My NLB Experience

NLB EXPERIENCE: Breaking through one’s Limitations
Limitation, like fear, is only an illusion – Michael Jordan
As the train leaves Plymouth, I sit reflecting on everything that transpired during the three day NLB UK CIVILIAN INSTRUCTORS COURSE. Oh man! The course was a good kick in the backside! My backside that is 🙂 Physically, psychologically, and mentally challenging. It has been one of the most enlightening and reassuring course I have ever been on in years. The whole course revolves around the best marking training tool available in the market – the No Lie Blade.
Enlightening. Through the evolutions, the course managed to reveal a lot of vital information to each participant that forms a valid reality check to ones skills and mindset. Every experience that we encounter as we immerse ourselves in each evolution opens up our mindset to improve our skills in order to eventually keep our white shirts “clean” from the lipstick marks from the NLB training blade.
Reassuring. Through Hank’s unique teaching formula and the reliable training team of GM Anton St’James, each participant was exposed to the correct stimulus in order to make the necessary changes of mindset and eventually adopt the NLB system of responding to an aggressive knife attack. The training was relentlessly carried on until everybody changed their MO, let go of their current skill sets, and embrace the NLB system.
Everybody has a story. Here’s mine.
I wasn’t born like a little Hercules. I had weak lungs, sickly and small compared to my cousins. Growing up in Tondo Manila has its upsides and downsides, being one of the smaller kids was tough. Fights, mostly involving weapons of some sort are often just around the corner, mostly involving gangs, plus your daily dose of street assault and mugging.
If you are thinking of shiny sharp knives, think again. It’s pretty much anything they can be modified and used against you. If it doesn’t kill you when it hits you, it can get you in the hospital whilst fighting for your life because of infection.
When you get into a fight, survival is the name of the game. It’s where I first learned about fighting dirty, assessing your location and situation, and constantly watching your back whenever you are going somewhere. I had my share of fights from confrontations to assaults, and I have seen them up close too.

I accepted my physical limitations and I worked around it as I started my journey in the martial arts. I have trained in Japanese and Filipino Martial Arts for nearly 3 decades now. Although I stayed teaching both, I tried and learned other arts too enhance my skills and improve my understanding on the dynamics of movement. Got into sports, lifted weights, and did mile swim programs to increase my fitness level. BUT being pinned down to the ground or attacked by bigger guys are still my worst nightmares, so for me ending the upright position is my end game.
Knowing that Hank has been highly successful in introducing the NLB system to the military and LEO I can see that NLB has more to offer in terms of skill set and training. These men in uniform need a system that is easy to learn, easy to recall and is designed to bring their home back to their loved ones.

7 years ago I developed asthma, sometimes I pass out during coughing fits. My fitness and health plummeted down to the ground. Then, two years ago my plantar fasciitis came back with a vengeance after 25 years. I needed a minor medical procedure to treat it. I missed last year’s NLB training course due to these conditions. However, this year I decided not to give this course a miss. I know my conditions will stay with me and I will struggle at certain points and I am struggling to get back into my full level of fitness. I came with the hopes that the NLB course will give me the skill set to face the odds even if I’m stripped down to my weaknesses. And at the back of my mind, I would like to transfer these skill sets to people who might be physically less able too. And I wasn’t wrong about it, Many thanks Hank for the knowledge you passed on to us.
“When you enter the training hall, leave your ego behind” and “empty your cup”
These are two phrases I always tell any student who comes to seek tutelage under me. I myself adhere to these words when I immerse myself in another style or in learning a new skill. It’s the only way one can learn a new skill set better. So, over the three days of the Civilian Instructor Course, I left my ego behind, emptied my cup, confronted my weaknesses and limitations, and immersed myself in the NLB experience. And I have to thank my course mates in helping me work on these limitations. Many thanks also to GM Anton for all his support and for being relentless in making me attend this course.
I’m not new to combatives, self-defence, street survival, or martial arts. I have embraced and have taught them at different levels to various groups over the years. I do respect people’s uniqueness, differences in abilities, belief, attitude, and character, and it is because of this that I have never stopped learning new things, trying new systems, immersing in new experiences.
Always at the back of my mind is it might work for others as it worked for me, or what might not work for me might for work for others. And it is my responsibility as a teacher to guide them through their learning. Furthermore, training military, LEO or security personnel is different from training civilians. They have different needs and situations, so much so that the approach, skill set to be taught and the end game focus will have differences. And certainly for me, I need to be able to teach skill sets that will suite what the clients needs.
Change of Mindset
Our mind is a powerful tool. It can make us respond to a situation or react to it. It can allow us to change our game for the better or stick to a plan that stays rigid and sometimes ineffective in a situation.. With the correct stimulus, the mind gets prompted to adjust and use a different option. But if your body doesn’t recognise another path way to resolve an issue we shut down and use ineffective responses or just keep on reacting to it in the wrong way. This is where I found the NLB evolutions did an amazing job in changing and upping everybody’s game. Over the years I have done many types of edged weapons defensive training, but they way it was presented just allowed our neuromuscular connection rewire naturally.




