Monday, December 31, 2007

Brothers true and through

"Here's is Nadzrin counterpart who practices Malaysian silat and FMA"
"Jeff and Nadzrin have the gift of eloquently putting things into words."

At last brother, we have been joined at the hip.

A Happy New Year to you, Ka Jeff, my big brother many seas away, your beloved family, your students in Silat and Kali.

I wish you all peace, happiness and prosperity in all that you do. May Allah forgive all our trangsressions, those wilful and unwilful. My love to all.

Though I don't deserve it, I am honoured to be your counterpart,

Salam persilatan,
Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Right Address?

Ode Remo - Lafose Day

A beggar knocked on Mullah Nasrudin’s door. Nasrudin opened the door a crack and peered out.

“God has directed me to this house for a good meal,” said the beggar.

“I am sorry, but you have the wrong house,” replied Nasrudin, pointing to the nearby mosque. “God lives over there.”

Monday, December 10, 2007

Be There or Be Square

All state chapters of Pertubuhan Seni Silat Kuntau Tekpi Malaysia (PSSKTM) has unanimously agreed the Majlis Perhimpunan Hari Haul PSSKTM 2007 celebrations shall be hosted on the 23rd of December 2007 from 10am onwards at the Dewan Serbaguna IPP, Bt.2, Taman Pantai Emas, Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan.

All readers are cordially invited to participate in the festivities.
You are also invited to attend the previous night's (22nd December) event at the same venue: Majlis Silaturahim Bersama Guru Utama PSSKTM.
Please extend this invitation to silat and other martial arts practitioners.

Azhar Hamzah
Pertubuhan Seni Silat Kuntau Tekpi Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur Chapter

Sunday, December 09, 2007

New England

Since I'm still getting some emails from folks looking for Pekiti-Tirsia in New England, this is who I personally recommend:

Guro William Schultz
Authorized Instructor: Pekiti-Tirsia Kali under Tuhon Leo T. Gaje & Maginoo Tim Waid.
Full Instructor (4th Dan/Guro) Under Guro John Daniels in: Arnis De Mano & Daga Say Daga
and Muay-Lao Thai Boxing
Private Student Of Ajarn Steve Wilson in:
Sirisute Muay Thai, Muay Thai Boran, Muay Thai Kacheuk & Krabi-Krabong
Assistant Instructor Under Sifu Al Dacascos in: Doce Pares/Tobosa Kali-Eskrima

Got Band-aid's?

Tito Jun Saludo and Kuya Doug Marcaida
Detroit, August 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Some Props to Tuhon Gaje

Stolen unapologetically from the blog of my Brother, Mohd Nadzrin Wahab at

Cross Training in Silat Part II - Training The Core

I observe that when cross training, many people seem to understand martial arts as set techniques, and not natural survival expressions. When we think like this, then cross training becomes difficult, because we are tied down to the instructor's way of thinking (notice I didn't say guru).

An instructor normally understands an MA as a syllabus of techniques, and sadly this is rife in silat today. Traditional silat, once upon a time simply called Silat Melayu (now this term encompasses all type of silat), focuses more on development of core competencies such as strategic thinking, tactical analysis, kinesthesis and understanding kinetic energy, human and animal psychology and many, many more.

Thus, many people accuse Silat Melayu of not having a syllabus, when in fact it just means they have no set techniques. What they do have, are training methods that provide understanding for self empowerment, creating positive mindsets, and applying it to various aspects of life.

This 'life-wisdom', when taken into a physical direction, becomes Silat, the art of war. When taken into politics, becomes Percaturan or Siasah, the art of persuasive management. The source of this life-wisdom is various, depending on the area of Nusantara and the worldview each different Melayu clan accepts.

In some areas, it is clearly Hindu, as in Bali. In others, it is Budhhist and Animism or Natural Tauhid (like the Natural Americans, who many claim to be pantheists, but actually subscribe to a Single Diety idea).

When Islam arrived in Nusantara, it affected quite a bit of these life-wisdoms and collapsed these sources into two: Islamic and Folk. Now, because these life-wisdoms are so vast and various, it is impossible to encapsulate it all into a syllabus.

Thus, masters often only transfer mental tools, paradigms, maxims, or in Bahasa Melayu, called Petua which allows the student to explore his abilities, his weaknesses, his life, alone, without continuous guidance. Essentially, the master gives his students the necessary tools to master himself and eventually become a master.

I believe this is what Ustaz Saiful meant when he wrote:

"The appropriate way in deepen one's understanding and elevate one's skill in silat will be learning from the acquired knowledge. Let the knowledge 'mutating' itself into an 'unseen being' that'll guide oneself towards perfection."

These Petua are not unique to Silat, but exist in many different MA under different names. Void, Point, Straight Line, Circle, Compass Points, Opposites and Switch. Terminologies used by English-speaking martial artists.

Melayu call these petua: Ruang, Titik, Alif, Lam Alif, Mata Angin, Jantan Betina and Jengkal. These petua exist on different levels of understanding and usage.Among them, the physical (as in physics) realm, the social realm, the financial realm (no kidding), the psychological realm and the spiritual realm. In reality, all part of the single realm we call Life. Thus, the term Life-Wisdom.

Successful cross trainers are those who realise that all MAs share a common element: Human.

This is why we find that people who cross train from one Silat syllabus to another find it difficult to adapt, whereas those who have good grounding in traditional Silat Melayu can easily take to the structured arts.

This too, is what I believe Ustaz Saiful meant with:

"In our style, Silat Bongsu, apart from being the "Ibu Silat", it is also known as "Sendi Silat" or The Joint of Silat. Thus it is suitable to be incorporate into all kind of silat or non silat martial art. This can be done with strict adab".

This is why we find that THESE people never become newbies in ANY gelanggang. I have met many silat masters who fit this description very well. However, I would like to pay homage to Grandmaster Leo Gaje Jr of Pekiti Tirsia Kali.

He has the ability to look at any technique, silat or non-silat and immediately perform it, integrate it within his own fighting style and in many cases, reexplain it better than the owner of the technique himself. If he only held to techniques in the first place, he wouldn't be able to do this.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Think on This

Philippine Special Action Force Commandos (SAF)
Trained in Pekiti-Tirsia Kali

It is the soldier, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the campus organizer,
who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the soldier
who salutes the flag,
who serves under the flag,
and whose coffin is draped by the flag,
who allows the protester to burn the flag.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Silat Telepak Nusantara

The gentleman pictured below in the previous post - Ustaz al-Muhammad (also known as "Ustaz Shifu") - is a lineage carrier of a unique system of Silat in Malaysia. He is as knowledgeable as he is secretive. My friend Saiful and I have been known to defer to Ustaz's unquestionable expertise in some of the "higher" aspects of Silat Melayu.

