Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays - PSA

On behalf of my students I would like to wish everyone a safe and joyous Holiday season. May you spend it peacefully in the company of those you love.

Also at this time we would like to bring your attention to an important Community program that we have initiated during this significant time of year called Blades-for-Tots. Your generous donation of dagas, kerambits, badiks, Spyderco folders, Cold Steel tantos, etc., will ensure that the younger generation of Kali enthusiasts -like the eager young man pictured above - will inherit a meaningful legacy when they begin their own Journey in the SE Asian martial arts.

Just imagine the unbounded joy of a little one waking up eagerly on Christmas morning to discover a genuine CRKT M16 or Emerson PUK lovingly placed beside the latest X-Box game in their stocking! Share the warmth. Share the blades.

Blades are currently being accepted now through June 1st, 2012 at the Bothoan Batangas Training Hall.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Senamam Tua Seminar - No Pain No Gain

My thanks to everyone who came out before, during, and after the seminar. We had a great time and learned a lot. I hope everyone is rested (and can walk). Well done!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

You asked for it - Senaman Tua Seminar

By popular demand:

We will be hosting a special seminar devoted entirely to Senaman Tua and its relationship to health, martial arts, joint-strength and preservation, and overall wellness. If you have joint problems – or even if you just have joints – Senaman Tua will do wonders for your strength and flexibility.

Feel free to peruse the testimonials from my students here on this very blog. I am not exaggerating when I say:


Where: Bothoan Batangas Training Hall

When: Sunday December 18th 12:00pm – 2:00pm (or until you can’t take it anymore!)

What: I will be teaching a basic routine of upper-body, lower-body, and core exercises as I learned them from my teacher, Cikgu Omar Hakim.

Who: Open to all Detroit Maphilindo students. NOTE: members of the public welcome to attend but must pre-register. Please email me for details.

For additional background, please read below from Guru Azlan Ghanie’s book:


Senaman Tua ("petua" the advice of the elders/tip, while "Tua" means old) is founded by guru Azlan Ghanie. The word 'Senaman' is interpreted as a physical movement or exercise whereas 'Tua' is translated as ancient since it is inherited from the people of the past.

Senaman Tua was inspired by the teachings of guru Azlan's father, Abdul Ghanie bin Abu Bakar, who originated from the royal Melayu family of Merpati Jepang from Sarawak. His family is also connected to the silat family of his mother's Bugis ancestors (Rogayah binti Jaafar, Jaafar bin Endut).

Incidentally, Endut was the person who unified all Pahang silat gurus from Pahang and had also revived silat at Gong Kapas in Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, during the 1930s and 1940s. His son, Jaafar, taught silat to the royal Melayu family in Kampung Gajah, Perak and Johor in the 1940s.

The exercises begin with the raising of one's spiritual and physical well being. This is why Senaman Tua begins with an upright standing posture and a smile before practising proper breathing (using the Nafas Melayu technique), and the physical exercises begin from the soles of the feet.

The concept of 'beginning from your feet' in Senaman Tua comes from the advice of his mother's friends who often stoppd by his home in Pekan, Pahang. According to Melayu culture, one has to pour cold water on one's feet first before proceeding to bathe the other parts of the body. With that, the first Senaman Tua exercise begins with the soles of your feet.

Joints and Senaman Tua Basics

Senaman Tua originates from the basics of standing, in particular, how the Melayu stand, sit, lies down and move. All of these movements tell a story like that of a complete and well-dressed warrior.

In the sitting exercise, they start with the cross-legged sitting position on the floor. from this position, one can extrapolate various different leg exercises such as folding, tiptoeing, squatting, stretching, etc.

In the concept of self-defense, sitting cross-legged will also train preparedness in defending against attacks from the 4 compass directions (front, rear, left, and right) with minimum movement.

The sitting exercise is followed by prone exercises (lying on your back).

After the prone session, Senaman Tua enthusiasts can do the hand exercises while standing. Focus is given to the joints and the strength comes from practising the 'petua'.

To the warrior, the palms are regarded as the 'fruit' or the 'furthest fruit'. The elbow is the 'inner fruit' and when the hand is straightened it is regarded as the 'branch'. The shoulder is the base of the branch.

Speed and Strength
This Melayu exercise system specialises in building speed and strength. More precisely, the exercises focus on joint strength via its various extrapolations.

