View Full Version : review of sotis nestor class in Costa Rica

01-22-2010, 05:04 PM
I just got home from training with Tom and Tony in Costa Rica last night. Awesome event. The location was fantastic, not like we were going into the jungle everyday and swinging long blades all day long. We had a 2 acre grass field beside a 2 acre pond with a shelter. No mosquitoes or really any bugs for that matter. We trained combatives with Tom in the morning while we had good shade and survival and bushcraft stuff with Tony in the afternoon. We were right beside the jungle so we did a couple of walks in to cut some bamboo and build fish spears. Tony taught basci survival skill sets to keep you alive for 72 hours while awaiting rescue, and then moved on to making rope from the local forest, building and setting traps, starting fires in a variety of ways, basic map skills, and a ton of other really cool stuff. Nobody ate any bugs or lizards although I think a couple of guys were ready to go if need be. Tom transformed teh machette from a utility knife to a very impressive weapon, I will have a couple of these floating around the house and in my vehicles from this point on. His info was presented in a very well thought out manner , as usual. Quepos, the town we stayed in was fine, not Myrtle Beach or anythning, but it had a good hospital, lots of restrauants and multiple bars along with the regular tourist shops. We fished 2 days and boated a handfull of Sailfish and a very tasty dorado. Some of the guys did the zip lines in the tree canopys and the local park. There were tons of things to do and planty of places to stay.

If you missed it this year I would try to put it on your calender for next year as I know both Tom and Tony are looking to repeat the event and be able to make it better having been there this year for the first time.

Thanks again Tom and Tony for a great camp.

Rick Klopp
01-22-2010, 06:24 PM
Great review - it sounds like it was an awesome trip. CR is one of my favorite places to go and hang out (last time was about 6 years ago).

Both Tom and Tony will be at Warrior Skills Camp 2010 this year. We'll be making an announcement about that very soon.

I hear the fishing in CR is great too - how far offshore were you?

Planning on next year.

01-22-2010, 07:30 PM
Hey Rick,
We were about 18 miles off shore at the most. Dolphins chased the boat back in for awhile off the bow.

Looking forward to your post regarding skills camp, trying to keep some time open, Dana is back in school so I am not sure what her schedule will be.

Mark H
02-03-2010, 10:36 AM
Hey Mooseman when are you going to make it back to SA. I am sure there is a Boer bull or two you could take a look at down in this hemisphere?
Plus you need to make it to Cape town.