Here is something about his Art:

From the oral traditions of our elders, the progenitor of this style was Tuan Sheikh Ali, an Islamic scholar and master of Islamic studies who visited the Sumatran Islands long before its foreign occupation. During this time, Islam had just arrived to that region of Indonesia. Aside from teaching the locals of the truth of Islam, he also taught them a martial art form, which he developed, derived from experience and inspiration.

Such inspiration repeatedly came to him whenever the need to defend himself arose, and thus the art developed further. There were 7 distinct stages of development in this style, which currently makes up the 7 levels of proficiency. Each level imparts different methods, techniques, and philosophies.

The final development in this style is the level named Silat Bongsu, which is the most simplified and versatile form. Silat Bongsu is the core of the total understanding of all Silat styles founded by Tuan Sheikh Ali. Because of this, Silat Bongsu is also known as the ‘Ibu Silat’ or ‘mother’ of our Silat styles.

After Tuan Sheikh Ali, several masters succeeded him. They are, in chronological order:

1. Guru Qodim

2. Katik Pasok

3. Muhammad Soleh

4. Malim Siroh

5. Pendekar Rohim (Pendekar Lima)

6. Atuk Haji Husin

There are also higher levels that are more expansive and require a deeper understanding to learn. These advanced Silat styles function as the expansion and refinement of Silat Bongsu. Among the masters of these levels are:

1. Bapak Buyong

2. Tuan Haji Deris

3. Ustaz Ramli

4. Che Mail Kedah

5. Pak Haji Harun

6. Haji Nong Bugis

7. Tuan Haji Shahrom

There are many more masters not listed here. Most of them have passed on, and a few others no longer teach.

Nowadays, pesilat learn and master only a glimpse of the Tuan Sheikh Ali Silat style due to the changes and demands of the modern lifestyle. To master all of the levels of this style, it takes at least 7 full years of consecutive daily studying. To be a good pesilat or gain the basic knowledge of a warrior, one must master at least the first 3 levels.

Long ago, this style of Silat spread far and wide, though always fragmented or under the influence of separate ‘perguruan’ (school), and never taught in its original complete format. Now, this priceless heritage has once again re-emerged in its original form and is being studied, strengthened and fused systematically within our organization.

Although each style or development within Silat Sheikh Ali comes from the same source, they are still unique and have their own identities. Each development contributed to the diversification of techniques, group identity, or even style identity, within our Silat school. Some styles previously had no name but were given them by the masters of each particular style. Among the unique names known are:

1. Silat Bongsu

2. Seni Silat Natar

3. Silek Natar Tuo

4. Seni Silat Sheikh Ali

5. Seni Silat Telapak Natar

6. Gayong Mendahiling

7. Silat Minang Sheikh Ali

8. Silek Tuo Sheikh Ali

9. Seni Silat Nuntoro

10. Seni Silat Sobok

11. Seni Silat Melayu Sheikh Ali

As previously mentioned, Seni Silat Bongsu is the name of the final version or development of Sheikh Ali's Silat style and has now become the first level in our instruction. It is appropriate in terms of the technique, application, and philosophy of this unique style. Our organization now strives to find and systematically merge all Tuan Sheikh Ali Silat styles, whilst at the same time preserving the authenticity of each one. No techniques from other styles of any kind, form or formless can be implemented in perfecting our styles. This action will not be tolerated, especially if the techniques are being practiced without permission.

In the quest to achieve the highest level of skill and understanding, a strict set of rules and regulations must be obeyed. All weaknesses and strengths must be accepted, utilized fully, and - if necessary - perfected in their own way. An open mind with a kind heart must be demonstrated at all times towards the whole of humanity. By accepting one's weakness, one has already achieved the basics in achieving greater perfection. That is the ultimate goal, unachievable as it may seem to some.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Another Good Friend in Malaysia

Ustaz al-Muhammad
of Silat Telapak Nusantara

"Dua Tiga Kucing Belari

Mana Nak Sama Si Kucing Belang

Dua Tiga Boleh Ku Cari

Mana Nak Sama Si Ustaz Seorang"

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pekiti-Tirsia Romania

Here's a photo of Cataleen's talented Pekiti-Tirsia group in Romania - under the tutelage of my friend Ricky Rillera.

Keep up the good work gentlemen!

Sunday, October 21, 2007


When I started practicing Filipino martial arts in 1987, we couldn’t tap the internet for stick vendors. The best we had was Asian World of Martial Arts and Dolan’s Sports catalogs, and later I and I Sports out of California. Let me tell you, what they sold as “Escrima Sticks” in those days were absolute shit. Usually we resorted to ordering 6-foot bo staffs, or 36 inch hanbos and cutting them down to Escrima length. Back then I was doing a Largo Mano system, and we used 32 inch sticks - meaning after 5 minutes with a hacksaw we were left with a lot of useless leftover wood and a typically unbalanced stick for a high price. I started buying cheap rattan wholesale from Pier One imports, which turned out to be basically the same poor quality rattan as the aforementioned Escrima sticks from the martial arts stores.

After a few years we said ‘to hell with it’ and started making our own sticks, experimenting with different hardwoods: hickory, ash, maple, pine, and even exotic varieties such as rosewood and cocobolo. I even found a lumber yard on 7 mile road in Detroit that carried ironwood. The ironwood was too big in diameter to use for our purposes, so we tapered the handle into an oval shape and made “Two handed bashers” as we called them. Anyway, many practice sessions and broken sticks later, we came to the stunning realization that “If it has a grain, it will crack” at this point our focus shifted from the wood to the treatment. This is what we came up with:

Electrical Tape
Nowadays it’s a band-aid for fraying rattan , but we used to wrap the whole damn stick with it prior to the first use. The tape acted like a skin on the weapon. On the positive side, your stick lasted longer and it was a sure grip. On the negative side, you couldn’t tell your stick from the next guy’s stick, and you didn’t get that satisfying “bok” sound of wood hitting wood.

Olive Oil
Extra virgin. I learned this technique from an Egyptian stickfighter. Simply multiple applications by hand, rubbing it onto the stick. Its best no one else sees you doing this.

“The Formula”
An Okinawan kobudo friend of mine gave me the following recipe: 2 parts boiled linseed oil to 1 part terpentine. Get the linseed oil at the hardware store. I have a pair of hardwood sticks I treated in this way about 10 years ago, and they’re virtually indestructible. Tung oil by itself can also be used.

For Rattan
Fill a trough with cold water, add a lot of salt. Allow the rattan sticks to soak for a day, and then have at it.

From Mother Nature
The best ‘natural’ woods I have used are eucalyptus and guava. A nice, thorny Irish Blackthone with a knob and metal tip is also very stylish.

For better or for worse, things are much simpler today. I have a certain nomadic contact that gets good quality rattan when he goes to the P.I. I don’t even know his name - it’s programmed into my phone as “Sticks.” Our next supply is only a phone call away.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Landmarks in Pekiti-Tirsia

Some milestones in the recent history of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali. Taken from the Pekiti-Tirsia Global Organization website compiled by Master Tim Waid.

of the

1922 - Grand Tuhon Conrado B. Tortal, Supreme Grandmaster of the Pekiti-Tirsia Kali system is appointed the first Chief of Police of Victorias, home of the largest Sugar Central in Negros Occidental province.

