Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pencak Silat and the Future of Martial Arts

I'm not a prophet. Nor am I a futurist. I'm not even particularly interested in that type of thing but I have some thoughts to post as I have been contemplating the past 10 years of martial arts. Here is one of those thoughts:

Martial arts have fascinated me for many years. More to the point, combat effectiveness in the martial arts has fascinated me¬—the idea that a person could defend themselves against all attackers and escape unharmed—better yet, that they would even do it easily!

That idea started me on a journey through many different martial arts from various styles of kung-fu, judo, aikido, wrestling, boxing, various styles of weapons fighting and ultimately to pencak silat. My martial studies have included most major regions where martial arts are found—including China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Philippines, United States and South America.

A bulk of my time has been spent teaching what I’ve learned along the way and re-investing what I’ve earned into learning more. As a result of this process I’ve had the opportunity to train with many great martial artists (probably all of which are unrecognized) mostly by travelling to study from them, sometimes from bringing them to me. That said I’ve had a few teachers who have impacted me enough to stay with them for a time—some taught me a detail at just the right time and that’s all that was needed for the progression to continue.

What’s more important than anything has been the pursuit. Not giving up when answers weren’t apparent. Not quitting when it wasn’t cheap or easy or fun. Not moving to a new teacher just because life got tough or because I got bored.

It has been taking what was given to me and working it, working it some more, then working it more until it’s deeper value reared up. That process taught me HOW to learn and keep learning. It’s not spoon-fed—it’s from sweat. My very first long-term teacher taught me that.

The martial arts in the U.S. are at a change point (has been for a little while I think). Few people want to really devote to a thing for long. They are looking for short answers, cliff notes, even guaranteed success. Looking for answers without the responsibility. (A little secret for you—that little hunt will take your whole life and you’ll be lying on your death-bed empty handed.)

The nature of this type of mentality means that 2-3 years is a long time student. Within that amount of time you’ve got to be able to teach the essence of your art and move a person through from A-Z. Systems of the near future at least, have a few possibilities for success. They must be extremely small and easy to learn. Or they must be dynamic and ever-changing so they appear to re-invent themselves from time to time to keep the interest of those that are studying.

IMO, long-term study (a commitment of more than a few years) is a thing of the past. Particularly for the new generation of martial artists working their way up the ranks today, at least for the foreseeable future. Those who do opt for long-term study will benefit from it but there aren’t many willing. Especially when it comes to self-determined study where your primary teacher is you and the feedback you get from doing—rather than imitating. The older students amongst us will continue to be okay with longer-term study but will probably also enjoy the results based training that is upon them as well. This will ultimately usher in a new era of martial arts… and the race is on.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Simple Combat Silat Evasions eBook

I've finally started making eBooks with the materials in an effort to try and get people the material in an affordable and manageable way. I hope to eventually start adding new materials as I am able too, like kerambit and knife, etc.

This eBook has an embedded video of the materials, still photos and the text to make a good package for explaining the pieces.

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Combat Silat Kerambit

The videos I've been posting recently of Kerambit techniques are nothing more than taking our empty hand methods and converting them to a weapon, considering the leverage of the weapon itself. The more you understand of Combat Silat, the easier this becomes since the entire system is based on general movements with specific attributes that are developed for extracting from empty hand to weapon and or weapon to empty hand.

Mostly what you are seeing demonstrated are simple hand entries and trapping and counter trapping methods. They can be finished in any number of ways from Leher Patah (Neck breaks) or Timbilan (Takedowns) or Kuncian (Locks), it just depends and what happens next. This refers to our general system saying of Langkah Dari Batu Ke Batu or Stepping from stone to stone. The idea being that you cannot plan out even 2 or 3 moves ahead in the dynamics of combat. You must be adaptable and that requires that you have built a training method that accounts for failure. No other martial art I have ever studied has been so deliberate in it's training for failure than Combat Silat. In fact, every other silat, kali, arnis, kung fu, kuntao, karate, aikido, or judo system I've studied has done nothing more than provide lip service to the idea.

Few people, even within Combat Silat are aware of the way the fail safe system of Combat Silat works. I cannot honestly say that I have it mastered but I am aware of it. Part of the way it works is this: If you study the trapping methods of Combat Silat (PSP), you'll notice that when you strike to specific targets you will draw reasonably similar responses from most anyone. As a result, you can recognize the failure of it by practicing it repeatedly. Then, when it does fail, you have a response that is built in.

So why not practice a strike that doesn't fail? Well, if there was such a thing I probably would but in reality, any strike (kick, or whatever) can be blocked or messed with so with that in mind, it seems judicious to practice with that in mind and just pick the strike (attack) you feel most comfortable in delivering and countering. If the attack succeeds GREAT! If not, "langkah dari batu ke batu."

Think about it!

Monday, September 07, 2009

pencak silat kerambit

Okay. Is it over yet? What am I talking about? I'm talking about the big hype around kerambit. It's a great weapon, that's extremely efficient at what it does, but it's just a weapon amongst many weapons. I personally like it, but I'm sick of all the hype that has surrounded it. Apparantly so is Guro Mike Blackgrave. He's just posted a video on it to Facebook.

