Old Dog, New Tricks

If you ever reach a point where you think there is nothing left to learn in your chosen field, you are only fooling yourself. I have spent decades in the study of self-defense/self-protection and this week I had an eye-opening moment during a presentation from a young instructor named Mike Pana, an instructor from the Atienza Kali family, during the Kickstart Kids Training Conference. Mr. Pana taught an introduction to Atienza Urban Combat. He casually mentioned many things over his two days of teaching that had my head spinning and left me wondering why I didn’t think of that before. Read on friend.

A little context first. He was presenting information under the assumption that you are unable to run away. The standard advice to run away doesn’t apply when you are attacked while out with your Wife, children, or parents. You are now in a situation where you can’t just leave. You will have to fight and defend them.

Arm Those You Defend

I will confess my idiocy here, although I have been teaching men to defend their families for quite a while now, it never occurred to me to carry something extra to give my loved ones the means to defend themselves in the event that I fall. I don’t know how I overlooked this unbelievably important item, but I did.

In light of the fact that the people we are talking about defending are typically going to be women and children, handing off a weapon could conceivably make all the difference in the world. I no longer carry just one knife, you shouldn’t either.

Train the Handoff

Too many people overlook how important training essential elements really is. You may well be able to shoot quarter-sized groups at ten yards in the comfort of the indoor shooting range, but that all goes out the window if you can’t draw the damn gun from the holster under stress.

Just as the practice of drawing a gun is essential, so too is the practice of the handoff of a weapon. Whether we are handing over a knife or gun, this has to be trained. Not only does it have to be trained, it also has to be trained safely. You don’t help your wife if you stab her hand when you are trying to hand the knife to her.

The method of handing off the knife that he taught is from Sayoc Kali and is called Blade Passing Protocol. Sayoc Kali is held in high regard in the Atienza family as a major positive influence on the style. Blade Passing Protocol was trained and drilled at the beginning of the session, and was reinforced every time we handed the knife to our partner.

Every aspect of your self-defense plan needs to be trained ad nauseam. One of the reasons that I have such high respect for the Filipino Martial Arts is the way the underlying principles don’t really change when you go from empty hand to stick to knife to sword. The practitioners of FMA get thousands and thousands of reps in their training and end up with functional muscle memory. Much better, at least as I see it than doing techniques this way for forms and that way for sparring.


One point that Mr. Pana kept returning to was the proper mindset. And on this topic, he and I are in lockstep agreement.

Put simply; you need to see the situation realistically. If I am out somewhere by myself and someone attacked me, my response (in terms of the levels of violence) is going to be worlds apart from what would happen if my Wife and kids were there. Everything changes. By myself, the entire scene is in play, with my Family, I can’t let him get past me.

Parting Shots

I think one of the reasons I learned so much in his seminar is that this was all real-world, legit, and yet casual badassery. My partner and I were resisting the techniques and they still worked. It was as real as it gets. I have been around FMA since I moved to north Texas just over 20 years ago, I have always been a fan, but this was my first time exploring the knife training. In the short amount of time we had, I came away with a lot of new ideas, some fantastic techniques, and a childlike sense of wanting more.

You can learn more about Atienza Kali at www.atienzakali.com and you can find Mr. Pana on Instagram at BayaniWarrior or AtienzaKaliTX.