The Dragon


As I begin looking at my calendar and prepare for my June trip to Seattle, I suddenly remembered my last trip there. More specifically, my visit to Bruce Lee’s grave.

Like every martial artist, a lot of what influenced my decision at an early age to get involved in the martial arts were action movies. High spinning crescent kicks, jumping flying punches- all came together to create spectacular fight scenes and, ultimately, influenced me as a young boy to get into martial arts. And I’m certain many of you as well.
Out of all these martial arts films, of course, none of them can compete with Bruce Lee. I remember growing up to classics like Enter the Dragon and although it was generations before me, I long admired Bruce Lee.
The fight scenes in movies were what put him on the map. However, as I grew up, both into adulthood and as a martial artist, I came to appreciate more of his contributions as embodied in the Jeet Kune Do philosophy.

And it was for this reason that as soon as I got off the plane in Seattle, I made my way to pay homage to the Dragon.
It was truly a humbling experience being there and paying my respects to the man who influenced countless generations of martial artists’ path.
Stay tuned and like my page or visit to find out more about training in Lightning Scientific Arnis as well as upcoming Lightning seminars across the United States.

What is the Center Line with regards to fighting?


While every system has its own techniques and different mindsets, what is consistent is the presence of lines of attack.

This came about after a discussion with a student and it is my hope this aids you in your understanding of martial arts and are my responses to some questions.

If you’re involved in the Lightning Combatives system, it is supplementary to the Bigay Tama Break Down Series on YouTube which be accessed here.
As a general idea, the center line is an invisible line that extends from your center (nose + belly button) forward and defines where your attacks can effectively travel.  I presume everyone involved in martial arts to the point where they’re reading a blog article on center lines is really geeky.  As such, I’d like to use the analogy of the cross hairs in First Person Shooter games to illustrate my point. Basically, it tells you where your guns are pointed and what should be pointed towards your opponent or adversary.

Since we’re not in a video game, it’s hard to identify the center line so how I define it is the line my belly button and nose make going straight forward.

Your opponent’s center line is the same as it extends from THEIR nose and belly button.

Basically, it’s where all the weapons can effectively fire (by weapons, we mean punches, kicks, weapon strikes, knife thrusts, and take downs).

How do you control your center line?
The entire focus of Lightning is to be able to keep your center line focused on your opponent while staying off their center line. Or, alternatively, to be able to keep attacking down your center line uninterrupted.

In Bigay Tama, you’re constantly trying to move offline with the kambyo (to the outside) so that you can reposition OFF of your opponent’s center line while moving your center line to target your opponent’s body.

So simply, you control the center line by establishing dominance in that space either by taking space (with a strike or weapon), or, by demonstrating you can take that space. Half strikes, strike combinations, and even “presence” can establish this.

Learn Bigay Tama here

Diagram of Feeder (F) moving from Position 1 to Position 2 in an effort to stay off of Receiver’s (R) center line and attack from a superior position.

How do you identify who has better center line control compared to others?
I would refer to the previous answer to define this but I can give you a way to break it down from the outside.

When you’re squaring off with someone, if you have good control of the center line, this means you can quickly drop strikes down the middle, or reposition, so that the other person is forced to move back. Or, they are forced to move offline out of fear.

If the person you’re facing has better control, you’ll find that the inverse is true. They are pushing you back and you’re afraid of going down the middle, and even backing up.

If you’re in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area, visit to learn more.


Intensive Lightning Combatives Seminar in Washington, DC

JELC - DC 9-5

On September 5th and 6th, Master Jon Escudero ran an intensive 2-day Lightning Combatives seminar at the Fighters Garage in Falls Church, VA.

Master Jon introduced the Lightning Combatives approach to Serrada in “Sagasa” mode. Traditionally, the approach on contact is to move to the outside (also known as the Serrada position). However, in Sagasa mode, the practitioner charges down the middle and stops any counter attack through aggressive forward pressure.

By this, they are able to dominate through the systematic application of violence.

The sessions were 4 hours each and covered the Lightning Combatives Tactical Knife (Lanseta Serrada) curriculum on the first day, then the Lightning Combatives curriculum the second day.

Lightning Combatives Power Generation For Stick Fighting in Long Range

Watch this video to find out how you can incorporate full body movement into your power generation at long range.