Here we go, another bank holiday Monday in May. For most people it’s the time for rest or recreation. To do something more leisurely. Ironically some leisure providing businesses are closed! So what’s the best way to spend the bank holiday Monday?


This seminar was split into three sections KNIFE – KARAMBIT – TOMAHAWK training

First Evolution. Preparing the body.
This session started with a warm up and stretch followed by shadow boxing. After doing some Panuntukan combinations in various ranges, the participants translated these movements with a knife attacking in 4 quadrants using a conventional or reverse grip. After doing knife shadow boxing solo the participants are paired up and asked to shadow box against each other but outside each other’s long range. Making it safe for each other to play with their combinations against the angles of attacks. Typical knife attacks like “sawing machine” were introduced in the drill too.

Second Evolution. The blade that doesn’t lie.
At this point each participant was asked to change to their white shirts and was asked to form two groups of three. An attacker, a receiver, and observer. Each bout was timed at 1 minute and 3 seconds. The attackers didn’t have any protective gear so the receivers were asked to taking it easy on hitting back on their faces. Everybody was rotated.

Third Evolution. Space is your ally. Crash and commit. Follow through.
After discussing what transpired in the second evolution, the participants did drills to enhance keeping that safety gap in check. And once the attacker managed to break this gap, the receivers must have the mindset to crash in, and commit to control the centre line while attacking High Value Targets. After engaging and controlling the attack the receivers were given different ways to follow through, ranging from blasting strikes to take downs or disarms.

KARAMBIT. To Flow and Not to Flow. An introduction.

This session started with the brief description of the characteristics of the karambit blade. Followed by drills working on footwork, body displacement slashing, hacking, flailing, limb destruction, body torque and energy drills. Then a few combinations utilising monitoring, controlling, disarming, blasting and take downs were taught followed by a few “what if” situations emphasising on weapons retention and continuity of response in case a follow strike was done.
TOMAHAWK. The headhunter’s tool.

This session started with the discussion of the basic characteristics and parts of the tomahawk. Participant were taught the various uses the parts of the tomahawk. For this introduction the strikes 1-6 from the Lightning system was used. Followed by a few applications that included adaptations from the Bigay TAMA and Baston Serrada of the Lightning system. A few combinations were taught utilising monitoring, controlling, disarming, blasting and take downs, then followed by a few “what if” situations emphasising on weapons retention and continuity of response In case a follow strike was done.

The participants were exhausted, hungry and overloaded with information at the end of the seminar. They managed to play around and have fun with the new materials they gained. A great day for FMA, a great day for Lightning Combatives.


One of the most exciting event that happens in the life of FMAers here in the UK is the BRITISH COUNCIL OF KALI ESKRIMA ARNIS INSTRUCTORS’ yearly FMA FESTIVAL. For the second year it was held at the IMMORTAL 365 MA GYM in Peterborough. This is A huge event where all the top instructors representing different FMA styles in the UK share their skills and knowledge on various aspects of FMA, whether it is in empty hand, edged, impact and improvised weapons. Two days of back to back (sometimes even three) sessions offering a buffet of styles and skills for students to partake.
I did two sessions, my first is on karambit/karit weapon. One of the first sessions in the morning. I went through the basic characteristics of the fixed karambit/karit and how are they are utilised in certain moves and combinations that focused on intercepting the attack, foorwork and positioning oneself for better control and efficiency of strikes. Showed them different options they can make after controlling the attack. From blast strikes, to trapping, and to take downs.Then I introduced the folding karambit, it’s characteristics and deployment capabilities. We went through deploying it, using the wave feature, in closed quarter combat situations.
My second session, one of the last sessions in the pm, was on tomahawk y daga. Based on the Lightning Scientific Arnis’ Baston Serrada. Again I started in explaining the characteristics of the tomahawk and how you can utilise it’s various features in combat situation. Went through various scenarios when somebody with two edged weapons attacks you. Again, offered various combinations and responses.
A great surprise unfolded at the end of the session. The BCKEAI Hall of Fame Awards committee gave out plaques, and I was one of the recipient. Completely unexpected, and deeply appreciated. It feels good when all your hardwork gets noticed and acknowledged.
The first day ended with a board meeting, comprising of all the senior reps of each style. And of course a get together dinner in a buffet restaurant. Have a pint and spend time to socialise with new fma friends.
Bring it on FMA FESTIVAL 2016