1928 - Grand Tuhon Conrado B. Tortal defeats two brothers of the ruling family of Talisay, Negros Occidental. Grand Tuhon Tortal armed with hardwood Espada Y Daga and the brothers both armed with Bolos engage in the town square over an attempted takeover of Tortal owned land in Barangay Conception, Talisay. Grand Tuhon Tortal effectively disarms both brothers of their blades with multiple attacks but spares their lives.

1933 - Grand Tuhon Conrado B. Tortal defeats the famous Tansiong Padilla of the Aldabon style from Panay in a match arranged by Don Gregorio Araneta, Mayor of the town of Bago, Negros Occidental.

1938 - Leo T. Gaje, Jr., grandson of Grand Tuhon Conrado B. Tortal and heir to the Pekiti-Tirsia Kali system is born in Legaspi City, Albay.

1972 - Grand Tuhon Leo T. Gaje, Jr. pioneers the teaching of the Filipino Kali Arts in the eastern region of the United States from his base in New York City.

1977 - Pekiti-Tirsia opens its formal school at the Philippine Consulate, New York City.

1977 - Grand Tuhon Gaje featured on the cover of Official Karate magazine. Cover article features Pekiti-Tirsia as the “New Crime Fighter” in recognition of successful law enforcement training programs with the NYPD.

1978 - Grand Tuhon Gaje is recognized by the Philippine government as an official representative and Master of the Filipino martial arts.

1979 - The First National Tournament of Arnis (Kali) in the Philippines is sponsored by NARAPHIL. Guro Tom Bisio wins as Grandchampion, Pekiti-Tirsia against all systems.

1979 - Pekiti-Tirsia senior instructors and students led by Tom Bisio and Eric Knaus dominate full-contact stickfighting tournaments across the United States for the next decade.

1980 - Grand Tuhon Gaje appointed Commissioner for North and South America by The National Arnis (Kali) Association of the Philippines (NARAPHIL).

1980 - Pekiti-Tirsia conducts the first professional demonstration of full-contact competition at the Playboy Club, Great Gorge, New Jersey.

1981 - Grand Tuhon Gaje begins promotional tour of the Filipino cultural and Kali arts in Central and South America.

1981 - Grand Tuhon Gaje featured on the cover of Inside Kung-Fu magazine. Cover article features “Leo Gaje, his art is based on the knife, and may have more street realism than any other”.

1981- Grand Tuhon Gaje develops the law enforcement Defensive Tactics Safety System featuring the Safety Baton System and Edged Weapon Awareness/Strategic Knife Defense programs. These systems revolutionize use of force training for law enforcement and are adopted across the United States. Grand Tuhon Gaje is appointed National Training Director for the Justice System Training Association and the United States Police Defensive Tactics Association.

1982 – Grand Tuhon Gaje featured on the cover of Warriors magazine. Cover article features “The Deadly Art of Knife Fighting” assisted by Eddie Jafri, Pencak Silat Master.

1984 - Grand Tuhon Gaje continues promotional tours of Filipino cultural and Kali arts across Asia and the European continent.

1987 - Pekiti-Tirsia is officially adopted as a system of the United States Karate Association (USKA) by Grandmaster Robert Trias. Grand Tuhon Gaje is nominated as the style head of the Filipino martial arts for the USKA.

1988 - Grand Tuhon Gaje serves as technical advisor, and is featured in the Calibre press video SURVIVING EDGED WEAPONS, critically acclaimed as “The finest law enforcement training video ever made”.

1988 - Grand Tuhon Gaje inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame and Karate Hall of Fame.

1990 - Grand Tuhon Gaje establishes the Kali-Kalihan Festival in Salvador Benidicto, Negros Occidental.

1992 - Grand Tuhon Gaje conducts special training programs for government agencies of former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe.

1994 - Grand Tuhon Gaje, assisted by Mataas na Guro Tim Waid, begin a nationwide promotional and development program for the Kali arts in the Republic of the Philippines by conducting cultural, educational, and sports training programs at the local, provincial, and national government levels.

1997 - Mataas na Guro Tim Waid, Director of Survival Edge Systems/Pekiti-Tirsia Tactical Training Institute and Lieutenant Erwin Ballarta (Mataas na Guro) of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) establish a formal agency alliance between the Philippine National Police and Texas DPS.

1998 - Pekiti-Tirsia is recognized by the Commandant, Philippine Marine Corps as the official Close Quarters Combat/CQC System of the Philippine Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance Battalion. Instructors Certification Course conducted by Timothy D. Waid, Director of Survival Edge Systems/Pekiti-Tirsia Tactical Training Institute marks Pekiti-Tirsia as the only Filipino combat system utilized as official combat doctrine by the Armed Forces of the Philippines since World War II.

1998 - Pekiti-Tirsia conducts the First Centennial Celebration of Pekiti-Tirsia held at Subic Bay, Zambales, Philippines and Kali World Congress in conjunction with the Republic of the Philippines Centennial Celebration.

1998 - Grand Tuhon Gaje featured on the cover of Svenska (Sweden) Fighter magazine. Cover article features Grand Tuhon Gaje’s introduction of authentic Filipino bladefighting across Europe.

2001 – Grand Tuhon Gaje leads CQC training programs for joint Philippine and US military units conducting joint training exercises and combat operations against terrorists in the southern Philippines.

2002 – Pekiti-Tirsia Kali system is adopted by the Philippine Marine Corps Service Schools as the official close-quarter combatives program for all Enlisted Basic Training and the Officer Basic School.

2003 – Grand Tuhon Gaje receives Exemplary Achievement Award from Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for worldwide promotion and instruction of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali, and instruction of Philippine and US Marine forces through 2003.

And now for some Pekiti-Tirsia Michigan history:

1970's - Pekiti-Tirsia becomes firmly established in Michigan through the efforts of Grand Tuhon Gaje and Erwin Ballarta.

1999 - Detroit Pekiti-Tirsia Maphilindo Pitbulls formed under the auspices of Grand Tuhon Gaje in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

2003 - Pekiti-Tirsia Pitbull Brotherhood formed in Rochester, New York by Doug Marcaida, Jay Saludo, and Jeff Davidson.

2005 - Bothoan Batangas training hall opened in Detroit.

2006 - Detroit and Rochester Pekiti-Tirsia Pitbull groups travel to the Philippines for advanced military training.

2006 - First Annual Pekiti-Tirsia Pitbull family gathering held in Dearborn, Michigan.

2007 - Monumental "Brotherhood of the Blade" gathering with groups from Detroit, Rochester, Saskatchewan, and Florida held at Higgins Lake, Michigan.

