If you have been around this blog for any length of time, you have probably noticed that most reviews of educational materials have related to the books and instructional DVD/video formats. Today, however, I’d like to step into the 21st century and point to an excellent online source of brilliant combative instruction.
For the readers who share my affinity for the functional skill and sound training methodology, over the flashy maneuvers and technique-collecting approach, the work of Tom Sotis ought to be among the go-to references. Simply put, he spent 30+ years of dedicated training with unwavering focus on providing to his trainees/clients the best and most reliable information and skill to be developed. That said, the more I learn about the man and his work, the more I am impressed with his sheer honesty about the process of training and utmost disregard for the whole noise of peripheral phenomena of martial arts, such as ranking, titles, power over organizations and people etc. As the matter of fact, that is probably exactly what enabled him to put so much effort and thought into the development of his excellent methods.
The results are formulated under the banner of AMOK! And available to the interested parties on Tom’s website Amok! Global. For what is possibly the most affordable fee anywhere, you get access to the main body of the knowledge that Sotis has distilled into two categories:
- Core skills;
That way, not only do you learn what the people that he has taught in more than 30 countries over the course of more than 30 years have learned (what he teaches), but also how did they develop it into a working set of skills (how he teaches). In approaching training from these angles, an encompassing and thorough understanding is obtained with regards to the technical performance and tactical decision making, but also the proper focus on all the right components that will accelerate your progress on the functional path. Attacks, counters, grabs, disarms; training, practicing, sparring methods and configurations…it’s all there!
Although the core skills and methodology are conceived in a manner that integrates the instruction of all necessary elements of combative capability, for those who want to go into more detail and depth regarding some of those elements, there are specific focus courses available on the topics of Footwork, Handling, Faking, Striking, Countering and so on.
The common feature of all his instruction is the presentation in the bite-sized video clips, shown in appropriate order. Sotis uses whiteboard presentations where applicable, speaks clearly and informatively, without fluff and unnecessary ornamentation. Some of the clips are actually under two minutes of length, and I find it great for a couple of reasons. One, it forces the instructor to be as clear and efficient as possible in conveying his message; two, it makes it easier for the viewers to rewind and dial in the exact part they need to see/hear; three, it keeps tracking of the material you have covered much simpler; four, finding the exact topic you want is effortless.
It bears saying that in AMOK! they use knife as the central tool of instruction, for the reasons very well explained and argued for in the course, but the material is easily adapted to (m)any other tools you may use, or to the empty-handed application as well.
Ultimately, even if you have no interest of becoming and adept of AMOK! or even adopting the methodology into your training, it will still offer an excellent lens for filtering your own training approaches, thus helping you stay on the right path, as long as the desired destination is truth in combat.