All the best

Tom Sotis
02-03-2010, 11:02 AM
2009 Costa Rica Survival/Machete Camp

Taught by Tony Nester and Tom Sotis

Saturday 9th – Brent, Dan, and I arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica at 3pm and were met at the airport by Adrian, the transport driver arranged through Cliff (fitpro on WT forum). Adrian dropped us off at the Sportsman’s Lodge and Tony joined us a few hours later about 8pm. We’d all been traveling since early in the morning so we grabbed a bite to eat and hit the sack early.
Sunday 10th – I was up early and I snuck into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. I was surprised to find someone in there so early and she was kind enough to make me coffee. The sun came up a while later and I could see it was going to be a beautiful day. Adrian picked us up at 7:30 and we set off to our destination. Along the way we stopped at the Crocodile Bridge and enjoyed the 3.5 hour scenic drive to Quepos, a little fishing town. We checked into our rooms (very clean and modern), took a swim, and then we took a walk into town together for dinner.
Monday 11th – The original plan was for deep sea fishing but the boat had a problem and we rescheduled so the day unfolded as it came. Tony went scouting for a location for us to train; Brent went to town, and Dan and I went to town and then the boardwalk. Paul arrived in the afternoon and a couple of hours later we went back to town for dinner.
Tuesday 12th – After breakfast Tony went scouting again and Paul went to Manuel Antonio Park. Dan, Brent, and I went deep sea fishing. Dan landed a Dolphin fish (mahi-mahi) and Brent caught a sailfish as wide as the boat. We all met back in the late afternoon, took a swim, and went to town for dinner. It turns out Tony found an ideal location for our training; we’re all looking forward to tomorrow.
Wednesday 13th – We had a nice breakfast and head out together about 8:30. The training location was everything we needed. It had a large grassy area suitable for the machete work, with a pond for primitive fishing, and a ramada to offer us shade with tables and stools for us and our gear. The area was surrounded by jungle so all the natural supplies we needed were right at hand and amazingly, there were very few bugs – you had to actually look for them.
Because all of the guys have trained AMOK! knifework they already understand the tactical framework so it was easy for me to simply adapt the mechanics of the machete to that framework. We spent the morning training: grip, striking, the mechanics of speed and power, and adapting those to attacking and countering tactics.
In the afternoon, Tony began by discussing the seven elements of survival and essential survival gear. The first exercise was fire by sparker and cotton balls smeared with Vaseline and then we got tinder by scraping bamboo. Tony showed us techniques to set the ideal conditions to start a fire and then we had to start a fire with our sparker but using only one hand. Tony demonstrated, and then we got to try, using a bamboo saw to friction up a coal and then using a bow drill. Paul did very well with the bow drill and he got a good coal in a short time.
Tony went on to show us how to rig a poncho using a Cobbler’s peg offering equally quick set-up and breakdown along with how to use the 5 W’s to choose a good campsite. He continued on with techniques for filtering water and showed us that by digging a series of holes, as water seeps from one hole to the next, the earth sifts out a lot of stuff.
We went back to the rooms, took a swim, and discussed the day before we walked to town for dinner.
Thursday 14th - We had a nice breakfast and head out together about 8:30 to the training location. The morning was spent working the machete in closer quarters than yesterday. Again knife tactics in the Kill-Zone were adapted to the machete, the increased length making the game a bit simpler yet in its own way more difficult as the length presents its own issues with which issues to contend.
In the afternoon, Tony spent time covering primitive fishing methods and making fishing spears using sharpened sticks lashed to a notched staff using a constrictor knot and he showed us ingenious bird-traps that are simple and fast to make – way more productive than any I’ve seen anywhere else.
The remainder of the day was like the previous; we went back to the rooms, took a swim and walked to town for dinner.
Friday 15th – The morning machete training consisted of adding the rest of the countering actions into the Kill-Zone and then bringing all the actions into the Fluid environment through single and double exchanges. After today they have all the movements for attack and countering, when outside of each others’ reach, and when in operating in the mutual kill zone.
Procuring food is the most challenging aspect of bushcraft. Bushcraft traps are a lot like knifing traps in that they are simple, but not easy, and Tony’s hard-earned skill shows with the precision and efficiency in which he creates the simplest and most effective traps. He covered twitch-ups, deadfalls using figure-4’s, and a very simple two-stick trigger you can make in 3 minutes.
Tony spent the afternoon teaching us techniques for making cordage. We started with the twist & wrap method of making string from natural fibers, methods of weaving an eyelet, and weaving hooks into the cordage for fishing. To finish up the day, we used small handfuls of natural fibers to braid sections of rope.
After training, you guessed it… we took a swim and walked to town for dinner.

Part 2 in the next thread.

