Wednesday, December 28, 2005

First Tekpi Class of 2006

WHEN: Sunday, January 29, 2006
WHERE: The Training Hall
TIME: 12pm - 3pm

All those who have completed the first 10 buah will need new training cards. Please bring your training journals. Also, BE ON TIME! No one will be permitted to join the class after Senaman Tua begins.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

PTK Mentality / Happy Holidays

Never Drop Your Guard Around Tuhon!

We had a fantastic discussion in class last week, after a beginning student asked me to elaborate on how Pekiti Tirsia tactics apply to a typical violent encounter on the street (as if there is a such thing as a 'typical' violent encounter.) What was clarified in the course of that discussion, is the unique mentality of the Filipino martial artist in his approach to combat.

I had prepared a transcript of sorts from memory of the points we talked about with the intention of publishing them here. However, I first ran it by another student of mine who is a criminal defense attorney - and he advised against it for several reasons. On reflection, it might not be prudent to discuss such sensitive issues as one's personal resolutions on combat in a public forum. Lets just say that I'll follow Ollie North and Dave Chapelle - and plead the 5th.

I have studied FMA since 1987 with various teachers, each having a unique approach to actual combative applications. To someone coming from a radically different orientation, as in the more mainstream martial arts, this is a completely different world, so to speak. Boxers, grapplers, and Karateka have a very well-defined idea of how, when, and why they will apply their respective disciplines. But if you are a FMA practitioner - true to the tradition of your Art - ask yourself exactly WHAT are you training for with those sticks and blades? Why, when, and how will you use it?

Of all those teachers I trained with, none had a mental format of their system quite similar to Tuhon Gaje. Pekiti Tirsia is more than a weapon, a technique, or a characteristic drill or way of moving. Pekiti Tirsia is a mentality. Those practitioners who are considered to be on a particularly high level in this system understand this. This is not something I have seen Tuhon actually teach during lessons, though he may discuss it over coffee afterwards. There is a scene in the movie Hero, where the protagonist explains that he was able to figure out a rival swordsmans "game" by observing the way he did calligraphy. Take a lesson from that. When you watch Tuhon Gaje give several radically different interpretations of a single technique or drill, you can either come away confused...or you can gain some insight into the unique Pekiti Tirsia mentality which powers ALL of our techniques. Think on this! Even a rank beginner can appreciate the level of Tuhon Gaje's technical mastery. But only when you understand the Mind that brings it forth, will you even begin to appreciate Tuhon's true genius. That's all I'll say on that. Are you with me Ungyo?

On another note, I want to send my blessings and best wishes for the New Year to all of our friends, students, teachers, and supporters. This has been without question our greatest year yet. We've made friends across continents, opened new doors, learned a helluva lot, and most importantly come together as the tightest group of comrades-in-arms I have ever had the honor to be associated with. 2006 has every indication of being even better. We have taken this year out with a monsterous bang, and we'll come out hitting full-force next year - God Willing!

God Bless You All!


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Rolling Tiger of Banten

Mas Gorka in Banten, West Java

The bonds between Michigan and Biarritz are strong. In the near future, I will be working more closely with the noble Basque warrior Gorka Echarri. I asked him to post a little about his practice on my blog, and it is with pleasure that I reproduce his article here. - JD

My dear brother Jeff asked me to write an article about Cimande...
This really nice offer put me in an odd situation because I've seen in the past that this word "cimande" is the subject of so many wars between schools in the "western part of the world". Anyway, I'll try to share my little knowledge and my personal experience, hoping that it will be able to clear the path of some true seekers.

To start I've to be really clear about the word Cimande. There is a saying in the pencak silat comunity that says that Cimande is like a broken glass. When you drop a glass on the floor there are a hundred pieces of glass on your floor but none of these pieces can say "hey ! I'm THE REAL glass" in truth all of them are the glass. In the same way, Cimande is like the broken glass and each school of Cimande is part of the same art, and none of them can say "hey ! I'm THE Cimande".

So what I would like to share is just a part of Cimande. This part of Cimande is the one I've looked for in the villages of West Java, in the Banten region, in the village of Serang. There, in this village, people are playing Pencak Silat like in France we are playing soccer, I would say that 70 to 80% of the people I've met are playing Pencak Silat.

The Cimande style that I've been taught is called Cimande Macan Guling. Cimande is the name of the style and Macan Guling (Rolling Tiger) is the name of the school. This school is very famous and very well known in Serang. They're under the authority of the PPPSBBI (Persatuan Pendekar Persilatan Seni Budaya Banten Indonesia) a very famous regional organisation. PPPSBBI has got 500 000 Silat players in West Java with 90 different styles. This organisation has been created in 1971 by Pendekar H. Tubagus Chasan Sochid a very famous man with a big charisma and a great influence on Banten region. PPPSBBI has been created to protect and develop all the traditional Pencak Silat styles from Banten (what they are doing is great...). In Cimande Macan Guling we've got jurus (codified movements), Langkahs (codified steps), Kelidans (arms game to develop reflex, hardeing the arms...), Golok (machete) jurus, pisau (knife) jurus, toya (staff) jurus, sarong jurus... Its a very wide style with a lot of material to learn.

Beside this technics knowledge there is 2 rituals very important that are done to accept a new student within the Cimande Macan Guling family. The first one is called Pangurutan or Urut. It's a ritual during the one your arms are beaten hardly by a top teacher (guru dewan) with a ritual oil, a flower bath and prays. This rituals has to be done 7 times. The second ritual is called Keceran it's a ritual that is done once a year during which you receive drops of a sacred water in
your eyes. In Cimande Macan Guling, there are a lot of "great teachers" (guru dewan) and each of them has a speciality (the pangurutan, the kelidans, the jurus...) so when I go there I often train with several teachers and it can give me a large view on this great style. I hope that this short text can help the true seeker to see clearer in the wide world of Cimande

Gorka Echarri - Biarritz - France

Monday, December 05, 2005

Silat Melayu Issue #4 (and Counting!)

I have just received the fourth outstanding issue of the ezine Silat Melayu. I told you guys this was great stuff. To give somewhat of a "peek" into the nature of a few of the topics covered in Silat Melayu, I would like to reproduce here an on-line discussion between Saiful Azraq and myself which took place several months ago (yes Saiful, I have saved every one of them.)

My initial question to him was: "Why is there such a reluctance on the part of Malaysian Silat teachers to show the 'real thing' during demos" Saiful's observation is below in italics:

In the 1940s-1960s, Malaysia was overrun by Judo, Karate and Taekwondo resulting in many Malays looking down upon the low-key, humble Silat. It wasn't until four masters, all brash in their own right and ahead of their time decided to play the karate game and created fancy demonstrations of power and coordination

Cekak did away with the flowery movements and went straight to fast-paced rock em sock em demos and trained just as hard and fast. Gayong incorporated karate-like reverse punching and blocking to standardise the demo movements and so did Lincah

Gayung Fatani although still flowery, sped the movements up and put a guy in front to replace the 'shadow' that was there once and \get beaten. I've seen Gayong demos and they look nothing like what they train in.

Just like Cekak. There are three kinds of Cekak. One for demos (which is flashy and hard), one for training, (which is boring and repetitive) and one for combat, (which is very, very deadly an requires minimal locking)

You have to understand, real silat is nothing to look at. They had to diversify to make it more interesting for youth to identify with. It's nothing to see with a guy standing one second and lying down the next.

My next question was "Why were the Malaysian Silat teachers that Donn Draeger mentioned in his book so secretive?"

Remember this, Malays became a colonised race in 1511 and gained independence in 1957
Many promises were made by the Portuguese, Dutch and English and many more were broken. Trust did not come easily to the Malays when a white man they associated with colonisation was asking them about the one remaining thing they could keep a secret. Nowadays, with a strong background in law and knowing their rights, more silat are willing to open their doors, but learning from the mistakes of the Indonesians.

Anyway, Silat Melayu is probably the best resource out there for the non-Malay Silat enthusiast. Cikgu Nadzrin and his worthy colleagues have answers that we don't even have the questions for...yet. My order stands: Check it out!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Be Advised!

Dearborn, Michigan 04/2004

That man with the training knife facing Tuhon Gaje is a certified Bad Ass!


Monday, November 21, 2005

Got Keris?

Martin with Empu Jeno

Mas Martin Notohardjo is the President/Curator of Pojok Keris Singobarong (Singobarong Keris Corner) in Central Java. It was by Mas Martin’s kind invitation that I was able to learn about the keris and other Indonesian Pusaka in Central Java in September, 2000.

Martin has an extensive network of contacts all over Indonesia. He can locate and acquire virtually any Indonesian weapon (or variations thereof) in any condition, of any era you can think of - with 100% authentication. In some cases, he can even do keris appraisals via digital photograph. If there is anything at all you need to know about the keris, then this is your man.

If you would like information on purchasing keris, keris appraisal, or even locating reputable Silat teachers in Indonesia, email me and I will be happy to forward your request to Mas Martin.

Just to clear up some mis-understanding that I have seen in print, Pojok Keris Singobarong does NOT sell or give keris/pusaka from any Kraton in Java. I say this because some clown has been known to foist faux Kraton items to other clowns, sourcing it back to PKS. Well, it’s not so.

There’s no Easter Bunny either.