GM ANTON ST’JAMES of Cacoy Doce Pares and Doce Pares Europe held a seminar in FILIPINO DIRTY BOXING and DULO DULO last January 30, 2015 at his gym, Masters Academy in Plymouth. He invited Punong Guro Tom Edison Peña and Tuhon Crispin Valdez to present the seminar with him.
It was a full packed seminar, with attendees coming from Masters Academy and from other FMA/MA clubs around the area. With 3hrs of non-stop action focusing on Filipino Dirty Boxing moves and how its movements translate to impact and pain control implements like a Dulo Dulo.
GM Anton started the seminar, with a warm up, followed by correct body mechanics in punching and in dynamic positioning. The student learnt a great deal of how an effective punch can easily off balance an opponent, making it hard for the opponent to respond with an effective counter. Proper structure and movement dynamics were given high emphasis this session. GM Anton also gave a take down from an overhand hook. He then closed his session with the use of Dulo Dulo as an impact weapon, an extension of the striking hand.
Punong Guro Tom Edison Peña took the second hour, picking up from what GM. Anton St’James did. He added the Gunting move as part of a destruction blow against an attacking arm and gave a variation of how to use the hand and forearm to hook/clinche around the neck and deliver a takedown using a neck crank. He also gave a variation on how to use bob and weave effectively in order to control an opponent or take him down. And all variations was applied with a Dulo Dulo as well, focusing on its use as a pain multiplier on various target in the body.
Tuhon Cris Valdez closed the seminar with an important mind and body technique in a fight. How to stay relaxed until it’s time to explode. Started of with a drill showing the importance of mindset in dealing with pain. Afterwhich, he worked on timing, feinting, and blasting in a close quarter fight. What counters can and cannot work. And how to counter a counter.
It was a brilliant night of FMA BROTHERHOOD AND FUN. All the attendees were brilliant, had a good go at each other, you can see their eagerness to learn something new, imp more rove what they already know and gain confidence by increasing their knowledge in the art of FILIPINO DIRTY BOXING AND DULO DULO.


The key to executing a perfect technique is through quality practice. Repetition is key to perfection. We diligently go to training, drill on set skills until they become instinctive and be to apply them in “controlled” sparring. When we start learning to apply all these set skills, our partners “cooperate” with us in order to allow us to immerse ourselves in the other elements needed to be experienced. The idea is, the more you progress in experience (rank or level) the “cooperation” becomes less and eventually variables become less and less controlled to put stress on you, mentally and physically. But how far do we go it putting our skills under a “stress test”. Sparring is one, but they are limited by rules, and health and safety issues.

This Easter Bank Holiday LKC SEMINAR, we are featuring the SPS DEFENDER in order to increase the pressure on the stress test amongst my students and guest participants. FEAR produces DETRIMENTAL reactions to anybody under pressure. Anxiety, when left unchecked, could lead to lost of fine motor control movements due to adrenaline. Besides the physical aspect, MINDSET plays a huge role in managing to pull set skills against an attacker. So for this first stress test, I would like for the participant to find out what how they would fundamentally react to an uncooperative and more determined attacker.

