The force-on-force class, I took from Gabe Suarez in March opened my eyes to the need for some CQB hand-to-hand and knife training. I had heard a little about Tom Sotis from other sources and during Gabe's class he spoke highly of Tom and his abilities.

Then I saw on the schedule at Team Ruthless in Manssas that Tom would be conducting a class in June.

Well, the class was this past weekend.

When he first limped into the room (he is recovering from a broken leg), my impression of Tom was that he was an average looking guy and didn't fit my preconceived ideas of a fighter.

He was soft spoken and made a point of introducing himself to each person in the class.

We found out quickly that he is not one of these "guru's" who stand around pontificating about techniques that will take us years to master. He is a hands on workman of the craft and shows you things to work with NOW.

He constantly amazed us with his speed and skills, even with a "boot" on his leg.

One of the first things he said was "don't believe anything I tell you". The point was that he was there to teach us a number of techniques to allow us to find our own "truth"; what actually works FOR US.

Some of the class time is working out the techniques, slowly at first; then faster until the strike is of the full-force-if-you-miss-the-block-you-will-get-cut-or-hit-it-type.

Some of the class is a force on force session where the two knife guys go at each other trying to slice or stab. The entire two day class was a hell of a lot of fun and we learned a lot of good stuff in the process.

I now have arms that are nice and purple from the blocking, etc. but actually feel much more confident that I can eventually, with practice, develop my own personal style of knife fighting and knife defense that works for me.

Tom and Gabe have similar views toward learning; they have no ownership in what they teach. If it works, they use and teach it. If it doesn't work, they discard it like an old shoe.

Many of Tom's students meet regularly at Team Ruthless for "study" sessions which means practicing what they have learned and work up a few more bruises. I hope to join them and continue to develop what I have learned so far.

Tom will be back in Manassas in December and I will be there.