Several interested folks have asked me for more information on Ode Remo (see a few postings back) Well, there is a new book called: Orisa - Yoruba Gods and Spiritual Identity in Africa and the Diaspora (isbn 1-59221-374-x) which contains a paper by Kevin Noel Amherd entitled Ifa Texts: Diversity and Discourse - this is positively the best exposition on the history of Ode Remo that I have seen anywhere in print. One of Kevin's informants is John Abiodun Ogunleye, the martial artist I had the friendly match with as detailed in my "Challenge in West Africa" post.

I met Kevin a few years back in Oakland, Ca. While we may have had slightly differing opinions on martial arts, I applaud him for undertaking such a serious, scholarly examination of Ode Remo from a unique perspective.


Sunday, November 20, 2005


Hey Everyone!

The emminent Silat scholar/resercher/practitioner Mohd Nadzrin Wahab has published two issues of a brand new Silat e-zine appropriately called SILAT MELAYU. I cannot recommend this work highly enough. It just so happens that the second issue features an outstanding article about a certian Silat Kuntau Tekpi group in the Midwestern United States.

Subscriptions may be ordered by emailing:

I command you all to subscribe (its free)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Senaman Tua

In response to numerous requests from my students for more information on Senaman Tua, I offer the following brief explanation from our friend Saiful Azraq. As anyone who has been put into at least one full-body lock from Cekak or Silat Kuntau Tekpi can attest, it is murder on the joints. I liken Senaman Tua to 'yoga' for the joints. We have been doing it for 7 months, and I have seen remarkable results in my students strength and flexibility.

By way of a personal testimony, in the summer of 2004 I tore the ACL in my right knee during a dumog match. After 3 months of physical therapy I decided not to have surgery, but the knee was obviously not fully functional. I learned Senaman Tua from Omar Hakim in April of 2005, and after a rigorous program of x2 per week for an hour my knee was stronger than it was before the tear - by July!

I recommend either 15 minutes a day, or 1 hour twice per week. Maintain each exercise from 1 to 99 seconds, and remember Nafas Melayu...

Now from Brother Saiful:

SENAMAN TUA literally means Old Exercise but to do it justice, I
prefer to translate it as Sagely Exercise. The word TUA in Malay
commonly means old in English. However, the difference between our
cultures makes miscommunicates the term. TUA comes from the Archaic
Malay/ Sanskrit word TUHA which means Prime. From this word comes
TUHAN (God), TUA (Old), colours like BIRU TUA (Dark Blue), KETUA
(Leader), PENGETUA (Principal) and many others. In the Malay culture,
the old are revered for their wisdom and surpassive knowledge.
Therefore, SENAMAN TUA means the knowledge of human exercises that
have arisen out of hundreds of years of research and development,
experimentation and testing. Each of them bear a deep amount of wisdom
within them.

However, another interpretation of SENAMAN TUA as explained by its
founder guru Azlan Ghanie is that it is a shortening of PETUA which
comes from the Arabic word Fatwa. A fatwa is a conclusive decision or
result of detailed research and development by a master in a
particular field. For example, e=mc2 is a fatwa of Einstein who
reduced the relationship of energy and matter into five symbols.
Therefore, the SENAMAN TUA is bound by a minimum of four PETUA, Nafas
Melayu, Lam Alif, Mata Angin and Jantan Betina. There are more but are
merely extrapolations of the four.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

NY Seminar

"It's All Fun Until Someone Loses An Eye!"
(Jeff & Doug doing some "Knife-Clowning")

Hosting a public seminar is never an easy task. Co-ordinating 3 seminars in two countries on the same weekend is a feat that most sensible people would not even want to attempt. I am proud to say that my friend, teacher, and mentor Guro Doug Marcaida of Rochester, New York did just that - and flawlessly - this past weekend.

The event began on Thursday afternoon with Guro Doug and Tuhon Gaje presenting a Pekiti Tirsia knife and gun seminar to SWAT groups from all over New York, including Homeland Security. Friday evening featured another well-attended civilian seminar in Rochester by Tuhon Gaje covering double knife and dumog.

On Saturday we were able to spend some quality time training with Guro Doug, literally picking up where we left off almost a year ago since our last Detroit/Rochester group training. Later in the day, it was off to Toronto where we were joined by the incomparable Guro Jun DeLeon in preparation for the final day of instruction on Sunday.

Pekiti Tirsia is experiencing a rebirth of sorts in the United States. Guro Doug is at the forefront of this movement, as it were. He has studied with the greatest of Tuhon's 1st generation students, and his high level of understanding and refinement allows him to distill the very finest wine from the grapes of Tuhon's extensive knowledge.

It was an honor and a privilege for my students and I to share some Silat Kuntau Tekpi with Guro Doug, as well as just to be a part of this outstanding event.

Maraming Salamat

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Players

Maphilindo Demo Squad 11/04/2005

From left: Bassam Hammoud, Dean Hadin, Jamal Hakim Abdullah, Guro Davidson, Jeff Danuloff
Back: Damon Mitchell Darryl Mundrick


Another Great Demo

Guro Davidson with Hamisi and the Rah African Drumming Ensemble

Our most recent demo took place at the Southfield Civic Center pavillion, and was sponsored by Aloha Tropics. This festival featured a multi-cultural lineup of Indian, Hawaiian , Filipino, and Spanish folkdancing, as well as African Drumming and Filipino martial arts.

The Detroit Maphilindos are grateful to our new friends, The Rah African Drumming Ensemble from Mt. Clemens for providing outstanding live percussion during our set. Now, most drummers in Detroit are so heavily influenced by Cuban modes that even when they try to play traditional African rythmns, it still sound like Salsa. This group was different, however. Their playing was so inspirational and "in the pocket" I literally could not stop moving! Even after our part of the demo had concluded, Hamisi and his group played on, so that I had no choice but to take up a sword and dagger and go where the Spirit led me.

Hamisi is a practitioner of Filipino martial arts himself, and we discovered that we have several friends in common in both the martial arts and percussion scene in Detroit. Small

Gentlemen, I say to you "A dupe pupo!" I hope we have the pleasure of performing together again soon.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

French Cimande Par Excellence

Guru Gorka Echarri with Cimande Masters

My good friend of many years Guru Gorka Echarri of Biarretz, France is the French Director of the Cimande system of Pencak Silat under the auspices of Persatuan Pendekar Persilatan Seni Budaya Banten in West Java.

The Cimande system is one of most prolific, yet misunderstood systems of Pencak Silat from Java. Wild misconceptions about this art abound, especially in the United States. I admire Guru Echarri for taking the initiative to go directly to the source in Indonesia for the Truth. I invite all French speakers to visit his impressive website at

Gorka is very fluent in English, and I'm sure he would be happy to answer any questions from those seeking knowledge of authentic Cimande and Terumbu as practiced in Indonesia. For the record, let me just say that there is NO "Leader" or "Guru Besar" of all Cimande styles - especially not in the United States. There are various lineages of Cimande from the late Pak Herman Suwanda and others. There is also no single "Superior" or "Legitimate" Cimande style even in Indonesia. Just like any other martial art, there are different interpretations, each with its own merit.

As they say in France, "Vive la diference!"

Monday, October 17, 2005

Filipino/Chinese/American Military History

The resident 'Pandai' (Bladesmith) of the Detroit Maphilindos - Ungyo - who has a mind for history as sharp as one of the blades he forges -was kind enough to send me the following tidbit of Military history... JD

Some background on Ward, taken from The Devil Soldier: The Story of Frederick Townsend Ward, The Most Honored and Controversial American in Chinese History , by Caleb Carr:

A soldier of fortune who became a military genius of astounding virtuosity, American adventurer Frederick Townsend Ward fought with William Walker in Mexico and in the French Army in the Crimean War. But it was in China- a country that always exercised a powerful hold over him- that Ward would conduct one of the most extraordinary military campaigns in history.

In 1859, the local Chinese authorities of Shanghai were faced with the approaching rebel army of the Taipings; cornered, they looked to the local western population for help in defending the city. At this crucial stage of the Taiping rebellion- the most bloody and destructive civil war the world has ever suffered- Frederick Townsend Ward emerged as the man able and willing to take history into his own hands.

Ward built the Ever Victorious Army- otherwise known as The Devil Soldiers - in response to the mounting rebel threat/. While leading this highly successful force of Western trained Chinese soldiers, Ward was wounded many times, imprisoned by the British on a warship (from which he made a dramatic escape) and naturalized as a Chinese citizen. He eventually married the daughter of a Chinese mandarin, won a string of critical victories against the Taipings, and was awarded a generalship and a mandarinate of his own.

By June of 1860, Ward had a polyglot force of 100 Westerners, trained in the best small arms (including Colt revolvers) and rifles available for purchase in Shanghai. Protesting that his forces were not fully trained, Ward was forced by his Shanghai backers to take his men into action alongside Imperial forces probing Taiping advances, retaking two captured towns. They were then forced by circumstances (and the urging of their Shanghai backers) to assault the Taiping occupied and fortified city of Sung-Chiang, without artillery a near impossible task. The attack failed, sending the thoroughly defeated force back to Shanghai.

The Foreign Arms Corps had no siege equipment, a deficiency Ward hoped to overcome by attacking at night and, with luck, achieving surprise. But the men of the corps- perhaps overly impressed by the part they had played in he two earlier victories- brought large amounts of alcohol with them on the Sung-Chiang raid. By the time they were making their way across the flat, grassy terrain outside the city, they were making so much noise that the Taiping sentries were alerted to their approach. The corps suffered heavy casualties and was thrown into flight. ̃The miserable survivors, Dr. Macgowan wrote, "returned as stragglers to Shanghai, utterly disgusted. They were paid off and disbanded." (Carr, p.90)

Now get this...

