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Edged Weapons Seminar Review

Posted by ackbar80 on August 5, 2022 at 2:15 PM

After deep diving into Tiga Tactics’ suite of online courses over the last year, I decided to attend one of their in person seminars May 14-15 in Baltimore. While I’ve trained at several different martial arts gyms and been to seminars held at those locations, this was my first time traveling to a seminar. Here’s how I thought it went, some takeaways and if you should attend one:


Atmosphere: It’s always interesting walking into a new martial arts gym. However, the instructors, students and guests at the Academy of Traditional Asian Fighting Arts (they teach both Pentjak (Pencak) Silat Serak and Aikido) were welcoming. Within minutes I felt at home as I would in any of my normal training locations a reflection of head instructor/owner Scott Sobel as well as his other instructors (“Aikido” Todd and “Silat” Todd). This welcoming and learning attitude was reinforced immediately with Tiga Tactics’ instructors Conrad Bui and Patrick Vuong in the first hour of the training.


Skills: The skills taught included some of the stuff covered I their online courses and some new material. Having seen much of it, as well as practiced it, before I took the time to pay attention to the smaller details that make up the skills taught. During many seminars I’m worried about the gross motor movement skills instead of making things refined and usable. Much of the seminar focused on creating space, maintaining space and effectively drawing your blade. Their approach is based off real world data, watching closed circuit TV footage of real attacks and focuses on what you will need to use/what is most important. After all if you can’t get the edged weapon into the fight, then there is no use having one.

Probably best of all I felt like it wasn’t too much material. They drilled the important stuff repeatedly but disguised the repetitions through a mix of contests, games and even testing. By the end of the weekend I’m pretty sure I had practiced drawing a blade in the hundreds of times.

For those that wanted more, they also showed us some patterns that are very easy to remember but require more training. This meant if you weren’t going to go to any other classes or seminars for a couple of months, you still had a decent amount of material to drill and keep things interesting.


Surprises: I honestly wasn’t expecting to get that sweaty during training, after all it is just blade work. However, it was surprisingly tiring as we worked through drills. I was most surprised by learning from the other martial artists. Just getting to do pad work with guys who primarily train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Mixed Martial Arts, Aikido, Silat and the couple of other styles we had was super interesting. Little differences like their stances, how they throw an elbow and nuances of body mechanics was cool to learn.


Bonuses: While you shouldn’t necessarily expect something like this at one of their seminars, I did have the awesome opportunity for three additional things that took it from a really great weekend to epic in my book:

1. First, since I had taken all their online courses I was allowed to test to become an Assistant Instructor. This meant I got an additional 45 minutes of instruction/testing with Conrad and Patrick.

2. Second, I ended up going to dinner with the instructors (Conrad, Patrick and Scott), which was a ton of fun sharing stories.

3. On Sunday, Willie “The Bam” Johnson (from the WMAC Masters TV Show) showed up for training. It was cool to meet and do a little training with someone I watched on TV as a kid.


Should you attend? By now you know my answer. For those that have an interest in self-defense or martial arts but may lack the training time, Tiga Tactics provides a great opportunity. You can show up with zero training but still learn some valuable skills, learn a ton, get trained and walk away with a certificate of completion. Check the Fighting Section of our website ( )  to links to Tiga's online training courses and links to in person seminars.


Gutter fighting Fairburn Knife Fighting Review

Posted by ackbar80 on March 1, 2022 at 2:50 PM

Martial arts training in the military has evolved several times over the years. One of the most iconic knives from the military appeared in World War II, the Sykes-Fairburn knife. Usually sold as an all-black dagger, the outline is identifiable easily to anyone that likes knives. The knife was named after two men, one of them being British Lt Col William Ewart Fairburn, who made a knife fighting training video. Thanks to YouTube and someone uploading an old copy in Greek, you can now watch it.


Here’s a quick review of some of the more interesting takeaways from the 13 minute short training film.


1. Early Understanding of Relevance: The film is short and Fairburn understands his audience emphasizing that he’s not here to make you an expert just give you a small base of knowledge to get you out of jam. The same concept carries over to the Modern Army Combatives Course. The current Army’s combatives isn’t designed to make you a black belt or even a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu blue belt…it’s designed to teach you some basics to help get you out of a bad situation if required.


2. Relevance to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA): In the film he goes through a portion where he says things like “don’t wrestle a wrestler” and “don’t box a boxer”. Even today we see MMA fighters enter the ring and try to compete at their opponent’s specialty instead of forcing their opponent to fight their specialty. Was this revolutionary when the film was made? Maybe…either way it is a good reminder.


