Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Training vs. Practice

By Andrew Ewing –

So, another New Year is just a few weeks away, and for some we’ve already decided on our choice of New Year’s Resolution. What does this upcoming year’s resolution have to do with PSP; well I’m hoping you’ll all set a resolution this year to make commitments to performance improvements in PSP for yourselves. To accomplish these performance improvements I’ll help by providing you with ideas to get started.

First, understand the difference between Training vs. Practice. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “Training” and “Practice” as:

Training –
a. (noun) the act, process, or method of one that trains

b. (noun) the skill, knowledge, or experience acquired by one that trains

Practice –
a. (verb) to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient

b. (noun) the condition of being proficient through systematic exercise

Training is the act and way through Physical and/or Mental means of acquiring knowledge and experiences while you’re in class, while practice is taking the knowledge you gained in class and putting it into practice repetitively to become proficient. Understanding, but more so acting on the differences between Training and Practice are the keys to improving your skills and abilities in PSP.

Many go to a Martial Art schools expecting the Instructor to turn them into the Ultimate Martial Artist highly skilled in self-defense, they train the techniques do a couple of drills, leaving class with the feeling they can take on the world and are now indestructible, only to be extremely disappointed when they encounter a situation where they’re unable to defend themselves with what they trained in class. The student thinks their training has failed them, eventually quitting, looking for that next quick fix by hopping from school to school. Why do some seem to fail when it comes to Martial Arts, while other Shine?

I often hear Martial Artists in class say: “I have the knowledge, and I know how it should be, but I’m unable to consistently translate the knowledge to action.”

I believe to consistently translate the knowledge to action; you need to start by training good form, which in part also focuses on developing good muscle patterns (muscle memory). Bad Muscle patterns severely impair performance. After learning good form while training with a good instructor, you can then repeatedly practice what you learned to ingrain good muscle patterns. Being trained doesn’t mean you are proficient, you still need practice. Have you ever heard the saying that practice makes perfect?

Performance definitely improves from training, but performance exponentially improves with practice.

Neither is more important than the other, and both must be done in order to improve overall performance.

Don’t strive to be just a trained PSP martial artist, strive to be a trained and practiced PSP martial artist.

Generalized, you already know what is needed to make performance gains for PSP, but due to family, friends, work, life, you haven’t been able to find time to get that much needed practice in, well for the PSP Martial Artist I’m hoping you’ll use this upcoming year to set a resolution to drastically improving your PSP performance, and to help, I’ve provided you with ideas to make practice part of your everyday life.

  1. Incremental Practice – Take an idea, principle, or technique you learned in training and perform repetitions incrementally throughout the day. I find that increments of 15min work best, but smaller increments work as well, you should just add more of them to make up for the smaller increments of time. Take even one minute training increments if you need to, between phone calls, after bathroom breaks, during lunch, just before sleeping or just after waking, the idea here is to not be shy where you practice, just take any moment you can find throughout the day to practice, by the end of the day it will add up.

  2. Early Morning Practice – This requires determination, possibly some missed sleep, but if you start going to bed early by 10 min and add an additional 10 min for 6 consecutive nights, you should be able to wake an hour early by the 7th day to get a minimum of a 30 min practice session in.

  3. Skip that TV show or Video Game – Take advantage of new technology; start recording (DVRing) TV shows or watching them on-line at a later time, and spend that time practicing. By recording them earlier, you can even fast forward through commercials saving yourself even more time.

  4. Include the family and loved ones – If you’re dating, married, or have children, include them in your practice time, ask them to stand in as your practice partner. Take them to a park, or backyard and practice as they lounge or play. Not only will you be getting much needed practice time in but you’ll be bonding.

  5. Pack your Lunch – If you’re a Student or Work Professional, pack you lunch and spend the time before you eat to adding some practice time in.

These are just 5 way to improving your performance; the point is if you want to make serious improvements in PSP or for that matter any Martial Arts, you need to Train in Class with your instructors, and then Practice what you learned to become proficient by avoiding excuses and by making the time. Before you know it you’ll be advancing by leaps and bound and you’ll become one of the few students that shine.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Instructor Series: Attributes of Pencak Silat Pertempuran

On the topic of techniques, some people get confused about the purpose of the curriculum of pencak silat Pertempuran. They THINK that the curriculum is THE application. However, as I tell people, the point of the curriculum is attribute development. So what does that mean?

Well, no matter what system of martial art you study, YOU will always be an integral part of it. You cannot escape the fact that YOU are the primary component. As a result, I can only guide your application of pencak silat, I cannot dictate it. Therefore, the best use of my teaching then, is to give you the skills to find yourself in it.

WHAT I teach are the tools and the ideas. WHO you are determines the EXPRESSION of PSP.

I cannot dictate your expression. I can guide it. I can mold your expression into something that more closely resembles pencak silat, BUT it is entirely on YOU to figure out how to actually EXPRESS it.

It is not plug and play. Perhaps there is a way for arts to do that but what I'm teaching is a matrix for understanding relationship. It's so much broader than applications that are plug and play.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Instructor Series: Pencak Silat and Ego

Let go of your ego.
As you practice martial arts, and for those of us practicing pencak silat, there are several things you may end up seeing or doing yourself. Some of them are very subtle but they rear their heads regularly. I've seen them in myself from time to time and more obviously in people I've taught.

Things you might ask yourself or actually say:
1. "That doesn't feel comfortable to me. I think I'll do it this way." Yet, admittedly you are training with a teacher bc you have much to learn. And usually this is done shortly after you learn something for the first time—not after repetitive study.

2. "I wouldn't do that in the street..." Again, admittedly you are training with a teacher bc you have much to learn. Perhaps the take away isn't the technique, but the principle. Additionally, there aren't too many absolutes about what will and what won't work. It's all situational and all relational.

Things you might actually do:
3. When someone you are teaching brings up a great question you may not admit that you don't have all the answers and that you may have to ask someone else or even just explore solutions together.

4. If you get hit, instead of accepting the challenge to improve through training or asking what you could have done differently, you get angry or frustrated

5. Thinking: "This is really simple. I'm too advanced for this stuff." Or "Can't we do something other than this simple stuff?" 

6. Defend your training blindly when critiqued. Even critique that is done in a negative spirit can sometimes yield value. Be willing to just look.

7. If you ever stop putting yourself out there for others to evaluate, ask yourself "why?" It could be that you're trying to protect yourself.

8. Blame others, including your teachers for your lack of growth and development. That's pure crap. You need to own your path.

I'm sure there are others. Certainly there are more obvious ones than these, but I've seen these in myself and others over the past 20 or so years of training and they can be very subtle.

Just a quick note to think about.

Would love to expand this if you feel like contributing.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Instructor Series: Pencak Silat Pertempuran Ambidextrous?

We had a long conversation last night about pencak silat, training in basics, universal Truth, intuitive versus intentional learning paths, and various other tangential topics. It was really good.

I wish at those times that I had something to capture the conversation because there were many, many kernels in it that have taken me many years to learn and a good portion of which directly relate to why Pencak Silat Pertempuran is structured the way it is. Plus, it's the type of thing that can never be repeated because it's based on relationship to the people asking the questions and their responses of understanding or confusion.

In any case, understanding some of these major ideas will aid you as you study the system in knowing what the next steps are.