In the face of this disheartening spectacle, Ward dismissed almost all the men, retaining only those who had demonstrated bravery and ability and whose arrogance might be transformed, with time, into something like authority. These few would become officers. But they would need men to command, and it was now necessary to rethink old notions about who in Shanghai would make the best soldiers of fortune. Ward took to the waterfront once again to grapple with this riddle and soon made an acquaintance who facilitated a solution.

Vincente Macanaya was twenty-three in 1860 and one of Shanghais large population of Manilamen - Filipinos who were handy on board ships and more than a little troublesome on land. Renowned as ferocious fighters, especially at close quarters, the Manilamen were in a class with the famous Lascars of Malaysia and the pirates of the Bay of Bengal, groups that were also known to frequent the foreign settlements in Shanghai.

Macanaya himself- who would, after his initial acquaintance with Ward, be known throughout Shanghai simply as Vincente- had been born in Manila and was a seasoned young man of singular courage. As Charles Schmidt, who swerved with and knew him well, wrote while Vincente was still alive:

"If real bravery consists in an undauntedness of spirit, a cool presence of mind, and active physical exertion, then all these qualities are combined in Vincente to a degree that leaves no doubt on the minds of the many friends who know him, and have seen him so fearless in the midst of danger. He has all the appearance of a soldier. There is nothing rough about that appearance. [He is] gentlemanly in his ways to all, kind hearted to his friends, sober in his habits, quick in perception, frank, liberal to a fault, and with an eye always to duty, serving faithfully where he serves, beloved and respected by his comrades in arms."

Friday, October 14, 2005

Some Malaysian Silat Info

The following information stems from a correspondence between a student of mine and a highly knowledgeable and well-spoken Silat teacher in Malaysia known as Saiful Azraq. - JD

Silat Cekak Hanafi & Silat Kuntau Tekpi
Based on my encounter and studies, all of the arts have the potential
to be a softer, more circular art depending on who teachers it. For
example, I studied Silat Cekak Hanafi when I was 18 from instructors.
The way the syllabus is performed by the instructors is undoubtedly
hard, fast and brutal. However, watching my Principal, Tuan Guru Md.
Radzi Haji Hanafi execute the very same moves, is like watching a more
streamlined version of the buah. Physically the look is the same, but
has less of an edge to it.

Conversely, I studied Silat Kuntau Tekpi from cikgu Norazlan Wahid,
incidentally also cikgu Omar's immediate teacher. Cikgu Norazlan
already has a softer edge to him and those who study under him tend to
flow easier through the buah. An example, when I visited cikgu
Amirul's gelanggang in AU3 Kuala Lumpur, he was still in yellow belt
and training under cikgu Azhar. When we performed the same buah on our
partners, I completed mine before he managed to. Both of us were
surprised and cikgu Norazlan confirmed this difference due to cikgu
Amirul studying the syllabus 'by the book' while I studied it in terms
of flow. This is not a difference in quality, simply method.

Silat Kalimah, on other hand as taught by guru Eusoff Ali (aka Pak
Jauhari), as a 63 year old man is far softer and economical than Silat
Kalimah as taught by anyone else. Previously, SK was as brutal if not
more than SCH and had a harder edge. Twenty years of thought and
development (and 3 months of discussion with cikgu Omar and us) and
Pak Jo has redeveloped the Kalimah syllabus into a more economical
version, correcting and compensating for problems inherent in the
present SCH syllabus. You won't find this development in other Kalimah

Just so you don't get confused. Silat Kalimah in Malaysia is in a
fractured state. After guru Yahya Said taught Allahyarham Ustaz Hanafi
in 1965, he established Silat Kalimah sometime in the early 70s with
the assistance of cikgu Azmi Long and cikgu Radzuan Long. Due to
administration differences, guru Yahya set up Gabungan Kalimah, cikgu
Azmi Persatuan Kalimah and cikgu Radzuan Persatuan Seni Silat Kalimah
Malaysia. After guru Yahya passed away followed by cikgu Radzuan,
there was a drive to combine all current Kalimah students into cikgu
Azmi's organization but nobody could agree on it. This resulted in a
fracture that saw eminent students of guru Yahya setting up their own
organizations. Guru Zohdi Mat Yusof helmed Persatuan Seni Silat
Kalimah Yahya Said (comprising cikgu Radzuan's former Kuala Lumpur
students), Pak Muslim reregistered his state chapter of cikgu
Radzuan's organization as Persatuan Seni Silat Kalimah Amin and cikgu
Mazlan Man founded Persatuan Seni Silat Kalam Utama Malaysia (PIKUM).
There is no enmity between the organizations, but slight differences
in approach, and syllabi.

Within the Persatuan Seni Silat Kalimah Yahya Said organization (which
is not national, currently only comprises three states), there was an
initiative to create a federation between them and Silat Kalimah Amin.
Pak Guru Zohdi was appointed Guru Tinggi (I think this is the term
they used. Have to check. Sorry) while two other eminent masters, Pak
Muslim and Pak Jo were appointed Guru Utama under him.

When cikgu Omar expressed his interest to study Silat Kalimah, Pak
Zohdi recommended that Pak Jo teach him as Pak Jo had a better command
of English than he and the rest as you said, is history. Therefore,
the current syllabus being taught in the United States is Pak Jo's

In comparison Silat Cekak Hanafi has 21 buah split into two levels of
advancement, Asas (Basic) and Jatuh (Takedowns) while Silat Kuntau
Tekpi has 42 buah and Silat Kalimah, 27 buah taught in the original
format of straight to takedown forms.

Silat Cekak Hanafi under Ustaz Hanafi espouses a very practical
spirituality, preferring to inculcate their students with simpler
methods of recognizing Tauhid. They are taught to never disobey their
mother, father and teacher, never to lie and always keep promises.
They place performance, hard work and diligence first. There is only
one common du'a practiced by all SCH pesilat and is provided at the
end of the syllabus.

For Silat Kuntau Tekpi, you will have to ask cikgu Amirul. He has
better resources than me on this. Seriously.

Silat Kalimah as I understand it is not any more spiritual than SCH
but the impression is there because of cikgu Omar's studying from Pak
Jo. There is a difference between studying from a master and an
instructor. Students also receive a similar du'a at the end of the
syllabus. I have not gone far enough within Silat Kalimah to elaborate

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Yoruba Poem

Jeff with Olori Egbe Obatala

Osa-Alawore (trad. Translated from Yoruba by Jeff Davidson)

One Sage is more powerful than another
One Sage can swallow another completely
The parrot flies to the top of the Iroko tree
and its voice is like an iron gong
All of them spoke for "The-Spirit-of-Destiny-Brought-Good-Things"
The first son of the Chief, who protects himself with his great Mind
He said: "Please inform Alara that I have met with good fortune"
He said: "Please inform Ajero that I have met with good fortune"
He said: "Please inform Owurangun, the owner of the Royal Chair that I have met with good forutne"
The lost good fortune has returned!
If good fortune enters the house, let us be calm in handling it
If we are quick-tempered or impatient, good fortune will retreat to the jungle
The Joyful! The Multitudes! I shall die in the midst of a crowd of children
I heard the dropping of star apples...children, please come 'round and gather apples for me
The Sneaking Cat Society...The Society of the Powerful
The Owner of Igodo Spring water, that people wake up early to fetch

It is the Sages who render the cobra powerless; It is the Sages who render the boa powerless
It is the Sages who render the leopard powerless in the dead of night
It is the Sages, the Dangerous Ones.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

"The Pioneers"

Due to the overwhelming interest in this Malaysian system, we have already formed a separate "Beginning" and "Advanced" class for Silat Kuntau Tekpi. Pictured above is the Advanced class of 2005.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Another Great Silat Kuntau Tekpi Seminar

Sammy Performs Buah #8 on Eric

I'm pleased to report another outstanding Silat Kuntau Tekpi seminar! After a grueling hour of Senamentua, we covered the following buah:

- Kembang Layar
- Jerai Menumpang
- Lipat Sotong
- Patah Kemudi

Yet again, numerous applications from Pekiti were given for each technique. Its great that we have people of so many different body types to practice (or should I say "experiment") on. When we are locking and twisting our training partner, our main concern is for his safety. You can very well imagine the damage that could be done when the locking buahs are applied in real-time without regard for the opponent.

I encourage all of you to acquire a set of practice tekpi (also known as "sais") as I will be starting to teach some basic drills with single and double weapons in the weeks to come.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Honor of Honors - Batangas in Michigan

Ka Jay Saludo, Manong Leon Saludo, Jeff Davidson, Ka Eddie Panamaroff

I am still working on the photostory from our most recent seminar with Supreme Grand Tuhon Gaje. God Willing, this will be posted on the Maphilindo website within the next week or so. But I would like to share one part of that amazing week here on this humble blog right now.

In my years in the martial arts, I have been blessed to cross paths with some truly great teachers and practitioners. In the Silat world, Guru Hassan Ali (Brandt Smith) of KSMA; Pendekar Agus Hiriyadi of Setia Hati Terate; Pendekar Gus Fud of Perguruan Macan Putih; Guru Gorka Echarri of Cimande; Saiful Azraq of Silat Cekak Hanafi; and Ustaz Hussein Udom of Silat Mubai have each gifted me in their own way and I am honored to count them as Brothers.

In the Pekiti Tirsia world, Guro Omar Hakim; Kuya Doug Marcaida; Ricky Rillera; Robert and Steve Slomkowski - all of whom I have had the honor of training with and Guro Jun DeLeon of Kali DeLeon for even the precious little he has shared with me over the years when we have been together at seminars.

