Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Silat Melayu Class Notes: Selisih

"Greeting by Fur"

Some notes from last class:

You’re either going to whack him (pukulan), hurl him (buangan), or lock him (kuncian). Right now, we’re focused on the third alternative.

The first step is to waylay the oncoming attack. Next priority is to target a joint on the attacking extremity – but don’t get too attached to it, because it’s only a means to an end. You already know where the kuncian is headed. If the wrist is closest, it’ll do. Same goes for the elbow, or whatever.

Now is when you either begin to shut him down for good OR he makes you sorry you got up this morning. So pay attention, please.

If the opponent is alive, he’ll start to resist. He may explode towards you, or he may try to pull away. He may try to root down. He may throw the other hand, or he may kick – so many possibilities! If you’re a typical grappler, you will most likely attempt to out-muscle the opponent at this point. If you are bigger and stronger than him, that ‘may’ work but you ain’t doing Silat Melayu – and if your opponent is than you’ve just opened yourself to more counters than IKEA at X-mas.

At this point, we should understand the petua of Jantan Betina (Comparative Energy). In locking, the physical application of this petua is Selisih (Passing). Think of two cats passing each other going in opposite directions: they don’t bump heads or shake hands – they greet by their fur. There is a simultaneous, complimentary movement (or adjustment) by both parties.

This is essentially the example you have to follow in response to your opponent’s attempted counter.

There are two other complimentary petua you have to be aware of at this stage: Lam Alif (soft redirection) and Mata Angin (sharp redirection). Fight smart and let him decide exactly how he will fall into whichever kuncian he ends up in – as you remove the final remnants of his leverage.

NOTE: If you are just practicing a buah on its own, you won’t encounter this situation because you are directing the whole show. This issue only presents itself when the guy is resisting. Start with an easy entry – like Cenkaman Harimau and then have your partner actively resist.

Have fun and be careful.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Sneaking to the Ribs"

The "secret" of Susup Rusuk:
Maintain control of the opponent's right arm throughout the takedown, and lock the right elbow when he hits the ground.

Note to my Malaysian friends: I know it's not really a 'secret' to you guys, but around here...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Kecik kecik tak nak mampus, dah besar menyusahkan orang"

Jones explaining the finer points of Kembang Layar in New York

Monday, November 15, 2010

Class Notes: Silat Melayu

Keep them on their toes...

I decided to post some notes from our last class.

Each class includes a lesson in Theory, and then proceeds to hands-on Practical Application. The theories presented are taken from my discussions with notable Silat Melayu instructors from disciplines such as Silat Kuntau Tekpi, Silat Cekak Hanafi, Silat Kalimah, and Silat Abjad. 9 times out of 10, this section will begin with the words “Nadzrin says…”(!)

The physical part of the lesson will usually focus on a particular buah, petua, weapon, or drill such as Silat Pulut, and of course the basic training form of SKT known as Pelebat. I like to have students perform the buah time after time without a partner. This way, I can correct and hone their movement without the “accompaniment” of a feeder. If a student really understands the buah, I should be able to see it clearly in his solo movement. We also like to look for the source of a particular buah within the Pelebat.

In this week’s Theory we looked at the sequence of Petua in regards to our own movement, and then demonstrated how this sequence is exactly reversed in order to affect a kuncian that “kills” the opponent’s movement. We also examined how one should be able to re-purpose a grappling buah for striking, and vice-versa based on understanding these principles. This led to some very interesting pecahan.

We focused on two buah in particular: Radak Maut and Kera Sumbang. There will be no photo illustrations for this post. If you would like to learn these techniques, then please apply to your nearest Silat Kuntau Tekpi instructor.

Buah: Radak Maut


We’ve seen and practiced a version of this buah a few years back from a Sumateran system. The initial step was the same. The tangkis was ‘hard’, and the takedown (or pull-down) brings the opponent over your front leg, down to under you between your planted feet. Note that the orientation of your feet and torso remain fixed throughout the buah until the end. When the opponent is on the ground, you’re pinning him under your rear knee.

In the Sumateran variation, you must keep a good bend in the front knee. Pull him towards you to break his balance and then ‘trip’ him over that knee.

In the SKT version, the step and the tangkis are for the most part the same as above. However, during the takedown you pivot 180 degrees on both feet, so that you finish the buah facing the exact opposite direction from where you began. You should end in a semi-crouch, with the shin of your rear leg pressing into the opponent’s ribcage.

There’s no need to ‘muscle’ the opponent to the floor. Once you’ve seized your respective targets with the hands, use your body weight and momentum from the pivot to accomplish the takedown. It requires less strength than the first example.

Buah: Kera Sumbang

This buah is one of my personal favorites, but it can be tricky. If you think about it, we use this takedown all the time in different variations. Let me make the following suggestions: First, you may take a small initial step out with the left foot before the right foot moves into position. Don’t step in as deep as you do on Radak Maut.

