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.