3. Use of Self-Defense Solid Techniques: The film shows some brief techniques that are still applicable and useful in self-defense today including aiming for the eyes or throat with your fingers. He also recommended the palm strike, a great tool that will virtually eliminate the change of you breaking a finger on someone’s skull unlike a closed fist. He also recommends the hands up/surprised/don’t hurt me stance, a common piece of advice for modern self-defense because this position is actually a ready position for striking and much better than your hands at your side.


It’s an interesting watch if you haven’t seen it. The film is not perfect and seeing some of the really dated stuff was funny like his tie tucked into his pants. It was also funny to hear him say things like “kicking is okay” the implication being that back in WW II, kicking someone was considered dirty or improper for fighting, a notion that is long gone. The only parts I disliked were some dubious claims about the effectiveness of his chop (i.e. will knock him out for 2-4 hours, a chop will break an arm and a throat chop will kill him). Based off what you can see on professional MMA every weekend, we know this is not the case even by trained athletes.


For a video that’s about 70 years old on fighting in the striking weapon range, it remains surprisingly relevant today. Head over and check out Fairburn’s video here: 



10,000 Hours of Martial Arts

Posted by ackbar80 on February 1, 2022 at 8:55 AM

According to journalist Malcolm Gladwell, it takes an average of 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery. Whether you are practicing for sports, music, Obstacle Course Racing or in this case, martial arts he believes this 10,000 hour rule applie.

Critics like to point out examples where people achieve mastery with less practice. However, looking into the theory you’ll notice it states “on average 10,000 hours of deliberate practice”. As an average there will be people who are both above and below that benchmark. Furthermore, if you are just going through the motions (like my sensei calls “traffic copping” ) and not trying to get better that doesn’t count towards the 10,000 hours.


Let’s look at how this applies to martial arts:

1. Even the basics need repetition: How many punches have you thrown in your lifetime? How many front kicks? How many side blade kicks? How many spinning back fists? The point is just because you know the movement, doesn’t make you a master of it. Practice needs to be done to the point not to where you can do it right, but until you can’t do it wrong. During a tournament or a street fight you won’t have time to think. Your body will operate off muscle memory so practice until you can’t do it wrong.


2. Improvement takes time, don’t get discouraged: If you are trying to earn your black belt in as short of a time as possible, remember to be patient and enjoy the journey of learning. Like we said in bullet point one, even the basics need repetition. If you tried to achieve the 10,000 hour rule in a year, you would have to practice more than 27 hours a day…as in…it is impossible. If you train for an hour a day, which seems like a reasonable amount, and never take rest days you’ll hit 10,000 hours in 27 years. Check back here later for how we can leverage mental training to reduce the 10,000 hour requirement. Even the highest degree black belt once started as a beginner. As you stay in a dojo you may find that the appearance of success is simply those that didn’t give up, so stick with it.


3. Improvement takes time and the longer your race the smaller the gains: The longer you do something the harder it becomes to see improvement. Whether you are lifting weights, running or practicing martial arts, you can often see beginners improving every time they step into the gym or dojo. Remember the 10,000 hour rule and bullet points one and two. You are improving, you may just not realize it. There is a reason that dojos have a sensei to guide your instruction. They are helping you along the path in an organized manner providing critique and improvement from an unbiased source.

As with any hobby, skill or job, practice is essential and lots of practice is required to achieve mastery. Work hard, but more importantly be consistent. You’ll find that consistency and time brings the success you are looking for, just remember to be patient.


Mental Training for Better Marital Arts

Posted by ackbar80 on January 15, 2022 at 9:25 AM

Daily life isn’t always conducive for martial arts training. I can’t get up in the middle of my office and start spinning the broom in the corner to practice my bo staff training. I also can’t train all day because I have other things to do and because honestly, it can be tiring. However, there are other options to make you a better martial artist that are available that can build upon physical practice. Let’s dive into mental training:


1. Visualization: Psychologist Alan Richardson did a famous study about training people for shooting basketball free throws. The abbreviated version of the experiment is he made three groups. One group practiced free throws, one group didn’t touch a basketball but visualized practicing free throws and the third group did neither. As expected the last group didn’t get better. What may surprise you is the visualization group improved almost as much as the actual practice group. This means using visualization plus training can help take your training to the next level. It is a way of adding additional repetitions when you don’t have time, access or ability to do more. This can help us put a dent in our 10,000 hours quicker.