And of course our leader, Supreme Grand Tuhon Leo T. Gaje Jr. whose mantle of Pekiti Tirsia we carry with pride and honor - is the one responsible for putting my feet firmly on the Path!

Perhaps our closest friends in the martial arts community - and life - are the Pekiti Tirsia clan from Saskatchewan, Canada headed by the furiously talented Ka Jay Saludo. Ka Jay and his students are our Blood Brothers in Pekiti, and together with Kuya Doug Marcaida make up the "Tri-V of Power" (Detroit, Rochester, NY & Saskatchewan) dedicated to the refinement and progression of Pekiti Tirsia and Filipino Culture.

The quiet patriarch of the Sask' Pitbulls is Manong Leon Saludo, of Lipa City, Batangas. In October of 2003, in Rochester, New York Manong Leon gave me a brief and utterly terrifyng demonstration of the knife-fighting style developed in his province of Batangas. This system has been born, bred, and honed through countless knife fighting encounters in the home town of the infamous Balisong. I will not divulge the "proper name" of this style right now for my own reasons, but it is sometimes known colloquially as VIENTENUEVE. After this personal demonstration in New York, my main priority with regards to this system was to learn how to not get killed by it. As I have said in previous posts, it is probably the most dangerous knife system I have seen. I don't care who you are and what your training may be...unless you are Tuhon Gaje...if you are ever misfortunate enough to face a knife-wielding Batangueno, you are going to be rendered a horrible bloody mess in a very short period of time, and you are going to the Other World in shreds. Trust me.

There are less than a handful of Masters of this style alive currently - Manong Leon is one of them. It is very rarely taught today in Batangas, and it has NEVER been taught in the United States...

Until now.

On Thursday, August 26th, 2005 I had the honor of being formally accepted into the venerable lineage of the Vientenueve Style by Manong Leon himself at our training hall here in Detroit. I was awarded the title of "Dalubhasa" and am the third person outside of Batangas to have been taught by Manong Leon. The other two capable practitioners, much senior to myself, are Jay Slaudo, and Eddie Panamaroff. They along with Master Leon Saludo taught a select group of my students prior to Tuhon's seminar here last month. Although our instruction actually began in April of this year, it was during this most recent training experience that the true foundation of the Vientenueve style was passed to us.

I consider this one of the highest Honors I have ever received in over 20 years of martial arts.

Just as the Batangueno fighter carries two knives, so it is with us. We carry the Knife of Pekiti Tirsia firmly in one hand; and now hold the Knife of Batangas in the other hand. Although these two systems are different in theory and application, the common bond between them is our Love and Respect for the people and for the culture that brought them both into being - in the magnificent Land of the Philippines.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Next Silat Kuntau Tekpi Class

The second Silat Kuntau Tekpi class is tentatively scheduled for September 11th, 2005. We have many new members since the last class in July, and there were several people who were not able to attend that first session. Don't worry. You are welcome to join us in September, and will have the opportunity to make up the material you missed at a later date.

God Willing, I would like to finish up to the tenth buah next month. Also, I will be conducting a Silat Kuntau Tekpi seminar in Canada in October, covering Senamentua and the first 6 buah. All of my students who have membership in the Tekpi Organization are welcome to attend free of charge. See me in class for details.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

What a Weekend!

I speak for all of us when I say that the past 5 days was the most intense training we have experienced to date in Pekiti Tirsia. Once again , the upper level of Gold's Gym was filled to capacity as Grand Tuhon Gaje delivered a furious, exhausting, and absolutely exhilarating public seminar that tested the mettle of all present. The torturous physical conditioning coupled with the down-and-dirty combative tactics made a few of us feel like we were back in the Philippines.

Then, after the public seminar, it was off to the Law Enforcement seminar hosted by the City of Dearborn. Patrol officers, SWAT officers, Tactical Paramedics, and Police Defensive Tactics instructors from across Southeast Lower Michigan turned out in force (excuse the pun) to meet and train with the incomparable star of Surviving Edged Weapons. Also in attendence were members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Among all of the remarkable things I could (and will shortly) say about this event, one great surprise was that we had almost as many attendees from out of the country as we had from our local club.

I promise that as soon as I have all of the pictures (there were several officers in attendance who work undercover, and we need to make sure that they don't show up in the photos) I will put a full report on the website.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Mailbag Pt. 2

Tuhon Gaje Torturing Me With Dumog (Indiana, 2003)

Here is the next batch of questions I keep getting via email:

What if any Pekiti Tirsia Organization(s) do you belong to?

I know there’s a few - and a few variations on curriculum. I’ll answer by saying that my students and I train directly with Grand Tuhon Gaje. We practice what he has taught us, the way he has taught us. We continue to refine our skills with other seniors in the Art from various parts of the United States who also are directly connected to Tuhon.

Can you explain more about the Batangas style of knife fighting? How does it compare to Pekiti knife fighting?

I do not have permission to say anything more than I already have regarding the Bantangas style. As for comparisons, how does a hand-forged ginunting compare to a sharpened kamagong stick? Both are weapons; both are extremely dangerous; however each is created in a different way. More concretely, Batangas is a “style” while Pekiti is a “system.” A Batangueno who has grown up in the culture learns knife fighting by living and applying it. Pekiti is a methodology by which someone who did not grow up with it can be made into a competent blade fighter.

What blade styles do you prefer in your art(s)?

For Pekiti, the ginunting is king. As far as a back-up knife, or daga, we use a custom made scaled down version of the ginunting. For Silat Kuntau Tekpi, we of course use the tekpi (aka cabang; trisula) and my personal favorite is the badik. The badik is a rather wicked knife...

Is there any grappling in your curriculum?

We have two grappling Arts: Dumog and Cambod. Dumog is an indigenous Filipino wrestling style popular in the mountainous region of Panay. People always ask two questions about dumog:

1) Is it practical against larger opponents?

Well, the farmers in Panay wrestle Carabao. Chances are you won’t face an opponent bigger than that...

2) Is it practical against multiple opponents?

I made the mistake of allowing one of my senior instructors, Sam Hammoud, to coax me into asking that question during one of Tuhon’s seminars last year. Tuhon had one of the students in a typical dumog control - meaning he had both of the guy’s legs painfully locked and was simultaneously applying a choke - when I raised the issue of multiple attackers. Tuhon invited me to attack, and very nearly broke my right leg in two - but for his excellent control. If he had followed through on that kick, I would have sustained a broken leg for sure, and probably a broken neck from the whiplash. In the video, I am knocked clear out of camera range. And he never released the first student from the choke or leg locks in the process.

Cambod is slightly different than dumog, although the result ( ie. a crippled opponent) is essentially the same. If you look at a standard dumog combination from entry-to-lock-to-takedown-to-control, and then repeat the sequence moving in almost exactly the opposite direction on the opponents limbs, that’s Cambod. To my knowledge we are the only group in the United States that has learned Cambod from Tuhon Gaje.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Travels in West Africa

Jeff and Chief Adesanya

Time and political climate permitting, I try to get back to West Africa - specifically southwest Nigeria - at least once a year to see my Teacher, Araba Adesanya Awoyade in the village of Ode Remo, Ogun State. I am pictured here with him in January of 2004.

Araba Adesanya is an Ijebu Yoruba. The Yoruba are a very diverse people. About 1/3 of the Yourba are Muslim; 1/3 are Christian; and 1/3 follow the indigenous spiritual tradition which is known by several names throughout what is now modern-day Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, and Togo.

The Ijebu in particular are considered to be the holders of the remaining vestiges of Yoruba martial arts. Ijebu land was originally established as a sort of penal colony, so it was founded and setteled by some pretty rough characters. In the war between the historical Kingdoms of Oyo and Ile Ife, the Ijebus supplied arms to both sides. The tradition of forging weapons is carried on to this day in Ode Remo. I have spent hours in the blacksmith's shop watching him forge knives (obe), swords (ada) and even shotguns - including the shot. The typical style of knife somewhat resembles the Indonesian badik only with a pronounced curve on the cutting edge.

Empty-handed martial arts in this part of Africa include native wrestling, called Gidigbo; and a boxing style called Jakadi. The Hausa to the north also practice martial arts called Dembe, Kukawa (a kicking system), Ishakafa, and there is even an "internal" system called Bori. I have also heard of a knife-fighting art that is practiced by Hausa butchers (fitting, I suppose.)

I am in the process of writing some rather detailed expositions on these systems, based on my field notes and converstaions with knowledgeable native African martial arts teachers in the United States. Stay tuned.

By the way, as recently as 2000, the martial arts practitioners in Ode Remo have begun to incorporate yet another Art into their fold, albeit a transplanted one...Pekiti Tirsia Kali!

Group Photo from Legends of Kali Seminar

Thanks to Guro Apolo Ladra for sending us this group shot from the Legends of Kali seminar in Maryland. There might be a few people missing from this photo, but it was a great turnout!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Silat Kuntau Tekpi Classes Starting

We have officially begun the registration for the Silat Kuntau Tekpi classes! The first batch of membership kits are already spoken for, and more are on the way. Please everyone, I would like to start as many of you together as possible - so get on board now. The first "seminar" will be in mid-July, and we have several out-of-state guests who will be joining us on this journey.

Many of you have asked me how training in the Tekpi system will compliment your Pekiti Tirsia practice. Let me say that the two are absolutely blendable. First of all, Cigku Omar is one of the finest Pekiti Tirsia teachers/practitioners in the world. In fact, he is the mentor of MY mentor, Guro Doug Marcaida, whom you all know and respect. The majority of the people who are already studying Tekpi in the United States also have extensive backgrounds in Pekiti, so you're all in good company.

