View Full Version : AMOK! Dissecting an Enemy

Tom Sotis
08-14-2004, 05:03 AM
AMOK! Guys,
Here's more on striking beyond our standard 9 attacks and 81 combinations (used for general target acquisition in chaos), amok uses the ABC's and the Numbers (where you cut each alphabet letter or numerical digit - both forward and reverse) and then more refined Dissection for specific target aquisition during follow-up and finish segments.

AMOK! Combative Dissection and Terminology

Knifefighting is a demanding endeavor in which one must capture fleeting opportunities in order to gain tactical advantages. In knifefighting, there is no margin of error and the windows of opportunity are extremely small. AMOK!’s mentality exhausts every option at our disposal in order to maximize our full potential and exploit even the slightest weakness in the enemy.

In order to spread the skill differential between two combatants equalized by the destructive potential of the blade, all good Knifer’s train to fully integrate multiple uses of their blade with their “free hand” (the rest of the body). Amoks learn right away not to become psychologically or tactically limited to use of the knife.

In addition to focusing on “free hand” development, knifer’s exhaustively develop every possible use of their blade to be sure to maximize its fullest potential. Amoks develop use of the entire tool; not only the obvious or most lethal applications, but also variations which provide a complete arsenal of uses to effect a number of different results offering substantially sophisticated uses of the tool.
There exist a myriad of punishing and non-lethal empty hand strikes that are used to set up finishing strikes or designed to inflict varying degrees of pain, maiming, or disfigurement - and so it is with the blade. Empty Hands combatants seek to use a variety of hand formations and surfaces contouring them to the body for maximum effectiveness - and so it is with the blade. Empty hands applications vary along the spectrum of damage potential from humane and passive, to cruel and lethal - and along that spectrum of possibility, the knife is in a class of its own.

Most persons, not having given serious consideration to various uses of a knife as it pertains to application on humans, generally restrict themselves to slashing or thrusting motions. Others with some training utilize the pommel and fewer still, cutting actions. Slash, thrust, cut, and pommel are what Knifer’s call “the basic four”.

On its most basic level those four choices offer some degree of variation and certainly enough lethal combinations to be combat functional. In many situations when use of the blade comes into play, it is useful to have at your disposal a number of different applications of that blade offering you an escalating degree of physical damage to your attacker. Considering few of us are in soldiers’ combative situations where the quickest kill is ideal, a soldiers’ tactical response for a civilian in a self-protection situation might put the defender in legal jeopardy. One’s official capacity (Citizen, LEO, Soldier) and the situation at hand (self-protection, enforcing the law, and killing the enemy) all have situational demands limiting the use and scope of the weapon. If one begins with “the basic four” and legal/situational restrictions further reduce use and options – one could be left with very few practical choices.

AMOK! recognizes 24 uses of a well designed fighting knife, and knifer’s explore applications from all of its physical attributes, not limited to the qualities defined by its common uses. As a physical object, it has 2 edges (2 sharp or 1 flat), 2 sides (flat, beveled, or grooved), and 2 ends (2 sharp or 1 blunt).

The following are 24 definitions and uses of a properly designed fighting knife.

Slash - Generally, Press-dragging the edge over a target. While it is entirely possible to drag a linear edge over a target, analysis of actual cuts shows either convex or concave slash results actually occur.

Convex - Slashing which cuts an arc into the target. Example: slashing throat standing in front of enemy.

Concave - Slashing that cuts an arc around the target. Example: slashing throat standing in back of enemy.

Slap - Slam-drag the side and/or tip through the target like hitting with a blackjack. Examples: slapping the cheek smashing the teeth and ripping the face open. Used to parry a stick when you don’t want to risk catching the edge in the wood, parrying steel when you don’t want to dull your edge, parrying hand or limb in this fashion causes impact damage with minimal bleeding.

Scratch - Drag the side of the tip over flesh; keying.

Thrust - Insert the tip and extract along the line of entry: to stab or puncture.

Gouge - Using the tip of the weapon inserted slightly into the flesh and forced at a 90-degree angle to the lateral cutting direction of the blade thus causing a tearing action along the exit line. Often referred to as “biting, or having been bitten”.

Cone - Once your blade is thrust into the enemy, twist to extract it at various angles from 90 to 270 degrees causing cone-shaped cutting paths inside the torso and spirals along the exit lines. (Fulcrum at end of handle)

Stir - Once the blade is inserted, move the handle in a circular fashion; cranking. Examples: Stomach, abdomen, and anus. (Fulcrum at point)

Pin - Thrust through the target, and tack it to another target area. Pin his hand to his head, torso, leg, hand, or pin chin to chest.

Throw - Releasing the weapon from your grip to effect impact distraction, damage, or insertion.

Cut - Pushing the edge into a target (checking with blade), or placing the edge in the path of an incoming attack.

Shave - A cut-shave action along the bone line used to strip flesh down to or off the bone. Examples: Shaving forearms, fingers, jawbone, and ears, press into bridge of nose and shave downward cutting off nose, lips, and chin. :D One is said to have “skinned their enemy” if multiple shavings occurred. Also known as peeling.

Carve - A cut-shave-slash pressure into fleshy areas creating flap of flesh which hangs off. Examples: Inside forearms, cheeks, pectorals, thighs, etc.

Pinch - Squeezing flesh between the blade and thumb or forefinger. Examples: Pinching an ear, wrist, fingers can be pinched and leveraged, etc. One might carve a flap of flesh and pinch it to the blade using it for pain compliance techniques analogous to a come-a-long.

