Keysi Fighting Method- Urban Weapons Seminar

Discussion in 'Seminars & Camps' started by Leabo, Dec 24, 2009.

  1. Leabo

    Leabo Member

    For those who want to see what all the buzz is about the Keysi Fighting Method, there will be a Weapons seminar in Long Island New York on January 3rd 2010 with one of the World Ambassadors flying in from Vallencia Spain.

    KFM has been featured in the movies: Batman Begins, Mission impossible 3 and Batman the Dark Knight.

    What has not been made public yet is KFM's weapons program.

    This Seminar will be the public's First glance at it.

    The laws in Europe are much stricter then here in the states. They cannot carry knives like we can here. KFM's urban weapons center around weapons that you can legally carry at all times & everywear you go (airports, clubs, etc.).

    It will be a hands on seminar and will be covering the use of Steel pens, Wooden cats eyes and most importantly KFM's personally designed Stainless Steel Rings.

    KFM's weapons program is very unique and extremely practical. Kali & Escrima practioners will be very surprised at what this Art has to offer.

    Seminar location is:
    55 Atlantic Avenue
    Lynbrook New york 11563
    Contact: John Leabo

  2. Fan the Madman

    Fan the Madman Circles with Knives

    Question bro,

    I've noticed alot of similarities between KFM clips and Panatukan. How much influence is there in your opinion? Didn't some of the KFM founders have a JKD background?

    Also I'm familiar with the metal stylus as a weapon.. but perhaps you could explain a bit about a wooden catseye and the steel rings.

  3. Leabo

    Leabo Member

    Hello Fan the madman,

    There are only so many ways that the human body can move so there are similarities but coming from a Kali/Escrima background (Pekiti Tirsia under Bill McGrath) I would say that the way KFM practioners move or should I say "the flavor" is much different then Panatukan. Kind of like the way two guitarists would play the same scales but much differently (like Eric Clapton would play much differently then someone like Eddie Van Halen).

    The wooden cats eye is like a wooden kubaton. The KFM rings are designed to wear on the thumb and have many applications some are like how you would use a knife that would be held in Pakal (Reverse grip).

    The beauty of the rings is that you don't have to worry about accessing them under stress, they are always ready to go on your hand.

    Just like kali/escrima everything KFM does in the empty handed curriculum is designed to cross over into KFm's Weapons applications.

    I've been around the block when it comes to martial arts and I will say that KFM has some very unique, interesting and extremely practical weapons. The majority of it I've never seen in any other Martial Art before.

    Definitely worth checking out if you can make it.
  4. Carol

    Carol <font color = blue><b>Technical Administrator</b><

    I wish I could make this

    When a buddy of mine and I first watched Batman Begins, we were enthralled by the fight scenes. At the end of the movie we were looking at each other and saying "Huh? Keysi? What the heck is Keysi?" The DVD had some extras that offered a look at the the behind the scenes work on the fight, which was cool.

    System looks to be very intuitive, at least on video :D

    Best of luck, that looks like a very interesting seminar. :)
  5. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    Yeah, I was intrigued too and went looking on the web for info. after seeing the film!
  6. jwinch2

    jwinch2 Member

    I just watched a few of the demo videos. Looked like a ton of unnecessary movement to me but what do I know... Looks like a similar concept to Libre and Piper but on first glance, they look like they do it better. Particularly Libre. I'd be interested in seeing more of it as it is so hard to get a good feel from promo vids. Perhaps I am wrong on my observations.
  7. Leabo

    Leabo Member

    Hello Jwinch,

    The Promo video's are just some of the movements strung together in a sequence for eye candy. It is not a real fight or real application.

    A lot of the things we do cannot be put on the internet for liability reasons. We also don't want just anyone to see what we do.

    If your interested in an honest evaluation I would suggest coming down to the seminar. Matter of fact I'll let you do it for free and you can post your honest evaluation after the seminar on this thread.

    The seminar will be held by World Ambassador Grek who is one of the top practioners of the Art who we flew in from KFM Headquarters in Vallencia Spain. It will touch a little on "all" facets of our training so you will get a good idea of what we are all about. It will be also be a hands on seminar so you will not just be watching but you will be working the material and feeling it :)

    So come down as my guest and after the seminar you can make an honest evaluation. A promo video is just that, a promo video.