One great example of how Silat Kuntau Tekpi can be used with Pekiti is entries off the knife-tapping drill. Typically when your partner feeds, you guide out the knife, shock him with the '3d' hand and then either execute a quick throw or range out. Now, you have at the very LEAST 42 options from the Tekpi buahs - locks, throws, takedowns and neckbreaks -to apply as finishers. If you want to make the game more intersting and have the feeder try to counter the finsiher, you can even flow along with that! Tekpi has its own version of what we call "lock-flow" only its the entire body thats locked, not just the wrist or arm.

Many of you, such as Darryl and Arun, have already been on the receiving end of these locks and you know first hand how dangerous they are. This is why Cigku Omar has included an insurance policy with each membership.

As I have already said in class, Tekpi and Pekiti will be taught separately. We have a full Kali training schedule during the week, and so we have decided to take several days a month to devote exclusively to Tekpi so as not to break the flow - if you will - of the Kali class. But keep in mind that the two Arts while learned separately may be practiced together. Take it from me, after you learn these techniques, your Pekiti will never be the same (and I mean that in a good way!)

Speaking of practicing, I am very pleased that many of you are forming your own study groups outside of class to train. Remember, your time in class with me is meant for learning new material, and for the correction of any mistakes. Practice time is what you put in at home! In other words, if you learn something new on Monday, go home and practice it as much as possible before the next class so that when I see you again, we can take it to the next level instead of having to relearn it.

One last point...we have a very promising crop of beginning students. You guys are very talented, and are learning quickly, but keep in mind that under no circumstances are you permitted to TEACH! You want to show your girlfriend some self-defense techniques? Fine. You want to show your brother how to swing the stick at you so that you can drill your footwork? Ok. But don't ever take it upon yourselves to instruct another beginner or even make corrections during training. We have several instructors at every class. You know who they are by now. They have earned permission to teach for a reason! If someone has a question about a technique, ask a teacher! If the teacher doesn't know, he'll ask me; if I don't know, I'll ask Tuhon Gaje; if he doesn't know, chances are nobody does...

That's what we call the Chain of Command, folks.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Silat Kingpins Interview

I've had several requests for copies of this interview conducted by Ustaz Hussein in the currently under-construction section of his website. So, with his kind permission I reproduce it here.

RCAG Interview with Guro Jeff Davidson of Pekiti Tirsia

RCAG: Salam Aleykum Guro

Guro Jeff: Aleykum Salam

RCAG: Guro, thank you for taking the time to have this interview with us.

RCAG: Guro Jeff, please tell us what exactly led you to the path of the
Silat Arts?

Guro Jeff: Initially, I was attracted to the "exotic-ness" of it all. I actually
began my journey into the Southeast Asian fighting disciplines with
Pangasinese Escrima after almost 10 years of practicing Chinese, Japanese
and Korean martial arts. I was searching for the roots of the empty-handed
system that would compliment my weapons training. Silat fascinated me -
especially the "internal aspect." I remember thinking: "This is so beyond
me, I will probably never get good at this. If I can only LEARN it, that
would be enough."

RCAG: What reason or reasons made you decide to change paths and join the
Pekiti Tirsia organization?

I have not changed paths at all! I am still powerfully focused on developing
myself to the best of my ability, and providing the highest standard of
training for those who study with me. This has always been my motivation
since the earliest days of my involvement in the martial arts. I believe
that one's first responsibility is to himself - in terms of growth. When one
reaches a certain level of comfort in his practice, it usually means he is
no longer being challenged. Progress in the martial arts is based onchallenge. A Master may not feel the need to accept challenges from other
fighters, but you cannot avoid your own need to grow, and leave your comfort
zone. This does not mean you need to learn a new batch of techniques! It
means you must seek out that which will push you to the next level. In my
case, Supreme Grand Tuhon Gaje "pushed" me farther during a single sparring
session than I had been in approximately 10 years!

RCAG: What are some combative principles of Pekiti Tirsia?

Pekiti Tirsia as we know it, is developed and refined by Supreme Grand Tuhon
Leo T. Gaje, who is connected to the realities of combat in a way most
people who do not live in a war zone ever will be. He has not only survived
the violent circumstances of his past, but he has elevated his skill to an
almost unbelievable level, which is acknowledged by his peers, supporters,
and even detractors. And he is still in the war zone to this day. I would
say that the principles of Pekiti Tirsia are a virtual 'Bible' of combat
against multiple, armed opponents - based on real-life encounters. The
techniques of Pekiti Tirsia (especially the way Tuhon is teaching them now)
represent the most effective and efficient means of applying those
principles. In almost 20 years of teaching martial arts, I have never seen
a system produce deadlier fighters in as short a period of time as Pekiti

RCAG: What if anything is your speciality in the system i.e. knife, sword

I think it is important NOT to specialize in a particular weapon or
technique, as this can make you over-developed in some aspects of the Art
and under-developed in others. When I studied music in high school, I used
to sneak into clubs (being under aged) to take in the local music scene. I
remember being quite taken with a particular guitarist, who played with an
amazing virtuosity in several musical genres - jazz, rock, country, blues,
etc. I approached him after a performance and asked him: "Are you a jazz
player? Or a rock player? Or a blues player?" He chuckled and said "Nah,
kid...I'm just a player." In my opinion, just because you have a certain
proclivity towards say, the blade - you run the risk of being skillful with
that weapon, without really understanding the principles of combat in the
larger sense. That being said, my favorite weapon is the knife; my first
choice in an actual fight would be the stick; against multiple opponents I
would choose the staff; and I have the most "fun" with dumog and pangamut.

RCAG: Could you please tell us some more about Grandtuhon Leo Gaje. What
type of individual is he?
There is a veritable mythology that has developed in this country
surrounding Grand Tuhon Gaje. He is quite possibly the deadliest man on
Earth, in my opinion. In a word, inscrutable. There is no one I have seen
who can match him in terms of strength, tenacity, toughness - and sheer
relentlessness in combat. He really is a human pitbull! What's more, he has
the most advanced training methods to develop realistic fighting skills that
I have experienced. He is a genius - and not just in the realm of martial
arts. On the other hand, he is extremely kind, compassionate, humorous, and
a true Gentleman of the old school. This is the side of him that is often
overshadowed by his martial prowess in the eyes of the public - but the side
that is most appreciated by my own students. I like to think of him as
something of a cross between the battle-hardened veteran elite soldier, and
the kind, wise Grandfather. Which is what a Master should be!

RCAG: How do you think of Pekiti Tirsia in comparison to the Cimande arts
you practiced before?

Insofar as there are hundreds of "dialects" of Cimande, I am speaking here
only of the Cimande which I have had direct personal experience. And, since
I was given a "Master" ranking in that system, I believe I am well qualified
to offer an informed opinion! The Cimande I studied previously was very
'feminine', highly stylized, and in the extreme - somewhat contrived. Over
the years, whenever a law-enforcement or military man would come to study
with me, I found that I would have to teach a heavily modified form of
Cimande to suit their particular needs. Well, when you take out the frills,
you're left with a stripped-down version of Kali. So I feel, that Pekiti
Tirsia is the ULTIMATE in terms of combat practicality bar-none. Let me
give you an analogy: one of my Cimande teachers used to say that [the Art]
should resemble a keris. Well, a Javanese keris is aesthetically beautiful,
possessed of a certain mystical quality, and is essentially an object d'art
which would definitely NOT be your first choice on the battlefield. On the
other hand, a Filipino keris is far less ornate, but you can clear brush
with it; slaughter an ox, cut the main support beam for your house (or
kampong) and STILL cleave your opponents to pieces with it. In fairness, I
will say that Bapak Willem DeThouars of Colorado has the most combative
expression of Cimande that I have seen in this country. His Cimande is very
direct and explosive. When I met him in 1998, I commented on his lack of
flowery movement, to which he dryly replied "If I want to dance, I'll put on
my Benny Goodman records." God Bless him. At the time, he gave me some
very sound and well-intended guidance that I was not ready to accept. He
turned out to be right about everything he said. I still teach those
aspects of Silat which are consistent with my current goals in training,
which are essentially the metaphysical and healing aspects.

RCAG: Do you include firearms as part of your training curriculum? why orwhy not?

Yes! Although we do not yet have the facility or required licenses to
teach firearms on a group level, I strongly encourage firearms training,
because it is the basis of warfare in our modern times. To me, someone who
has developed tactical skill with the pistol and shotgun has more of a right
to call himself a martial artist than one who puts on a Gi twice a week
and does kata with antique farm implements.

RCAG: Do you think you being a Muslim changes your understanding of the
spiritual and cultural practices of Silat?

In retrospect, what has always impressed me most about the Indonesian Silat
masters that I have met is their faith in God, and how their Silat practice
is an expression of that faith. I have yet to meet an American who is on
that level. Most Americans are more interested in using the spiritual
aspects of Silat as a tool to obtain wealth, power, and control over others
through "occult" means, than they are in finding God through their
discipline. Sheikhs and pious teachers have strongly warned us for hundreds
of years against this type of mentality. Americans will have to learn this
FIRST before they can ever hope to understand real Silat. Martial arts
should be a path to finding your Higher Self, and to bind that Self to the
Lord of All Worlds - not to bind you to your own nafs. I feel that the idea
of connection and striving for the Divine has been lost in the rank-and-file
Far Eastern martial arts for a long time, and it is certainly foreign to the
modern American mindset. As a healer, I have to say to God: "I have no
power except that which You give me. Only You can heal this person. I am
only Your channel, if You will it." Well, all martial arts is about
healing! When someone comes to study with you, even though they THINK they
want to learn to fight, they are coming to you for HEALING. It could be
from the pain of low self-esteem; the pain of abuse; feelings of
helplessness; they may be filled with unchanneled anger and aggression; etc.
Modern science calls those 'behavioral' or 'mental' issues. But that type
of pain is rooted in the Soul - which is seeking to become whole. Only a
Sheikh can heal the Soul. And God is the source of all healing.

