Discussion in 'Lameco' started by Guro Dave Gould, Jun 7, 2008.

  1. Guro Dave Gould


    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.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2008
  2. citom

    citom New Member

    Another great post, Guro Dave.. Thanks!
    The training sort of reminds me of Inspector Clouseau and Cato ("Nut now, Ke-toe!!").. but still an important skill to have..
    I'm just wondering if being "Always on" can be stressful to the body's physiology... does the "Always on" mode mean that the adrenalin is pumping, which as studies have shown, can cause damage to the body if prolonged unncessarily? Or is it possible to be in a relaxed state and still have "paginabtik"
    Daghang salamat, giyud!
  3. Guro Dave Gould



    Thanks for your response. Not at all, it just means that you take note of things that are going on around you. It is more of a sub-conscious thing which is stress free more-so than a conscious thing where you are manifesting astronomical levels of stress.

    You just don`t drop your guard around anyone, especially in your training environment. Punong Guro Sulite used to teach us that if we dropped our guard around our training partner in training when we are supposed to be thinking about defending an attack that we will for sure drop our guard while on the street when we are less likely to think about getting attacked.

    The problem with most practitioners is that in training we are some what focussed on defense but outside of training we are not thinking about protecting ourselves at all. For example some years back before I began training Lameco Eskrima all of my friends knew that I was heavily involved in the Pilipino Warrior Arts and from time to time while horsing around they would come up to me and try and punch me or pull a "simulated" knife on me and "simulate" a knife attack. There have been times that I would be so focussed on something else that getting attacked would be the last thing that I was expecting and before I would take notice of what they were up to they would do what they wanted without so much as a response from me. It was depressing because I had spent so much time in training that I should have responded better, hell I should have responded; period.

    This was easily justified at the time as they were my friends and that they did not want to hurt me but the reality is that if I allowed them that close to me unnoticed who else would I allow to get that close to me unnoticed? If my friends could successfully attack me while playing around then I was susceptible to an unexpeced attack from anyone and should someone with criminal intent try and pose his ill will on me unannounced in like manner his attack to could go unanswered but with more of a devastating effect... Me possibly losing my life

    Since I have trained with Punong Guro Sulite this is no longer the case as when my friends or anyone else gets into my personal space I automatically turn "on" or as we say in the military "get operational" and anything that happens to me within my personal space I am at the ready to respond. Usually unbeknownst to them I will just back-up a few inches as I am talking with them just to remove them from my personal space and then I down grade to Def. Con. 2 again.

    It is something that you can not detect in my demeaner. When I say that I am always "on" I do not mean that I am walking around with my left eye twitching with a throbbing vein about to pop out of my head because I am so stressed out. It just means that when someone gets too close my mind is already anylizing a threat assessment and should something go down I will not get taken by surprise as I am already primed to respond, so to speak. It is more of a mental state of awareness moreso than a physical manifestation which produces great levels of stress.

    Train well, ciao.

    Guro Dave Gould.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2008
  4. PG Michael B

    PG Michael B Oso Grande

    Great post Dave. I concur 100%. I never used that term before but I will now. Growing up my father taught me this. He being former SF always preached to us kids to watch our 6 and feel our way through. If the gut rings false don't go there. He also taught me to look for little things in people that will give up their gold i.e. twitchy fingers, shifty eyes, sweaty palms etc...little things he always said would give away the biggest secret. I tell my guys the same thing in class. Always stay at an even keel. Don't let your water run cold (takes to long to heat back up). There is something to be said about the awareness of self and ones environment. It can definitely save your bacon when it gets down to nut crunching time. Once again great post
  5. Guro Dave Gould



    Thanks for responding. Absolutely just as water seeks the path of least resistance so does the criminal mind. And as I see it our weakness is not so much in fighting capability as much as it is lack of combative preparation and awareness.

    When I was training with Tuhon Leo Tortal Gaje jr. in Kali Pekiti-Tirsia, one of my earliest influences in the Pilipino Warrior Arts, he too taught us that we should maintain a high level of awareness. He would go on to suggest that we should be prepared to defend life and limb at anytime of the day 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.

    Tuhon Gaje would teach us that we should not sleep so deeply that we can not hear the intruder slip through our window at 2 am in the morning. We should not eat such a heavy meal that we can not defend our lives when we are leaving the restaraunt and get slammed to the ground with a knife to our throat. We should not drink so much at the bar that we can not fight for our lives should we get accosted on our way to the car in the parking lot enroute to our homes. For the one hour that we are not prepared to defend our lives is the hour that disaster will strike and if we are not prepared to deal with it than we are doomed for failure.

