Global AMOK!

AMOK! was founded by Tom Sotis in 1992 in Easton, Massachusetts, USA. Initially organized as the International Blade Fighters Guild (IBFG) and comprised of several knife arts, Tom suspended practicing and teaching all previously learned systems and founded AMOK!

We have since been training people in knifefighting for over 20 years and our collective experience from living, training, and teaching in 25 countries (listed alphabetically below) has contributed to the forward evolution of our work. Tom has taught over 1000 hands-on knife seminars, more than any other instructor in the world.

Afghanistan (& Iraq)
Gregory Cruz has trained together with Tom for over 30 years and during his tours in the military, always trained his fellow soldiers. Cruz was a veteran of combat in Panama and Iraq before several tours in Afghanistan where he stood up a special security unit, and training every member of his team, successfully completed over 1000 missions. Cruz was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor, and his brother Amoks are proud of him and glad he is finally home.

Steve McHugh organized the first tour, Tom has traveled to Australia several times where AMOK! has since firmly rooted. With 15 years of experience each, AMOK! Instructors Paul Tsiavlis and Steve Soukoulis operate in Adelaide, and Andrew Smith, operates in Canberra. AMOK! has always enjoyed a solid following in OZ because of their stable and dedicated work.

Over the last several years AMOK! Instructor Mattias Persson conducted a number of seminars in Austria in which he has established a solid following among martial artists. The Austrians continue traveling to Sweden to train with Mattias.

AMOK! left its footprint in Cambodia when Tom Sotis, Andrew Smith, and Joe Howard introduced AMOK! to the Cambodian Special Forces and the country’s most elite Law Enforcement Counter-Terrorism personnel. They conducted training for GSS Private Security which operates throughout Southeast Asia. We have been asked to return to commence with hands-on training and start developing trainers.

Costa Rica
Tom teamed up with renowned survival expert, Tony Nester, and held a jungle survival camp. The mornings were spent practicing machete fighting with Tom, and the afternoons were devoted to survival skills with Tony. Everyone had a terrific time blending the two skills sets in Costa Rica’s lush environment. Tom and Tony are planning another jungle trip for next year.

Tom did the first seminar in Denmark in 2005 and a couple of years after that, AMOK! Trainer Kim Hansen formed his long-standing group, and more recently Frank Thorlacius formed another strong group that trains every week. AMOK! Instructor Mattias Persson visits them regularly to update their training.

The first seminar Tom did was a semi-private event for law enforcement and some of their colleagues, in 2002. Over the next few years Tom returned three more times to work with a martial arts organization. Because Mattias Persson has continued doing workshops in England, AMOK! still has long-standing members and strong contacts.

Mattias and Tom did the first open seminar in Hamburg in 2009. Thereafter Mattias Persson returned a number of times to work with different martial arts schools and is scheduled to go again this year.

Tom met Vasilis Vezyrgiannis and Samiotis Panagiotis who invited him to teach in Athens, Greece.  Of course, Greece has a rich and colorful history of Warriorship and AMOK! has since firmly become rooted where Vasilis and Samiotis still train in AMOK! and Tom has also works  with Tim Politis and his teammates the Hellenic Coast Guard who fight on the front line of violence every day.

Iraq & Afghanistan
During the war, Gus Reina established an AMOK! training group at LSA Anaconda, Balad, Iraq on the largest military base in the country. After that tour, Gus operated an AMOK! training group in Afghanistan working with members of the Special Forces community and military personnel. A lot of guys rotated through his group and were safer for having done so. We are proud of Gus, thankful for his service, respect the significant contribution he made, and glad he is finally home safe.

In 2011, Nassir Bourgheya, an 8-year veteran of AMOK!, returned to Libya to protect his family during the revolution and trained a lot of people in hand-to-hand combatives to protect themselves and their families. After the revolution, Bourgheya was asked to be a Hand-to-Hand Combat Instructor for the Special Forces in Tripoli though he did not accept the offer, and continued training only his family and their close friends. This is another example of AMOK! helping good people in bad places.

Malaysia is another country where Randy Hodges introduced AMOK!   Randy visited regularly and had established a training group in the Klang Valley where some of the members also trained at the Thailand Camps.