One of the hand exercises strengthens the shoulders and, among is foundation for locking and takedown techniques in Silat Melayu by pushing the enemy's shoulders to the ground and livens up the body's movement in self-defense acts. It also heals injury in the shoulders, nape and waist if done correctly under the guru's supervision.

One of the hand dances can develop into strikes, traps, locks, counterlocks and other techniques. The knowledgeable martial artist will be able to unlock various locks with a minimum effort or strength.

Senaman Tua has an objective and to pursue this journey, it begins from an origin. Breathing too has an origin, i.e. concentration is focused in the navel. The same thing applies in performing Senaman eTua exercises when sitting, lying down, hand dances, standing and striding; there is a clear objective when it starts from the base.

In these gentle Melayu exercises, besides those done upon waking from sleep and the imitation of animal body movements, exercises like bathing, washingclothes by the river, boat rowing and various other movements have been adopted. the 'stretching out' movement culminates in the waist area whether the torso is raised or remains upright (focusses on the navel and waist).

In sports science this technique is called stretching and is also known in Senaman Tua as 'body relaxation', where one has to stretch out to acquire this stimulating feeling.

The ancient Melayu believed that the body will not be at ease either due to an improper diet or because of lack of exercise. It is believed that the body contains 'wind'. In sports, if you cannot perform well, it is said you are 'winded'. When you go for a massage you will definitely burp (so will the masseur) when you are releasing 'wind'.

Silat Melayu Core
The moves in Senaman Tua come from Silat Melayu where it was practiced in the ancient palace households. It was used in countering attacks from their enemies. In their fights, speed, strength and accuracy were their priorities (they still are). Quick thinking, speed in dodging, strength in attacking and accuracy to the targeted points on the enemy's body had been and still are the major requirements.

When seeking combative knowledge, the warrior's highest priority is delving into his inner self. Such knowledge imparts thus: To be missed when stabbed at and to counter when evading. It means that, when facing his enemy, he is ready to evade, deceive and attack - all simultaneously. When attacked, he evades and deceives, and he attacks without the enemy being able to counter.

Silat is also acknowledged as a study in movements which deliver attacks and counter-attacks with speed, strength and accuracy. The breathing technique of Nafas Melayu enlivens or brings alive the movements in Silat, further enhancing these unique movements.

Nafas Melayu becomes the starting from which all movements are born. This method is thought to have been acquired from the reflex actions of frightened children. It is well known in the Melayu community as 'contraction of the stomach', where frightened children ran so fast that they literally jumped over wide ditches and climbed tall trees.

This method produces unique strength. In combat, the enemy attacks from different angles and one has to evade and step out of attacks or step in to deliver attacks. It becomes the basis of speed and liquid movement. After the Nafas Melayu routine, the body is ready to move like the wind.

The sole exercise is the beginning of the physical exercise to complete the body's movement in combat or Silat with the soles coming coming alive to step, to wiggle the waist, dodge or evade and to deceive with the flower hand dance.

That's the philosophy of Melayu self-defense in Silat. As proclaimed - where there's spirit, there's soul. The spirit means living, whereas the soul is the strength in the moves. Each exercise in Senaman Tua has its own story. The story is to stride or retreat and therefore your ankle joints need to be strong. The ankles are the key instrument in carrying the body's weight.

You can build such strength to carry the body by practicing the tiptoe exercise. Concentration then is on the knee joints because the knees need to bear the body's weight and to maintain balance. Concentration is then centred towards the waist before proceeding to the hand exercises such as the wrists, elbows and shoulders.

The Melayu warriors do not increase their muscles in size for strength. Strength is obtained from strengthening of the joints in exercise.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Kuya Doug

Is it PTK?

Is it KDL?

It's The Brotherhood of the Blade!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Give Thanks

A long weekend is upon us! Especially ‘round this time of the year I like to take advantage of the short time off from the daily grind for a special period of contemplation and introspection around the theme of Thanksgiving.

Indeed we have much to be thankful for – and I hope you do as well. Acknowledge it. Do express your feelings of Gratitude (in a truly meaningful way) to your own Inner Self; to the Divine; and to the people who have supported you on your journey so far.

I give thanks to my Gurus in all the different parts the World for supporting my elevation patiently and generously. For your criticism and for your praise – and for teaching me the Art of accepting both. Mabuhay!