Now, I have found that if the left hand pulls the opponent backwards from the forehead, you’ll “lose” him as you pivot. Instead, try to turn his head from the corner of the chin toward his left shoulder and then pull ‘down-and-in’ as opposed to ‘back-and-out’. Imagine how you would take him down if you were hooking his neck with a tekpi or a knife in pakal grip – do the same with your left hand. Then if you really want to be cool (and I’m sure you do) make sure to hack him as he falls – instead of after he’s already on the ground.

If you’re still having trouble getting the hang of the takedown, try it using the entry from Patah Seni.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

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.

Monday, November 08, 2010

...and a word from our Sponsor

Manong Leon "Tito Jun" Saludo


Thanks for the write up and the memories. Can't believe it's been that long. Rochester was first of the seminars which were followed by gatherings in
Detroit that Jay and I had attended and had never missed any since.

Yes, Rochester was where it all started. Where the three great minds and practitioners in FMA Pekiti in particular formally met. Doug Marcaida of Rochester, Jeff Davidson of Michigan and Jay Saludo of Saskatchewan Canada who got together and later founded and formed the formidable "Brotherhood of the Blade". Rochester was also the place where the exposure of a knife style that was, as Jeff always say "honed and proven on the streets of Lipa City, Batangas" in which later on was baptized by Jay as the "Barako Batangueno Knife" in honor of the handful of men called "Barakos" of Lipa City, Batangas.

The Barako knife as mentioned was first informally shown and introduced to Jeff Davidson which I recall started in a hallway then to a dimly lit room adjacent to the seminar. The meeting was short and sweet which was ended with a small talk about the style to the rest of the Detroit boys Bassam, Little Damon, Dean, Jeff D. and Jay M. It was a year later in Detroit that Barako was introduced to Doug Marcaida and the rest was history.

Barako is not for eveybody it is not a martial art or a system. Yours truly is not even a martial artist.

In Barako there is no such thing as rankings. Barako knife did not exist in the public eye till it's exposure 6 years ago in Rochester. However, there was a knife style exclusive to a handful of individuals (seven to be precise) honed on the streets of Lipa Batangas that started 46 years ago.

Saying so, in RECOGNITION of the individuals who embraced
Barako, Jay and I decided to honor such individuals by presenting them with full certification of instructorship in Barako Batangueno. The current and only recipients are Jeff Davidson, Doug Marcaida and upcoming Ed P. of Saskatchewan. For now Jeff and Doug are the only one's who has the authority to certify an associate trainer whom they see fit in the style. Most likely there will be one more individual in the very near future for full certification but that would be more of Jay's choosing. It would involve the old barakos with a slight taste of something fresh.

In closing, to Jeff thanks again and to the others (Doug and Jay) all responsible for the evolution, growth and propigation of Barako knife on what it was before and what it is (still) now however small, raw and un-orthodox it may be.

Tito Jun

Friday, November 05, 2010

Batangas Knife Part 7: Bothoan Batangas

Some years later, in Michigan

That weekend was one of the most significant experiences of my martial arts career. We learned a lot of very important things from all of the great teachers there, and in a lot of ways it set the course that my students and I would follow for years to come – and are still following today.

The impression that the Batangas knife made on my mind was even deeper than the one it made on my arm. We stayed close to Tito Jun for the remainder of the weekend, taking in stories, philosophy, and perspective from his personal life. It was a window into a violent and frightening world. Whatever Tito may have lacked as far as “formal training” was more than made up for by his life experiences on the brutal streets of Lipa City, Batangas. I have met a few other individuals like him in various other places in the world. The truly dangerous ones are always quiet, soft-spoken, and low key. You’re not likely to notice them, and the price for ending up outside of their good graces can be heavy. That’s always the mold, as it were.

There was an obvious question on my mind, and while I did not quite have the (balls) to ask Tito directly, I tested the water with his son Jay – and was not encouraged “Well ka Jeff, Dad really doesn’t teach anyone outside of the family.” Another member of the Saskatchewan Kali group would later say to me “Oh yeah…Jay’s dad never teaches anybody anything. He just cuts us, and that’s about it.” That was less than promising.

On the evening before our trip back to Detroit, my students and I stopped to eat dinner at an Outback Steakhouse restaurant. As we destroyed three Blooming Onions, we made two solemn resolutions: First, we would no longer train in public. We had been holding weekly classes in the upper floor of the former Gold’s Gym in Dearborn, but we needed something more secluded. We decided that with enough time and materials, we could build a suitable, private facility much closer to home and away from prying eyes.

The second resolution would be far more difficult, if not impossible to achieve. We convinced ourselves – perhaps under a delusion of grandeur – that somehow…someway… Tito Jun himself would be the first guest instructor in our newly constructed school.

Well, time passed. In a matter of about 6 months, with the help of two foremen and one student in particular who really knew what he was doing – and with the blessing of Heaven – the students and I put the finishing touches on our new training hall. We (somewhat presumptuously) christened it BOTHOAN BATANGAS.

The other resolution took a lot more time and effort to come to pass. After nearly a year of constant communication and “negotiation”, and with the generous encouragement of my brother Jay, Tito Jun finally agreed to accept me as his student. If you ask me why he agreed in the end, I have to say that I don’t know. Maybe one day if he’s willing, Tito will tell us. It would seem to suggest that nothing is impossible if you go about it the right way, and the stars are favorable.