This was the itinerary:
Controlling the knife arm/attacker
Striking/Overwhelming and Take Downs
Ground work: Breakfall, controlling the attack while on the ground.
Stress Test
EDC Deployment

The seminar started with a simple salutation and introduction. The itinerary was explained, including the objectives, expectations and desired outcome of the seminar. Warm up and stretching came after, followed by Hubod (bridging) as the opening partner drill. Here, various timings were explored, footwork and body displacement in relation to the attack were given emphasis. Also giving the participant some “what ifs” to work on. It then progressed into using any of the Hubod to control the knife arm. Limb destructions were included. The participants were encouraged to work on various possible combinations and work on what they feel comfortable to them. Adjustments and alternatives were given to them. After controlling the knife arm, strikes and the downs were taught. Again, emphasising that they can use these skill in conjunction with each other or separately depending on the situation. This part was done with focus mitts and MMA gloves to encourage them to hit hard, to keep the intensity of the training more progressive.

We rarely have safety matts in our training space. Since we have this time, the Breakfalls were taught as an intro to groundwork skills. Then basic ground Defense against an attacker rushing towards was practiced. We managed to cover a progressive situation, where the receiver of the drill was pushed to the floor where he/she needs to apply proper breakfall. Then the feeder rushes towards the fallen receiver and tries to stab or punch the feeder. The receiver should be able to keep the feeder away by kicking the shin or ankle while the hands and arms are ready to fend off any attack. The second situation is when the attacker has managed or come closer. The receiver then controls the hip/s of the attacker, then execute a single leg take down. At this point the receivers shouldn’t give the attackers the chance to be able to mount them.

The next part was the stress test. Each one was given 1.30 minutes to defend themselves against somebody wearing the SPS DEFENDER. There were a lot of varied reactions and varied outcomes while the participants were defending themselves. The objective of the exercise is to find out what their mindset is during this stress test, what their mindset will let them do. Finding their weaknesses and preparedness was also part of the exercise.

The last part of the seminar is how to use Hubod (bridging) and knife arm control in order to draw an Every Day Carry. A general approach to EDC draw was practiced to ensure that the participants have a better chance of drawing their EDC for quick deployment whenever needed.

It was a great day of learning and discovering about their mindset, their reactions, their strength and weaknesses. A great day for FMA.

Master Jon Escudero’s UK Seminar 2016

imageJon Escudero Lightning Scientific Arnis Seminar 2016

Lightning Scientific Arnis UK started the year with the second UK seminar of Master Jon Escudero in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Hosted by Tom Peña of Lightning Kali Combatives in Stevenage, the seminar went for two days, 30-31st of January, at the Stevenage Leisure Centre.

The first Day of the seminar started with a warm up and stretching, followed by sparring drills and fighting tactics. Master Jon put everybody through their paces working on their range, footwork, strikes mechanics, body displacement, emergency blocks and strike accuracy. They were given emphasis through solo and partner drills. And the first part of the day ended with the “Melee” before lunch break. What a good way to build up appetite ey.  After the break: the 13 Manners of strikes; Pananga; Methods and Cadenilla were reviewed, focusing on dynamics and rhythm. Then, they were applied against three angles of attack: forehand, backhand and overhead attacks. After this, Master Jon progressed the lesson to Baston Serrada, where the students learned how to OVERCOME the attack; OVERWHELM or DISARM depending on the situation, then ENGAGE/DISENGAGE safely from the opponent. The pressure was increased after a while by adding everything to LSAI’s BIGAY TAMA against an attacker wielding doble Baston, where the students were subjected to continuous barrage of attacks from 4 angles then apply their Baston Serrada. To put the icing on the cake, Master Jon introduced everybody to the SHARKNADO drill.

The second day started with again with warm up and stretch, followed by a review of the sparring drills from the first day, but more emphasis was given to fighting technique and escalation of the fighting tactics from the first day. Master Jon worked on progression and escalation of movement. A lot of emphasis were given to intercepting three main angles of attack, forehand, backhand and overhead. The MELEE sparring drill was done to finish the first section, keeping everybody on their toes and tongues hanging out. After the break, Master Jon introduced the LSAI SUMBRADA to address confrontations that could start in the medium-close range. The lesson was broken down into clusters for better emphasis of movements in accordance to the context by which they should be employed. The pressure was increased by Master Jon after a while by connecting the SUMBRADA to BASTON SERRADA, and give the participants the chance to work on both their disarming skills or overwhelming the attacker with well placed chained strikes. The last day ended up again with the SHARKNADO drill, then followed by recap and closing words from Master Jon Escudero.

Everybody went home with a feeling of accomplishment and confidence that they have gained a lot of skills and new knowledge. There was a good turn out, a lot sweaty and smiling practitioners.