RCAG: Thank You so much for your time Guro Jeff!

Guro Jeff: Welcome. Salam Alaykum

RCAG: Wasalam Guro

Friday, June 17, 2005

Update: Interview with Ka Uli

There's a great interview with Ka Uli by a European martial arts magazine on

Here's the link:

  • Thursday, June 09, 2005

    A Feather in Our Cap

    Jeff with Ka Uli Weidle and Jared Wihongi
    Jared is a member and tactical combat instructor for Salt Lake City, Utah SWAT

    Grand Tuhon Gaje has just returned from a furious schedule of seminars and workshops in Europe conducted over the past month. The coordinator/director of Pekiti Tirsia in Europe is Maginoo Mandala Uli Weidle of Germany - whom I had the pleasure of training with during the Balikatan of 2005 in the Philippines.

    In addition to running perhaps the largest Pekiti Tirsia school in the world, Ka Uli promotes the Art all over Europe. Currently there are Pekiti Tirsia schools in Germany, Spain, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Austria and Finland - and soon Romania. Ka Uli is also a tactical instructor for the elite German and Austrian SWAT/Counter-Terrorism forces.

    There can be no better endorsement of the effectiveness of Pekiti Tirsia and Grand Tuhon Gaje that so many world governments (including the United States) are clamoring to include this great system as part of their Homeland Defense. They recognize that Pekiti is as pragmatic on the “State” level as it is on the personal level when it comes to the defense of life and liberty.

    While in the Philippines, I asked Sgt. Balthazar and several members of the 63d Battalion Force Recon Marines just how many of their encounters with enemy forces in the south necessitated the use of bladed weapons. The 63d Battalion sees more action in the southern Philippines than perhaps any other unit. They are lean, intense, and to a man have a 1000 yard stare that goes through you like an icy wind. Sgt. Balthazar enthusiastically replied to my question: “We have many, many fights against them with our bolos...and we always win because of the training Tuhon Gaje has given us!” Sgt. Balthazar is pound-for-pound one of the toughest human beings on two legs. He took a liking to my student Dean Hadin, and even presented him with a barong that had been “recovered” while on operations in Jolo.

    Getting back to Maginoo Mandala Uli Weidle, he has a most unassuming demeanor for someone of his considerable skill level. I commented on that very fact to him, and he said reflectively: “In my experience with martial arts people, the more you claim to be, the less you really are.” How very true indeed.

    Uli's website is

    Tuesday, June 07, 2005

    Biblical Linguistics

    Anyone attempting to fathom the mysteries of a particular culture had best start with a clear grasp of the linguistics. Here is but a scratch of the surface - sent to me by a friend. Next time the Jehovah's Witnesses come to your door...hit 'em with this.

    The Mystery Of The Bio-Genetic Coding Re-Genesis Of The Two Abrahamic Seed Strains.

    The Right Vocalization Of The Hebrew Bible: In Hebrew, as in Arabic, there are no real vowels in the alphabet, and vocalization can only be indicated by vowel signs. With different vocalizations, words spelled in the same way can yield widely different meanings. One well-known example comes from the story of the "ravens"
    that brought ". . . bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and fleshin the evening" to the prophet Elijah while he was hiding himself near the brook of Cherith (1kings 17:6). In vocalizing the original Hebrew of this story, the Masoretes rendered the word 'rbym as 'orbim, which produced the meaning "ravens". Had they rendered it as 'arbim, as some Biblical scholars have suggested, it would have meant 'Arabs', which makes better sense as far as the story goes.

    When working with the scripture a person should derive their insights using a variety of devices, such as puns, anagrams, gematria (letter manipulations) and cross references to the same word in different contexts and other languages in order to
    decode the biblical mysteries. Another example of the mishaps that can result in vowel vocalization, and therefore translation, is the word "Kabbalah". There are many alternative spellings of the word, the two most common being Kabbalah and Qabalah. Cabala,Qaballah, Qabala, Kaballah (and so on) are also seen. The reason for this is that some letters in the Aramaic and Hebrew alphabet have more than one corresponding representation in the English alphabet, thus rendering the same Hebrew letter as either K or Q (or sometimes even C).
    Also the words:

    Qumran, Umran, Amran, 'Imran.

    The etymology of the names can also reveal the many teachings hidden in the stories of the scriptures. In Genesis 17:5, 'Abraham' ('brhm, parsed 'b rhm) is taken to mean 'father of multitude'. In Genesis, Sarai (sry), whose name means simply 'lady'.
    In idiomatic Arabic 'lady' is the standard way to refer to a 'grandmother', or 'ancestress'. Thus, so to speak, Abram, personifying the 'ancestor', was married to Sarai, personifying the 'ancestress'.

    It should be noted that in Genesis 17 when the name of Abram was changed into ''Abraham'' the change in name by adding h to the name ''The brith''.
    The name change carries many keys to the mystery of Abraham. The mystery of adding the 'h' is the start of the bio-genetic coding re-genesis of ''two'' different strains in correspondences with the 12 matrix Archetypal forms controled

    ''The 12 matrixes of the Zodiac.''

    Jacob name was also changed from Jacob to Israel, the name 'Is-ra-el' carries a spiritual precept concerning the true nature of the genatic coding program of the Abrahmic seed: Is - (The Female Earth Archetype ''Isis'')
    Ra- (The Solar Archetypal Correspondences)
    El - (The Infinite Spirit ''Elohims'')

    The name Ismael Abraham from Hagar of Egyptian carries the genatic coding program of the Abrahmic seed:
    Is - (The Female Earth Archetype ''Isis'')
    Ma- (the Lunar Archetypal Correspondances)
    El - (the Infinite Spirit ''Elohims'')

    Another point of significance is that
    the two
    only one letter change
    ''RA'' & ''MA''
    which embodies the change of:
    FIRE & AIR
    Sun & Moon

    It should be noted that the two names, Israel & Ismael are poles in the mystery of the bio-genetic coding of the re-genesis of the two strains of one seed in correspondence with the same 12 matrix Archetypal forms which fall under
    the control of the 12 matrixes of the Zodiac. Each of the 12 matrixes is also interrelated with the original three archetypes of Earth or Nature as well as the
    Eight Primordial Universal Archetypes

    According to Cornine Heline's 'New Age Bible Interpretation, New Testament, Volume V. The twelve tribes of Israel in correlation with the Zodiac:

    Aries: Tribe of Dan
    Taurus: Tribe of Benjamin
    Gemini: Tribe of Manasseh
    Cancer: Tribe of Ephraim
    Leo: Tribe of Judah
    Virgo: Tribe of Reuben
    Libra: Tribe of NaphtaliScorpio: Tribe of Asher
    Sagittarius: Tribe of Gad
    Capricorn: Tribe of Zebulun
    Aquarius: Tribe of Issachar
    Pisces: Tribe of Simeon

    Monday, May 30, 2005


    I get a lot of emails every week from different parts of the country. I try my best to answer questions with a line or two of response - but time is at a premium these days, so I thought I would post answers to the most frequently asked questions here. The questions are in itallics, my responses are in standard face type.

    What is ‘Maphilindo?’ Is it different from Pekiti? Is it the same as Dan Inosanto’s blend of Silat?

    We are a Pekiti Tirsia group first and foremost. Tuhon Gaje gave us the appellation “Maphilindo Pitbulls” as he has charged us with the responsibility of researching the Malaysian and Indonesian currents that flow with the Filipino fighting systems. It is not the Inosanto blend of Silat. The term ‘Maphilindo’ was coined in the ‘60's as the name of a pact (like NATO) of Southeast Asian nations.

    Since you study directly with Tuhon Gaje, why do you seek out other teachers of Pekiti Tirsia to train with?

    I am convinced that no one person has ever/can ever learn everything Tuhon Gaje has to teach. In my experience, Tuhon gives different “gifts” to different students, each according to his own ability. Training with other Pekiti Elders such as Doug Marcaida, Ricky Rillera, Robert Slomkowski, and Omar Hakim has helped me to understand and refine what Tuhon has given to me.

    Are there any other systems of FMA that you recommend as a compliment to Pekiti Tirsia?

    I am less concerned with systems and more concerned with teachers. In my opinion, one of the most remarkable FMA teachers I have had the pleasure of meeting is Guro Jun DeLeon of Toronto, Canada - who happens to be a close compadre of Tuhon Gaje. Guro Jun is simply the best FMA teacher I have seen in this part of the world . Even more impressive, every student of his that I have met is a top-notch technician.

    What specific African martial arts have you studied? Can you tell me more about them? Where is this village of Ode Remo where you went to learn African martial arts?

    I have studied Gidigbo and Jakadi. I am planning an in-depth article on West African martial arts in the near future...time permitting. The town of Ode Remo is in Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria near Sagamu. If you can’t find it on the map, look for ‘Ijebu Remo.’

    I understand you work with oncology patients and maintain a natural healing practice. Can you recommend a cure/therapy for X?