I'll be posting some here soon as well. Just need to get them edited. (There are a few already captured and more to come.)

Look, I think if you want to make the basis of what you do surround a single weapon, that's great, that's target marketing, niche marketing, even good silat. You'll become really deep and good at it. Unfortunately, most of what I see is just... well... not that interesting. It LOOKS totally cool but as far as efficiency and safety and combat effectiveness, I'm not all that convinced.

I guess, that's my point overall. If I look at all my martial arts training, with the various styles I've been involved with, what it comes down to is - I'm not all that convinced. I think there is some good stuff out there but too many of the key components are overlooked. For example, how to enter. This may be the single most overlooked component in the martial arts and without that, all your kerambit skills aren't going to mean diddly if you can't get in on me - and yes - you DO have to get in on me. I may not come to you, as is about 85% of all demonstrations, drills, etc. that exist in martial arts. Thank god that everyone attacks with committment and a freeze frame mentality otherwise there would be a lot less spectacular looking martial arts out there.

Well, since the kerambit is officially passe' now, I may start showing more of it again... and I'll keep preaching about entering.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tangan Bertenun Berpasangan

A Silat Pertempuran training drill that is used for hand coordination but incorporates the majority of the empty hand and close quarters weapons training we do, within it if you desire to use it.

Tangan Bertenun Berpasangan

This is a pencak silat pertempuran training drill that helps people get comfortable with close quarters fighting as well as introduces concepts of flow, body control, counter hitting, etc.

Friday, August 14, 2009

pencak silat - Don't...

It's been a while since i've posted. I have some vids waiting to be posted but I just haven't taken the time to do it. I've been out riding the Sportster... In any case, here are some things you might be able to relate too if you've been in the martial arts for a while.

Don't write me to ask if I think Pencak Silat Pertempuran is good. I do. I've been doing it a long time and I haven't found any single art I like better.

Don't write me to complain about one of the teachers listed on my pages. I don't care. They have ALL taught me something of value.

Don't write me to ask about some other silat school - write them and ask them.

Don't write me to ask about the availability of silat in some little town. If you can't find it on Google then I can't either and it's probably not there.

Don't write me to ask if I'll give you some special discount on items I sell. You probably should save your money if you're that worried about it.

Don't write me to ask how an American could have learned pencak silat. I did it like you - from guru-guru silat. Read the website that's why I have it.

Don't write me to ask how much classes are, for an art you can't find on every corner. If you're that concerned it's probably too much.

Don't write me and and use the term guro after I use the term guru. Pencak silat is not from the Philippines. Guru is the proper title.

Don't write me to ask if there is a PSP teacher or group near you. Read the website. It's all there! Really!

Don't come to my class one or two times, 4 months apart, and ask me to cut you a break on the price. If I wanted to do that, I would have done it from the start.

Don't come to my class and try something 3 times, then - because it doesn't feel comfortable for you - decide it doesn't work. Learning to walk was uncomfortable once too.

Don't come to my class and compare what I do with your martial art of choice. That's just annoying.

Don't come to my class and expect not to get hit. I think there's a TKD school right up the road you can go to...

Don't get pissy with me just because I pick on TKD. Make it so I can't so easily instead.

Don't do kali and then call it silat. It aint.

Don't write me and tell me I'm not doing silat just because it looks different from the ONE style you've ever practiced.

Don't start training with me unless you plan to actually start training with me. I know it seems obvious but you would be surprised... really!

Don't write me about how your silat is so invincible and mine isn't. First off, I don't care. Second, if you're emailing me it's probably not true.

Don't compare sparring with fighting. It aint.

Don't waste my time with excuses. if you tell me how "you can't train because your dog got sick" or some other equally lame excuse. Save it. You're either training or you're not. Period.

There's a whole bunch more that should probably be written but my interest in writing them is phasing out...hope it brought a chuckle.

Guru Stark

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Silat Seminar

Just a quick reminder about the seminar on the 10th and 11th in Grand Rapids, MI. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

1 and 2 totokan

1 and 2 totokan
Originally uploaded by silatjunkie
This the translation of Totokan for number 1 and 2. This is basic and depending on how you did it would represent the varying ways we do it empty hand.

3-4 totokan

3-4 totokan
Originally uploaded by silatjunkie
This the translation of Totokan for number 3 and 4. This is basic and depending on how you did it would represent the varying ways we do it empty hand.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Grand Rapids, MI Silat Seminar

It's been awhile since I've posted - mainly because I don't always know what to post anymore about martial arts. So many of the topics have been done before. Many of the others are just difficult to post about given the nature of martial arts.

In any case, I will be giving a two day seminar in Grand Rapids, MI July 10th and 11th. It will probably be fairly small. Most of mine are. If 10 people make the effort to roll out for it, that'd be a good one.

If some of those attending are PSP people, I will be donating a portion of the time to whatever they want to study. In addition, we will be working with weapons a lot. Stick and knife primarily but we may roll into some other aspects like Bandana, explosive entries, offensive hand entries, set points, telegraphing, combative PSP vs. training PSP and whatever else we decide to do.