...and history is still in the making.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


'It is easier to reach God than to succeed in any worldly undertaking. To attain a worldly object, one must seek before one finds. But in the case of God, Exalted is He, the finding comes before the seeking, for without having found Him how could one be inclined to look for Him?

To escape from heedlessness, God’s people abstained completely from this world, abandoned everything and occupied themselves exclusively with Exalted Truth.

It is God’s custom not to allow access to the Truth before trials and tribulation have been experienced and pleasure and passion renounced...

Remember God constantly until you lose yourself'.

Mualana Said Al-Din Kashgari

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

SKT and SCH: A Comparison

Ka Jay Saludo in the grips of a Silat Kuntau Tekpi Buah

For all those of you wondering about the similarities between Silat Kuntau Tekpi and Silat Cekak Hanafi, here's an article by my friend, the great Mohd Nadzrin Wahab taken from his

Silat Cekak and Silat Kuntau Tekpi: A Comparative Look

Silat Cekak (as founded by Ustaz Hanafi) and Silat Kuntau Tekpi are related in many ways, the least of which is their Kedah connection.

First off, both arts claim lineage to the palace arts of Kedah, and cite certain General-governors, or Panglima as their ancestors. Silat Cekak claims Panglima Ismail as the earliest of their lineage while in Silat Kuntau Tekpi, that honour is given to Panglima Taib. It is unknown what their status are in the official Kedah records.

Panglima Ismail was said to have served beginning 1804 and passed down the art to Panglima Tok Rashid. Panglima Taib served up to 1879 and passed down his art to his daughter, Aminah. Thus, it is possible that both Panglima Ismail and Panglima Taib met as elder and junior warriors or not at all.

Further down the line, the lineage holder of Silat Cekak beginning 1920, Yahya Said (studied from Panglima Tok Rashid) and the lineage holder of Silat Kuntau Tekpi, Zainal Abidin Endut (grandson of Panglima Taib) were both related by family and often met, although it is unknown if they ever studied from each other.

Silat Cekak and Silat Kuntau Tekpi share similar philosophies, parrying idioms and methods of striking and locking. Both await attacks in a high stance, both subscribe to close body parrying and locking.

Both arts are loosely based on the idiom of Salat, the Muslim prayer form. In Cekak, there are four basic parrying methods:

Kaedah A, based on Du'a (supplication)
Kaedah B from Qiam (standing with arms folded)
Kaedah C from Ruku' (bowing with hands on knees), and
Kaedah D from Takbir (hands in surrender position).

Tekpi on the other hand has six basic parries:
Takbir Luar
Takbir Dalam
Cengkam Harimau, and

They even share many buah, similar in look and form. For example Ali Patah Atas (Cekak) and Kembang Layar (Tekpi), Kuntau Kanan Gantung (Cekak) and Ubah Haluan (Tekpi), Kilas Belakang (Cekak) and Kilas Maut (Tekpi) and in fact, even share one buah name - Pasung Kemanga, which in reality are mirror versions of each other: One locks the left arm while the other locks the right arm. The exact same buah, but reversed.

Other than this, Cekak and Tekpi differ quite a bit. Cekak has no bunga component and subscribes to modern warm-up and stretching methods, while Tekpi still has its Pelebat, an undulating dance form that serves as a traditional exercise.

The Cekak syllabus is broken down into four phases: Basics, Takedowns, Recounters and Graduation. In the first four phases there 21 buah are gradually built upon.

The Tekpi syllabus is broken down into four belts: White, Yellow, Red, Brown and Black. White and Yellow belts each have 21 different buah (which makes 42), in Red are the 5 Pukulan buah and the Tekpi exercises and usage of Tekpi in the previous 42 buah, while the Brown and Black belts are considered advanced levels for senior instructors.

Cekak has the Lading as its official weapon while Tekpi has its namesake as its normalised weapon.This sort of comparison would make a very interesting thesis or research paper, especially if we include the other claimed descendants of Silat Kedah such as Silat Kalimah, Silat Palintau, Silat Gelombang Acheh, etc, etc.

Unfortunately, undertaking such a project would take years and needs to cut across national, political and emotional boundaries. I would be open to anyone who would like to share their resources to pilot such a project.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Mailbag Again

Tuhon tells it like it is to Kuya Jamal

More questions from email:

Why are you so secretive about teaching these days?
People used to say that our group was like a ‘cult’. I say that we’re more like a Secret Society. My personal focus has shifted over the years. I am less concerned with teaching the public than I am in tending to my advanced students. The only way I get better is if they get better. I have a very well trained advanced group and several of them have their own students who are getting solid basics. I have my own teaching niche (which btw is none of your business!) That being said, we accept new students on a probationary basis as explained on my website. Anyway, I have more fun training students than teaching them. We have almost surgical precision in weeding out non-serious people.

Why don’t you promote your seminars/gatherings?
We generally don’t like to advertise when Tuhon Gaje comes to town because we rarely open his seminars to the public. Its just a lot better when everybody knows each other and we can pick right up from where we left off the last time. We make exceptions on a case-by-case basis. You wanna see what we’re up to? Join us!

Do I need to have martial arts experience or be in shape to train in Pekiti-Tirsia?
No. It is more important that you are serious about learning. If you have chronic injuries, it may be wiser to learn senaman tua for a month before you progress to harder training. You don’t have to be in good physical condition to learn how to defend yourself, but a good part of the martial arts lifestyle is being in shape - which I define in terms of strength, flexibility, and endurance.

Do you guys sponsor/participate in stick fighting tournaments?
No. If you want to train for tournaments, contact Philip Gelinas - he’s the best.

What kind of knife/gun do you/should I carry?
I haven’t been offered any pistol endorsement deals lately, and I don’t give free advertising. The only blades I endorse are those made by my student, Manong Panday.

Who should I study Pekiti-Tirsia with here in the States?
My personal opinion is this: Kuya Doug Marcaida has been our mentor for years, and I consider him to be the most well rounded Kali teacher this side of Bacolod. In Texas, there are a few guys I have had direct experience with: the most high profile is Leslie Buck. Leslie is about as clean and precise as they come and also a nice guy. Other Texans keep a lower profile: Ricky Rillera is a bona-fide fighting machine - to the extent that Tuhon Gaje gave him the nickname “Crazy Ricky” (note: do you realize how hard-core you have to be for Tuhon to call you ‘crazy’?); Robert Slomkowski is wiry, explosive, and brutal - when he moves on you, it’s like you’re suddenly fighting three people; and of course, few people have ever been able to dissect the Art and teach it from the inside out like Omar Hakim. In Oregon, Steven Slomkowski is who I recommend. We also have a promising group coming up in Florida.

There’s guys all over that do Pekiti-Tirsia. I make recommendations based on personal experience.