For more intensive training, preregister for the big Lightning Combatives Seminars this year and develop:
– Explosive and aggressive power generation
– Effective centerline control
– Counter-offensive mindset and techniques.
– Training and tactics in fighting with edged and impact weapons

We will be in:
Chicago, Illinois – August 29 and 30
Washington, DC – September 5 – September 6
Dallas, Texas – September 12
Houston, Texas – September 13
Seattle, Washington – September 19 and 20

Preregister at:

Edged impact weapons for women’s self-defense

Attackers decide the time, the place, and the method of the attack. This creates a considerable challenge for the person who has been targeted since already they are in a disadvantaged position.
For women, this problem is compounded by the probability that there will be a considerable size disparity in favor of the attacker.

As such, it becomes increasingly necessary to have the right toolset to rely on when violence does erupt.

Now, there are a large number of women’s self defense programs that are accessible that offer simple to learn empty hand techniques from a broad range of systems like boxing, Muay Thai, or Karate.  They are effective when the user is able to generate the power and targeting skills needed to fend of a larger, stronger attacker.
In the context of self defense, especially with a smaller frame, it is of necessity to quickly gain the upper hand or buy time to escape.  Weapons then become a preferable option given their ability to amplify attributes and strengths.
Depending on jurisdictions, the choice of weapons may be limited and firearms may not be an immediately available option.

However, edged impact weapons become a viable option given they exist everywhere. Other than knives and sticks/batons as they’re portrayed in films, the skills are directly applicable to common objects that are readily available including:

– pens

– cellphones

– bottles

– keys

– umbrellas

– brief cases
Suddenly, there are superior options that can be deployed if need be.
Learn more about how you can develop skills with edged impact weapons and incorporate this skill set into your self defense program at

Self defense training is incomplete without an understanding of situational awareness. There are many excellent resources on how to improve situational awareness, such as the Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker as well as material by Sgt. Rory Miller which everyone who is interested in self protection should read.

Training with a Combative Mindset


Angelo Garcia demonstrating knife defense in third party VIP Close Protection Course in the Israeli Tactical School

As martial artists, we have a tendency to view combat through specific paradigms and we lose sight of the goal.  Put simply, learning drills and memorizing techniques become the primary goal instead of understanding where and when it would be appropriate to apply them.  And it is absolutely essential to know when and where it is right to apply the right skill lest we lose and find ourselves injured or killed.

Let me preface this discussion by first saying that this isn’t an esoteric discussion about timing, speed, or a zen concept.  Instead, this is about establishing a framework to understand when and where techniques should be applied.  It important to understand which techniques work in specific situations and then train to apply the correct tools in your martial arts arsenal to accomplish the task at hand.

Is it self defense?  Point sparring?  No holds barred fighting?  A grappling tournament?  Dueling?  Third party protection?  Law enforcement?

When you have the skills, it’s time to train a specific pallet of techniques that are appropriate in that context.  Having provided edged impact weapon training to security professionals with specific goals, I’ve had to structure training that addressed their needs.

I recently taught at the Israeli Tactical School’s VIP close protection course where the mission had very specific parameters: Protect the VIP from a knife attack, neutralize the threat, and evacuate the VIP to safety.  It would not have been appropriate to drill anything outside of what is needed to accomplish these goals.

The technique that most effectively completed the task was an aggressive execution of a knife interception and an aggressive barrage of attacks leading to a takedown.  But the exercise did not stop after the aggressor hit the ground.  Because the technique was only one stage of the whole picture, the next aspects needed to be drilled as well.   Now that I’ve taken down the attacker, what is the next step? Should I draw my firearm? Stay sprawled over him? Return to my VIP?

All of these questions were addressed in drilling for this specific mission profile and included deploying the weapon while keeping 360 degree awareness to ensure the safety of the VIP.

As we train, it’s important to learn techniques and understand the context in which they should be applied.  Build up your arsenal of techniques but drill these skills for their specific contexts.

Stay tuned! We are launching the Edged Impact Weapon Defensive Tactics program in Northern Virginia soon.

Lightning in the Washington, DC Philippine Embassy on May 2nd, 2015

On Saturday, May 2nd, the Philippine Embassy invited DC Lightning Scientific Arnis (DCLSA) to perform a demonstration of Lightning Scientific Arnis (LSAI) as part the annual embassy open house. DCLSA’s instructor, Angelo Garcia (under Master Jon Escudero) was joined by his students Stephen Aquila, Jesse Hufford, Yemi Omotola, and Keli Kincaid as they demonstrated the 13 basic strikes along with various bigay tama drills.
The event was attended by over 6,000 people.
For more information about DC Lightning Scientific Arnis, visit

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Red Team – Developing a Robust Knife Defense

Knife defense 3

Recently, I’d been reviewing videos and taking part in Knife Defense training with other systems. I have nothing bad to say about their knife or stick defense methods. They are similar to what I have seen prescribed in other edged and impact weapon combat systems. However, as a person who is more accustomed to assuming the attacker point of view, I thought I would flesh out some of the issues in a follow up to my series of articles on knife defense.