2. Mirror Neurons: A second way to work on visualization is through mirror neurons. Scientists have discovered when you focus your attention and watch someone perform an activity, you brain actually fires in a way that looks like you are performing the activity. Again, we can use this to our advantage by watching highly trained martial artists perform the activity on YouTube or via the DVDs sold online. I use a mix of both, I like the DVDs because they are longer, usually have more production value and the teaching is organized in a logical manner as opposed to randomly watching YouTube clips.


3. Reading/Listening: I’ve heard that if you want to learn a lifetime of lessons in a day, you should read someone’s biography. There have been a lot of famous and successful martial artists from those featured in movies to those that step into the UFC octagon that have written books. Reading or listening to these can help get your mindset in the right place for both training and real world application. Choose an author that interests you and is closer aligned with your goals for best results. Interested in competing and tournament fighting? Read UFC fighters. Interested in more WuShu or performance based competition? Listen to martial artists from movies. Interested in just being in better shape? Try athletes who are also martial artists. I say listen or read because using audiobooks is a great way to consume more written content whether you do so on your drive to work or a conditioning run.


Overall, there are more ways to practice than just in the dojo. You can use some of the above opportunities to improve but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Being at to perform whether in a competition, a belt test or in a real life situation requires mental fortitude and confidence that is built upon through training. Train hard, but more importantly be consistent and you’ll find your improvement is consistent that will bring you to a level you once thought was impossible.


Tiga Tactics: EDC Karambit Online Course Review

Posted by ackbar80 on October 15, 2021 at 1:40 AM

Despite being in the military for almost 20 years and spending almost four of that deployed, I don’t have that much experience in the handheld weapon range. Most of my experience is in the projectile range since it is far more likely threat in the military, but I figured it was time to learn a little more about a tool/weapon that I carry every day, the knife. After hearing about Tiga Tactics and seeing their articles popping up in Black Belt Magazine, I signed up for their Every Day Carry (EDC) Karambit Course Online and here’s what I thought of it, what you can expect if you sign up and if you should invest the time/effort:

Length: The course has a free three part section that you can watch online right now, but the full course is 22 sections long and requires payment. Twenty two sections? What does that mean? It’s 22 mini lessons varying in length between 2 minutes and 12 minutes per section focusing on a different topic. Overall, it’s about a 90-minute course.

Format: After each section the video pauses and you “click to continue”. While I wasn’t a fan of this format at first, I completely love it now. I wish all my videos did this for three reasons. The first is it allows you to learn a move, practice it and rewatch the section if needed until you are comfortable moving on. The second is it allows you to easily go back and find the exact part you needed more work on for future training. Third, I often watch the video for the first time while going to bed at night (weird right?) and I often fall asleep resulting in me having no clue where I left off, but not with this format which automatically pauses after each section. Once I watch it once at night, then I go through the videos again actually practicing all the moves and a third or more time for specific sections to refine skills.


Content: Alright let’s get down to it. What are you going to learn? What I liked most was that at an hour and a half long, the course gets down to basics and focuses on what you would need in a self defense situation. Common strikes, a couple of short combos and most importantly, the importance of practicing drawing your weapon. Despite it being labeled a Karambit course, the same principles can be applied to any edged weapon making it valuable to anyone that carries a knife.

As a member of the military, I also enjoyed their input on carrying a knife in relation to your primary (or secondary weapon). While not heavily focused on this, it brings up important points for those in law enforcement, in the military or civilians that carry concealed.

If you are already experienced with bladed weapons this course may seem too simplistic to you at first glance. However, I would argue that is a good reminder for some basic skills you’ll need in a high threat situation where you will likely end up reverting to gross motor skills. If you have little or no training in edged weapons, you’ll definitely want his course because it is a great value. Important points are taught, emphasized and repeated to ensure you grasp the knowledge completely.


Presentation: Patrick Vuong and Dr. Conrad Bui, bring the course material in an easy to understand and fun manner. The two of them have an insane amount of experience and qualifications. The video was shot simply, but well (camera is stationary but instructors move around showing you things from different angles). The instructors occasionally mix in some jokes to keep things light while still effectively conveying the course material. As someone who regularly buys martial arts training content in digital format, this is one of the best ones I have seen.


Overall: I enjoyed Tiga Tactics EDC Karambit course. With limited access to anyone that teaches similar stuff in my local area and the expertise brought by the two instructors, Patrick Vuong and Dr. Conrad Bui, you are in good hands. I’m definitely interested in check out some of their other online courses when I have more free time to pick their brains on their unique skillsets and would eventually like to travel to one of their live seminars when it fits into my schedule. The bottom line is if you carry a knife, instead of buying another blade for your collection take some time to spend the money to figure out how to actually use it in a self defense situation.


5/5 stars, I would highly recommend

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