Tom introduced AMOK! in Sonora, Mexico in 2002, and returned several times to that area, but it was Rafael Mojica who visited a number of times to train Alex Garduno in Zacatapec, who has since established a solid reputation and strong network of knifers. AMOK! has trained Special Response Units for the prison system but training the civilian population has been the main thrust of our activity in Mexico for over 10 years.

In 2004 Randy Hodges was the first AMOK! Instructor to teach in Nepal. The following year Tom Sotis and Dan Neilan followed up with another training camp. Our contacts in Nepal continue to visit us for training, usually in Thailand, and we plan to make another trip again ext year.

The Netherlands has been the location of numerous AMOK! seminars since 2002.  For many years we had our Winter Camp in Amsterdam and because Tom passed through Amsterdam when going to work in other European countries, he had a lot of opportunities to teach while in town. Tom still passes through a few times/year and he works closely with AMOK! Trainer Jeroen Terpstra.

New Zealand
On the first visit in 2000, Joe Ellerin hosted Tom’s 10-day tour throughout New Zealand in which they trained a number of martial arts schools and the New Zealand prison Guards. It was at the public seminars where Tom met Steve McHugh who would later bring To to Australia. Tom returned to New Zealand in 2003 and hopes to visit again soon.

Mattias was the first AMOK! Instructor to visit Norway where he did seminars for martial arts groups. In 2010 the Norwegians invited Tom to teach seminars and thereafter formed training groups. AMOK! has two strong groups operating that train when Tom visits Sweden twice/year and with Mattias in between those camps.

For any years Tom traveled regularly to San Miguel, Azores and privately trained his brother-in-laws and a couple of their close friends. His brothers have since moved to the USA so their group dissolved. More recently in 2016, Tom returned and did a seminar for the Kyusho martial arts group and a few other local MA instructors.

Russia & Bashkortostan
In 1994, Tom Sotis was the first American combatives trainer to slip through the then-recent crack of the Iron Curtain where he ventured deeply into Russia training the famed Spetsnaz, the ultra-elite Ruby Beret Counter-Terrorism teams, and was the first American ever to visit a number of military installations and government facilities. Tom trained groups from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Criminal Investigation Division, and other government and law enforcement groups.

Randy Hodges made a number of trips to Singapore teaching AMOK! seminars and developing people in that region. He continues going there, now teaching his own system called Nok Knifefighting. Last year, an experienced combatives trainer entered our Training program so we expect to have an AMOK! Training group established in Singapore sometime this year.

South Africa
The murder-by-stabbing capitol of the world, South Africa is another land of extreme violence where AMOK! has been serving people at every strata of society for 14 years. AMOK! has trained military and law enforcement personnel, executive protection and security personnel, and numerous civilians. AMOK! enjoys a solid following of dedicated practitioners and Trainers who work very hard to protect their families.

José María Gutiérrez invited Tom to teach at the IKC Tournament in Madrid, Spain. Since that event, Tom had returned to Spain a number of times.  Culturally speaking, the Spanish have a love affair with the blade so AMOK! has firmly rooted in that country. José María worked hard and learned English to become a full AMOK! Instructor.

Tom and Mattias Persson introduced AMOK! in Sweden where it has since gained a very solid following. Mattias traveled often to train with Tom and while at home, developed a solid group in Malmoe, and now as an AMOK! Instructor, Mattias continues spreading AMOK! throughout Scandinavia and Europe. Typically Tom still visits twice/year for Spring and Fall Camp.

Since 2003 when Tom Sotis introduced AMOK! in Thailand, Randy Hodges decided to remain and establish groups throughout Southeast Asia. Randy and Nok Hodges established a full time academy in Bangkok before they moved to Udon Thani.  The annual Thailand Camp is our company’s biggest training event, typically 6-7 days of training, and is comprised of people from all over the globe.

United States: AZ, CA, CT, FL, GA, HI, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, NC, NH, NY, OH, RI, TN, TX, VA, VT
So far Tom has taught in 21 states. Instructors Jesse Harding, Dave Elliott, Koki Wong, and Rafael Mojica have also taught a number of seminars in different states and they also continue to travel and teach.