I give thanks to my Comrades-in-Arms Kuya Doug Marcaida and Ka Jay Saludo for sustaining with vigor the Brotherhood of the Blade. Our Brotherhood. Our Family. Our Ideals. The manifestation of our Vision – to which we have held true without wavering going on 9 years now. Mabuhay!

I give thanks to my students: for your dedication, your hard work, your interest, your desire to know more, your desire to do it better, your discipline, your sacrifice, for representing your Teacher and your Lineage with honor, and for realizing that what we are doing is bigger than all of us. For being the best group of students any Teacher has ever had…Mabuhay!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Teachers and Students pt 1: Teachers

The hallmark of a superior Teacher: He doesn’t just impart information, he guides each student according to the individual’s unique needs, strengths, and weaknesses. In the context of Martial Arts, it’s one thing to merely demonstrate techniques for a student to copy. The real task is to give the student the proper guidance in the right measure, so that he develops to his full potential – whatever that potential might be.

Not every student is destined to be a Master.

Not every student is destined to be a Teacher.

Not every student is destined to even be ‘good’.

Regardless, everyone can at least get Better. Everyone can improve, grow, and reap the innumerable benefits of the journey that is training in the Martial Arts. It’s the Teacher’s duty to take the student down that road. On the other side of that coin not everybody who has a license to instruct, is capable of doing it on that level.

It’s difficult to teach this way to large groups of people at the same time. That is why I strongly prefer to teach in a one-on-one type setting. I’m convinced that’s the only way to impart our Arts properly. If we’re training a large group of “recruits” in very specific basic techniques, perhaps that rule doesn’t necessarily apply; but in many cases, the best way to develop the Individual is through direct Guru-to-Student transmission – at least until you get them to the point where they can teach themselves. That itself is a topic for later…

For example, my students and I came to the conclusion long ago regarding Grand Tuhon Gaje, that when we would have him in for a group seminar, the seminar itself could be considered more of a training session (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). However, the real in-depth learning for us would actually take place in the days preceding- and following the seminar, during more intimate sessions of private instruction. Throughout the years, I discovered that several of the old-timers including Guro Ricky Rillera (May G-d Rest His Soul) and Guro Omar Hakim had arrived at a similar conclusion.

From a historical perspective, our Arts were never taught in en masse at large academies, temples, dojos, kwoons, or sprawling state-of-the-art gymnasiums. The Teachers didn’t advertise, and in fact most went out of their way to maintain a very low profile. The traditions and skills were carefully and quietly handed down from generation to generation within a family; within a village; or amongst small, tight-knit groups of compadres. Outsiders were not welcome, for very good and valid reasons.

While studying the indigenous Yoruba fighting arts in West Africa, it happened time and time again that people would come from surrounding villages hoping to train under my teacher. Each time they were summarily turned away. When asked, my teacher offered me the following simple explanation (loosely translated): “If the people in their own village aren’t teaching them, there must be a good reason.”

At times when I’ve attempted to describe this decorum to folks from more conventional Martial Arts backgrounds, they’ve sometimes remarked “Geez is this like some kind of cult?!?!” No. Actually, it’s more like a Secret Society.

There’s another interesting parallel in the Spiritual field (another highly personalized theater). An acquaintance of mine on the East Coast was extremely privileged to be a personal student of the great Rav Kaduri z”l many years ago in Israel. According to my friend, Rav Kaduri – a legendary scholar and certainly one of the greatest Merkubalim (Kabbalists) of our time – had so few private students of his own that his group would often find themselves lacking the 10 men required by Jewish law to form a quorum for prayers.

So there are certain reasons historically and practically that some of the best Teachers in diverse fields prefer to keep their student ratio on the low-end.

Friday, November 11, 2011

G-d Bless Our Veterans

When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?” -George Canning

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Another Class Notes: Silat Melayu

Two buah covered this afternoon:

Titi Batang

Remember that after seizing the opponent’s left arm (after the pijak) you step up and lock his ankle with your left foot at the same time you push the straightened arms forward. After the takedown, you might lose the ankle lock as you remove the left foot, so be sure to sink your shin deep into his thigh in order to maintain control.

Lesung Hindek

Remember the stomp to the center of the back as you move into position for the leg lock. Move your knee not your foot to accommodate the lock.