If I join your group, will I be able to learn the “Batangas” knife fighting? What is the formal name of that style?
The ultimate decision as to who learns it is up to Tito Jun. If you train with us long enough you’ll meet him one way or another. I simply follow his recommendation. As to the formal name of the style, if and when Tito Jun is ready to let it be known to the community at large, he will do so.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Fun Stuff

Kuya Doug, Guro Jun, Tuhon Gaje, Tito Jun in a moment of Levity

This is taken from an old thread on the Pitbull Discussion forum (private!)


from Kuya Doug:

* Every girlfriend, wife, pillow, friends become a dummy to try techniques that you learned from class.

* Sweats and club t shirts become your regular attire from training to everyday casual wear ( like you never even change clothes cause it's all you wear)

* Wrestling shoes aren't for wrestling class or training.

* Equipment made for other sports become protective gear for sparring
( soccer shin guards as arm protectors, boxing headgear with a metal grate or fencing mask for head protection, "hockey" gloves ,)

* Vertical beer can holders , baseball bags, architect plan holders become stick bags.

* You find yourself carrying multiple knives and cammos or tactical clothing is ok to wear indoors as well as to Sunday church .

* Your kids hit each other constantly with sticks or training knives that seem readily found around the house.

* You walk around with a pen in pakal or sak sak grip

* You flip your keys as though you were flipping a balisong

* You like to roll up news papers or magazines to wave it around or use it like a stick

* You always look around the environment looking for possible weapons

* You get [aroused] when you see knives , swords or weapons

* You make sound effects when you hit things

* You constantly move your fingers in a sinalwai fashion or as if you were fighting when no one is looking around

* You find yourself talking with an accent sounding like your instructors.

from Me:

1) While your co-workers are busy surfing the net for porn, you're surfing for pics of knife wounds.

2) While your friends are spending their hard earned $ on the latest electronics gadgets and cell phones, you're buying expensive knives.

3) You pay $$$$ out of your pocket to go to the Philippines to be Tuhon's own bitch for 2 weeks.

4) Instead of taking the Victoria's secret catalog into the bathroom, you take the Cold Steel Special Projects Catalog (see #1)

5) Before going out for a night on the town, you spend an hour acessorising your carry knives to fit your wardrobe. ("Honey, is this kerambit too dressy?")

6) You practice your Tri-V, sinawali, etc. with the axe handles at the Home Depot.

7) You select your casual attire based on multiple pockets to conceal your knives (See #5)

8) And finally, you know you must be an FMA practitioner when some guy at work pisses you off, and you jab him in the neck with your balisong, then after breaking it off, you sweep him and decapitate him with your Force-Recon ginunting! (I'll write more when this annoying facial tic stops flaring - plus I gotta call my lawyer)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Club Kali

We are pleased to announce the formation of the official KALI CLUB at the Philippine American Cultural Community Center in Southfield. Since our weekly children’s class was such a hit last year, the good folks at the PACCM decided to let the grown-ups get in on the action. Here’s the class description:


This class will teach the fundamentals of the
traditional Filipino martial art of Arnis - also known
as Escrima and Kali. Learn techniques with single and
double baston, as well as empty-hand methods of
striking, kicking and grappling. The course of
instruction will accommodate students of all levels
from beginner to advanced.

The class is taught by Guro Jeff Davidson.
Guro Davidson is an instructor of the well known
PEKITI-TIRSIA system of Kali under Manong Leo Tortal
Gaje, Jr.of Bacolod.

Equipment needed:
* 2 rattan sticks
* Eye Protection
* Mouthguard

How is this different from our regular classes? Well, we’re extremely selective regarding who can join our Bothoan Batangas group. The Kali Club at PACCM is more for the general public. We’ll be teaching Pekiti-Tirsia, but anyone from any FMA is welcome. Contact me for day and time.

See you there!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Personal Inventory

Some guys are into cars. Some guys are into watches. Me and a few fellows I associate with are into weapons - specifically bladed ones. It helps to have a good lawyer or a doctor in your circle of friends. Lord knows that having a pharmacist in class is great during cold and flu season.

As the leader of an FMA group, it is a special perk of perks to have an in-house Panday. So, over the years we've been operating under a mutually beneficial Blades-In-Exchange-For-Training agreement, which has served us both very well.

Here's the collection so far (it's a bit lighter since Grand Tuhon Gaje's last visit to my home!)
From right:

* The Purple Heron Ginunting
* The Detroit Badik
* The Monkey Paw
* Kerambit 1
* Kerambit 2
* The Oak Park Jambiya
* Various Hardwood fist-loads
* The Maphilindo Stick
* The Pekiti Bowie
* The Anak-Heron
* The Combat Cleaver
* Veneno the Badik
* The Cochisero
* The Aswan (Vampire)
* Detroit Maphilindo Daga

These weapons have all been battle tested and carry my full endorsement. Please see the DETROIT PANDAY link to your right. I know he takes special orders!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Cutting Thoughts

I am still putting together the seminar review. In the meantime, consider the following Thought of the Day.

Saturday night: following a grueling day of training, we built a roaring bonfire at midnight. Within a circle of torches, the groups from Detroit, Rochester, Florida and Canada assembled and drew close. After a rousing speech from Tuhon Gaje, each one of us spoke briefly about our individual and collective journeys to- and within this Art of Pekiti-Tirsia. One of our newer members from Florida, Dino Martinez, spoke about how some of Tuhon's words had touched him. We were all moved.

Here is a brief excerpt of Ka Dino's speech:

"Look at your knife, hold it in your hand and my life before I die."
GT Gaje - 2006

Save my life before I die...that I might not perish from this earth a small and meaningless thing, without having touched greatness, without the siren call of destiny to guide me to something greater than myself; that my searching was not in vain but that I, in the end, walked with Titans.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

We're Baaaack!

Tuhon Gaje at the Detroit Headquarters

If you felt the Earth shake in Michigan over the past 5 days, it was because the greatest Pekiti Tirsia seminar in the history of the World took place here (and is still going on). We have just returned from our Higgins Lake training camp, and Grand Tuhon Gaje has announced that we will be having class again in a few hours.

So my friends, when all is said and done, you will have the complete story with pictures. For now, I leave you with this posting that The Master himself added to an FMA forum:

Pekiti-Tirsia Pitbull Brotherhood of the Blade

The gathering of the Pekiti-Tirsia Pitbull Brotherhood of the Blade was in Michigan (Houghton Lake Michigan ) in the lake property of Bassam, a pharmacist but devoted practicioner of the Pekiti-Tirsia Maphilindo Detroit.

The Gathering was attended by the
PTK Pitbulls Saschatchewan under the leadership of Jay and Leon Saludo,
PTK Pitbulls Rochester, New York leadership of Douglas Marcaida,
PTK Pitbulls Maphilindo Detroit , leadership of Jeff Davidson,
PTK Pitbulls Florida leadership of Dino Martinez,
PTK Pitbulls Manila , Rommel Tortal

The gathering of the chosen PTK Pitbulls fighters provide an opportunity to learn the Advanced Dumpag and the advanced Knife Dagaso Tirsia and Qol Demama Dagga ( knife combat) Advanced Tri-V formula.

