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AMOK! - Knife Fighting Goodness or Cult?

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    #61
    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...

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      #62
      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.

      Comment


        #63
        Originally posted by Obi.1 View Post
        Seems like these guys really really really want to be Dog Brothers.
        Seems that way to me also....

        Comment


          #64
          Originally posted by Rawb_Prime View Post
          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.

          Comment


            #65
            Originally posted by herbm View Post
            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:

            Comment


              #66
              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

              Comment


                #67
                Originally posted by jwinch2 View Post
                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.

                Comment


                  #68
                  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...

                  Comment


                    #69
                    no problem dude! If you can get with Tom you will be glad you did

                    Comment


                      #70
                      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 ?

                      Comment


                        #71
                        From the website (page) listed previously in this thread:
                        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 WorkoutHave Accessing SkillHave Dueling Basics

                        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.

                        Comment


                          #72
                          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 .

                          Comment


                            #73
                            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.

                            Comment


                              #74
                              Originally posted by jwinch2 View Post
                              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 .

                              Comment


                                #75
                                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.

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