That said, here is one of the ideas in summary fashion:

PSP is NOT ambidextrous.
So why do you practice things on the left and right sides respectively? For one primary reason and a few lesser ones.
1. It is a system, intended to be available to all those who want to study it. Which is to say, that it is not strictly limited to right handed practitioners or left handed practitioners. Because of this, both need to be taught.
2. And that is because I teach everyone as though someday they will also teach.
3. Teaching both left and right sides demonstrates more clearly the principle of relationship and how changing that relationship changes the outcomes.
4. In a pinch you may HAVE to use your weak hand or leg to perform something—recognizing that it would be better on the "strong side."
5. Not all things performed on the "strong side" are actually strongest on that side. There are kicks that or strikes that you likely perform better with one side than the other and until you try it, you won't know which they are.

For purposes of combat it is of more value to be great on one side than to be average on both sides. You can pick the side.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Announcement!! Pencak Silat Seminar!

PSP is coming to USF!

DATE: December 12th
TIME: 12-5ish
COST: $25
    USF Rec Center
    4202 East Fowler Ave.
    Tampa, Fl 33620

Spend an afternoon exploring the devastating and brutally effective art of Pencak Silat.

Any level of ability can do this stuff—from no prior training in martial arts to experts.

Learn to think differently about the martial arts.

This seminar will explore how to take one simple movement as the core of a multitude of applications, applying it through a range of combat and self-defense applications. Taking you from the foundations to more dramatic and lethal applications in an afternoon.

The seminar will include such things as:
• One Meta Movement
• Checking Hands
• Checking Kicks
• Evasion
• Counter Striking
• Counter Elbowing
• Destroying Structure
• Destroying Base
• Catching an Attack
• Locking
• Sweeping
• Takedowns
• Destructions
• Striking for maximum effect
• Neck breaks
• Strangles 
To make payment and reserve your spot paypal $25 to as soon as you can and put a note that it's for the USF Seminar Dec. 12th.

I will be driving over from Orlando area early on the 12th so if you want to ride with me let me know.

Looking forward to another great seminar with these guys!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pencak Silat is all about ratio...

One of the foundational components of what I teach, is that from start to finish, you need to have 'techniques" that are roughly the equivalent to one beat.

By "beat" I literally mean the time frame it takes for an attacker or opponent to complete what they are trying to complete. Normally, for example, a strike or a kick takes place in a single beat — though, depending on telegraphing it can actually be much longer.

Another way to say it is, that the ratio of your techniques, in response, need to be of an equivalent ratio, or at least equivalent enough. (If you're attacking, then the opponent/attacker needs to be figuring it out, and that's good for you.)

Any longer than a 1 to 1 ration and the effectiveness of your techniques diminish exponentially over time. As the saying goes, "strike while the iron's hot!"

Likewise, it's important to consider the relationship between what the opponent/attacker is doing and my response. This is all part of the same conversation. Why? Because the longer something lasts, either your attack or defense, or theirs, the greater the likelihood that the relationship will change.

If it changes (the relationship), what worked .25 seconds ago, may no longer work. As a result, you've got to put yourself out there, commit and hope that your commitment was appropriate.

That said (and hopefully in a way that people can understand it) one of the basic considerations of Pencak Silat Pertempuran was to make a system that worked as closely as possible at understanding and responding in the 1 to 1 timing ratio.

The basic idea was to understand that a technique was only as good as the timing with which it was delivered.

Look...creative techniques exist in every martial art in existence, HOWEVER, the probability of using those creative techniques can drop exponentially based on the single factor of timing alone. Let alone all of the other variables or attributes that could be involved, such as: environment, emotion, reach, speed, flexibility, strength, leverage, etcetera, etcetera. (A pretty exhaustive list can be found in my first book. Yes, that's a plug. :)

So, with that intentionality, a lot of material was removed before settling on the core materials. Furthermore, I tried to ensure that I could perform the materials as closely as possible to the 1 to 1 ratio OR sufficiently "make up for it" in some other way. You know, like smacking someone AND THEN doing it :)

As a result, a good portion of the system is reasonably simple to do. It's built on simple movements and ideas. They are not flawless.

In PSP you will definitely see that initially, but as you progress through the system the techniques get apparently longer in their timing ratio. In large part, the problem is that to teach more complex applications in a reasonable and replicable manner you have to break them down into smaller steps and thereby increasing the length of time to complete.

However, that is not meant to imply that the step-by-step is the manner they are meant to be applied IRL. It is up to the student to find ways to strip as much out as possible or shortcut aspects of the materials in order to find the 1-to-1 timing ratio again.

I hope that's clear... The goal is 1-to-1 timing ratio to make everything as applicable as possible. For teaching it clearly, it is rarely possible to perform any technique that way. The student was continually hone and refine their skills to until they can find the 1-to-1 again.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Big Picture of Pencak Silat Pertempuran

The last post I spoke about the name of Pencak Silat Pertempuran, it's foundations and reason for use.

in this blog post, I want to address one of the "Big Picture" ideas behind the formulation of PSP. There are several.

Pencak Silat Pertempuran was, and is, meant to be a workshop for pencak silat community for those who share in its foundation.

What does that mean? Everyone who participates in PSP has a legitimate stake in the direction and evolution of PSP. Likewise, it can, and will BE, whatever YOU make of it.

That said, it is my expectation that instructors of PSP will, not only grow themselves and their students skills, but that they will also bring that knowledge and growth back to the nucleus to be discussed, analyzed, dissected, and assimilated into the PSP curriculum. It is meant for the growth of all. I have shared my knowledge with you, be honorable and share your knowledge to me. Don't hoard it away or run off on your own, disappearing into the mist.

I don't expect robots in performance, in teaching, or in expression. The individual pesilat must bring themselves into PSP. By doing so, they are bound to see it differently, and their vision for it changes the course of PSP forever. That's the beauty and struggle of martial arts. 

There can be no doubt that I have ideas that I'm trying to communicate with the material and I've created a curriculum that is based on the sweat of generations, including my own BUT it is not sacred. If the curriculum needs to change, then let's change it—together! Don't criticize, instead critique and offer value. Help instead of harm. Do what's right instead of acting selfishly.

I have few expectations as the founder of Pencak Silat Pertempuran but I do have some. One expectation is the acknowledgment of where you learned and bringing your brothers and sisters within Pencak Silat Pertempuran (and other pesilat) along with you as you grow, or helping those struggling by giving them what they need. Likewise, this could include the greater pencak silat community.

I'm not looking for a kickback on your teaching and I won't strip away your instructor ranking. I gave you what I gave you because you earned it. Bring honor to it by sharing with the whole family.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Pencak Silat Pertempuran blog

Over the years I've posted a lot of information regarding Pencak Silat Pertempuran. On some level, it feels like posting any more will mostly be rehashing what's already posted somewhere else. However, keeping it fresh in people's minds is important. Especially practitioners of PSP. In that regard, I want to go over some of the most basic of information again—the name.

Combat Silat has been co-opted by a lot of people out there. None have affiliation with us. Before they were using the term, at least publicly, we existed. Unfortunately, many of them also, mistakenly use the the same base term I use, Tempur. However, the context that they use it from doesn't seem to be well understood.