The special declaration of the celebration was highlighted in the bon fire ceremony held in the night of August 12, 2007 where the awards were presented and the demos on ginunting, knives, sticks and open hand entertained everyone.

The strength of the Brotherhood was extended to new members and an increasing number of PTK student added to the main Brotherhood will cover the major cities in the US.


Friday, July 06, 2007


You just can't keep a secret with this 'Internet' thing. Since the cat has already been let out of the bag by some folks who disobeyed direct orders to STFU...

We have a lot of heavy hitters coming in to Michigan for our Fall camp, including the heaviest hitter of them all. YES - Supreme Grand Tuhon Leo T. Gaje Jr. will be in Michigan for the Pekiti Tirsia Pitbulls Training Camp next month!

August 10-12, at our beautiful Higgens Lake training facility. This seminar is primarily for students of Pekiti Tirsia in good standing, and members of the law enforcement community. We will consider accepting the public on a case-by-case basis. We will be covering:

- Single and Double Stick
- Knife
- Tactical Pistol
- Dumog
- Pangamut
- Indonesian/Malaysian Silat

and some cool (and deadly) surprises. We intend to go 'Balls Out' on this one. I promise it will be unforgettable.

Contact me by phone or email for details.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

SILAT KUNTAU TEKPI Family is Growing!

On behalf of the entire Silat Kuntau Tekpi family in Michigan, we wish to say CONGRATULATIONS to our dear friend and Brother Nor Azlan bin Abd Wahid (aka "Coach Lan") on the birth of his first son - Nor Iman bin Nor Azlan!

Coach Lan has been such a good friend to us over the years. We ask the Lord to bless him and his family with Health, Prosperity, Peace, and Richness forever.

(Now I know he'll be available at 3am for those chats on yahoo IM)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

(Not) Coming Soon to a Bookstore Near You

From Tuhon Leo T. Gaje Jr.:

I was was asked many times " Tuhon you [should write] a book on Pekiti-Tirsia so we can have it" Some one asked Tuhon do you have the book now when do you write your book. Politely I responded, I am the book if you want to read , you study with me and I will make you a book.

The FMA was not written in a piece of paper for people to learn. The early forefathers were so conservative that they don't want to be seen, performing or swinging the stick or bolo. I remembered my Grandfather's training policy , for deeper and advanced techniques he waits for the full moon so he can train me in the middle of the night. I always asked him , why on moonlight night. He said two things important on moonlight night. When the moon gives his light to earth at night it drove all the evil spirits and for our training nobody will see what we do because they are afraid to be out during moonlight night.

Since the FMA was and is a Sacred art, the methods taught were and are not meant to teach for money or for other people to learn other than the very close member of the family. Those early days were as cruel as living in a place where people are killed every day anytime of the day . The Spanish influence of cruelty was still a paranoia for all the families living in a small town or barrios. Anything that they may have were always kept in a place so secret that in spite of sudden robbery or force entry as what the Spanish soldiers were doing they were prepared for it.The fighting system , the original kali was one of the treasures that the early families kept and treasured. This traditions is still fresh among the people in the hinterlands in Negros and in Panay and some provinces of Mindanao and Masbate.

The reason is simple. Every style or system had their own secret of fighting if that secret is known then the family is in danger because they had nothing to protect themselves in case of sudden attack because the secret was exposed to the enemy>

All those years that I was under my Grandffathers wing I had not heard him say you write what I taught you nor he said get a pen for you to write important techniques. It was a direct straight to the eye training discipline that youre only choice is to retained what you see and what you feel. Thiis is as true to the 300 Spartans or to the Pirates of the Carribeans or to the Gladiators and most of all the Katipuneros of the Philippine revolution.

Do you need the book ? or the book needs you to be you.

The pen is the ginunting, the book is the body of your enemy (emphasis mine - jd). You are taught to write the word . Peace on Earth and good will to men.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Tuhon Gaje on 'Mixing'

Getting Scolded by Tuhon

Mixed Martial arts is a fad today. They mix because they want to learn how to respond to certain techniques. I want to learn too, I cannot blame these people. But if you mix your martial arts, you have a tendency to develop bad habits. Bad habit because what they give in one martial art may not be workable in another martial art. Why do you want to mix?

We follow the angles of attack; once you fall into the perimeter of the line of defense, whatever comes in we have to destroy. So why do you want to mix? If the system is equipped with combat technology, you have no reason to mix.

Many times the person that trains them has no concept of what combat is, he only has limited knowledge, or he is out there for sports and to make a living teaching. How long will you master each mix?

When you mix in ingredients, you have to know the elements of what you are mixing in.
I'll give you an example about mixing, you eat Thai food, American food, Mexican food, Filipino food, kosher food; your stomach will be fighting all night. Sometimes you can mix things that are not compatible.

So the same thing with the mixed martial arts, if someone pulls a knife you don’t know which martial art you are going to use. You hesitate; you can’t decide which technique to use.
Rolling stones gather no moss. Mixing is not a very sophisticated thing to do. You collect another bad habit here; you collect other bad habits there. All the bad habits put together is what you end up with.

I experience this in my seminars, I have mixed martial artists there, you tell them to relax and they tense up. From hard empty hands to weaponry is a very hard thing, they contradict.
Yin and yang, you have to learn how to be soft and when to be hard. One problem is that many teachers do not have sufficient experience in combat.

There is a big movement to mixed martial arts.. .it is ok...What is your common denominator, what is your target? You have to be accurate and you have to be precise, any mistake you commit during an encounter is a big problem. The game is lost.

If you are a soldier you have to accurate and precise. The same for a painter, sculptor, and carpenter. If you are making a doorknob it must fit in the door. Everything must be accurate and precise."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

In Memorium...

With profound sadness I received the news from my friend Awo Baeza that Oloye Medahochi Kofi Omowale Zannu passed from this world on May 25th, 2007. He was a Spiritual giant that stood in place among the greatest Souls of our generation - loved and respected by so many people. He was humble and unassuming, yet his presence filled a room. He often spoke gently, yet his speech was clear and commanding, fueled by his burning Inner Light, infused with a timeless wisdom.

Many knew him as one of the oldest scholars of West African spiritual traditions in the United States. He was a pioneer, innovator, artist, cultural custodian, and Spiritual Grandfather to many families. I also knew Medahochi as a quintessential wizened and cagey Sufi teacher, whose extrapolations on traditional Yoruba ese'Fa were laced with examples and stories of Mullah Nasruddin and Rumi.

