One of the things that attracted me to the Filipino martial arts (FMA) many years ago was their use of reflex training or “flow” drills. Although I was already coming from a somewhat non-traditional martial arts background, most of the training I had done still followed a classical format: dedicated technique-based practice, sparring, and tool development on striking pads. The most dynamic thing we did was “technical sparring,” which was basically technique-based training in a multiple attacker context. The addition of multiple attackers and a higher degree of spontaneity allowed this form of training to better simulate the adrenal stress of a real attack; however, it was very dependent upon the skills and intensity of your training partners. When done right, it was magic. When done wrong, it looked like a bad kung fu movie.

When I finally got involved in the FMA, I was amazed at the wide variety of flow drills and the way that they accelerated both skill and reflex development. At a basic level they get you to repeat key sequences of movement with a partner in a way that has scalable speed and intensity. As you get better and start moving faster, you can incorporate more aggressive energy, footwork, and other elements to increase the performance anxiety. As the saying goes, “Repetition is the mother of all skill.” To take that a step further, “Repetition under stress is the mother of higher, more reliable skill.”

As my skills and understanding of flow drills developed, I realized that it was possible to use the drills as a foundation of a very dynamic training method I now call “the chess game.” Since many drills include similar angles and movements, it is very easy to “substitute” the response of one drill for that of another. That substitution may be a simple variation within the flow of the original drill, or it may prompt your partner to transition to the new drill. Once you understand this concept and the basic mechanics of substituting and transitioning, you have a very dynamic, spontaneous set of choices to play with. Better yet, so does your partner. Since there are no verbal cues in this process to prompt each other, picking up on and flowing with the transitions becomes extremely spontaneous and develops amazing reflexes. In fact, in many cases students do everything right and respond with perfect reflex and technique, yet are unable to mentally “keep up” with their actions to register them cognitively. As we say in MBC is that “Drills give you repetition; transitions give you reflex.”

Once I discovered the “chess game” method, I began analyzing the drills I had learned to see how well they supported actual combative application. I also began modifying the drills to make them more knife-oriented and to more closely replicate plausible attacks. Through this analytical process—and the concurrent development of MBC’s stopping-power-based targeting system—I realized that some FMA drills, like Sumbrada, provided an outstanding template for very effective combative technique. I also realized that many of traditional FMA enthusiasts who practice Sumbrada regularly have no idea of its true purpose. Since MBC is, by design, a results-oriented system, I was determined to include only those drills that support worthwhile skill development. Over time, I have added, deleted, and modified drills to “fill holes” in MBC’s reflexive response patterns and avoid unnecessary “martial masturbation.” The current state-of-the art of that process is the subject of Martial Blade Concepts Volume 3.

MBC Volume 3 guides you step by step through the drills of the MBC system and, very importantly, explains why the drills are included in the system and what skills they isolate. When appropriate, I compare them to traditional versions of FMA drills and explain why I have chosen to alter specific elements to be consistent with MBC’s tactics and methods. Finally, I explain and clearly demonstrate the combative applications of the drills—how the practiced movements and sequences of angles can be reflexively applied in a high-speed, spontaneous defensive situation.

Once the foundation of drills is established, I teach you the basics of the “chess game” and how to use it to create a dynamic, unpredictable, yet safe training methodology that provides a format for scalable progression. I also explain how this training method fosters a higher degree of “fighting spirit” by allowing you to work through your mistakes without ever breaking stride.

MBC Volume 3 is the secret to developing real, dependable combative skills in the MBC system and one of the most dynamic training methods ever presented on video. And for those of you who don’t think that it will work for you because you don’t have a training partner, I also teach you how to adapt the entire system to solo training formats.

Drills provide the repetition you need to develop skills and, ultimately, the reflexes necessary to use those skills in a real situation. MBC Volume 3 is the path to learning those drills and all they offer.

Stay safe,

Michael D. Janich