Next is the Expression Method (EM). Counter to IM, the Expression Method seeks to draw personal ability out of the student and makes his thinking a large part of the development process.
Instead of forcing him to accept indoctrination, he is guided through several stages of empowerment, namely physical (re)education, attitude orientation, affinity identification, skill development and practical application.
Because of the unpredictability and delicate psychological processes involved, it can sometimes take years or a matter of months before any noticeable change can be observed. This training method can also be described as experience-guided learning. It is the hallmark of many traditional martial arts and to be fair, traditional education.
A fictional scene reflects this training orientation. A student who had come to study from a silat master was told he had to perform physical duties around his master’s home. The reason is often and justifiably so, that if the master was to devote time to training him, his energies couldn’t be put to sustaining his livelihood.
However, tending to the garden or performing menial tasks served a double purpose. It was meant to educate the student in physical efficiency. Not only would he be taught to swing a hoe properly – using minimal strength and maximum leverage – to reduce long term physical damage and increase work efficiency, he would obviously receive superb physical conditioning.
Going to the gym always ends up with no productivity and glistening muscles, but farmwork got you that and potatoes as well.
Doing work would eventually bore the young student and once in a while, for displaying patience, kindness, diligence – and other good qualities that the master would have deliberately inculcated within him – he would be rewarded with a lesson of empowerment.
The master then identifies the student’s strength in a particular area and develops him towards mastering that end. If his coordination leans toward high fighting, his skills would be developed in that direction.
If he seems comfortable on the ground, then ground fighting and so on. However, the student wouldn’t be forced into any direction, simply given the opportunity to develop.
Finally, the student is given the opportunity to see for himself what he has achieved. He is tested not for what he has learned from his master, but for what he has discovered about himself.
Thus, confidence-breakers such as wrestling with wild animals, engaging full-fledged masters of rival schools, jumping into pits full of sharpened bamboo or being buried alive ensure that the student brings not his master with him to his tests, but that he has all the tools already at hand. He just had to discover them with a little help.