My first audience with Medahochi was sometime around the summer of 1993. On a dreamy summer day I set out on a drive to Chicago where he was staying at the home of a student. I had been granted some personal time with him, and in preparation I carried a notebook (filled with questions) and a small pocket tape recorder. As it happened, I sat beside him on a couch, where we drank coffee watched television, and made small talk. Two hours passed in this way. I never even took out my notebook, nor touched the tape recorder - but when I at last got up from that couch all of my questions (and more) had been answered, and I had a feeling like my soul was ‘vibrating’, as if set in motion by a tuning fork. From that day, over the next ten years - with Medahochi’s guidance - I followed that vibration until it finally came to rest in Ode Remo, Southwest Nigeria.

As I write this, I am listening to the tape of a lecture he gave at my school in Farmington Hills, Michigan. We will cherish those memories forever, and are thankful to have stood in midst of whom the traditional scriptures would speak of as Eniyan Atoto (The Perfected Man).

Journey well, Baba.

As he entered the cave, they heard a voice from inside:
“This is the man who shook the earth, who made kingdoms tremble!”
Happy is his portion above and below.
Many sublime treasures lie in store for him...
Go to the end and take your rest; you will rise for your reward at the End of Days.
Zohar: Idra Zuta

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Poem for Mother's Day

Dedicated with Love to my Mother.

Orun wara bi ina joko
Bomibata orisa ti gbo gbe re mo ile, pon mi ki o ma so mi obinrin sango
Oya ni o to iwo efon gbe
Iya nsaan nwon fu ne ni ida o ko pa eran
Iya nsaan nwon fun e ni ida o ko beri, o ni kini o yio fi idadida se
Oya a rina bora bi aso, efufu lele ti nda igi lokeloke
Okiki a gbo oke so edun, igan obinrin ti nko ida, oya iji ti bajo-bajo
A pa kete, bo kete.

Wife of Iron, Woman of the Crown of Honor who destroys worlds suddenly, like a fire
Strong-Willed Spirit who protects Her children on Earth, carry me on your back, great Woman, consort of Thunder.
The Tearer alone can seize the horns of a rampaging Buffalo
They gave a great Sword to Her, but she does not use it to kill animals
They should present a great sword to Mother that is not used for killing animals
They should give her a sword that is used for beheading people
The Tearer uses Fire as a body covering, like cloth...Strong Wind that knocks down trees in the forest
She kills suddenly, She enters suddenly.

translated from Yoruba by Jeff Davidson


Grand Tuhon Leo T. Gaje Jr. has just celebrated another year in roaring good health, and an un-conquerable Spirit committed to leading Pekiti Tirsia to new heights of greatness.

This great man stands firmly as one of the most prolific martial arts Masters of our era. He is a consummate Teacher, Innovator, Warrior and a true Leader. We have literally travelled all over the world to have the honor of studying at his side.

Happy Birthday Tuhon! We love you and will continue to carry your banner for as long as we have strength in our bodies!

May You Live Forever.


From Jeff Davidson and all the Michigan Pekiti Tirsia Pitbulls

"You have been in the Presence of a Heavenly Lion. A Mighty Warrior, against whom Twenty Warriors are nothing!" - sefer Zohar

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Pekiti Tirsia Pitbull Gathering 2007

It is with great pleaseure that I announce the 2nd Annual Pekiti Tirsia Pitbull Gathering in Michigan. Last year's gathering was a huge success, everyone learned a great deal. This year's event will be bigger and better. We have folks coming in from literally all over North America. The instruction will be divided into blocks that cover:

- Pekiti Tirsia Kali and other FMA
- Batangas-style Knife Fighting
- Indonesian and Malaysian Silat
- Tactical Shooting/Pistol CQB

The camp will be held at an ample facility up north in beautiful Higgens Lake, Michigan. Please make your arrangements ASAP so that we can coordinate logistics. In order to attend, you must already be a student in good standing with one of the Pekiti Tirsia Pitbull groups.

Not a student yet?

Then what the hell are you waiting for?!??!?!?!

Contact me via email or on the 'Pekiti Hotline' (248) 981 7495 for more details.

WHEN: Friday, August 10th- Sunday, August 12th 2007 (students travelling from outside of Michigan should arrange to arrive on Thursday evening)

WHERE: The Pekiti Tirsia Higgens Lake Training Facility

COST: Please consult with your instructor. We are making every effort to keep the cost to a minimum. We hold these gatherings as a gift to our students. Be sure to bring plenty of cool stuff to show of and/or trade!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

New Weapons Drills for 2007

Kuya Doug Marcaida gives us a preview of things to come for the New Year of training.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

So...Who Else Does Pekiti Tirsia?

I would like to welcome my Brother, Doug Marcaida and his students back from their recent training in the Philippines with Grand Tuhon Gaje. Doug and Tuhon are pictured above with a cadre from the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police. I had the pleaseure of meeting and training with these brave men, as well as their comrades-in -arms, the Philippine Force Recon Marines just about two years ago this very month.

Prior to Kuya Doug's arrival, Tuhon was typically busy training the elite GS-9 Commandos, who accompanied their 'local' instructor Uli Weidle to the Philippines for advanced training in Edged Weapons skills.

Also, in a very short time, Tuhon Gaje and his nephew Rommel will be teaching the entire Philippine Marine Corp.

Here on the homefront, my students and I have trained yet another suburban Detroit police department in Edged Weapons Defensive Tactics - in the very program designed by yours truly - thanks go to "The Wookie" and Cpl. Ungyo for assisiting me.

So, while the majority of FMAer's are doing their drills in the parks and dojos and arguing on the internet over who's style is better, and blah blah blah - we are busy teaching and training with the folks who actually LIVE this game!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Tekpi FAQ

Cikgu Sani, the Guru Utama of Silat Kuntau Tekpi

I steal so much info from Mohd Nadzrin Wahab that he should be credited as the co-author of this blog. Well, I didn't really steal this...he gave it to me. Some basic questions and answers about the Tekpi:

"Is it used individually or two? Is it used against specific weapons as a defensive tool?"

In Silat Melayu, the tekpi has mostly followed the temperament and ideals of the art, so much so that even while the origins of the tekpi is still hotly debated, the technique employed in Silat Melayu is not, since it is accepted as mostly (if not purely) Malay in thought and action.

The tekpi is used both as a singular and a double weapon. As a singular weapon, it is used paired with another bladed weapon. In Silat Melayu, the tekpi takes the place of the cumbersome shield in other cultures that don't employ it this way. Therefore, the dominant hand would hold a keris or a parang (I've been told) or in the case of Silat Kuntau Sendeng, a Pedang and a tekpi (this I've seen personally).

In cases where the tekpi is used as twin weapons, one tekpi held in the submissive hand, will act as the defensive (shield) while the other held in the dominant hand will act as the offensive.
In Silat terminology, this is termed Jantan (offensive position) and Betina (defensive position). In these positions, the Betina will be held in the reverse grip, parrying (not blocking) all incoming
attacks, while the Jantan will be held in the outstretched grip as a stabbing and pukulan weapon. In some cases, the Betina will be slightly heavier and the Jantan slightly lighter. It's not even a
perceptive problem since most of us have 'softer' left hands than our dominant 'hard' right.