Tempur means, essentially, a melee or to combat against many. It may not always be a melee but as I have been taught, it means to combat against many. Using the "Per" and the "an" essentially makes a noun out of the adjective. I don't understand Indonesian well enough to speak much beyond that, by my Pamur teacher, Bayu W. suggested that form and use.

So how does Pencak Silat Pertempuran DO that? Well, for starters, the basis for construction of the PSP syllabus was to create a system of movements that inter-related and that could be inter-changed in relationship/real-time with an attacker. By virtue of being set up as interchangeable and inter-related pieces, the practitioner is afforded the ability to quickly shift from one attacker to the next. The big idea being that you only fight one person at a time, no matter what the odds AND it's important to dispatch them quickly.

You see, as I have been taught coming from several arts whose purpose was the idea of multiple attackers, you cannot afford to spend a long time on any one attacker. Likewise, you need the ability to quickly shift from one attacker to the next AND have the ability to understand angles well enough to keep attackers aligned. It's hard to do. The principles are easy but the application difficult.

As practitioners of any martial art, you must consider the idea of multiple attackers. Even if it's only 2 or 3 at a time. Do you do that?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Combat Silat Pecut / Whip

Pencak Silat Pertempuran utilizes the Pecutan or whip as not only a method of self-offense but also as a method of development for body mechanics.

The whip can be used as a great tool for strengthening a choke, catching a limb, and even for performing takedowns.

The Pecutan is a versatile tool that can be used to strike from the ankles to well above the head and anywhere in between.

Some martial arts prefer a longer whip but in reality the short whip, approximately 6 feet in length, is the preferred whip. With a shorter motion for power development it can be redeployed much faster to another direction or height. Additionally, two Pecutan or an additional weapon such as the Clurit can be used in concert with the whip. The longer the whip, the more difficult it becomes to employ a second weapon because the applicable ranges are so extreme.

In Combat Silat, we aim to make the jurus2 tangan the core of the system and as such, there are no unique jurus2 for senjata or weapons. You simply have the freedom to apply any weapon to a jurus. As a result, your jurus2 may not be the same as mine, depending on what you emphasize in your jurus2 tangan.

For my money, the longer I study and train in pencak silat, the more that enjoy the study, application, and benefits of the Pecutan within that study. It is an art unto itself, even within the system that provides its framework.

Below are a few simple videos demonstrating some basic Pecutan.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

REMINDER: Combat Silat in Tampa

Date: July 31st
Length: 3 Hours
Price: $25
NEWer! Location: 5008 W. Linebaugh. suite 1, Tampa, FL
NEWEST! Time: 11a to 2p

Intro to PSP
Movement to movement understanding. Give up techniques and learn how to become adaptable, creative and employ movement combatively. We'll look at how choosing simple movements can become much more:
        Checking (Pencegah Tangan)
        Evasion (Ales)
        Entering (Masukan)
        Catching (Tangkapan)
        Locking (Kuncian)
        Takedowns (Timbilan)
        Destructions (Totokan)
        Damaging the throat (Pukul Pembas)
        Neck breaking (Leher Patah)
If there's time we can look at how simple movements can lead to other simple movements providing a simple but adaptable methodology of combat.

The Seminar will run $25 for 3 hours of training. Those of you who have gone to seminars in other arts (especially Silat seminars) know how reasonable this is. The host is looking into possible locations for training that are indoor so the location is still To Be Announced. It will be in the Tampa area.

For more information please feel free to email ( - A resource for pencak silat enthusiasts and PSP practitioners.
All information is copyright (c)2007 Combat Silat.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Combat Silat Seminar

Date: July 31st
Length: 3 Hours
Price: $25
Location: Tampa, FL
Intro to PSP
Movement to movement understanding. Give up techniques and learn how to become adaptable, creative and employ movement combatively. We'll look at how choosing simple movements can become much more:
        Checking (Pencegah Tangan)
        Evasion (Ales)
        Entering (Masukan)
        Catching (Tangkapan)
        Locking (Kuncian)
        Takedowns (Timbilan)
        Destructions (Totokan)
        Damaging the throat (Pukul Pembas)
        Neck breaking (Leher Patah)
If there's time we can look at how simple movements can lead to other simple movements providing a simple but adaptable methodology of combat.

The Seminar will run $25 for 3 hours of training. Those of you who have gone to seminars in other arts (especially Silat seminars) know how reasonable this is. The host is looking into possible locations for training that are indoor so the location is still To Be Announced. It will be in the Tampa area.

For more information please feel free to email (

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Silat seminar follow-up

Just a quick write up about the seminar on Saturday.

We mostly worked gun defense. We had people of all levels of skill so we started off slowly and worked through considerations for training, explaining the necessity for gun and specifically pistol defense.

We also went through some basic aspects of movement and applied and applied and applied them. Some guys had a bit more experience and were able to take the basic starting points and quickly adapt them to all kinds of scenarios.

It was great fun and in my eyes a success. I hope to do it again sometime and focus a but more on some tougher scenarios and take the idea further.

Thanks to all those who attended and let me have their time on a Saturday.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pencak Silat Pertempuran Seminar

Posting a seminar announcement. Would love for anyone to come out. It's pretty inexpensive at $25 and will last 2-3 hours.  

It will barely interrupt your Saturday but could change your perspective for ever.

When: June 26th, 2010 (tomorrow)
Time: 10am
225 Ronald Reagan Blvd, Suite 103 Longwood, FL 32750 407-260-9279 

Guru Sean Stark's background consists of a wide range of martial arts experience that includes Hok Kuen, Kali, Arnis, and Pencak Silat, just to name a few. During his search for the all encompassing art, his idea of what that art should entail changed. After seeing overlap in many systems, he decided to find a way to organize the ideas in such a manner that would have the most efficient and maximal impact. This resulted in the development of Pencak Silat Pertempuran (PSP).

The PSP seminar itself will focus on several scenarios that will include knives, sticks, and guns. Counters, disarms, and finishes will be explored. Some scenarios may include both the knife and stick simultaneously.

The seminar will be held at Hero Academy and will last about two hours starting at 10am on Saturday, June 26. The cost per participant will be $25 and only those who are 16 of age and up will be allowed to attend. Space is limited.

More information on Pencak Silat Pertempuran can be found on Sean's website:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Devil's in the details...

We all say it, but let’s acknowledge it for real.

What are we talking about? Okay what AM I talking about??

The principle of the thing.

Let’s say for a moment that you’re a successful Flatulest. You have been working at it all of your life and you’ve become good. People even acknowledge that you are good.

There are lots of people at your level of skill though. You are good but you aren’t great. Greatness is a whole different level of skill.

So how do you get there? What makes the difference between good and great?
Partly through hard work, self-evaluation, experimentation, etc. but in the end, all of those things serve to elevate your overall skill.

It has been my experience that those who have great skill in a thing, anything, are those who have mastered the details of a thing and have elevated those details through persistence in practice, self-evaluation, study, etc. and have become fluent in them.

Don’t settle for a lower level of success just because it will work and it’s good. Strive to be the best by continually learning and developing the nuances of a thing.

The next step then is to grow your repertoire through the same process. Don’t settle for just what will get it done-even if it gets it done well. Next time, take that a bit farther.