  8. jwinch2

    jwinch2 Member


    That is a very kind offer and I really appreciate it. Unfortunately, I am a long ways from where you are holding the seminar and as such would not be able to make it. Its too bad as I would be very interested in hearing some information on the process which took the art from JKD which they had a background in, to where it is now. Particularly the testing and evaluation of ideas process.

    As for your comments, that is why I added the caveats that I did. I am not surprised to hear that things were not shown on the demo. That would only make perfect sense.

    If there is ever a demo or seminar close to me, I will be there if at all possible.

    Thanks for the response,

  9. Leabo

    Leabo Member

    Being that Jason can't make it, if any other person on this forum can make it tomorrow and would like to come to the Seminar, I will allow them to come for Free.
    They can give an honest non-biased evaluation of KFM on this thread after the Seminar.

    Due to space limitations at the Seminar, I can only allow one person to attend for free. So the first one who accepts the offer on this thread will be accomodated.

    John Leabo
  10. lhommedieu

    lhommedieu Senior Member


    I can come 1-3 pm but not for longer as I've got my fourth-grader who has projects and book reports due...

    If that's good for you (and if you have a small space for my daughter to do her work) I'd be happy to post my impressions of the system here on the forum.

    Of course, if there is anyone else on the forum who would rather attend for the full session I will gladly cede my time.


    Steve Lamade
  11. lhommedieu

    lhommedieu Senior Member


    Thanks for the opportunity to come to the seminar. (I'm sorry that I was only able to stay for the latter part of the class but "Women Heroes of the 20th Century" book reports are a real bear. If Susan B. Anthony only knew how famous she'd become...)

    Sage and I arrived shortly after 1:00 and after getting her seated and started with homework I met Grec and the rest of the Keysi teachers. There were about 10-15 students present in addition to John and the rest of the Keysi teachers, so I'd estimate we were about 20 or so in John's martial arts school. Grec is a very nice guy with a straight-forward teaching style. No BS and a "if you want to see it done I'm happy to show you" attitude (more about this later).

    As the class started I learned that I had missed the foundational empty-hands part of the class (the first three hours in the morning) but John and Grec took me to the side and explained the "Pensador" hand positions which is basically a cover designed to protect the head and face. Think of boxing's "peek-a-boo" cover except that the hands are placed on the top of the head and allowed to move around the head so that the forearms and elbows can intercept straight shots as well as hooks and upper-cuts. Kicks and knees are handled the same way and shots to the torso are met by bending and turning the waist into the direction of the blow. What I liked about this approach is that it's very instinctive to want to cover up this way when you're blindsided or hurt and it's also a position you'd assume if you're being swarmed by more than one person from every direction. To illustrate the point, John and Grec both attacked me simultaneously with focus mitts and as I absorbed shots, I tried to follow their instructions and to move, turn, and rotate as I changed levels from standing to kneeling to sitting and back up again. This is an enlightening and safe way to teach the point about how ambush attacks by multiple persons take place at real speed. (John explained that for drills like this one Keysi likes to show principles first with one person attacking, then add another attacker, and then another, and then another - but not in a "first he goes, then he goes, then he goes" sequence, but simultaneously as per the above description.) I can imagine that a more advanced way to do this drill is to have the attackers wear 16 oz. gloves and attack at different levels of intensity, but focus mitts are fine for beginners. The point of this drill (at least for me) is that if you can survive the first "oh *****!" barrage of attacks this way you may be able to find your way out, and although you're not going to pick off every shot, the cover up position combined with constant movement makes you less of a target. The drill gives you something that I find lacking in a lot of martial arts training: the need for continuous, intuitive movement around and away from real threats, and I think that it's telling of the Keysi method that it was the first thing that they showed me.

    I should add that although this drill is purely defensive it is obvious that you're going to need to add some offense. From the "Pensador" position one can throw punches and hammer fists (in regular and "reverse" directions) and thus it's a natural modular plug-in for FMA practitioners (think: pocket stick). But what really impressed me was the way that they throw elbows: since your elbows are already up and pointed out you have several options in addition to the standard forward and reverse horizontal elbow and the forward and reverse diagonals that most people know. For example, you can simply drive forward and crash with one or both elbows without repositioning them, and by turning your waist and body from side to side the elbows can strike similar to the ways that a bull moves its head to strike with its horns. Part of the next drill that John showed me involved absorbing a couple of punches and then slamming him forward into a wall with my elbows striking his chest and my legs driving forward. This is just solid martial arts insofar as it takes advantage of a superior "triangle" (elbow-shoulder-torso) structure combined with the point of the elbow as force-multiplier. It also allowed me to move the fight to where I wanted it to go (see movement, above). Pinning his right arm to the wall momentarily allowed me to move to his left side (always a good idea), and then I moved laterally to right with a couple of elbows and a stomp with foot to the knee-shin-ankle as I turned to face the opposite way, my back against his front.