Roll - Concave pressing of the edge over a rounded target. When a blade meets an arm and rolls around it blending with its energy and cutting along the way. Rolling is also a method of manipulating the blade to counter checks and recounters.

Chop/Hack - A whipping motion that tightens on impact and bounces back.

Fan - Delivering multiple slashes using the tip with a fan-like motion.

Dice - Delivering multiple chops using the edge with a fan-like motion.

Spine - Using the spine of the blade (on single edge designs) to smash bone and nerves. Examples: back of hands, elbows, forearms, funnybone, forehead, eyebrows, nose, jaw line, and teeth.

Press - Pushing the side of weapon into a target. Examples: securing arm bar, or holding firmly against throat or neck where any resistance or lateral motion will cause cutting from an edge.

Pommel - Striking with the butt of the weapon to crush or smash nerve, bone, and pressure points.

Rip - Smash into and then forcefully drag sideways to cause rough ripping along the exit line. Ex: ear, cheek, behind the jaw, eye socket, etc.

Hook - Using the pommel to assisting in: traps, guides, locks, disarms, and pinching.

Whatever you’re geometrical and tactical preferences your system adheres to - additional uses in your arsenal increases your options in any combative situation. Begin by practicing all of the drills you have now, each time substituting a variation in place of the usual strike. Then begin to practice combinations that compliment one another. For instance: adjusting the spectrum of escalation on a typical arm-cut + torso attack combination, one might opt to spine the hand and gouge the deltoid (minimal damage), slash the outer forearm and the ribs (medium damage) as opposed to shaving the inner forearm and thrusting into the armpit (maximum damage level).

AMOK! continues to more clearly define the functional value in developing and applying these variations. It begins by dividing the body into seven levels of anatomical attack: circulatory, respiratory, muscular, tendon/ligament, organs, skeletal, and nervous systems. It then lists all the targets within each level. The total number of targets a strike can access divided by the body’s total gives us the Average Tactical Potential of any given strike.

AMOK! continues to break the body down again in seven areas: skull, face, neck, torso hard, torso soft, arms, and legs. Each target area is broken down into its separate specific targets and each target is assigned a qualitative value. That value represents the estimated and average damage potential of that strike to that specific target. The cumulative qualitative points divided by the body total maximum qualitative value gives us the Average Damage Potential of any given strike.

If you average together the Average Tactical Potential and the Average Damage Potential, this gives us the Combative Functional Value of any particular strike. This information is crucial when designing systems for a specific purpose (like Law Enforcement) and it aids in determining factors of effectiveness when styles or systems lean heavily in favor of certain strikes and omit others. Blade designs dictate the various uses that are available with those characteristics.

Yours in knifing,
Tom Sotis

08-14-2004, 07:39 AM
Professor Sotis-
I had the privilege of training with one of your students, Rafael Mojica, in Orlando last week. As there are no AMOK instructors in the Chicago area, I figured I'd find one while I was on vacation! His training and attitude were excellent, and professional.
I do have one very basic question-could you explain the 9 angles of attack-by diagram or relation to the target? I have trained other systems and frankly, the numbering system is confusing, as there seem to be different numbers for the same angles. I apologize in advance for asking you such a basic question, so if anyone else wants to jump in who can illustrate the 9 angles please do so. I hope to train with you someday, Professor Sotis.

Gabriel Suarez
08-14-2004, 08:33 AM
Thanks Tom for a great thread.

Gents, for those of you wishing to attend an AMOK! class and learn from Tom Sotis, we will be holding two seminars with him next year. One of them is already scheduled for March in Prescott, AZ (a great time of year to visit the Free Republic of Arizona). The other one will likely be in the Las Vegas or Reno areas (dates TBA) and build upon what was learned in Prescott.

Tom's system is one of the deadliest, most vicious knife fighting systems I've seen. It is bloody, violent, and as real as you can get w/o shedding blood. As you can imagine, those of us who trained with him enjoyed it immensely :D

March 12-13, 2005 Prescott, AZ $325.00

08-14-2004, 10:23 AM

Thanks for the great thread and for sharing your information. This only whets my appetite more to train with you. I am going to make every effort to be in Prescott in March for Amok! training. I am very much looking forward to it.

Cold War Scout
08-23-2004, 01:36 PM
I trained with Tujon Leo Gaje this past weekend at East Wind Martial Arts Academy in Newport News, VA. It was an excellent seminar. I did notice the difference in numbering terminologies though. The 3 and 4 in the Kali system of this past weekend more closely resembled the 6 and 7 in AMOK!

Cold War Scout
11-17-2004, 10:30 AM
Just attended an AMOK! Fall camp in Massachusetts this past weekend. Once again it was excellent training. It wasn't strictly knife so I got to experience some sticks and some unarmed also. AMOK! is still an incredibly intense system of combat...the kind that might make a difference between whether you live or die in an upclose and personal confrontation. I cannot recommend the AMOK! training highly enough.

See you in Reno!

11-17-2004, 12:07 PM
Great thread! Just not one to read while eating lunch. :(

12-04-2004, 03:36 AM
sotis's semnars are always power packed with techniques and information. one always leaves enriched with sound knowledge.

most of all sotis exudes an aura that energises and inspires those attending his seminars.

Prof,thank you for the informative post.


Cold War Scout
12-04-2004, 12:01 PM
his new web site is up and running:


12-04-2004, 02:10 PM
That's a great new website. I can't wait to train with him--I like his take on the knife and it's uses.