    With Tuhon Gaje it was merely "suggested" that we adhere to these things but Punong Guro Sulite took it a step further and forced it on the student to apply and actualize this awareness in application. There is a drastic difference between being "told" to do something and being "forced" to do something.

    As well when we get attacked we will most likely not be wearing something comfortable like sweats, a t-shirt and wrestling shoes but rather what we wear in day to day life. In my case that is dress slacks, a polo or a restrictive dress shirt, and a pair of dress shoes or Jeans and sandals or heavy boots in leisure. So when I train I wear what I would normally be dressed in on a day to day basis as I need to know how I am going to be able to move while wearing these things and there is a difference in how I move in a comfortable pair of training shoes as compared to dress shoes, sandals or heavy boots.

    So as you can see there are many facets in "Kaabtik" training to be entertained. It all comes down to combative preparedness before combative effect can be applied. As well Michael being in combat zones in the past I can confirm what your father told you, you are aware of everything! From the unusual to the routine to the mundane. Lack of awareness in a combat zone translates itself in ones death very quickly.

    Train well, ciao.

    Guro Dave Gould.
  6. PG Michael B

    PG Michael B Oso Grande

    I agree Dave. I trained with Tuhon on many occasions as well. He would always say.."never piss in the urinal, use the stall..more room to maneuver..no ambush possible. Always back in..easy exit strategy".

    Mang Yuli is like this as well....he always tells me.."Michael you must always have 4 pairs of eyes...2 for front, 2 for each side and 2 for the back...never close them all at once"...wise words.

    Having served in the Army in a few skirmishes here and there as well as in the private security field I definitely feel you on the preparedness department. I use the old adage PLAN YOUR WORK AND WORK YOU PLAN...keep your eyes on the prize and move with decisive measure, go ugly early and win!...Seems we have a lot in common pare. I would definitely love to hook up and train...that's our passion..mabuhay!
  7. gagimilo

    gagimilo Member

    Great read from guros Gould and Blacgrave.
    On citom's comment - as long as you do not turn "being alert" into "being paranoid", no detrimental effects should be felt. After all, being alert actually means being more relaxed and perceptive on a deeper level, since it is our daily stress and focus on various real or perceived problems that creates the corporal/physiological stiffness, hence preventing us from being in "here and now", i.e. having a high level of awareness without the conscious effort to achieve it. However, one has got to start somewhere...
  8. Guro Dave Gould


    Absolutely, in short "Kaabtik" is simply to maintain ones focus and keep ones mind on task when the threat assessment is high. Life delivers us a series of obstacles and distractions, so we have to strive to remain harmonious with those around us who mean us no harm, but we are charged to recognize immediately and act upon those rare situations where our lives may be placed in peril and respond decisively with effect in accordance with the level of threat faced.

    As Dragan stated we are neither to become paranoid nor are we to become complacent, just aware of the things and people around us. It is better to be prepared for the worst case scenario and never be made to experience it, than to only prepare for the best case scenario and find yourself in dire need when you are forced to deal with the worst case scenario unexpectedly.

    It has been said that the wise learn from experience and the wisest yet learn from the experiences of others. Prepare for the worst side of humanity but hope for the best and you will never be caught unaware and in dire need or want.

    Michael, it does sound as if we have much in common and I agree that it would be great as well to hook up one day... I may be driving through San Antonio and have a day or so available in early September.

    Train well, ciao.

    Guro Dave Gould.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2008
  9. JoeBrandt

    JoeBrandt Member

    This is agreat post... also for homeland security or law-enforcement and military.

    Best to you
    Joe :coolyello
  10. gagimilo

    gagimilo Member

    I'd say this pretty much sums it up. In my belief it is VERY important to work on covering both sides of the coin, i.e. developing the ability to be confident and relaxed in a non-threatening environment, as otherwise, one may end up actually projecting a problematic image (seeing threat everywhere), hence calling the attention of trouble-makers to him or herself.

    In my experience, this entire subject is one of those that are paid most lip-service in theory, but almost always disregarded in practice, and in my opinion mostly because the majority of teachers are satisfied with simply bringing the topic out, but without actually making the students have a taste of it. One more testimony to the greatness of the late PG Sulite.

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