To preempt any comments or questions, yes we can all assume that once a knife is involved there is a high probability of getting cut or stabbed and you are welcome to review my articles on specifics in knife fighting. Yes, there is no perfect defense against an armed assailant, however, we do our utmost to remain in the fight and alive.

In almost every other discipline, outside of combat and martial arts, it is essential to anticipate what challenges you may face when attempting to achieve a goal. In the security field as well as many others, this is known as a red team– when you assume the perspective of your adversary and try to identify vulnerabilities. With their findings, you can reinforce or build procedures and defenses against these attacks. Parallels can be drawn from other fields as well such as anticipating sales objections, preparing talking points for academic presentations, functionality testing of software, fire testing materials… the list can go on.

As such, it is absolutely essential to understand the perspective of your attacker in order to develop a robust defense against .

What are the assumptions when you’re only thinking like a defender? 

The attacker will swing only a handful of times and with minimal intent. From what I’ve observed, people who train in edged or impact weapon defense that come from empty hand backgrounds have not swung a weapon at another person before. This presents complications since their ranging and timing will be off and are reluctant to strike directly at their partner. As such, they are not providing the correct stimulus for the defender and this can create a false sense of security when they’re within range.

The attacker will only move forward. This is a common assumption I’ve seen and it makes sense in the context of close quarter battles where you’re trapped between cars or in a narrow hallway. However, there is always the option to move laterally or to move backwards. In both instances, a defense that assumes only forward pressure can subject the defender to considerably higher risk of failure and, as a result, injury or death.

The defender can drop the weapon after the defense or disarm. While not always the case, this one has glared at me every time I’d seen a self defense video or been to a class or seminar. What typically happens is that the defender is able to seize the weapon but then drop it to fight another opponent, unarmed. If ingrained, the defender would revert to old habits under pressure and if able to acquire a weapon, will drop it in favor of unarmed techniques thus putting the defender in a disadvantaged position unnecessarily.

Why train from an attacker’s point of view?

The first reason to train with weapons is to gain a solid understanding of how to wield weapons.. This allows you to become a more effective partner when providing stimulus to your training partner in class as you begin to identify vulnerabilities in the defenses that may be used against you. Where is he going to stab me if I block this? How is he going to recover from that swing? These are questions that will have some light shed on them because you and your partners have tried to stab or club each other before.

Second, as you proceed to train from an attacker’s point of view, you think of more directions than only forward. Retreating, stepping laterally, angling- all become options that you must be aware of as you defend.

Third, once a weapon is placed in your hand you have the confidence and experience to be able to wield it, rather than dispose of it under pressure. This is of considerable importance when you have weapons of opportunity in your hand like keys, an umbrella, a bottle, or a newspaper to name  a few objects.


In short, a solid defense against sticks or knives is dependent on a solid understanding of weapons fighting. The lack of this skill, while not terrible, reduces the effectiveness of your own techniques. Ultimately, if you want to develop a well-rounded skill set and the mindset to use any weapon, be they edged, impact, or anatomical, it is essential to learn to wield them all and be your own red team.

Hope you all enjoyed and Happy Valentine’s day to everyone.

Improve your edged and impact weapons skills along with your self defense training by emailing or calling 703-594-7680 for a free first class, to book a private session, or schedule a seminar for your club or organization.

Visit DC Lightning Scientific Arnis website at to learn more.

Clinching with weapons – Case Study of Walmart Loss Prevention Officers getting stabbed

This video is particularly relevant to the article on clinching I wrote the other day. In the article, I discussed the importance of isolating and controlling the weapon hand in the clinch and acting decisively to end the altercation. But of key importance is the control of the weapon hands. In the event of a violent encounter, it should always be assumed there is a weapon.

In this video, two Wal-Mart loss prevention officers held onto the thief using various holds like bear hugs and variants of the nelson. While these are effective grappling competition holds, they should have been used as interim positions to establish control and quickly bring the assailant to the ground.