Much of this material is unique. I've not seen the material taught by anyone else (no really - no one else) and it's relatively new for me to teach but the material has been extracted from me by my current students here in Florida. Through the constant prodding of them asking me "what are you doing?" and me perpetually saying "I don't know." In the end, I've spent the better portion of the past 5 years refining Pencak Silat Pertempuran. I'm sure the refiner's fire is not out yet. That said, the material I'm going to cover is not covered anywhere else in the PSP curriculum. This material is unique and will benefit any martial artist open to learning - PSP student or not.

That said, I think PSP students and those who don't train with me regularly, view the materials that I provide publicly, as all that there is to PSP. In some ways, they are, but that is also to say that they are also NOT.

The materials that are on the DVD's and in the books don't show, with significance, the higher levels of how the skills work together to create, they don't show how the materials become combative, they don't show - even though it's stated over and over - how the materials are only meant to build attributes - the materials are not the ends but the mean to the ends.

The material of PSP is meant to be a bridge for those who would seriously study it, for using all those cool techniques they learn in a classroom but are so ineffectively applying in reality.

Perhaps it will lead to the creation of another DVD for those who don't make the journey to train with me - on the other hand it may just lead to an entirely different passage for those active in PSP and for me as an aging teacher :)

Hope to see you all there.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New Washington State Training Sessions

Starting Friday May 29th 2009 I will be leading weekly Pencak Silat Pertempuran training sessions at my home on Camano Island in Washington State. Session will run an hour and a half and are open to anyone, no previous training required. If you are interested please visit www.IslanderMartialArts.com for further information.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pencak Silat Pertempuran Tongkat

Here is a simple video showing how you would translate the basic elements of our hand entries to stick. This will challenge what you know of Ales at first but with a little attention to the basics you'll pick right up on it.

Additionally, there are methods that aren't shown that allow you to use Golok. This is the strictly stick method, where you can grab the weapon from either end. With the Golok... well, let's just say that's not recommended :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Attributes and Principles

So the discussion of attributes and principles came up again in class. This system is about the development of attributes and application of principles, physical, emotional, mental, and for those inclined, spiritual.

Some people see the system as a bunch of techniques in spite of the fact that it's not really designed that way. Try as I do to help people understand otherwise, we are inclined as a species, to want things defined in as neat a package as possible, techniques do just that. We all want to be invincible and untouchable in violent encounters. It's natural to want that. This system doesn't teach that way. This system teaches that the "rain falls on the just and the unjust", trained and untrained alike can be hit, stabbed, pounded, hurt, killed, maimed. It's a fact.

After 1,000's of years or millions of years, we have never been able to figure out how to 100% of the time pound the snot out of some deserving idiot. It hasn't happened. It won't happen no matter how tough we think we are, or how invincible the system we are studying is supposed to be. Furthermore, if someone tells you the system they teach or study is unbeatable, they are a liar and or a salesman.

Even if a system was considered to be unbeatable, to have all elements required to succesfully beat any possible weapon, person, persons, or combinations, we all come with a different set of attributes. Furthermore, there are environmental attributes that enter into the fray. Within this, there is still the reality that even the people you fight will have differing attributes. They are fairly definable, speed, timing, range, height, weight, agility, etcetera, but each one of us comes with a slightly differing quantity of these. That fact, times the options that are available to us via the tools that exist personally or externally, times our understanding, times environmental factors, ad nauseum, make any guarantees of succes within combat, complete and utter nonsense.

So what's a person to do? Well, for starters, you can train yourself in a way that develops your strong attributes and furthermore develops any weak attributes you may have. In addition, by pursuing the understanding and application of the best attributes you have as well as the development of weaker attributes, it will only help. Additionally, by understanding principles of combat, angles, leverage, physiology, autonomics, etc. you further increase the probability of success. I would also add, that if you settle on a method of combat and you don't depart from it, especially when things are at their toughest, it will help you in most cases.

Pencak Silat Pertempuran will help you find and develop those attributes; standing, with weapons, or even on the ground. Additionally, it expands your weaker attributes, helping to make you more rounded as a fighter. Of course, utilizing principles all throughout making the attributes you do develop even more effective. Attributes that are specifically developed are use of angles, timing, understanding and use of range, tools, explosiveness, and aggressiveness, to name some. Some principles are the 80-20, langkah dari batu ke batu, set points, and relationship.

The drills that are found in Pencak Silat Pertempuran can be seen as techniques to those who are untrained, or unclear, but to those who are trained, it is hoped that they will see them as simultaneously developing attributes and principles in application. The primary difference is in how a thing is looked at. A technique fits a situation or event that happens a specific way, at a specific time. It cannot fit any other situation or event as well as it does that specific way or specific time. Principles can be applied across different events or situations and the attributes determine the effectiveness of the application.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Combat Silat Seminar

Just wanted to post a bit more info on the seminar for the 14th and 15th of February.

Saturday: bringing more reality into your pencak silat through progressive training and violence. Also, dealing with kicks.

Sunday: Bringing weapons into it and translating empty hand to weapons.

To sign up: http://www.combat-silat.com/go.asp go to this link.