Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Detroit Kali-Silat on the Move

Greetings all!  Due to the highly sensitive nature of the material we are teaching, we have moved our classes from Dearborn to a new SECRET training location in Detroit.  Our new secret training facility is located in:

The Russell Industrial Center
1600 Clay Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48211

We are in Building #1, on the second floor Suite 206

It can be a bit confusing if you're not familiar with the complex (making it all the more secret, I suppose) so in the next post I'll illustrate exactly how to get to class - but remember: "Mum's the word"

In the meantime, feel free to call 248-981-7495 or email me for more information.  When calling or emailing, please remember to mention the secret password "Detroit Kali-Silat".


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Approaches to Teaching and Learning pt 6

At long last, here is the final chapter of the series (from 2010!) on traditional approaches to teaching and learning Silat.  This article is one of my favorites from the writings of the emminent Malaysian Silat scholar Mohd Nadzrin Wahab.  We have previously examined 2 other methods "Impression" and "Expression" - now we learn about the third method: "Activation". 

Activation Method
The third method is the Activation Method (AM). Depending on who you speak to, this can be spiritual, supernatural or psychological in nature. However you want to label it, AM deals with the direct activation of hidden potential within the human being and can be carried out in a number of ways.

It begins with the assumption that every human being is imbued with innate potential for movement. They say, everyone is born with it. Some call it Gerak (motion), Ibu Gerak (source of motion), Ibu Gayong (source of divine motion), al-Aql al-Awwal (the first mind), Barakah (divine gift), The First Principle, etc.

Whereas IM sought to mold the student to accept the art and EM sought to have the art developed by the student, AM simply bypasses the body and mind and goes straight to the soul and activates the ‘art’ from there.

Scientifically, there is no explanation. Some may try to wave it away as hypnosis, hoaxes or even plain delusion. Since this method is, at best, incredible, I shall proceed to only discuss those examples which have been documented.

In one instance, Ustaz Azam, the Khalifah Perang (War Caliph) of Persatuan Seni Silat Gayong Maarifat Malaysia claimed in an advertisement that "By participating in this Gerak Laksamana course … the caliph/caliph’s representative will open the door of your body’s ‘batin’ energy … in a short period you will be able to explore any form of silat … perform silat movements and master complex combat techniques".

The advert goes on to explain "It should be mentioned that this energy door is present in all human beings and all masters or practitioners of ilmu batin who are experts are able to open these batin doors within the human body".

"By mastering the knowledge of true internal energy which lies within the human being there is no need for requesting of assistance from jin or other superstitious aspects".

Is the statement an oxymoron? Apparently, it isn’t for many Malaysians who took the advert in stride.
Another explanation is given by guru Abdul Karim Mat Shah of Silat Semula Jadi (Natural Silat). According to him, silat (self-defence) is inherent knowledge in the self. It is present even in a baby who blinks when one attempts to touch his eyes.

The difference here lies is his attestation that training is a must. He stressed that without physical training, ‘natural’ motion cannot translate into movement. He describes the ‘natural’ motion akin to an electric shock.
"It’s like a flowing current… we can sense the enemy’s pulse (intent). We instinctively know his movement and can move anywhere (he goes)"."Silat Semula Jadi will only come to those who really want it to. It will seep into the body if it is really wanted. Within a month, it can be done, if it is really wanted," he repeats.

Islamic Activation?
However, these attempts at clarification often fog the issue and leave the devout Muslim scratching his head (not to mention the pronounced skeptics).

Ustaz Zainuddin Othman of Silat Sendeng Nusantara, a religious teacher of sufistic background gives it a more Islamic spin.

In his explanation, he calls it Ibu Gayong."… in reality, Ibu Gayong is a secret of the soul that emanates from every human being, conferred by Allah to us, which is called reflective movement. In the sufi’s language, it is Al-‘Aql Al-Awwal, or the pure soul".

He gave the example of the Holy Prophet Muhammad PBUH who wrestled two Arab wrestling champions, Al Aswad and Rukanah, and won. "How did he win, when he wasn’t even an expert in wrestling? Clearly, he had stepped forward to prove that subscription to Allah’s strength is far more powerful than depending on one’s own … therefore, defensive reflective motion arose from his submission to Allah".