There were a number of conditions. For example, we could not practice in public (ok…got that one covered) Also, for the time being, instruction would be limited only to those students whom Tito had met in Rochester. Furthermore, in the near future Tito Jun would need to personally approve any potential student from our ranks who I was considering to learn his method. We complied.

Fate took its course. About a year after our initial meeting, the next Brotherhood of the Blade gathering took place in Detroit. The Saskatchewan contingent arrived a few days early, and our formal instruction began.

Today, more than 6 years later, I was most graciously awarded full Instructor status in Tito Jun’s method.

My friends, now you know how the story began, from the perspective of your humble narrator.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Batangas Knife Part 6: "Relax Kumpadre"

We're coming to the close of this story...

I awkwardly tried to summarize everything that had taken place over the past 30 minutes or so. Remember, nothing of value is attained without sacrifice. So in the further pursuit of Knowledge, I offered my own students up for sacrifice. “Tito Jun, can I see what you just did on one of them?!?” Never let it be said that my students are not a reflection of their teacher. The lambs obligingly went to slaughter. For the next 5 minutes I got to observe Tito Jun working them over, one after another. But no more blood was spilled.

Watching from a third-person perspective didn’t give me any more insight into his technique. I could neither see nor follow anything he did. His use of footwork, range, targeting – even the way he held the knife was very different than anything I had seen previously. In spite of what he told me earlier about not being a ‘martial artist’, Tito was without question a Master of his craft. It was raw, real, and I admit…terrible.

Suddenly from the doorway, came the unmistakable howl we all had come to know so well: “JEFF! WHAT IS GOING ON IN HERE?” It was the featured instructor for the weekend. His hands were on his hips and he was using his command voice. That would have been another ‘Kodak moment’ – the looks on our faces as my students and I felt like had been somehow been busted – standing there like gaping fools holding our training knives.

Tito Jun (no knife in his hand now) cool as ever, just smiled and called out “Relax kumpdare, ka Jeff and his students were just trying to teach me that great drill you were showing!”

One more post to go!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Batangas Knife Part 5: "Guro are you ok?"

I didn’t want to offend him by calling any undue attention to the cut, so quickly as I could, I moved the wrist band I was wearing up my arm to cover it.

Tito continued in a very matter-of-fact tone “You have to be careful with that last thrust I just did ka Jeff, because the knife might get stuck in your lower jaw bone. It’s okay if I’m only facing one opponent, because I could just leave it there and go home…but I don’t want it sticking if there are more people coming.”

No…we wouldn’t want that - I thought. “So you have to be conscious of how you pull the blade out.”

We squared off again, and several times after that as well. Each short exchange ended with similar results, only I didn’t sustain any more actual cuts. My heart rate was very elevated at this point and the arm band was literally soaked with blood. He explained everything he did in terms of anatomical targets, with unsettling graphic detail regarding how the opponent would physically react to being slashed or stabbed in a particular place. I won’t recount his exact descriptions, but they were based on his own personal experiences. It was like listening to a combat medic describe shrapnel wounds- only from the perspective of inflicting them rather than treating them.

He invited me to slash. I obliged with [what I thought was] a sneaky cut taken from the knife drill we had just learned earlier. Tito halted my arm with the dull edge of his blade before it even came into range of the target. Ka Jeff, only a dummy or someone with a lot of fancy Kali training would try that in a real fight. Slash like you’re trying to kill me!”

My recollection is a little fuzzy from here. It had been a brutal morning workout; I was running on 4 cups of coffee and ½ a bagel; plus I was actually in a mild state of shock from the cut on my arm. I remember looking up and seeing some familiar faces. The seminar in the next room had paused for a short break and my students had come looking for me. Of all the pictures we took during that trip, the one I regret not taking was the collective expressions on the faces of my students as they stood there wondering just what in the hell was going on.

Finally, one of them spoke: “Guro…ah…are you okay?”

To be continued...

Monday, November 01, 2010

Batangas Knife Part 4: Blood

Read below to see why I am wearing that armband

I should emphasize that he didn’t wait for me to feed anything. He just started closing, and I was immediately on the defensive.

In spite of a lingering feeling of doubt, I responded with a fast, direct thrust to his center, which he neither parried nor angled away from, but somehow “slipped” past. Then true to his word, he unleashed two lightning slashes and a finishing upward thrust that ended with the tip of the blade perpendicular under my chin.

It was so fast that I hadn’t even had time to withdraw my failed thrust, let alone answer his combination. He stepped back. “That’s what we used to call ‘Tres Cantos’.

With my arm still outstretched, I opened my hand and allowed the wooden knife to drop straight to the floor. I’ll never forget that moment. I wasn’t being dramatic. I was making the point to him and to myself that I had just been ‘owned’ – as they say. He seemed to receive the gesture. When I reached down to pick up the knife at my feet I observed a small circle of blood droplets on the floor. The inside of my arm was bleeding from a cut. There was also a spot of blood on Tito’s knife.

Very few people would understand how I reacted at that point.

To be continued...