Tom Sotis
02-03-2010, 11:05 AM
2010 Costa Rica Survival & Machete Camp review

Saturday 16th – The last morning of machete training, we worked on countering hard combinations in the Kill-Zone and then how to achieve three easy-to-functionalize disarms. In four days we covered Dueling, Kill-zone, and Disarming in static, fluid, and dynamic stages.
The final afternoon of survival training, Tony covered navigation by nature, basic map-reading and using a compass, signal-for-rescue techniques, and tracking. I guess there are more than a few Grand Poohbah’s in the survival field too, and I always enjoy watching Tony, in his laid-back way, so completely demystify subjects that others cloak with hints and mysticism - tracking being one of them.
Even a couple of hours of tracking with Tony is a profound experience; I can’t wait to take a whole course. Just going for a walk, he has so much to share along the way and every bit of it is useful. Instead of just looking at prints, Tony encouraged us to immerse ourselves in the whole experience, gave us pointers on how to observe the natural world around us, and he explained how behavior and psychology of the prey (man or animal) plays in interpreting the route and we got a glimpse of his hard-earned wisdom.
When the course was over, I admit relief to know we weren’t expected to man-up and eat bugs for any supposed reason. I’ve eaten bugs before and I’ll do it again if I have to, but until then, forget it.
Sunday 17th – Paul got an early start off to the canopy tour and zip-line adventure. Dan and Brent left early to go deep sea fishing again and they had an eventful day. Dan said he saw a sailfish jump right out of the water, so the captain circled around and drop a line in, and a minute later… sailfish on the hook. Then Brent hooked one, then Dan again, and then Brent again! After each of them caught and released two sailfish, they called it a day. Paul returned and then spent the afternoon at the beach.
Tony and I spent the morning asking each other questions, trained a bit, and he helped me with a new trigger I hadn’t seen before. About noon we went to Manuel Antonio to scout the area. MA has a few more upscale restaurants than Quepos, though the hotels are less desirable and more expensive. Where Quepos is a town best suited for sport-fishing tourists, MA centers on the Nature Park and the tropically-exotic beach. MA is a great place to visit but we both prefer Quepos.
Monday 18th – Tony and Paul left early to go back to San Jose to catch their flights. Dan, Brent, and I spent the day going over some machete stuff and a lot on Tony’s stuff. Then, surprisingly enough, we took a swim and walked to town for dinner.
Tuesday 19th – Our last full day was spent leisurely attending to final errands. We went to town to buy a few more custom leather machete sheaths and a couple of souvenirs. A few hours later we took a cab to Manuel Antonio for dinner.
Wednesday 20th - We had a leisurely morning and Adrian picked us up about noon and on the ride back he took us through Jaco (a beach town only 2 hours from San Jose). Jaco has a main road that runs parallel to the beach with a wide assortment of very nice hotels, all types of restaurants, and lots of bars, with far more commercial activity than Quepos. I’m fairly certain next year’s camp will be in Jaco.
We grabbed a bite to eat and crashed early.
Thursday 21st – Adrian picked us up at 5am and we set out to the airport. We caught our flight at 7am and made our exit from Costa Rica.
I want to thank Tony, Brent, Paul, and Dan for coming with the willingness to go along with whatever we find and making the trip so much fun. Now that we have been there and have the scoop first-hand, next year will be even better.

Speaking of next year, Tony and I talked about it and we decided that since some people want to do only knifing while others want to do only survival and some want to do both, that next year we will not split the days, we will do our camps back to back so people can just do knifing, or just do survival, or they can do both, and only pay for the part they want.
Modeling the success of the Thailand camp, we will stay in a nice hotel and train for 3 or 4 days from 9am to 1pm where you will be free to have fun the rest of the day. It will be your option to join the group for dinner each evening at 6pm.

I have one more thing to mention:
Most people in modern society live their entire lives disconnected from our rich heritage as primitive beings, just as they are separated by the glass from artifacts on display in a museum.
The more our world modernizes; men like Tony become ever-more valuable because they remain mankind’s final links to experiencing our true past, to which even the best books and museums cannot begin to compare.
Beyond the empowering freedom gained from developing outdoor survival and self-reliance skills, bushcraft is packed with potential for adventure. Practicing bushcraft is a real-life time-machine that transports us back in time where we can experience a slice of mankind’s journey and then return to our present-day lives.
Always the pragmatist, Tony Nester is all about low-tech functionalism – the easiest and simplest way of getting the essential tasks done right. And while his knowledge stretches deep into mankind’s history and into different cultures around the world, Tony’s classes are about survival in the here and now, and he encourages his students to be completely hands-on and physically perform each skill.
You couldn’t ask for a better guide to primitive survival than Tony Nester. The rarest kind of anthropologist, Tony is one of the few with the courage to live exactly as did the ancestral people he studies, with the same tools, challenges, and fears, to know first-hand how they survived and it is the wisdom from that experience that makes him among the finest and most sought-after survival instructors in the world.
Best AMOK! regards,
Tom Sotis