Another component is to acknowledge what you have natural potential at being great at. You personally may never be a great Flatulest. So what? Whatever your skills are, develop them. Develop your strengths and continually challenge yourself to understand the nuances of a thing. You will grow if you do that. You will rob yourself if you try to become great at a thing that is not a strength.

I believe it is a mistake to think that you cannot become great at a thing—even a complicated thing. It’s a fact that the more complicated a thing is, the more attention you must pay to the details. The more that must take place for it to be successful but just imagine if Beethoven or Mozart had said that they didn’t want to try something more complicated because they might eventually do a concert and that could be stressful and under stress they might not be able to perform it right…. Where would music be today?

What if Gates had said, he didn’t want to make a computer that processed a bunch of things nearly simultaneously because it could get hot and burn up a processor or data might get lost? Okay… we’d still have the Mac but… well… hopefully you’re catching my drift.
As I look at things around me. My life. Other people’s lives. It seems that the difference between things that are good and great doesn’t appear significant, yet there are so few of us who ever obtain “great” in a thing. Why?

From what I can tell, it appears that it’s about all those attributes I’ve listed previously. Implementing them relentlessly and pursuing the right thing. It’s about setting your sights high and pulling the trigger.

As an example. When you start out shooting a rifle. Initially you learn the basics of shooting and you feel pretty good when you can finally plinck a can or hit the broadside of a barn at 50m, then 100m, and maybe even 150m or 200m. But shooting something at 1200m or further, the size of a paper plate or… a body… is something few of us will ever do but not because we couldn’t—it’s because we don’t move into great intentionally.

That’s unfortunate because the process for shooting something that far is not that different. It requires steadiness, control of breathing, understanding of windage and elevation, proper caliber, practice, practice, practice, etc. Much of which still come into play at close range but become even more important the further away the target is.

You can claim that something is unattainable as a matter of letting yourself off the hook… OR you can take aim at great…

To contextualize this in regards to pencak silat, let's look at the skills you develop. A lot of people will tell you that in the moment high level skills won't work because... well... they are high level and under great stress your mind, body, etc. just can't do everything it needs to. My experience is that this is somewhat true, but partially crap.

My own experience suggests that if you train high level skills, not settling for caveman crap, but train the high level skills so that they become mundane, that you are very capable of doing high level skills under stress.

It is true that mediocre skills, good skills even, may not help under times of great stress, but skills that you've grown to the point of greatness will.

The bigger issue is recognizing those skills that you want to become great in and aiming for them. Don't try to become great in every skill that there is. That will just dilute those things that you have the greatest potential in. If you're right-handed, focus on being right-handed. If you like to box, then box the best you can. If you like knife, know it intimately.

Pay attention to the details and take the next step.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

pencak silat pertempuran details

If you've trained with me personally at all in the last 3 or 4 years you've heard me talk about Set Points. If you studied with me prior to that I may not have called them Set Points but I probably talked about them—just differently.

Set Points are found in many areas of life. For instance, your body develops set points for weight. Those weights at which your body seems to sort of hover around based on your intake of food. With a bit of work you can get your body to find a new Set Point, but it won't come easy or fast. You'll have to work at it and retrain your body. I recently heard that the same can be seen in your emotional life, etc. So for instance, you win the lottery, after one year your life will be about as happy as it was before you won the money. No matter how crappy things are, you also have set points that say that you will be about as happy as you were prior to that, within one year. There are a few exceptions to this like mourning, which may take longer.

Your set points are based on both a nature and nurture in my experience. You are born with an inherent or genetic batch of set points for everything about you. However, with input from the outside world those set points can change—usually for the worse. If you eat a lot of crappy foods your set point for fat retention will increase. Likewise if you are abused as a child your set point for expressing or having feelings of happiness are likely to be affected too.

Now, lets look at this within the context of martial arts. You come with a certain amount of attributes or skills. That can be pain tolerance, speed, quickness, ability to adapt, sense of feeling, etc. Through training you can improve these aspects. They may never be what someone elses are but they will improve with training.

On some level this cross over to an understanding of the CPS or Combat Positioning System of Pencak Silat Pertempuran. The point of the CPS is to give you some sense of relationship with the opponent. That relationship is intended to help you in the chaos of combat to be able to recognize your position and therefore your potential applications, counters, etc.

To continue, that is also the point of training in something like trapping. I haven't found trapping to be extremely useful in combat. It shows up but not as often as I'd like since it's fun to train. However, it's value is in showing you that when you attack in specific ways to specific targets the opponent is likely to respond in a specific way. This allows you a certain amount of orchestral capacity within combat.

If I, using my right hammer fist, try to strike your ear with my fist, you are more likely to block nearest my elbow with the same hand (not the same side). Alternatively, if I strike with a hammer fist that targets your eye socket your more likely to strike nearest my hand. Each of the responses teaches you a specific set point then to be able to counter off of. It's just a way of helping you to sort through what seems like an infinite amount of response variables in a way that isolates them and gives you an opportunity to develop counters.

Likewise, any Sikap Pasang, Ales, Masukan, or any other technique based on the Ales or Masukan (which is everything we do) can be a set point of you begin to view it as such.

So, when things are going wrong—and they will at times— remember your set points. Trust your PSP and get back to what you've trained. Pick a position, a posture, or a relationship and get to it. It's the starting point or set point for you.

Make sense?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Some ideas about Combat Silat

This was a letter that I just recently wrote to someone interested in joining Pencak Silat Pertempuran. I've also added a bit more to it as well.

This may be fairly long but I'd rather sort through some of this up front.

As you've read the website, you've probably got some of my message but it would be worth saying it again for the sake of clarity—at least imo.

My Vision of Pencak Silat Pertempuran

The name: PSP or Combat Silat derives its name from the Indonesian word Tempur which means "to combat/fight against many". The changing it to Pertempuran was to acknowledge it as a noun in Indonesian. One of the higher level understandings of PSP is that it needs to work against multiple attackers. It is not simply a one on one art. The use of the term combat is significant to me because I want the art to be effective on the street. The use of the term pencak is because I do believe in beauty and the value of beauty. The terms together talk about the beauty of coordinated combat against many. That's not the literal translation of course, but the interpretation of how it came to be and represents the primary culture from which it was derived or at least where the primary shift of understanding occurred. Others use the name Tempur or even combat silat without this. I've talked with people about it before on a personal level and will probably make it public on my blog after I send this to you. In any case, that's the background of the name. It went through several conversations with my Pamur teacher before it came to be called this.

Key idea: It's a name but it's the idea that matters. 

Where are the people?: What sometimes confuses people is that I do not do much teaching against multiple attackers. Some people have concluded as a result that it doesn't exist within PSP. The reality is that they haven't asked me what my idea is or where the two meet. If they had, the would recognize that I teach people to engage in multiple attackers all the time—in the best way I know. The best way to deal with multiple attackers is to handle each person individually and engage them in ways that allow you to keep moving or quickly move from opponent to opponent. Primarily a person training in PSP needs to get good at the individual attacker and then when the time comes and a person is sufficiently able, I will introduce them to the principles of fighting multiple opponents. It's a one day thing to communicate and a lifelong practice to get good at.

Key idea: If you're fighting multiple people you're doing it wrong—take things one at a time. 