    Why turn? I know that this goes against most people's training ("You're giving him your back!") but bear with me: Because it's assumed that in that brief space of time there's another person, or more, that are going to attack you, you're turning to face that threat (while understanding that you're not quite done with the first guy.) The turn includes two reverse elbows (or more) so that the arm that's sneaking up behind you to choke you out never quite makes it there, and then you literally bounce off of the first guy and make your way out into the arena again. I know that you're still shaking your head, but what's the other option? Letting his two other friends attack you from behind while you're finishing him off in proper form?

    I should add that there are a few features of Keysi that make its tactics (as well as it's general "look") make a lot of sense. The first feature involves the assumption that mass-attacks are going to be swarms and that the action is going to get very close, and very fast. An art that has you turning and twisting around peoples bodies while changing levels and covering up and throwing fast, quick elbows makes a lot sense in this respect. Although there are other weapons (head butts, hammer fists, punches, knees, kicks, etc.) available that fact that your elbows are already up and ready make them the weapon with the shortest distance to the target, assuming that you're nose-to-nose with several opponents. Hitting with the elbows in this manner is also very natural, because all you're really doing is moving and turning your body while covering up. The second feature is sort of in tandem with first: attacks can occur on unpredictable angles and lines and at different levels, and often at the first available target that's closest to you. I think that FMA folks are going to be very comfortable with this aspect of Keysi as well: the idea that, for example, you can attack the top of someone's hip with an elbow, if that hip just happens to be closer than his chin and you're already moving in that direction and at that level. For some people this is just going to be obvious, but for others I think that the expanded repertoire of targets, weapons, and unusual angles is going to be very refreshing.

    There's a third feature of Keysi that FMA folks are going to like - a lot. This is the "urban weapons" feature that basically assumes that in the absence of a gun or knife there are other options available. I wasn't at the seminar for the "cat's eye" or "pen" sections, but I was able to see and feel Keysi's "thumb ring" techniques first hand. (I also noticed that Grec had a nice, thick metal chain around his neck that just begs several questions.) The ring is basically a thick band of stainless steel with a prong that extends outwards for about an inch. For training purposes the prong is blunt but I understand that there are versions that are pointed and edged. Since you're wearing rings on both thumbs you're basically "armed" at all times and you never have to index another carry weapon (unless you can and you want to, of course). Here's a couple of desciptions that illustrate what an efficient weapon the thumb ring can be:

    1. John, Grec, and I were doing a drill and at one point I disengaged and put both my hands up in front of me as a shield. I think Grec must have just reacted instinctively because quick as a flash (and I mean, quick) he struck down on my left wrist with his ring. It was a quick, downward strike with the ring (sort of like how an FMA fighter would do a vertical witic with a stick) and he did it, like I said, without setting it up or thinking about it - he just did it. If it had hit the tip of my ulna it would have hurt a lot but fortunately, a day later, there is just a gouge and a half-inch bruise about half an inch proximal to the bone.

    2. Grec showed how the ring can be used to gouge and scrap the temple (when applying a side head lock) and the inside of the arms (during a momentary hold). Use of a pointed and edged ring in these two circumstances would be potentially lethal at worse (due the location of arteries) and really, really uncomfortable at best.

    3. Remember the "don't turn your back 'cause he'll choke you out" scenario above? Keysi players attack any threat available with the ring. In the case of a rear choke, they simply start banging away at the bones near the elbow (and the nerves near the bones) until the threat goes away. I especially like the way that they attack nerve points (and acupuncture points along the Heart Meridian - I'm a L.Ac in addition to my teaching job) along the inside the arm as well. Lapel grab? No problem - they slam away at the small bones in the hand with the ring. Currently, my left hand has a red spot about the size of a dime over a really nasty bone bruise and a black and purple bruise about the size and shape of a ping pong ball around that - and its really swollen and painful although the jow that I put on it has helped a lot. This from just a couple of (probably) medium intensity shots from the training ring.