These two buah achieve similar results – in the “gentle” version, the opponent is locked on the ground while your arms are completely free to draw your weapon. In the “combat” version, it’s basically the same effect only the opponent will most likely never walk again without some kind of assistance.

An example of pecahan with these buah: you begin with the first one, then suddenly you have to pivot 180 degrees to deal with another opponent, while still maintaining control of the one you’ve just taken down. Go into the crouch and draw your weapon!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Orasyon - a Personal Experience Conclusion

At that point I wasn’t sure if the room itself was spinning, or just my head. I felt utterly helpless and homicidal at the same time. My traveling companions were not faring much better, and the fools were now somehow looking to me for a solution to this crisis. Even at that moment, one of them had taken a position dangerously close to my face as he recounted in disbelief the terrible narrative of our trip until this point. I simply looked up at all of them and said “Get the hell away from me for 15 minutes.”

I guess they remembered what happened the one other time I had issued that same warning -and almost instantly- I had the small section of the waiting area almost all to myself.

Breathing deeply, I concentrated my gaze at the upturned palms of my hands (in du’a position) and began to recite the orasyon in my mind. I suppose that I probably looked like any other frustrated, desperate international traveler at the end of his mental/psychic rope. Honestly, I didn’t have a specific objective or result in mind. As ridiculous as our journey home had been so far, and with our present circumstances, it was about as sensible of a response as I could think of. Besides, if nothing else, reciting the orasyon gave me a chance to quiet down and get centered in preparation for whatever we were going to be hit with next.

Fifteen minutes and 250 repetitions later I was at last in a state of calmness. Time to regroup and realistically consider our options at this point.

A short time into our discussion, I noticed a rather tall and ‘official’ looking man wearing dark slacks and a grey blazer emerge from a room behind the ticket counter. He came walking toward us at a brisk pace, carrying a 2-way radio and a clipboard. I was thinking he must be some manager from the airline, or even the airport police. He waded directly into our little huddle, looked me straight in the eye, and said the kindest, most beatific words I had heard in the past 2 weeks: “Come with me, I’m going to get you on the plane.”

Within 20 minutes this gentleman personally shepherded us through a maze of back doors and secret passageways, through ticket counters, customs, and boarding agents. Stopping only to argue with uncooperative airport personnel at various junctures. I don’t speak German, but it was clear to me that the airport people were saying “CAN’T” and he was responding with “CAN” – nodding reassuringly to me the entire time. Somewhere between checkpoints and arguments I asked him who he was. I didn’t completely understand his English, but I got that he was some kind of Customer Service Specialist for the airline.

He finally led us all the way to the gate, where our flight – which should have taken off an hour ago – was still parked! He escorted us all the way on to the plane, pausing for one final argument with the fight attendant, who was reluctant to let us aboard. Before we took our seats I explained to him that I intended to write a glowing letter about his outstanding service to his bosses at the airline, and I asked for his name. He moved the lapel of his blazer aside to give me a clear view of his airport identification tag.

His name was Nicholas Bernardi.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Orasyon - a Personal Experience pt 2

Now, fast forward about 6 months. I had been reciting this orasyon faithfully ever since it had been given to me – probably about 500 times throughout in the course of a day. That’s not really difficult at all. I would habitually recite it to myself while driving to work, walking around the block, watching television, training, etc. All you have to do is replace the normal chatter that goes on in your head throughout the course of a day by focusing instead on the recitation of the orasyon.

As for the effects? I can tell you that I felt absolutely nothing after saying it. There was not even one minute change mentally, spiritually, physically, or otherwise that I could discern after reciting this orasyon for so many months. But I didn’t really care. I did it anyway.

It just so happened at the end of that same year – against my better judgment - I agreed to accompany several of my students on a 2 week excursion to a particularly nasty back-water, 3rd world hellhole very far from anywhere that resembled a civilized society as we think of it. We didn’t exactly have high expectations to begin with, but it was even worse than we anticipated. The trip was excruciating, and we questioned our own sanity at various times for undertaking it. Apart from actually accomplishing the absurd objective of the trip (never mind what that was), we were very happy just to be going home alive and (for the most part) in one piece.