Discovering your attributes: I believe whole-heartedly that everyone is unique and that our own attributes as fighters vary in starting point and end point. Likewise, anyone we encounter will as well. Tall, short, fat, slow, quick, smart... whatever! Everyone is at least a little different and as a result they cannot be expected to attain the same level of skill in everything. It's up to you to you to recognize where your strengths are and where your weaknesses are. You must train all of it but focus on your strengths, developing your weaknesses as you can but do not focus on your weaknesses or you'll only neglect your strengths. If you're right handed, fight right handed. If left—left. Don't try to become ambidextrous. It's not a good use of your time. It took me a year and a half of throwing a football with my left hand, 5 days a week, to get so I could throw a spiral for 30 yards. It still wasn't comfortable and the thing is, I could still throw it with my right hand 60 yards without much practice. Every time I picked up the football with my left hand to throw it took so much concentration and effort to accomplish half or less of what I could with my strong hand. Now today, I can still throw it better than I could, left-handed, but it's not comfortable, strong, or adaptable. It's barely functional :) Learn your attributes. Strengthen what's already strong to make it as strong as it can be. Raise your strengths to their pinnacle and in the process you'll naturally raise your weaknesses as well. Understanding your own attributes is a good step in understanding someone else's.

Key idea: Keep what's strong—strong, develop your strengths and the weaknesses will follow. Exploit your attackers weaknesses.

It's all relationship: For many years the martial arts was about pursuit of the "answer". I went to great lengths studying many different martial arts simultaneously trying to find The Answer. Then I gave up on finding The Answer only to realize that the answer is relationship. For thousands or millions of years or whatever men have been clubbing the crap out of each other and nobody has really improved it. We've even created bigger badder weapons but in the end. Unless you kill me you can't be guaranteed you'll beat me and even the process of killing is not a guarantee. If only I could take back all the time and ways my mind has ruminated over the idea that somehow "I" was going to figure out what thousands or millions of martial artists, warriors, etc. had never figured out. My friend Hugo and I used to talk about the configurations of positions that a body could make. It's mathematically possible to figure out, by joint and position, etc. how many possible variations you could have and it was during one of those conversations that it dawned on me that it was all about relationship. For years I struggled with techniques that worked in the school but I struggled to apply to someone unwilling. For years I searched for better technique to apply to someone unwilling. For years I tried arts from all over the world trying to find solutions. AND the reality is that I found solutions for everything that I looked for. Unfortunately, that was still no guarantee that it was going to work in the street. Why? Because it's all about relationship and everyone I engage brings different physical attributes and it may happen in a different environment (environmental attributes) and they may bring a different mentality (mental attributes) and so on. That combined with my own attributes makes the relationship infinitely unpredictable and infinitely changing. Even time is an attribute. How quickly do you respond or they respond?

Key ideas: Be adaptable, be responsive, be aware. 

Relationship is also about the ratio: This has led me to develop an art that was responsive to the relationship. The only way to do that was to create an art that doesn't plan 3 steps out but tries to exist right now as much as possible, being aware that decisions I make now (or the attacker) can influence potential responses later - from me or from the attacker. Consequences for actions type of thing. So as an art PSP focuses on short bursts and what I call a 1 to 1 ratio. For every attack or change, there is a relational change that needs to occur. Philosophically some people say that there are no absolutes. I thought about that for a long time and I disagree. We can deny absolutes but there are, in fact, absolutes—you are reading this. If you weren't, you wouldn't know to respond. What is absolute is what has happened in the past and what is happening now. What may happen in the future is Not absolute. That's the relationship idea.

As a result, I've come to look at combat like a puzzle, the pieces of which are unknown until they are needed. You cannot absolutely plan for the future. You can however, with some probability predict a short future outcome if you are directing the combat. It's not an absolute but it is an issue of probability. To see that manifest within PSP you have to recognize the small pieces that are taught, recognizing that they are meant to work together to create, in relationship, answers to combative situations.

For a time studying PSP, you will not have the understanding you need to answer all of the questions. That's where most people fail at PSP. They assume because they do not see it in what they have learned, that it does not exist. So far, for me, that has not proven to be true.

Key idea: There are no absolutes in combat. It's a puzzle to be built on the fly and the right answer is the right answer.

I'm not a superhero: Part of what make PSP special and what connects to this idea of a puzzle or relationship is that much of PSP is set up so that if when something fails you can continue. You're going to get hit. You're going to have things go wrong. You are not invincible. You can be beaten. Even the best fighter can have an off day. The issue is, what do you do when that happens? Do you abandon what you've trained because "it obviously doesn't work" or do you climb back on the horse and keep going. You need to develop Set Points in your martial arts training. That thing you fall back to when everything seems to be going wrong. If you abandon your training in the middle of the fight you are abandoning the only thing you've trained to use. You are increasing the level of unknowns. You are increasing your risk of failure. This of course, assumes that there is at least some basis for your training to be considered combative to begin with. In PSP, the system is full of things that can be used as Set Points. The things in life that help reorient you and start you moving forward again. Set Points keep you from spiraling out of control.

Key idea: You will fail at times. Have a back-up plan or re-starting point. 

Combat Positioning System: PSP uses a combat positioning system to help us recognize key relationship points. These points can be used as Set Points for us when we are engaged with an opponent. They can also be used as references for bridging and applying our technique. All systems of combat can be recognized through this positioning system. Some of these positions will not be comfortable or desirable to you as a choice but they can and will show up in combat situations from time to time and having that understanding of what to do from them is valuable. These include Pencegah Tangan (Checking), Ales (Elak or Evasion), Various Masukan, and Tangkapan. These are the primary pieces from which the rest of the system draws itself out of. When looked at as a totality they address most significant possible positions/relationships.

Key idea: Know where your at in relationship to your attacker.

Keluarga is important: Keluarga is family. PSP is meant to be a family. It is not meant to replace any family you currently have but it is meant for the betterment of all who participate. It is about relationship on every level—even relationships outside of PSP. My vision of PSP is to eventually have a symposium of instructors that meet annually and share topics of concern and keep PSP relevant to what's happening culturally. I know from my own training that even a simple thing like a change in climate has impacted how I perform PSP. I would not have known that except that I moved to FLorida. If PSP is to be refined and grown and relevant it needs to have input from it's high level practitioners.

Key idea: Family helps family.

It's all about movement: From my perspective, PSP is teaching a body culture. It's not only a martial art but a way of moving. It is about a body culture that is uniquely Pencak Silat. People often say that there are no standards for pencak silat. Even within Indonesia it can be hard to see but my experience has been different. I've seen systems from all around Indonesia and I've seen a body culture a movement style that, though different from place to place, often contains similarity too. I intend for all of my instructors to have that body culture, that movement. I want them to be easily recognizable as PENCAK silat. Though our regions and our origins will not be as clear, since we have many influences from around the country and even outside of it, it will be clear that we have a lineage of pencak silat. I do stress pencak, not just silat. I expect that my instructors will move as pencak silat pesilat. They will not represent PSP without representing the movement of pencak—the beauty. It has been my experience that the beauty of pencak has only improved my silat.

Key idea: Movement is the key.

