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.