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!