Additionally, combat doesn't happen statically. It's always moving, always changing. You must be about moving and moving in ways that are more efficient or more effective. As a result, the Gerak are a primary piece of what I teach. Historically they have been taught a little bit later in the system. I did that in an attempt to show people some more combative things earlier on. Ten years later I think that it may not have been the best choice because they often miss the greater understanding of PSP and the value of movement. Likewise, if you understand the full breadth and depth of Gerakan you understand PSP. They are a fundamental key to the system.

Key idea: Understanding some movements to great depth gives great value.

Combat Silat is a flower: The curriculum of Combat Silat is the equivalent of a flower bud. It's not meant to be the blossom. You are supposed to take the very basic pieces of the Combat Silat curriculum and build them into YOUR system. I don't know what everyone out there in the world is good at or what their attributes or interests are. Likewise to build a system that would address all of it for everyone is a ridiculous idea. I've been in systems that have tried—it doesn't work. However, because PSP is the bud and not the flower there has been some very prominent misunderstandings about the material. Some people think that everything that is taught is all that a thing can be. Take the Gerak-gerak for instance. It's simple and with a little work you can start to develop the body culture of pencak silat through them. However, that's to miss the obvious connection between the Gerak and the entirety of the applications of the system. Taking the Gerak and applying them to checking for instance will get you a check but take the checking and apply that to Sarong or Bandana and now you have a way to tie up, control, or choke an opponent. Nothing in PSP is isolated. It is all related and all inter-connected. To isolate a thing is to miss the blossom and only see the bud.

The DVD's and the books that I've produced so far, only teach what the bud looks like. In person training teaches how the bud feels. When you put it all together and start to explore it you'll discover the blossom—that can take a few years minimum to many years depending on you. The reality is that you've got to be willing to put the time into it. It's not a short trip. It's about depth of understanding not breadth. The curriculum is meant to be the starting point of your expressive journey. The place where everyone starts from. I can show many different ways to do things from most of the basic things you'll learn. You'll find your own if you start learning to look at the system. In other words, if a question about combat arises you have a choice—look within PSP or look elsewhere. Every time I've looked within I've found the answer.

Key idea: At some point you've got to trust a thing. Not blindly of course but honestly and with sincerity.

Largely I think that people have forgotten the art of learning and want to be told everything.

This has been added since I originally sent this out.

Pencak Silat is not a religion: PSP as I teach it has a Christian philosophy and ideal behind it. That is, that I am a Christian and any of the philosophies, ideas, etc. that I teach are not opposed to my beliefs as a Christian. You don't have to be a Muslim to study PSP, nor do you have to be a Christian to study PSP. You do have to be willing to be tolerant of my Christian beliefs and ideals. I don't have to be tolerant of yours but I probably will be because I'm not threatened by other beliefs. I've looked at and considered many of them myself.

I don't have many rituals in PSP but the ones I do have are based on my Christian beliefs. There are no secret religious or spiritual practices, just a few simple things that most people don't know anything about except the two people that have reached instructor level.

Key idea: It's not a religion.

The secret to pencak silat is anyones: Practice, practice, practice. That's it. Don't think you're going to learn Tenaga Dalam or anything other than the secret art of sweating here.

Key idea: Practice and you can get it.

That's a bit about PSP. There's more but I don't want to re-write my third book, I just wanted to give you some things to think about and to understand before you even begin the process. I would recommend reading this again and again (Lagi-lagi) over time. As you develop—if you choose to do PSP—it will probably mean more to you as you train and begin to deepen your training.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pencak Silat Book Discount

Pencak Silat Pertempuran: Vol. 3
Price:    $21.95
Discount: $- 2.20
Discounted Price: $19.75

Disclaimer: Use coupon code SUMMERREAD305 at checkout and receive 10% off Pencak Silat Pertempuran: Vol. 3. Maximum savings with this promotion is $10. You can only use the code once per account, and you can't use this coupon in combination with other coupon codes. Sorry, self-purchases (buying books that you’ve published) aren’t eligible. This great offer ends on June 30, 2010 at 11:59 PM so try not to procrastinate! While very unlikely we do reserve the right to change or revoke this offer at anytime, and of course we cannot offer this coupon where it is against the law to do so.
Copyright © 2002-2010 Lulu, Inc. All Rights Reserved. | 3101 Hillsborough St. | Raleigh | NC | 27607-5436
Manage your account preferences

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Pencak Silat News: Instructor Certification

Sterling Heibeck is one of two people who have made it to Pelatih in Combat Silat/Pencak Silat Pertempuran. He has been working hard for a few years to get there and it was my pleasure to promote him on Sunday May 30th in the presence of Bobbe Edmonds, Buzz Smith, Jay Carstensen, Craig Gray and many other martial artists.

I expect that he will continue to grow and develop as he has more opportunity to see how the system connects, expands, etc.

Please take a moment to congratulate him.

Guru Stark

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pencak Silat Pertempuran Seminar

Announcing a new Meetup for Orlando's Martial Arts Meetup Group (F.I.S.T.)!

What: Pencak Silat Pertempuran Seminar

When: Saturday, June 26, 2010 10:00 AM

Price: $25.00 per person

Hero Academy
225 Ronald Reagan Blvd, Suite 103
Longwood, FL 32750

Guru Sean Stark's background consists of a wide range of martial arts experience that includes Hok Kuen, Kali, Arnis, and Pencak Silat, just to name a few. During his search for the all encompassing art, his idea of what that art should entail changed. After seeing overlap in many systems, he decided to find a way to organize the ideas in such a manner that would have the most efficient and maximal impact. This resulted in the development of Pencak Silat Pertempuran (PSP).

The PSP seminar itself will focus on several scenarios that will include knives, sticks, and guns. Counters, disarms, and finishes will be explored. Some scenarios may include both the knife and stick simultaneously.

The seminar will be held at Hero Academy and will last about two hours starting at 10am on Saturday, June 26. The cost per participant will be $25 and only those who are 16 of age and up will be allowed to attend. Space is limited- please reserve your spot and refer any questions to 407-260-9279 407-260-9279.

Learn more here:

Friday, April 23, 2010


If you came to the previous post too soon there were typos in it that confused some people. Sorry :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Combat Silat - Students

There will come a time in everybody's martial arts journey where they will have to reconcile what they practice with what they actually need to survive. The difficulty for most, from the start of their journey to the end, is knowing what that is...

The difficulty for a teacher is recognizing the students who you train for what they are. There are several different types of people who start martial arts journey's. My hope is not to specifically define each but to generally define a few types that I see regularly.

The First Love
The first starts their martial arts study as though they are smitten. There is nothing that is wrong with the art they study, the teacher, or anything related to their art. A few people stay this way for the rest of their life—looking at their art as though it is perfect—they seem to have blinders on. They may stay for the rest of their life in the art but never understand it—just mimic it. They will dress the part and act the part.

The Hobbiest
The second might start their study with a little more even-ness in their approach. Never getting really excited and never really falling for the art. They do it out of convenience or indifference or as a hobby. Sometimes these students are even quite capable and demonstrate good skill immediately, but they just never quite attach to the ideas, people, or art. At some point, leveling out as a martial artist, doomed by a lack of interest, discipline, and personal committment to practice and growth. They eventually leave.

The Rebound
The third might be the person who seems to question everything. Some of these students may come out of a previous system that they were smitten with (See the first student). However, because of circumstance beyond their control, they have been forced to choose something or someone else. They do so with a degree of noticeable passion for their previous art or teacher, constantly sharing what they did or how they did it. They eventually leave.

