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

Monday, October 03, 2011

The Esoteric Side of FMA!

If you spend some time perusing the online FMA forums you’ll notice that a few of the same topics keep popping up on a regular basis ad nauseum:

- Endless debates about the etymology/authenticity of the terms Arnis, Escrima, and Kali.

- Versions and reversions of stories recounting challenge matches between certain schools and/or masters.

- Point-counterpoint debates over Who-Learned-From-Who, or Who-Pirated-Which-Techniques-From-Who.

- The latest lucky guy who inherited a particular system after the previous guy was excommunicated.

- Comparisons of FMA’s with other more mainstream martial arts such as Karate, Kung-Fu, Aikido, etc.

To be honest, I completely stopped caring about all of the above topics and their variants about 20 years ago, and have since focused on more “immediate” issues such as refining my overall skill and mastering (or more realistically, just getting better at) the technique that Ama Guro Jun DeLeon calls Hagibis - from my left side. Come to think of it, the raging debate over the use of the term Kali might even be settled before I master the Hagibis on my left side…but I digress.

One reoccurring topic in particular that does happen to peak my interest concerns the various “supernatural” aspects of Filipino culture that are sometimes discussed in relation to the practice of certain FMA styles. These discussions often encompass: anting-anting (amulets), engkantos (spirits), and orasyon (incantations) among other things.

Now, you’re not likely to hear about such things if you training comes from a dojo that happens to offer a “Filipino Stick-Fighting Class” once a week, or if you train in a completely sport-oriented club. It’s true that the Filipino Martial Arts have finally become so American-ized over here that you can find many expressions of it which are devoid of all the cultural decorum. We call it “A Gi and a Stick”.

However, if you’ve spent time in the Philippines or your Guro has trained there, or especially if your Guro is Filipino, you’ll no doubt hear the legends from time to time. When I’ve seen such topics discussed online, the tone of the postings are usually framed as “Do you believe in…” or “Have you ever experienced…” The responses tend to follow a pattern as well. Some folks dismiss them outright as mere superstition. Others relate that although they have no direct experience with such phenomena, they still respect the traditions of their culture. And then there are some who will recount either anecdotal or direct personal experiences.

These topics tend to be my favorite – not only because I am intrigued by the subject matter, but because they are surprisingly the least dogmatic of the discussions. Unlike the above mentioned topics, no one claims to have the only or last word when it comes to metaphysical side!

At the request of one of my readers, in the next few posts I’ll give some background and perhaps relate a personal experience with Orasyon.

Stay tuned...