you have work to do to improve your techniques and strategy.

Notice it is NOT enough (for you) to "beat me" -- you must strive to do it without getting cut AT ALL -- or with minimal damage whenever the ideal is not possible.

Of course, that is MY problem as well when you and I are sparring. The only true "win" in a knife fight is where you a) survive, b) have no lasting damage, c) don't go to the hospital (or jail), and ideally d) you are completely untouched and unwounded.

Frankly I don't care if the bad guy gives up and goes (or runs) away -- all I care about is that I didn't get hurt (and neither did my loved ones). Same for if the police arrive and arrest him (fat chance!) or anything else that causes him to break off the attack.

Sure it makes a better story if I capture or kill the evil criminal but that is NOT in my primary set of goals, but just two of the ways that I might survive (uninjured.)

In fact, if I defeat the bad guy (he's wounded, dead, and/or in jail) and get cut (especially badly cut) then I have LOST that encounter in some real sense.

Knife fighting at fully speed with NOK trainers quickly demonstrates the foolishness of "mutual suicide" -- both sparring partners LOSE.

Quality control? It takes some skill to lead a group. Group leaders must not promote themselves as full instructors. Ongoing training is required (one of the group leaders tonight has been doing it 'only' about 8 months and has attended 6 courses, i.e., three 2 day weekends.)

He has real skill -- especially compared to someone who has no such training experiences or only a course or two.

The group can easily see who is "qualified" to teach -- not just because the one qualified 'can win' against others but rather because his ideas and techniques, the ones he show and demonstrates for the drills either work or don't work when the class as whole and as individuals TRY THEM almost immediately at full speed.

The guys tonight are more than qualified -- and I am betting they will be even better next year -- as both fighters and as trainers (coaches) or "instructors in training" (not a term AMOK! uses.)

So the quality control is the responsibility of the STUDENT: Do you get more for your time and money than you put into it?

If not, then don't attend. If so, then it is likely good (for you).

You will see, feel, and be able to evaluate what you are getting by how it works when fighting full speed more than half of the class time.

BTW, both of these trainers were extremely open to ideas from others in the class -- other people who have varying levels of prior MA training, AMOK! specific training, and even varying levels of skill.

It's easy to be open when the test is: Does it work? Does it work RIGHT now? Can you demonstrate a situation in which it works reliably? (and all assuming that we are going full speed almost immediately -- there might be a few moments of demo or slow work to get timing or for explanatory purposes but almost immediately you go back to full speed.)

The AMOK! site publishes the names and locations of instructors and trainers while clearly distinguishing the two. Prospective trainees can easily see who is who, and what credentials they really have.

BTW, and "AMOK! Instructor" is NOT an instructor of ALL of AMOK! but only those modules/course in which he or she has the necessary skill and experience.

I might be mistaken, but I believe Tom himself explicitly disavowed being an "AMOK! grappling instructor" since he is not highly skilled and experience in grappling. He depends on OTHER instructors who might be "under him" in other arts to take the lead in areas where he is relatively weak.

This doesn't mean that Tom has no grappling skills or won't show a grappling move, but it does offer "truth in packaging".

He claims that you must know at least the "counter to the counter of a move" before being (fully) qualified to teach that move.

So no, it's not immoral unless an 'instructor' lies to me or fools me into thinking that the Reel Kul Do he is teaching will work against a fully resisting opponent who wants to win when it won't work or hasn't ever even been tested.

charleyb
9/15/2011 5:52am,
I have been in martial art's for over 30 now.I have to say that I was also put off by some of the Amok! rethoric, although I do not find it nearly as amusing when I see American's pledge that cute little ceronomy and to learn that many American believe in talking snake's,adam and eve,etc. Look hard enough and you will see that kind of stuff all around the world.But when I first started training I was immediately impressed. There was none of that over macho silly stuff( I am referring to Amok! stuff, not American's pledging allegiance or going to church) You can NOT become an instructor in a day! You can book private lessons. I wish people would get it right.It took me year's to be even considered worthy and I am still not. The teaching method's used are just so far advanced that simply nothing else compare's.It apply s to any art. Tom's seminar are one of the best deals out there. His yearly summer camp in Thailand is one of the worlds best knife event's.Most of the chaps are great, no ego's and they do look out for other other. Far more so than many pledging the alliance I should not wonder!

charleyb
9/15/2011 5:56am,
yes, just you and guess what?, it does not happen that way

today tom stepped back at the grappling phase, admiting he was ' way below" the man teaching it
I think its immoral, abnormal and plain dumb to make silly statements that can get one hurt before making a fool of oneself...but that is just me!

Jim_Jude
9/16/2011 7:56pm,
Don't think of an AMOK! Tribe as a dojo. Think of it more like a Gracie Combatives training group. The leader is probably going to be the guy who provides the training space and owns the DVDs for everyone to watch.
Ray Floro's FFS knife system is pretty simple, the basics could be covered in a day, maybe. He's a former Kali Ilustrisimo practitioner who has taught LEOs and Military all over the world, same as Tom Sotis. Mastery of all FFS techniques, striking patterns and principles (angles, distance, footwork, etc)... takes a lifetime at least.

kitten_of_death
10/04/2011 1:10am,
Amok groups are interesting. Its the only art I've been a part of where multiple perspectives and experiences are welcomed, and then tested. The group observes sparring, offering feedback and ideas which are tried out. Through practice you get to see what really works over time within an organic and diverse combat field. I was initially attracted to the style as an opportunity get lots of experience fighting unarmed against a knife, which has been rewarding. To respond to some of the posts, I never felt personally like it was culty; maybe the opposite, since it welcomes outside ideas and seems designed to adapt and learn as a style. But I've never met the founder, or been to the camps; maybe they feel culty. As for the one day of training needed to organize a group: This person is an organizer, not a fighting instructer. I would imagine it would take a really long time for a group to develop any valuable skills if everyone in the group were newbies (though hypothetically, after enough time trying really hard to fake kill each other and evaluating what works and what doesn't, you'd have to think they'd grow in skill). My experience though has been that groups are comprised primarily of members with various martial arts or formalized knife fighting styles they bring to the table, testing and tweaking them over time against diverse threats and skill-sets. Rather than a leader based, top-down skill transmission of one person's specific knowledge, my experience has been that Amok groups function collectively to discover what effective skills organically emerge from as most effective and useful; everyone learns from and teaches each other. I've loved it and learned a great deal.