The difference in weight is to balance out the abilities of the two hands, strengthen the left. However, this is an exception and very few silat arts employ this concept anymore. Most
arts use the Jantan and Betina positions interchangeably as in the case of Silat Kuntau Tekpi and Silat Kuntau Sendeng. Therefore, when one is defending, the other is attacking. This quick change is an extension of the hands' ability to slip between offence and defence,
unlike the Keris which depends on the different parts of the weapon to facilitate a defensive or offensive mode.

In very Chinese influenced arts such as the Yunnanese-originated LianPadukan (there's a great site on it at please do check it out), the tekpi is held in Jantan-Jantan position, rarely if ever receding to the Betina position. The weapons form is similar to the butterfly knife forms I've seen in Wing Chun (because they're both Southern Chinese styles). The tekpi is flexible enough to defend against any bladed or blunt weapon. However, its speed and versatility depends largely on the user himself.

Is it used offensively?

Yes, it is used offensively. The main methods used are Tumbuk (punch), Titik (whipstrike), Pukul (strike), Tikam (thrust), Sebat (whip), Tangkap (trap), Kunci (lock), Patah (break), Hentak (slam), Parang (slash) and so on. According to my Silat Kuntau Sendeng teacher, cikgu Jamaludin Shahadan, the Bugis people used to modify their tekpi for war, sharping the tip of the centre prong to a cone-like shape the length of one jengkal, while the rest of the tekpi remained an octagon shape.

In other cases, the last jengkal on the tekpi actually recedes into a proper blade. Both of these variations are used together with a leather armguard worn on the tekpi hand. Although he has never shown me a sample of this, a couple of years back (it's still around, I can probably get a picture of it to you) we discovered an old tekpi that had this conical shape. It was a small pair (even I could barely use it, couldn't execute a couple of moves), which seemed strange to me
because Buginese are huge-built people. This can only mean that this idea wasn't isolated to Bugis warriors, or there actually was a mini-Bugis warrior running around.

"Are the techniques similar to the use of a golok?"

I wouldn't know if Malaysian golok techniques are similar to Indonesian style golok techniques since as I understand it, only the Javanese use the golok. Malaysian styles generally resemble Sumatran in technique and temperament. Most Golok techniques in Malaysia conform to Arabic sword techniques. In Malay they're called Rencong Mengkuang (45 degree uppercut slash), Perpang Gantang (45 degree downward slash), Belah Pinang (a downward centre cut) and Baling
Lembing (the thrust). I could be mistaken since most silat use this, but there could also be those that I haven't seen.

Additionally, cikgu Jamaludin also mentioned that the Maduranese (very hot-tempered Malays from Madura) have very high skill in the cabang. I read once that the late Donn F Draeger once commented on the Indonesian cabang skill (I don't remember which clan he was referring to) surpassed those of Japanese origin. From the way my teacher tells it, I would suspect it
surpasses Malaysian skill as well.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Rapier Tekpi!

My New Tekpis and Tengkolok Headwrap!

For the past several days, my constant companions have been two battle-ready Malaysian Tekpis - expertly forged by the hand of Cikgu Jamaludin Shahadan - president of Pertubuhan Seni Silat Sendeng Malaysia.

One of the most interesting aspects of this pair is that they are not identical. While one is more or less standard for Malaysian tekpis, the heavier of them could accurately be described as a “Buginese War Tekpi” having a unique belimbing (“Star Fruit”) shape to the blade. More descriptive photos will follow later. Cikgu Jamal renders it in English as the "Rapier Tekpi".

The certificate which Cikgu Jamal issued along with these superb blades reads thus:


My undying gratitude to Cikgu Jamal for forging these weapons, and to Cikgu Lan for going so far out of his way to help a "junior brother".

Thursday, February 08, 2007

On the term KUNTAU

Cikgu Jamal - Master of Silat Sendeng and Panday

There is some confusion here in the West surrounding the term 'Kuntau' in Silat Melayu. I asked my dear friend, the incomparable Saiful Azraq, to provide a brief explanation for the edification of us Westerners. Below are Saiful's words:

The word Kuntau itself means many things to many different people in many different areas. This has been expanded and discussed in other forums as pertains to the Chinese origins of the word and art, which later spread to Indonesia. I won't pretend to even understand that aspect.

However, what I can do is tell you what the word means to many Malaysians.

As far as my surveys go, the word Kuntau in Malaysia can refer to one of three core ideas: A) a purely or mostly Chinese-originated style b) a syncretic Chinese-Melayu style or c) a purely Melayu style with mostly hard aspects.

The first core idea refers to any Chinese style now popularly known as Kung Fu. Before the word was popularised in Malaysia, Kuntau or Koontow was the norm. Because of the relative hardness (to silat) of the styles that came to the country via immigration, all Chinese art became known by the blanket term Kuntau.

The second core idea refers to any Chinese style absorbed into a Melayu silat style. One example is Silat Sendeng Malaysia. According to guru Jamaludin Shahadan, President of Pertubuhan Seni Silat Sendeng Malaysia, the present day Sendeng style promoted by the organisation is a marriage of many different hard styles by its founder, the late Haji Abdul Hamid Hamzah.

Of Bugis descent, the founder's own family were inheritors of a version of Kuntau, a Chinese art modified by the Bugis long ago (and its seems, many other cultures within Nusantara as well) into an accepted silat style. He studied and reclaimed Sendeng, a traditional Bugis silat style which fights with a lead shoulder, which was a natural complement to his Kuntau studies, which fights with no lead.

However, Silat Sendeng Malaysia, to this day, is known by only its Melayu name, since the Kuntau aspect is only taught as the beginner phase while Sendeng is meant to be the final objective of the studies.

(It's interesting to note that there are manu Sendeng styles today that pride itself on being 'authentic' in that they still only fight off the vertical rather than the horizontal, and Silat Sendeng Malaysia was regarded many years ago as being unauthentic).

The third core idea is related to the Melayu's idea of the hardness of kuntau. Thus, any silat style that bears very little softness as the Melayu are used to seeing, is labelled Kuntau, even though the art itself was not born of Chinese elements.

One example is Silat Kuntau Tekpi (SKT), which shares some technical and historical background with Silat Cekak (of Ustaz Hanafi fame) and Silat Kalimah. The word 'Kuntau ' in SKT, is according to present Pak Guru, cikgu Sani Zainol Abidin refers to the hardness of the techniques and not its origin. This was a decision made in the 1960s, when he was forced to register the art as such, because another art was already using the moniker 'Silat Tekpi'. Otherwise, the original intention was to call it Silat Tekpi too.

The original Silat Kalimah syllabus and the present Silat Cekak syllabus both contain buah which have the word Kuntau in it. When Ustaz Hanafi was asked as to why this was and whether the art absorbed Chinese influences, he replied that all it meant was that these techniques contain hard forms. The word implied this.