    No. I am not a licensed physician and therefore I do not diagnose, treat or prescribe medicines for any illness. Rather, I can suggest certain things that are historically documented (going back as far as Hakim Ibn Sina’s Cannon of Medicine) to assist in balancing the body’s natural energies toward restoring a state of balance. I also have a network of acupuncturists, chiropractors, and practitioners of complimentary healing modalities that I can make referrals to.

    There are no Pekiti Tirsia teachers in my should I best study this system?

    You should find the nearest Pekiti group to you, and make arrangements to train at least once a month. There are few Pekiti teachers that I know who would not go out of their way to accommodate you. The more serious you demonstrate yourself to be, the more doors may open. Tim Waid at can help you locate someone close to you. Also, try to attend at least 2 Tuhon Gaje seminars per year.

    Will you refer me to a martial arts/spiritual teacher in my area?

    I will gladly make recommendations to instructors that have a public teaching practice. Please understand that I will not refer someone who I do not vouch for personally to a private teacher.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2005

    Memories from the Tekpi Camp

    Robert and Ricky

    My main training partner during the Silat Kuntau Tekpi (TM) camp was none other than the legendary Pekiti Tirsia fighting machine Ricky "The Flying Punyo" Rillera from San Antonio, Texas. There was nothing better after an exhausting day of Tekpi training than to drill Pekiti in the hotel parking lot with Ricky and Robert Slomkowski - another "old school" Pekiti veteran.

    Both Robert and Ricky are gifted with an uncanny sense of broken rythmn, and are in-humanly explosive with strikes and footwork. Robert has some of the best empty-hand skills I've experienced from any fighter - Pekiti or otherwise. One session began with the unlikely premise that Greco-Roman wrestling tactics can be applied to Silat (I admit I didn't give him the benefit of the doubt on that one) and progressed to several spine-jarring, whiplashing hands-on examples that more than made a believer out of me.

    Ricky is also a student of the natural healing arts, and has an uncommonly broad understanding of internal energy. He has made some great innovations to traditional herbal formulas based on his experience with Holistic medicines.

    I'll see you Bros again soon!


    Friday, May 13, 2005

    My Brother from Solo, Central Java

    Jeff and Bapak Reno Notohardjo, Detroit 2004

    I have two homes. My physical body dwells and toils in a quiet suburban city about 20 minutes north of Detroit, Michigan. My "other" self - or soul if you will - has continued to seek refuge in its true abode in Solo City ever since "we" returned home there several years ago.

    In August of 2004 we were honored by a visit from a man I consider to be my closest friend, and a true Brother, Bapak Reno Notohardjo. 'Pa Reno is currently a resident of the U.S. eastern seaboard, however he was born and raised in the Heartland of Kejawan culture - Solo City in Central Java.

    Reno is a true son of his culture. I am convinced that there is no greater living example of the authentic Javanese "inner life" on American soil than this exceedingly humble individual. During his visit, 'Pa Reno graciously favored us with several lectures, expounding eloquently and concisely on some very esoteric and subtle material culled from sources such as the Quran, the Ramayana, and lore regarding the mysterious "Walisongo" - or 9 mystic saints creditied with bringing Islam/Sufism to the Inodnesian Archipelago - all in realtion to the traditional Central Javanese spiritual worldview.

    I will always remember one evening's selametan in particular. My students and I were assembled in my living room after enjoying some truly delectable middle-eastern fare prepared by one of the finest Lebanese chefs in Dearborn at the behest of a local, very spiritually-inclined businessman who had come to us upon hearing that an Indonesain mystic had arrived for a visit.

    Following the meal, we sat literally packed (yet comfortable) on carpets as tea was served and water-pipes of strong Syrian tobacco were lit. Another student - a musician - managed to locate my Mississippi Dobro and tune it like an oud. As he played over the din in the room, it felt rather like a scene from the Arabian Nights.

    In any truly spiritual practice, there is a feeling that actual physical time is stopped. We all sat enraptured as 'Pa Reno began his dialogue with a particularly Indonesian explanation of a portion of the Indian epic Mahabarata as related to the practice of Southeast Asian martial arts.

    Long into the night, after a typical Michigan summer "brown-out" necessitated the kindling of an oil lamp, I closed my eyes as 'Pa Reno broke into the melodious dialect of his magnificent Land, and for all too short a time...I was indeed back "home."

    The talks were duly transcribed from our recordings - sufficient to capture the message if not the ambiance of those profound evenings. In time, and with the proper editing, I hope to publish them. God Willing.

    We were also honored to share some training in Pekiti Tirsia with our guest (as evidenced in the photo above.) 'Pa Reno's family in Indonesia (specifically his brother Martin) is plugged into an extensive network of top Silat Masters from Java to Borneo - and was kind enough to make some very important contacts for me as he did for a French colleague of mine some years ago. My teacher, Grand Tuhon Leo T. Gaje Jr. has charged me with the task of further researching the currents from Indonesia and Malaysia which have contibuted to the beauty and, to use his expression "grandure" that is the Southeast Asian martial arts. I got some very important and tantilizing clues from Cigku Omar Hakim recently, and am currently planning a massive field research project in Southeast Asia for the summer. God Willing.

    So, Brother Reno...thank you for years of fellowship and encouragement - including our talk this very evening. Our friendship will continue to bridge time, cities, states, and perhaps continents. God Willing.


    A Little More About Silat Kuntau Tekpi

    I have had an enormous response from my students and the public regarding lessons in Silat Kuntau Tekpi (TM). I am just as excited to begin teaching it, and believe me, I am working as fast as I can to get everything in place for classes. I know that Cigku Omar is putting the finishing touches on the official website for the system, which exists in a temporary form at

    Cigku Omar Hakim also has a blog where he relates some of his experiences in Malaysia. This can be found at

    Here is a chokingly brief summary of the Art:

    About Kuntau Silat Tekpi:

    Seni Silat Kuntau Tekpi was founded by Panglima Taib (General Taib Bin Wan Hussein). He is the great-grandfather of the current head of the system, Cikgu Sani. The exact date of origin is unsure, but it appears to be around 1890.

    The Tekpi itself, otherwise known as the sai, are central to the system, along with the keris (the wavy kris-like dagger). The logo of the system reveals much about its character:

    Colors – The logo is made up of three colors: white, red, black. The White stands for purity and Islamic values. The Red stands for bravery & brotherhood. The Black stands for secrecy, for this has historically been a secret art.

    Weapons - There are four weapons represented in the logo that are the weapons of Silat Kuntau Tekpi. The weapons are:

    Rantai (Chain) - Two chains are shown with 13 links each. Each link symbolizes one of the 13 Federal States that make up the country of Malaysia.

    Cindai (Cloth) - The word TEKPI is written on a long thin cloth sash called a cindai. The cindai is used in Malaysia as a belt or sash worn with traditional clothing.

    Tekpi - The tekpi (a.k.a. sai) is the primary weapon of Kuntau Tekpi, giving the art its name. This is because the tekpi is not a Malay weapon - it is of Chinese origin, so it is considered unusual for a Malaysian form of Silat to use the tekpi.

    Keris (Kris) - This is a 7 lok (wave) keris which is what is worn and used by the Malay Panglima (Generals). Seven waves is the most that a keris can have for someone who is not of royal blood. That's why Seni Silat Lok Sembilan (9) has a keris with 9 waves - it is a Royal form of Silat for Princes. The Keris of a Sultan can have up to 13 or 15 lok.

    Tekpi is a compact, well-organized fighting system - it has five levels including the central 42 buah, or traditional forms, that define its movements.

    Thursday, May 05, 2005


    On May 1, 2005 I completed the first "Instructor Candidate" certification course in the Malaysian martial art of Silat Kuntau Tekpi (TM) under the direction of Cigku Omar Hakim in Austin Texas. Stay tuned for more info on classes in the Detroit area in this unique Silat method.

    Sunday, March 20, 2005

    Interesting Article

    Islam and African Traditional Religions
    by Josef Stamer

    Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa has known a thousand years of cohabitation with traditional religion and adaptation to it, even to the extent of intermixture. In many areas it has little-by-little substituted itself for it, without too many clashes or ruptures. Today this experience is rejected by a significant number of African Muslims, who instead turn consciously to the Arab model of living Islam, as they imagine it to have been instituted by the Prophet Muhamed and lived by the founding community in Medina. In Africa, perhaps more than elsewhere, the islamising tendency in whatever form it presents itself, is a challenge to an entire way of being, behaving and living in community - a challenge to the very roots of the African way. Can there still he a valid African way of being Muslim or not?
    The mass adoption of Islam by the Africans is a relatively recent fact. It was preceded in most cases by a long period of co-existence during which Islam remained a minority religion. It was not the superiority of the religious message of the Koran that finally tipped the balance in Islam's favour but rather purely sociological factors which, as in the case of colonialism and the arrival of modern technology, were completely external and foreign to both spiritual universes.

    Traditional African religion, aside from the disconcerting diversity of its actual forms of expression, is in reality much more than (those) in the west mean by the term «religion». It is a global framework of life, encompassing every human situation and governing the whole of society. It is closely linked to the ancestral soil and places each African both in the succession of the generations (the ancestors), in his relationship with his fellow creatures and in his productive activities. Everything is religious!