A more graphic and practical display was described by Ustaz Wan Kamarulzaman Wan Abdul Aziz founder of Persilatan Gerak Suci Mangkubumi. When he first made known his intention of studying a silat style named Silat Gerakan Suci, the master guru Wan Asri initiated him with some H2O.

"He gave me a glass of water and immediately, I could extrapolate movements. But my movements were too fast, they were uncontrollable. It came quickly, just as when we first learn to drive a car, just as uncontrollable. After you get your licence, then you’ve mastered it," he quipped.

According to Ustaz Wan, this ‘motion’ exists in all human beings. It only has to be ‘activated’ so that it may be used consciously. He gives the example of reflexive movements that occur during sleep.

"Motion in this silat is a result of our supplications (to Allah) and our spiritual practices … in other silat, the physical is taught first, such as buah, kuncian and such, but in Gerakan Suci, the ‘gerak’ method is given priority".

"Initially, when I began teaching, I also favoured the ‘gerak’ method … but I noticed it wasn’t appropriate. The emanated movements depend on the practitioner. If he has studied silat before, his movements are beautiful".

"But, for those with no silat basics … pandemonium. Some just start rolling around. The silat movements are just rubbish. No artistry whatsoever … that is why … I began teaching the physical aspect first".
It may surprise many to know even though the three methods (IM, EM and AM) seem different, but many perguruan of the former two also subscribe to the AM concept, albeit later, much later in the training.

Sometimes, this is because of the situation that Ustaz Wan faced early on in his teaching career, others because it is considered the highest secret of their perguruan.

Personally, I [Nadzrin] have only experienced examples of IM and EM but have yet to sample AM. It would make an interesting article should it ever happen. In any case, all three methods, and more besides, exist in all Silat Melayu to a certain degree or other.

To be able to determine the extent of subscription, surveys have to be done on a case by case basis, and because of the secrecy surrounding most of these practices/ beliefs, it mostly has to be done by participative observation.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Marcaida Kali @ Detroit Kali-Silat!

We have had the distinct pleasure of training alongside of Kuya Doug Marcaida for more than a decade now, everywhere from our own backyard here in Metro Detroit, to New York, Canada, Ireland, and even the Philippines.  From our earliest days – back when Grandmaster Leo T. Gaje had christened our humble group Detroit Maphilindo – until today as we carry the banner of Detroit Kali-SilatKuya Doug has been an inspiration and a guiding light to our practice, as well as a true friend.

Over the years, Kuya graciously and unselfishly introduced us and brought us to train under a number of his own esteemed Teachers, and that gave us – among other priceless treasures – a measure of insight into his own personal development as a martial artist.  All along the Path as most of us average folks were ‘struggling’ with the material, Kuya Doug would be furiously refining, re-evaluating, and ultimately re-expressing the Art of Kali the way all true artists personalize their craft.

I like to think that somewhere in those hours of training, teaching, comparing notes, sharing theories, etc., that have take passed between Kuya and I throughout the years that I made some (perhaps small) contribution to his development as seen today.  In fact, it was quite some time ago that I respectfully suggested that Kuya “brand” his practice to reflect his undeniable personal contributions to this Art*.  For a time, we considered calling it Brotherhood of the Blade Kali, but even that would be terribly…what’s the word…” imprecise”, if you will.     

These days, thanks to the efforts of people like the good folks at Funker Tactical and the support of students and clubs all over the world, I’m very happy that the public at large is beginning to get the sense of something that I realized a long time ago: Kuya Doug Marcaida is without a doubt one of the great innovators of the Art of Kali in our generation.  He has at long last seen fit to rightfully personalize his System, and so we too at Detroit Kali-Silat are proud to teach and promote MARCAIDA KALI as our main Kali curriculum** to our students here and across the country.     



* Marcaida Kali is Kuya Doug’s system.  I just want to make it clear for the record that I suggested the name a long time ago!

** Yes, Barako Batangueno is still a closed-door class!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Brotherhood of the Blade Comes to Seattle!