We flew out of that Godforsaken land and 15 hours later, landed in Germany with one hour before we were to board the next flight back to the good ‘ole USA. We had our first decent meal in 2 weeks at the airport, and after waiting in line to get our boarding passes there was one more brutal surprise in store for us at the ticket counter: the airline had screwed up our return flight booking. We weren’t scheduled to leave for another ten days!

After all we had been through, it felt like a final brutal kick to the face. I just about went berserk. The other travelers were backing away just as the airport police were coming closer. The wretched ticket agent called for her manager. After the token insincere apology, we were informed that we would be placed on “standby” status, and could go home on the next available flight – even possibly by the end of the night. Maybe it was the more-than-mildly-psychotic state of mind I was in, but it was at least faint glimmer of hope. After all, I thought, how long could we possibly be here before they put us on another flight.

As I staggered back to the seating area, I noticed a young Asian man casually observing our situation from the sideline. Just as soon as I took my seat, he said to me: “So, they screwed up your return flight and now you’re on standby, right?” I confirmed. “That’s the exact same thing that happened to me!” he said. “How long ago was that?” I inquired. After a long sigh he replied “I’ve been here 3 days so far…”

stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion to our story

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Orasyon - a Personal Experience

So in response to several requests, I will now relate a humble personal experience with Orasyon.

Many years ago I was given an orasyon by a Guru in Hyderabad, India. This Guru spoke very little English, and we communicated through a certain student of his who was proficient in English as well as Telugu. Now, I must give you a bit of detail about this particular student. He lived with his family near this Guru in Hyderabad. By profession, he was a salesman and the majority of his clientele were located here in the United States. Since he felt that his actual name sounded “too foreign” to do business in America, he adopted a Western pseudonym when he interacted with his English speaking clients. The name he went by was “Nicholas Bernardi”.

Why did he adopt that name? It wasn’t arbitrary. If you took the Indian name of that Guru, and “Western-ized” it through a little creative word play, you got a very close pronunciation to “Nicholas Bernardi”. So it was at once a clever play on words and at the same time a sort of tribute to his Guru.

Ok? So just keep all that in mind for later.

The orasyon itself consisted of only six words, and I was given a ‘prescription’ to recite it a specific number of times every day. You see, it was explained to me that the more frequently I repeated the prayer – providing I did it with the appropriate level of concentration, focus, etc. – the more “power” or energy would be accumulated in the words themselves. Sort of like charging a dry-cell battery, if you will. The words of the orayson could even be translated directly to English. No, I’m not going to give the translation (sorry!) but I will tell you that it is neither very profound, nor poetic and would not fit anyone’s idea of “magic” or “power” words in the least. It is merely a simple supplication for the Grace of G-d, through the blessing of this particular Guru and is not even ‘affiliated’ with any religion.

to be continued...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Orasyon cont.

"Metaphysics or Enchantment

This is a much discussed and debated topic of FMA. Technically, they are not weapons, but to the extent they can protect the owner from harm or wounds, or confuse or incapacitate the enemy, then they become accoutrements or instruments of war or combat. We are talking about amulets or charms (anting-anting) and prayers (orasyones).

Amulets are physical, such as human bones (sometimes dug up from graves), special stones, etc., while orasyones are special incantations, with spiritual attributes or powers, attributed to God with overtly religious references, oftentimes with specific goals, i.e., to confuse the enemy, to make the owner impervious to weapons, etc.

A most notable Grandmaster who believed in this was Antonio “Tatang” Ilustrisimo, who carried an amulet and had an “orasyon” tattooed across his chest. It must have worked for him, since he survived a lifetime of death matches and violent street encounters to live to a ripe old age of ninety-three."

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Save the Date!

Kali Weapons Seminar in South Florida with Kuya Doug Marcaida


Friday, November 11 at 6:00pm - November 13 at 4:00pm



More Info

Weapons theories of kali as applied to the karambit and tomahawk.

Seminar will be held on November 11th through 13th...

20841 Johnson St. STE 101
Pembroke Pines, FL 33029

Whether your a beginner, novice, expert, no matter what background in Martial Arts, Cage Fighting, Special Forces, Military, Police Officers, Security, Bouncers, or none at all? You won't want to miss this South Florida!

Numbers to call are :
John Micheal Venegas (954) 450-4666
Miguel Lopez (954) 523-9110
Clint Cayson (561) 843-3482
Jason Marcaida (954)864-1494