Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pencak Silat Pertempuran Structure

It often comes as a surprise to people that all pencak silat systems are not equal. Many people don't even consider the fact that there are several hundred different systems in existence today - perhaps even a thousand or more. In any case, there is great variety in the systems themselves as well as the method they are taught and what is deemed as valuable.

Pencak Silat Pertempuran offers a pencak silat program that is unique in it teaching structure and philosophy. What sets us apart can be summarized by three words - combat in relationship. Being familiar with the chaos of combat it is easy to understand why martial artists often have a difficult time applying the techniques they learn. To help clarify, I will list some of the problems encountered and some of the ways a curriculum could address these issues.

An issue not often addressed is the reality, that you cannot always apply a technique on an opponent, even after years of training. Have you ever wondered why? I did. Through the study of that one issue, I found that it could actually be broken up into two major categories, each with appropriate subcategories. These are the major categories that I've identified: 1.) Opponents are free-will beings and 2.) the system does not consider failure.

The first component - Your opponent being a free-will individual - means that you cannot control what the opponent does, how they act or don't act. The ramifications are that you are unable to control your opponents movement and responses to your movements, let alone their response to your counter-attacks. This means that you are left with an inability to apply all of those cool techniques that you've learned, simply because often you cannot get close enough, and when you do the attacker may not act as your training partner did or do the prescribed response you were given. Sometimes this issue can be understood as an inability to "enter." Pencak Silat Pertempuran has both offensive and "defensive" entries which are designed to limit the mobility of an attacker in some instances, as well as disrupt the attacker at their most vulnerable time - during their own attack. Consider it.

This ultimately leads into the second area that is not often addressed, the idea that your techniques may fail. In fact, the idea that your techniques will LIKELY fail. I have seen martial art after martial art - pencak silat included - that assumes that if the attacker does X, then I do Y, and then I can continue to do what I want until the technique is completed or the attacker is rendered harmless. This is simply not going to happen in most cases, so how have you planned for that? Pencak Silat Pertempuran attempts to build in failsafe methods within the system. That is to say, not that our methods never fail, but that they can and do fail but often when they fail, they lead to other alternative responses that are built into the system itself. It is trained adaptability versus accidental.

Both of the reasons listed above are the primary reason for the structure of Pencak Silat Pertempuran. The system is broken into small pieces that are designed to be put together in various combinations randomly to "create" an appropriate response to a given and ever changing situation. In addition, the pieces also allow us to be more accutely aware of the timing of combat. It is our belief that combat is a 1-to-1 ratio. That is, that for every move your opponent makes you must make a counter move AND only at that specific time is it appropriate. After that moment passes, any attempt to counter based on a previous beat will result in a failed technique. Your attacker is constantly changing and the relationship is constantly changing - you cannot freeze time.

BTW, If your martial art doesn't fail, then it has probably never been tried!


Steve Perry said...

Good post, Sean.

SilatBlogger said...

Hi Steve

It's written pspcentric - but of course it is a general statement of things witnessed and unfortunately, trained...

Steve Perry said...

Yeah, true enough.

We also believe that a one-to-one attack/defense eventually goes to the attacker -- you can't get ahead of the power curve, and the attacker controls the exchange -- he throws, you respond, it keeps going like that, and sooner or later, you miss one.

We think the way past this is to use half-beat responses -- he throws one, you throw two, and this then gives you the edge.

No big secret technique here -- we're all about position and timing, not power.

SilatBlogger said...

For sure the best bet is to be offensive. For those times when we have to be defensive though, there is an option that exists if the timing and things go in your favor, which is: Direct counter.

Essentially there are various degress of defense. They are:

Attacker attacks - you defend and do so continuously as you have mentioned. Timing is behind and you are trying to play catch up. This is where many martial arts live it seems...

Attacker attacks - you counter attack. You may eat it a little but so might the attacker and sometimes this works to upset the balance and change the timing. It's really a toss-up as to who will lose. Timing is slightly behind and to make up for it you just attack and hope for the best. Often seen as toe-to-toe slugfest a lot of MMA seems to resort to this.

Attacker attacks and you direct counter. Which is, that you counter the attacker by using your own attack BUT this time, you avoid their attack altogether and utilize the weakness of their attack against them. This is a way to get back the timing in a "defensive" situation. Not truly defensive as such. Timing is good. You may have seen something that gave you an edge and you were able to just read an attack. This is where the majority of PSP is trying to live or initiate our training from. We don't expect to succeed necessarily and training honestly keeps that real, but if you don't train it, you can only do it by accident.

Attacker is attacked. You are the offensive one and you launch an attack as soon as you see signs of aggressiveness. Safer but must be sure of yourself for the sake of the law. Then, the rest are probably just degress of the previous ones listed with you as attacker versus defender.

In essence, position and timing are essential just like yourself and of course half-beats can make an essential difference too. For us, I try to communicate it like playing pool. Yes, you definitely need to make contact, but you should constantly be setting yourself up for the next thing not just randomly hitting around... It's different from pool in the sense that there is much more happening and it's often difficult, if not impossible, to know what the next shot should be, but we try to develop the skill to always be in known positions and angles to be able to more readily see what's available. Work from known starting points rather than haphazardly doing it.

Similar in principle but manifested differently it seems.