    4. One technique involved smothering an overhand right with the Pensador, rolling over the triceps tendon from right to left with the ring and moving the arm from right to left as you duck under to the outside, and then smashing down on the upper arm with the ring (your right vertical arm and elbow are still in contact with his arm as a sort of anvil). In terms of body mechanics, the waist turns left, right, and left again while your right hand moves in a continuous loop. Of course, the ring could just as easily smashed into his face if you want to kick it up a notch. This is really good martial arts and Pekiti Tirsia players who like Pakal technique, in particular, are going to appreciate Keysi for they ways that they can fold it into their art.

    So here's my bottom line:

    Keysi is realistic, practical, and effective. I can imagine it growing up in crowded bars and back alleys, where movement is crowded and limited, and the clientele is ready to eat you for lunch. I especially liked the stress upon instinctual movement as the foundation for many of its techniques.

    It's not a silver bullet (nothing ever is). The cover up position is not going to answer skilled attacks with a large bladed weapon, and you're not going to crash against someone who knows how to thrust with a dagger. Skilled body-bangers and low line kickers are still going to be a problem. But these are not really criticisms because they would apply to any Corto art - and I suspect that Keysi already has answers of which I am unaware. In response to those who say it looks a lot like FMA empty hands (Panantukan, etc.), I would answer that the corto range and unusual striking angles (I guess they become "usual" the more you practice them) makes it a different animal. I've practiced a little FMA empty hands and Keysi just feels different. Suffice it to say that if you like FMA destructions you're going to love Keysi because it gives you a different set of tools. Just to extend the analogy, Keysi is a little like finding an uncommon tool for your "key chain" without which now you wouldn't go out (remember discovering your first mini pry bar or LED light?).

    I recommend that you give Keysi a close look and see if you don't come away thinking "why didn't I think of that before?" Contact information for John Leabo's school is given below:

    55 Atlantic Avenue
    Lynbrook New york 11563
    Contact: John Leabo


    Last edited: Jan 4, 2010
  12. jwinch2

    jwinch2 Member

    Thanks for the write up Steve.

  13. NJMMADude

    NJMMADude New Member


    Great write-up, thank you for posting.

  14. ErikP

    ErikP New Member

    Yes, great write-up, very informative. Jwinch2 mentioned the similarity he saw to Piper, which I teach, here in Cape Town, South Africa. Because of all the bad mouthing of Keysi on the Net, I have done a three and a half thousand word review of their DVDs on my site. I feel it's fairly objective and might be of interest. It's at . Feedback appreciated!
  15. jwinch2

    jwinch2 Member


    Thanks for the review. Interesting to see my earlier response as one of the things which caused you to write it! LOL

    You bring up some interesting points as does Steve in his write up. I am curious as to your overall opinion though as you concluded your write up on a positive note but throughout the review you were about 50-50 on your pro's and con's. To me, it seemed like there was as much that you did not like as there was you did. Is that an accurate statement on my part?

    Your comments about headbutting rang true with me in your review. I happen to agree that there is a time and a place to use them but unless you are dead on perfect with them, you stand a good chance of injuring yourself in the process, just like many techniques that way I suppose. I was also very taken aback by the headbutting to the biceps as you seemed to be in your review. That one just didn't make any sense to me when I saw it and to be honest, it still doesn't. I am a big fan of limb destructions as found in most FMA styles and JKD but I am the first to admit that many of them, particularly strikes to the biceps don't work nearly that well without a blade. Strikes to the elbows however are still quite effective and I enjoy using them a good deal in my own training.

    As I mentioned earlier, it is terribly difficult to get a real appreciation of an art through a couple of minute demo video, especially when there is a good deal of other stuff in the video. If I have the opportunity, I will likely check the system out to form my own impressions. Not that the founders of Keysi need my approval for anything at all. Far from it. Rather, just to satisfy my own curiosity. I certainly appreciate you taking the time to chime in and offer your thoughts on what you have seen.

    I'd also be interested in hearing from the original poster on the founders' weapons background. I read in their bio that they were JKD instructors under Guro Inosanto but I don't recall seeing anything about formal weapons training. More than likely, I just missed it.

