I wanted to write about yet another essential element of combative readiness that seems to plague many of us in our eternal pursuit of obtaining combative excellence. "Kaabtik" (alertness) is something that was heavily required and demanded from Manong Jose D. Caballero of De Campo Uno-Dos-Tres Orihinal while he was training a young Edgar G. Sulite, and something required and demanded of all of us, the first generation students of Punong Guro Sulite and Lameco Eskrima. "Kaabtik" takes on many facets and all have to be entertained equally in ones training environment if the best results are to be sought, realized and achieved in street combat. It really comes down to mental as well as physical conditioning more so than anything else in readying your defense condition and hone combative skill when the unexpected attack looms in the shadows of complacency. One thing that I always noticed about Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite is that he was always "on", he always scanned his immediate environment for confrontation even when we were through with training for the day and enjoying each others company. If he and I were talking and I would make the smallest aggressive movement in his direction this would not go unoticed by Edgar as you could see him accounting for it in his silent demeaner. He would often range everyone else outside of his personal space on a sub-conscious level which always left him a little more space of protection to negotiate by his attacker should a response be required of him. He would take notice of everything found in his immediate vacinity which many of us would fail to do and he simply attributed this to is very stearn upbringing in the Philippines. As he and I would train at any given portion of the training when I least expected it he would aggressively launch an all out attack on me and I would have to react, contain and remove that threat as soon as was possible, or get caught unaware and pay the consequences for that failure to act. Often times in training after being put through my paces he would expound on a point that he wanted to make with me and in the middle of speaking a sentence he would see me catching my breath and notice me unaware of my surroundings then he would suddenly attack me because at that point he realized that I was at my most vulnerable and I needed to be made aware of that. When we the students of Edgar would salute in before our training, just after we would salute out from our training, or when at his house as guests making small talk with him we would be made accessible to these sudden unexpected attacks whenever he deemed it necessary and as a direct result we were made to always be "on" in his immediate vacinity. This training demonstrated with absolute perfection that we as individuals are safe "no where" from "no one" at any time and even those closest to us were not to be totally trusted. After years of being placed in this environment those hard critical lessons were eventually assimilated, actualized and down loaded into our defense condition and we were all made aware of our environment and left ready to defend when ever it became necessary. Because of this training I would start to notice the smallest things around me and sub-consciously assess threat randomly. As a direct result I always keep myself on "alert" of my immediate environment should something go wrong and I be made to deal unexpectedly with the dark ambitions of the criminal mind. This mindset and attribute has kept me safe in some of the most dangerous places on the planet and although I always remain "on" very few would ever know that, as it is a part of my sub-conscious now and does not stand out until provoked to react. There is a sub-system within Lameco Eskrima known by all of us first generation students as "Kaabtik" (alertness) and Punong Guro Sulite forced us to react and respond to the obvious exaggerated aggressive movement that everyone would notice to reacting to only a finger twitching unexpectedly that even the most aware person would have a hard time in noticing. We were required to act immediatly to any and all unexpected threats once these indicaters were thrown out there and we would either take note and counter with positive effect or hesitate and pay the consequences for that failure to act. "Kaabtik" training has also allowed me to better notice someones intent to strike as all of the body parts as well as ones demeaner are being noticed and as soon as one moves this provokes an immediate counter response from me quickly. Even those that are very adept at not telegraphing their strikes will give up something as simple as suddenly adjusting their eyes to target, slightly leaning before initiating the strike, moving their foot forwrd to close range before striking, taking a deeper breath than usual before striking, or simply gripping their garote tightly just before they strike, all indicators of announcing intent to the aware fighter. Awareness training allows you to witness as the situation gets slightly ratcheted up just a nano-second before the attack is actually launched allowing you more time to counter based solely on your awareness. Train well guys, ciao. Guro Dave Gould.