The Rambo
The fourth might be the person who is disdainfully challenging about your art. Every question is one of efficacy, efficiency, or practicality. They question the purpose of doing anything that they don't understand, cannot practice comfortably, or cannot defend themselves with immediately. Especially if they've spent five minutes working on something. They will typically modify everything that you've taught them within minutes of trying it for the first time. They will steal some gems from you and do their own thing.

The fifth person might be someone who looks like they care, looks like they understand, looks like they want to grow, looks like they are committed - but internally, they either don't trust the art or trust you. They have not taken the time to ask the necessary questions, they have not been smitten with it but have held the art at arms reach looking for flaws and when perceived flaws are found, putting it in a "cons" column. Finally, when the "cons" column gets big enough, they leave.

The Politician
The sixth person might be the person who looks like they care, looks like they understand, looks like they want to grow, looks like they are committed—and perhaps, at one time they actually were but because of perceived irreconcilable differences or a lack of honor they leave. Usually with a lot of drama. Often taking a group of your students with them, the ones they have been secretly talking with behind your back, while you've trusted them. Often repackaging what you've taught them as something new.

The Philosopher
This is the seventh type. This student wants to discuss everything. They rarely want to work hard. They'd rather discuss efficacy and combativeness as opposed to actually doing it. For them the martial arts are best kept at a mental, philosophical or spiritual level. Hard work is not for them. If it's hard, it's probably not going to be combatively effective or valuable for them. In the end, it's best to drive these students off IMO. They are a drain and a burden to the group and when push comes to shove, they will leave anyway.

The Warrior
In my experience, the eighth type of student is the most rare... it's the student who attends class regularly, is not gifted per se but works hard consistently, asks questions when confused, and cares about the art, it's efficacy, and understanding it for what it is. They do not try to change what they don't understand. They will make the art theirs when the time is right but they aren't in a rush. They study it physically, mentally, and spiritually. They work hard to push themselves and their training. They are disciplined. They are balanced in approach.

Ask yourself honestly, what person are you? Are you the eighth type of student or one of the others? Do you lean one way more than another? If you are balanced consider how rare you are. At any given time less than 3% of the population studies martial arts. If you then consider who you may be amongst the students around you, you are quite rare. Move it forward. (BTW, Call me if you are the eighth... :)


Guru Stark

PS had to cut this one a little short so if it seems abruptly ended, it's because it needed to be...

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Finding Faith Through Practice

I was training recently with my two students, Miles and Cameron, and a question led to a discussion that I feel is worth posting. It was a question that frequently pops up from time to time, “What happens next or What do I do now”? Miles and Cameron have already internalized that PSP works through the tried and true “Do whatever you want but I am going to beat you as if you were a three year old child” Sean Stark method. Thanks for that Guru.

At the time we were refining our Masukan or Entries from Tangan (fist) through Sepak (Kick) and I don‘t know who asked but it came up, “ Bill, I see the value of the Entries but what I am going to do next?” Usually, at this point I smile and ask if they really want to know, don’t wait for a reply and launch into an entry and finish with some brutal Indo-Malay inspired pain compliance. However I felt it was a teachable moment in regards to Silat, culture and practice. Now I do not want to rehash the same ideas as Guru’s earlier post “Conversations with a Student”, I would like to add to the ideas, standing on the shoulders of a giant per se.

Now Miles and Cameron have spent about 4-5 weeks on Masukan and the fluency with the techniques was becoming evident with their continued practice. At this time I knew they were hard working and talented students but they felt the confusion of knowing , “ I can do this part, but what next?” Without their conscious knowing, I had embarked on an effort to address this question before they asked. Now this isn’t a Master Po/ Grasshopper experience. I don’t push that kind mojo and most of the really good teachers don’t push that either. What good teachers do push ( Guru included ) is good practice and practice habits.

I had begun Gerakan practice earlier than usual in conjunction with Masukan. I kept hammering that practice, practice, practice was the secret ingredient to any success in Silat or any Martial Art for that matter. I quoted Guru, as I do often in training, “ Train 15 minutes a day whenever you can, your lunch break, after the kids go to bed, your ability will take off.”

Miles and Cameron had been practicing. I now added the Gerakan to application. One rotation through all the Masukan with Gerakan applications and the light bulbs of realization above Miles and Cameron were blinding. The usual hour and a half training session went well past two and a half hours. The faith was rewarded. Their faith in their practice and my faith in the curriculum. Practice, Practice, Practice - Pencak Silat Pertempuran will take care of the rest.

Monyet - Harimau of PSP

Recently, I've been really working out regularly, losing weight, etc. In fact, right now, I weigh less than I have for about 10 years. I've also been doing a lot of weight training, etc. Well, this all came about because I wanted to get healthier and felt myself getting older, creaking, aching more, etc.

On that same note, about 3 to 4 years ago, I fell, did a forward role but in the process still managed to jack up my knee, blowing the PCL and tearing some cartilage. It took about a year to a year and a half to get it diagnosed and operated on. The operation helped, but it's still not normal, in fact, in many ways, it is worse.

In any case, I haven't been able to do the monyet or harimau ground work of PSP for about 4 years with any consistency. I've tried occasionally but it's always sucked. That's all back story...

Now, since I've been working out hard, regularly for about a year and a half doing weights, losing weight since October, and generally being conscious of my physical health, I've finally been able to get at harimau and monyet training again. It's not that it's easy but it's at least not as painful as it was. It's tolerable. Especially if I use some matts. Something I never had to do before. I'm okay with it but I don't like having to rely on matts because it can give you a false sense of safety when you are performing your material. I used to be able to drop to my knees on concrete and do it in a way that did not hurt. I probably still can except for the pain my knee feels generally. I'm not sure that practicing on anything other than concrete will give you that confidence and ability. Thoughts?

In any case, last night was our second night of doing monyet harimau PSP style and I decided to do some bela diri instead of curriculum per se. It's all connected anyway. We worked some simple defenses against kicks while you are on the ground, how to perform catches, not get your head kicked off, stand up (if appropriate) and counter. We also did some countering while on the ground - well... I did. Showed how to move from Langkah Monyet, Langkah Harimau, Langkah Kalong and Langkah Ular into any of the other ones and how to tie that all together with your other langkah - Langkah Empat, Langkah Lima, Langkah Tiga, etc. Also showed how to string together breakfalls from any of them and how to foot entry, elbow entry, hand entry, and catch.

Here is a simple bela diri against a kick to the ribs if you are down on all fours.

Here's what's happening
  1. You are on the ground, perhaps raising onto all fours trying to get up.
  2. Along comes a spider and tries to kick the crap out of your ribcage.
  3. From that position, spring upward and forward towards the kicker. It's important that you spring upward onto your toes and extend your arms fully.
  4. As you receive the kick, wrap your arm around their leg and hold it into you.
  5. As you lower your weight towards the ground again and roll slightly towards them, lever against their knee.
  6. Once they have fallen or start to fall. Get your arm out from around their legs and throw your other elbow, distracting them. You may not hit anything but it keeps them busy.
  7. Continue to roll up onto them until your other elbow and knee are in place to scissor the head. Smash the crap out of it.
  8. Repeat some more.
  9. Counter trap if necessary and smash their head into the pavement by palm striking their face.
  10. Violence is key here.
I'm not going to tell you I'm going to do more posting of monyet harimau. Every time I do that, it seems to be the death of that thing that I've said I would do. I will do it as I can, when I think of it, etc.