  16. Leabo

    Leabo Member

    Hello All,

    From personally speaking with him in my home as well as hearing things from others about his background, I would say Justo's weapons training was influenced from his Gypsie upbringing, his experiences as a soldier in the Spanish Special Forces, and from his experience in many Martial Art styles (Yes, one being JKD, where he was a student and good friend of Dan Inosanto). I think all these things influenced his style but I must say that if you trained KFM you would see that it is not like JKD or Fillipino Martial Arts. It has it's own completely unique flavor and training methods. Those who have trained KFM I think will agree and confirm this.

    You sound like this isn't your first rodeo so I'm sure you know Video's never really give the whole story. This is especially true with this Art.

    It's my opinion that KFM really comes alive when you see the weapons applications that cross over from the empty hand training. You won't see this stuff on the video's or on the internet and is what makes the Art so sweet and unique in my opinion.

    If you have something good in Piper, which it sounds like then I would stick with it. KFM certainly doesn't have all the answers, not sure if any style does but it certainly tries and it has better answers then most. It's also constantly evolving and progressing with the realistic times.

    In my own personl journey I have honestly found it to be one of the most practical and realistic styles for the street that I've come across and I've been lucky enough to have seen a lot of styles here in New York City (not Piper or Libre though).

    I can't vouch for all the KFM Instructors but if you can catch a Seminar in your area with Justo, Andy Norman or Grek Santa Maria you will see what the Art is all about. They are great guys and have absolutely no ego or typical know-it-all "our style is best" attitudes that are so common in the Martial Arts community. Which is another thing I like about KFM.

    If your ever in New York stop bye my Academy, I'd be happy to train with you and exchange some Piper for some Keysi. Sometimes I'm the teacher but I'm always the student and I love to train.

    Lastly, if anyone else is interested in training in KFM in the New York area, we have a new group starting January 20th. This will most likely be the last group I take on for a while because I will be at capacity for the space I have and the time I can commit to teaching.

    It was nice speaking with you all. I wish you all the best.

    John Leabo
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2010
  17. lhommedieu

    lhommedieu Senior Member

    Hey John,

    I thought that the lead teacher at your seminar was Grek based on one of your posts above - but if it was Justo I apologize for my mistake. At any rate, your statement about him "having absolutely no ego or typical know-it-all our style is the best" rings absolutely true. I was a real treat to meet someone who was interested in just showing his art without any of the extra baggage tacked on.


  18. ErikP

    ErikP New Member

    Reply to Jwinch2 and John Leabo

    Hi. Jwinch, yup, my review was 50/50 with regards to the techniques shown, which might make my positive summary a bit...puzzling. The 50/50 was reflective of my personal technical choices, beliefs, experiences. But, after exposure to a great number of different systems, from Rio to Bangkok to Tel Aviv, I have learned to step back a little, add and subtract to "correct" for factors such as that these are DVDs and for beginners, at that.

    I think, like a sculptor, I can sense "Keysi" in the rawblock tha is the commercially available footage..and what I sense is a beautiful, functional art that is very congruent within itself.
    Would I jump from Piper to Keysi?
    No, why should I? I have my art, it works for me and my students, but:
    a. I can always learn more...evolution is constant
    b. I like to give credit where credit is due and
    c. There are few enough folks teaching really good, really close-in stuff.

    I have my philosophical differences with the 52 blocks crowd and their whole "Afrikan, we don't teach no oppresive whiteys" thing (see my article at , if you wish), but, dang, watching 52 blocks practitioner Kaya demonstrate his art was a thing of beauty...
    So I think its great to learn from each other and support each other and I could certainly learn a lot from Keysi.
    And, John, thanks a lot for the kind invite, I will certainly take you up on your offer if and when I get to New York.
    Lovely to be on this forum, nice to chat with like-minded people and learn! All the best
    Erik Petermann
  19. Raul

    Raul Mananandata

    What's shown in the YT video clips are really good. I like the attitude and mindset instilled by the method. I also like the barrage of movements. The lack of over display of ranks and titles of Justo, Norman et al., also deserves mention and respect.
  20. wes tasker

    wes tasker New Member


    Hoe gaan dit me jou? I like the reviews you put up and I really appreciate the obvious time and consideration that have gone into them. I know this thread (which I find excellent BTW) is about Keysi, but I must say that not all 52 Blocks, Jailhousin', etc. practitioners are as you have said when you wrote:

    And yes, if you are every in NYC, you should definitely look up Mr. Leabo for some training. He's a great guy. Thanks again.

    -wes tasker

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