Because the loss prevention officers did not immediately bring the assailant down, the thief was able to use one of his unrestrained hands to draw a folding knife from his pocket and stab both employees who were unaware of the presence of the knife until after the attack.

There is much to take away from this incident.

To reiterate the key take points in my previous article:

1. Establish and maintain control of the weapon hand or isolate it so you can determine whether to continue fighting or if you need to make an exit. In this case, they needed to do so in order bring him down and pin him so they could frisk him and contact law enforcement.

2. Train the specific take downs that are appropriate for each weapon configuration. With two officers available, an option would have been to grab hold of both arms and execute a double 2-on-1 take down with his arms controlled.

3. Act decisively in the clinch regardless of whether you are striking or executing a take down. The two officers were focused on holding him and stayed in an interim position rather than immediately attempting the take down.

I wish these loss prevention officers a speedy recovery as they exhibited bravery in the face of danger.

Check out the DC Lightning Scientific Arnis group class to train this and other weapon skills or find out more at Private training or seminars around this subject as well as any other subject may be booked by emailing or calling 703-594-7680.

Clinching with Weapons – Reprogramming Empty Hand Responses


It’s been about a year since I updated this blog but recently I decided it was time to get back to crank out another article and get back into writing.

Over the last couple of weeks I had been teaching private training sessions to some of my law enforcement and security students. The focus of these sessions has been take downs and locks in weapon fighting. As an instructor, I was quite pleased to see that they were able to quickly familiarize themselves with the material. Their years of grappling competitively in arts like shoot wrestling, Brazilian Jujutsu, Judo, as well as striking in Boxing, Muay Thai, and Kyokushin Karate allowed them to pickup and quickly execute many of the techniques I taught them.

However, I noticed three fundamental flaws in their execution that made sense in purely empty hand fighting but would be most perilous in an altercation involving knives or sticks.

First, they prioritized the head rather than the arm for the clinch. In a vacuum such as the gym, the ring, the cage, or the wrestling mat, it makes sense to clinch for the head. It’s an opportunity to control your opponent so you can subject him to knees, elbows, or pin them and choke them. I have seen countless self defense videos that have recommended the strategy of going after the head first and to ignore the arms. However, in the case of weapon fighting, the biggest threat comes from the weapon hand since uncontrolled, it can be swung and cause serious injury or death. Thus, always clinch to control or track the weapons and not the head.

Second, they mirror take downs and locks on both sides and ignore the weapon configuration. This is closely tied to the first paragraph as it pertains to how they prioritize their tactics. Attempting one type of throw or bind with one arm may make sense if the weapon is on the right side but executing the same movement may not necessarily make sense if the weapon is in the left hand.

Third, after they establish control, they would try to slowly bring me down or stay in the clinch and trade strikes. This is the objective in submission grappling or in a stand up striking match as victory is determined by the ability to control the clinch or submit your opponent. However, the more time spent in these transitional positions, the higher the probability of being cut, stabbed, or clubbed.  As such, it is essential to decisively execute a take down or strike combination in this position.

Many skills from the empty hand systems I’d mentioned previously reinforce the technique required to effectively handle weapons. In fact, if you have these skills, your ability to control weapons fighting improves considerably. However, what is essential is the mind set you possess ultimately and not the particular technique. So how should we train the clinch in with weapons?


Establish and maintain control of the weapon hand or isolate it so you can determine whether to continue fighting or if you need to make an exit. This should be your priority, especially if you are unarmed. This way, you reduce the number of weapons you have to deal with (including anatomical weapons like the leg and hands) and you are able to buy yourself some time that can be used to launch a barrage of strikes or execute a take down.

Knife defense 2

Train the specific take downs that are appropriate for each weapon configuration. The weapon configuration of your opponent, such as whether the knife or stick is in the left hand or right hand, will affect the efficacy of binds, locks, and take downs. While in the long run it is helpful to have a map of where the different locks are, it is more important to be able to quickly use them.


Act decisively in the clinch regardless of whether you are striking or executing a take down. As soon as there is contact and a clinch begins forming, time runs out to determine who is faster. For this reason, you should train to aggressively execute the take down once you have it or begin firing a barrage of strikes to establish control.

Doing these three things will drastically improve how you handle clinching with weapons whether you are armed or unarmed. So go on and incorporate this mindset in your training and see what the results are!

Check out the DC Lightning Scientific Arnis group class to train this and other weapon skills or find out more at Private training or seminars around this subject as well as any other subject may be booked by emailing or calling 703-594-7680.