    The direct relation with God is rarely explicit but the belief in one God, Who is Creator and Good, underlies everything else. God does not intervene in the day-to-day affairs of life. These are governed by other invisible forces, good or evil, from whom it is possible to win favours through the ritualised experience of the ancestors. Strict observation of the rites and taboos and total solidarity within the group are the best guarantee of group survival and the transmission of life to numerous descendants. Seen from the outside, constraint and fear seem to be the dominant notes of traditional African religion, but this would be to forget that it offers an overall framework of security in an often very hostile environment, where only the survival of the group ultimately counts.

    In many regions of Africa Islam has gradually substituted itself for the traditional religion, sometimes under the influence of external factors and in the overwhelming majority of cases without any violence. One could cite a whole series of factors that show a degree of cultural and sociological proximity between these two religious worlds. But at the same time there are other respects, equally fundamental, in which the two religions seem irreconcilable. Ancestor worship, for example, is something fundamental to traditional religion if ever anything was, and yet it is completely foreign to Islam. The real proximity of Islam with traditional religion lies far more in the fact that both are more than a religion pure and simple, in the sense of one dealing solely with the relationship of man to the Spiritual.

    And indeed, in all the difficulties of life for the African uprooted or disillusioned with his traditional socio-religious universe, Islam offers a new framework, as all-embracing, as secure and as reassuring as the old one. A new solidarity within the Muslim community replaces the village and tribal solidarities without changing the laws and habits of life of the group. New prescriptions and prohibitions replace the old ones, without the need to try and understand their deeper meaning. The only real novelty is the centralisation of the worship on God, especially in the ritual prayer. But this does not exclude other ritual practices from existing alongside - and for a long time - in order to appease the intermediate powers. African Islam has never expressly forbidden these. On the contrary, given the central place of the sacred Koranic text in Islam and the impossibility for most Africans of gaining direct access to it, since they do not know Arabic, the more or less qualified custodians of the Scriptures have themselves become the new intermediaries, sought out and feared, who replace the healers, the fetishists and the other members of the secret societies without which traditional religion could not function.

    In the process of islamisation the primary motive is clearly the desire to belong to a community, far more than the interior assent to a new religious message. In this respect has demonstrated great flexibility and patience over the centuries. Gaining access to the Muslim community has always been very easy: a change of name and the recitation, before witnesses, of the profession of faith (shad√Ęda). The regular fulfilment of the other religious duties and the deepening of religious knowledge will follow perhaps only a generation or two later. There is no real break in the passage from one community to the other, but simply a progressive disengagement from the one and a progressive integration into the other.

    The long cohabitation of Islam with traditional African religion has also had an effect at the cultural level. The African languages are in general languages with a concrete vocabulary, rather limited in the expression of more abstract realities or more developed reflections. With the Arabic language Islam has been able to fill a gap. Many African peoples, some scarcely touched by Islam, have borrowed a complete abstract, and especially religious, vocabulary from Arabic, with no more than the changes proper to the structure of each language. The actual islamisation has come later, confirming and assembling within a coherent structure these scattered modes of thought and expression that were from Islam in the first place. Thus the inculturation of the religious message has in many cases preceded the islamisation itself

    Islam was brought to Sub-Saharan Africa in the first place via the trade routes from the Arab countries and North Africa. The African Muslims have always maintained quite close links with the Arab world, from which a number of reformers came. But islamisation was essentially carried out by Africans themselves, who shared the same life, spoke the same language, lived in the same cultural world entirely. There is no doubt that, for African Muslims, «Africanicity» and Islam are in no way opposed. For them Islam is not an imported religion. For many, abandoning the Muslim religion is equivalent to the rejection of all their family and tribal traditions, so intermingled are the two socio-religious universes. One must conclude that Islam, in its traditional African form, is entirely a part of the African cultural heritage and thus an African reality.

    Thursday, March 17, 2005

    Lessons with the Master

    Panic in Detroit - June, 2003

    PART I.

    It occurred to me - after this last time hitting the ground at a speed which seemed to defy gravity - this may not be a human being, the one I am facing right now. I recall a slogan, a creed scrawled on the locker room wall at the gym by some devout adherent of physical culture “Pain is Just Weakness Leaving the Body.” If this is true, I feel the weakness draining from my body along with an uncomfortable amount of sweat, blood, and my once steeled resolve into a black void meshing with the night sky under which this drama is taking place. I am desperately searching for my Center- the Core that’s supposed to be there when you run out of options and your back is to the proverbial wall. I am too unfocused to go there on my own. So, I have no choice but to let the kicks, slaps, and guntings that are breaking down my body carry me to it. I’ve found it to be a source of strength in the past against overwhelming odds. Now I’m just hoping to pull together enough to find an escape route.

    My body is no longer mine to command. It has been hit and damaged with a callous precision, so that although my mind tells it to raise up and attack again, the neurological pathways (specifically created through years of meditation) lead to dead channels. My limbs are rebelling against me. They refuse to comply on the grounds that I have so wantonly put them in harms way - allowed them to be subjected to such cruel torture. At this point I also have to deal with an annoying interjection by my rational mind (the meta-program I have come to call “The Professor”) who assails me with theories and conjectures as to why this shouldn’t be happening. “Shut up!” I tell him. “You know nothing after all!” “Use the blitz!” he exhorts, “It has always worked before.” I drag myself up from the ground, and dig into the dirt with my feet for traction. Somehow I felt it would be useless. But better to die standing, I suppose.

    The blitz failed, predictably and miserably. My arms are wildly hammered down yet again. I am caught in mid-step, actually chambering for a kick. Momentum spins me 180 degrees before he kicks out my supporting leg. The numbness prevents me from immediately feeling the ankle lock now being applied. I am unable to counter this as I have been unable to counter anything else he’s thrown at me during this nightmare. As my hands flail the ground in pain, I perceive another figure other than the one I am trying to survive against. It’s hovering actually, shimmering like a mirage. At once... a vestige of hope! Surely this is an agent of The Other Side. Perhaps the khodam of an amulet or jimat come to fulfill its obligation in return for all of the sajen I have provided every malam Jumat. No such luck. I realize it is merely the spectre of my own arrogance and pride given form. I don’t hold anything against it, though. I created it myself. I was a fool for trusting it.

    When did this go awry? It began simply enough as a sparring session. The last session two days ago had been much different. We barely even touched hands then. The videotape showed two players moving, turning, shifting with grace and artistically accentuated movements in time to an implied gamelon. The younger one (none other than your friend and humble narrator) appeared focused and concentrated - to mask his own uneasiness in the face of the unknown. The Elder, glided so effortlessly through his footwork, in what could best be described as a good-natured ‘caricature’ (or maybe mockery) of the younger’s movements, with the smile of someone clearly enjoying the novelty of the experience. Not the grimacing Demon I am facing now. It had finished on an appropriately dramatic note, followed by the resounding applause of the other sixty or so seminar participants. In the span of time between then and now, what had I missed? There had been no discernable change in the atmosphere. Somewhere along the line, had there been some transgression that would warrant such a painful rebuke?

    Today, in the pre-dawn hours we had gone out to engage in what I thought would be a relaxed continuation of the past two days group training. I was certainly not expecting this battle. In an appallingly short period of time, I was back on the edge of a spiritual precipice I had previously traversed a long time ago. The physical pain, like years of memories faded in the face of the broader implications for my training now. Almost at the same time that this moment of clarity comes upon me, I am lifted from the ground. The sun is rising. The Demon is gone. The Wise Man in his place offers some agonizingly simple counsel “You need to work on your timing. Lets have some coffee.”

    In the initiatory process, Rebirth is always preceded by Death.


    A famous General once said “War is any movement in a medium of resistance.” With this in mind, you realize that the agents of resistance (i.e. your foes) can take limitless forms: individuals; corporations; ideologies; the government; nature Herself; even the fractured emotional/impulsive “selves” which vie for control of the consciousness of man against the rational mind may set themselves against you. Carlos Castaneda put his redoubtable mentor Don Juan on record as saying something to the effect of “every experience in life is a Battle of Power.” As martial artists, we study and train for a very specific type of battle, our task being to integrate the higher principles of The Art into our souls in a manner which elevates us above the level of violence-loving sociopaths. To think, act, and live, as it were, like WARRIORS. If you’re like the majority of people privileged enough not to have to fight out of sheer necessity to survive, you get it out of your system by the time you reach green-belt and then move on to the next hobby. A select few adopt Warriorship as a lifestyle. Even fewer attain to anything beyond mediocrity. Only a precious few refine It to the point of establishing a legacy for generations to come - giving to the martial arts what Coltrane and Bird gave to Jazz, by way of analogy. As you live your path, you will meet and greet others who are following the same road. And if you are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and your path is an elevated one, you may be fortunate to cross paths with one of the Great Ones of your discipline. As the saying goes “When the student is ready, the Teacher will appear.”

    Now, what they don’t tell you is that He may in fact appear as The Adversary - if only for a moment - and that The Adversary is very likely to be your greatest Teacher. Consider this: what forces you to grow...comfort or conflict? What is the surest test of one’s mettle, ease or adversity? That which forces you to grow must often forcibly dislodge you from your complacency. In my experience, if you want a student to stop growing, give him a certificate. In West African metaphysics, there is a spiritual energy called Obara Meji. An acceptably descriptive mnemonic for this force is “The Resting and Hovering One.” It is an unstable energy. Think of the ‘spent’ feeling that usually follows an important test, or highly anticipated event. Inertia compels you to turn your back to the wind, to rest on your laurels, as it were. The danger at this stage is to fall asleep instead of moving forward. If you choose to rest, you have enlisted the help of the divine Trickster to set you back in motion. His urging will be gentle at first. Then, depending on your degree of inertia, Trickster will have to increase the intensity.