I’ve just returned from a fantastic weekend of training with my dedicated student Jake Burroughs and his group in Seattle.  Jake is an exemplary martial artist in every way, whose impressive personal initiative has led him to seek out and learn from some of the BEST teachers in the Kung-Fu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Filipino Martial Arts world. Jake came out to see me here in Detroit earlier this year for some 1-on-1 training, and this past weekend was the first of what we hope will be many workshops for his students in the Pacific Northwest.

At the commencement of our first training session, as I looked out at the eager, smiling faces of his students as they stood ready with their sticks, I offered a caveat: “Guys, I’m telling you right now this is NOT going to be easy…”   So many people practice, teach, and generally regard Kali as a ‘B’-art of tapping and twirling sticks to endless repeating flow-drills.  So few people have actually been exposed to what I call the true beauty and grandeur of Filipino Martial Arts that I myself experienced over 25 years ago when I dedicated myself to this seldom travelled Path.  I wasn’t sure they realized what they were in for…

Well, I took these guys (and girl) in one weekend through material that would typically take me three months to cover with beginning students here in my own school – and they worked hard and diligently through every minute of it!  Invariably when I teach seminars like this, I always notice the point when students ‘cash-out’ mentally from overload.  I’m quite surprised and happy to say that these good folks worked doggedly through everything I gave them with 100% concentration and effort at all times – and then asked for a review on the second day! (at which point I myself was close to cashing out – lol).  Such students are the hallmark of a good Teacher, so kudos to Jake once again.    

To our new group in Seattle: thank you all for a wonderful weekend of training and camaraderie.  I hope there will many, many more to come.  Most of all, thank you for appreciating the true depth and richness of our beloved Art of Kali.


Guro Jeff Davidson
For anyone seeking top-notch martial arts instruction in the Seattle area Jake has my full endorsement.  For more info go to: http://www.threeharmonies.com/

Thursday, September 11, 2014

And Now a Word from Our Canadian Host

Aye Jeff,

Nice little place you have here ! :)

It's been awhile since we rapped. Believe me, we've been busy, training non stop. I broke two fingers, cross training with jiu jitsu.  It's proven to be a blessing in disguise.

A funny thing happened, a book had fallen out of my bookshelf. I picked it up and gave it a look, it was titled "the art of team coaching". It wasn't until I opened it up and started glancing through it, that I realized, I was meant to find that book. The opening quote in the book was written by a lad that although I didn't recognize, we played for the same lacrosse team growing up, the "whitby warriors". Could it just be coincidence? I don't think so. Intrigued, I kept reading and reading and reading...

As I progressed through the book, I realized that although I'm a fighter first, there are people close to me, who view me also as a coach and leader and that a part of me needs to fill those roles. I made notes, planned new drills and approaches to drilling techniques so that my teammates could not only reproduce the drills, but could understand the drills and make it their own.

I went back to the videos of your seminar and ran those exercises until every member of our team knew them. On my days off, I arranged to have one on one training sessions with different members of our clan to not only polish techniques but to build on them. Another funny thing happened, in the process of trying to make my teammates better at our craft, I was able to understand techniques differently, to make them my own and string them together, sometimes seamlessly, with other techniques.

I... and I do mean "we" had found a new "flow". Steve was a big part of that. In trying to make him a better fighter, he is making me a better fighter and a better coach. At 15 yrs old, he is holding his own against grown men who have far more experience and rank than himself. He has forgotten fear. His heart, skill and ability to push the pace of a fight speak for themselves. I credit him with a lot, but it isn't just him. Every member of our clan has added a puzzle piece to a larger picture. We are piecing together video clips to show you what we've been up to.

I want to thank you again for your time spent here with us, you and Jeff Danuloff.

I trust you are well and I look forward to sitting down again and exchanging thoughts and stories. I am intrigued by the picture you have posted on your blog of the gentleman standing amongst the various weapons.

It is only now that I see the link between that picture and a story you told me about your travels.

A good story to hear around a fire,
or a titty bar.... ;)

Take good care my friend.

Ps- your ancient Chinese secret ju-ju in a bottle is very potent. I've been calling it
"Boo boo, be gone". You weren't kidding about it healing bruises. Wow does it work well.

My very best, from myself and the rest of the warparty clan.