Guru Stark

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pencak Silat Pertempuran in SC

PSP Classes in SC : Monday, Wednesday 6 pm-? Saturday 9-10:30am, in Pawleys Island. Call 843-695-7362. Langkah Dari Batuan ke Batuan. Selamat Pendiri!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Conversations with a silat student

This is a conversation that I recently had with a student who trains in pencak silat with me. He is not local so we only get together approximately two times a year. The rest is via email, video, my books, and anything else we think will help.

I thought this was valuable enough that I asked him if I could reprint it on the blog.

So, I just read your post and I total get what you're saying. I'm not sure if you know this, but my martial arts career has been all about moving around and learning a real thin layer of a lot of different things.

ME: Learning a "thin" layer of a bunch of different things is one way of going about it. It's the spoon fed method. The idea is that if the system you are studying seems to have shortcomings or doesn't apparently answer your questions; you move to another system that does. Problem is, you can easily end up with no "connective tissue" in the end, no system or idea that holds it together, just a bunch of random elements that may or may not tie together or operate with each other.

Unfortunately, it doesn't develop YOUR understanding of how you CAN make the art YOURS by learning how to address unaddressed things or things you think aren't addressed. In my own experience, i have seen this art, PSP, continue to address things I never even knew it addressed. How? By sitting here and looking at a problem and looking and looking and then 6 months down the road learning how something that I didn't even consider actually addressed it. The advantage is, in the end, you have an understanding of something that goes way beyond techniques and into principles AND you learn to be adaptable in your understanding of the system. The principles can be used and adapted to a situation on the fly. Something you may never have done before -- seen before -- (because you truly understand movement principles, leverage principles, autonomics, etc.) becomes spontaneous and relational. Meaning = it just happens and it works.

FYI - A LOT is addressed in the jurus-jurus beyond the obvious elements of the system that are broken out.

STUDENT: Like you, I had some teachers who just amazed me with their skill and they had thing about them that was different and just stood out. About three years ago I started to have a mentality change because I started thinking about what those teachers had in common. And what I found was that they had very deep roots in a core art that they had studied for years. It's not that they weren't open to new things, but their roots were the very core of what they learned and they had a natural tendency to adapt new ideas and situations based on that strong core. I realized that while I'm a decent martial artist, I didn't have any roots that went very deep.

ME: The roots themselves aren't all that important IMO. However, the skills to look at a thing, way beyond when it's interesting, beyond when it's boring, and keep coming back and studying it, grow something else in you. Deep rooted understanding. When I was in college I had two different teachers do this to me. For one semester in my photo class, everyone in the room was required to take photos of the same street corner. We had to shoot and develop 3 rolls of film a week plus photos for the critique. It was a long semester but in the end, most people had gotten their best work, out of years of shooting, from that one simple assignment.

You went through stages,
first it was exciting,
then it was challenging,
then it was boring/tired,
then you hated it,
then you got angry,
then you gave in,
then it got interesting/learning,
then it got good.
I had exactly the same type of thing done for an assignment to paint a single 5x7 postcard for an entire semester. One post card, over and over until you got it right.

Both of those pieces I still like. They aren't earth shattering to anyone else, but they moved me SOOOO far down the development chain in one semester that I love them just because of what I learned while doing them.

I used to do a Spirit Test that was based on this concept for people that I didn't think REALLY understood what martial arts was about. It was essentially me beating up on a person for as long as necessary to get to them to the end of that list I just went through. Some of the aspects on the list were a bit different. They never got bored per se, but they did get tired. Could take 2 or 3 hours. Most people were about 1.5 hours.

Even now, for me, I cycle back through this list pretty regularly. That is the learning cycle.

STUDENT: Even though I'm a black belt, I feel that what I do falls into the category you described in your post, ever-changing. Unfortunately, my teacher fell into the "traditional teaching is evil" scam. I decided that I wanted to find one art and pursue it regardless of how I "felt" about certain things. No art covers it all, and there are always issues that crop up that just feel weird.

ME: To be honest, there are things about PSP that I'm not thrilled about. Things I don't particularly like. BUT over the years, I've seen confirmation after confirmation that some of the things I don't like, are necessary and or useful. Even for those things that I don't think are jaw dropping, there are other people who have appreciated them or benefitted from them. The point of a system isn't just for me, it's for everyone to find something useful in. I may not ever fully use PSP in combat, but that doesn't mean someone else won't, AND more IMPORTANTLY, that it's not teaching me something of bigger value by developing an attribute or a principle. PSP was never meant to be techniques based. We have them of course because you have to have some way to start the conversation, but it's ALWAYS been about developing our own personal attributes. Nothing else. For instance, I sometimes do movements that are similar to the way we do the Ales in class, during fighting, but they may not look exactly like them.

STUDENT: From just the limited exposure of Silat that I had, I knew that I wanted Silat to be my core art. This is where PSP comes in. Honestly, the biggest draw, at first, was that I could play around with PSP with little commitment and see what it was about. But, in all seriousness, I totally fell in love with PSP. I don't always feel like doing it, and their are times when I really need to put more into it, but my goal is to keep at it and explore it for life. I'm aiming for roots, and I also realize that I don't want to be concerned about how long it takes me. As you said, it's about the pursuit. I've already been down the road of taking the easy stuff and moving on when I hit a point where I didn't want to be bothered to troubleshoot an issue.

ME: Yeah, exactly what I was getting at. Unfortunately, if you don't learn to troubleshoot, you'll never be able to really fight. It's a lot like web programming. You can't just do what the book says when you first learn it because there are always unique problems that you'll only encounter once you're in the middle of a real dev project. The classes, books, lessons, DVD's, etc. that you took for learning web dev. are only teaching you about the tools, principles and attributes of good programming. Real life troubleshooting is where you become an expert, someone who people look to for solving real issues. A system of martial arts is similar. It's not about having a cure all, guarantee for safety, it's about giving you the tools and principles and helping you develop the attributes of real-time problem solving.

STUDENT: Ok, that's a long point, but just wanted you to understand where I'm coming from. So, as for finding the material much more applicable, what I meant was that up until the level 6 materials I felt like I was still learning the basics. I knew all of the individual moves but I felt very much like everything I was doing was a one-step. But, when I started doing my actual test I realized that I was starting to put things together. I wasn't just moving around with Dan but I started to see my Gerakan and welcoming postures come into play because it felt right, like it belonged there. I think that was more because I needed to put the time in with real flesh and blood people which I need to put more effort into finding, no doubt.

ME: There is no substitute for training with people. There is no substitute for training with people. There is no substitute for training with people. It's like the location, location, location of starting a small business principle. In combative training, it's relationship, relationship, relationship.

It's not just practice like some say. That is why so much of PSP is based off a simple one-count attacker type drilling. Additionally, I have further thoughts on it. For instance, you should not be sparring. You can work up to sparring, but high pressure drilling is a better use of your time. The drilling allows you to develop higher level skills with the proper mechanics and having someone add more and more pressure, shows you where things break. Then you back off of them again until they are workable BUT just at the edge of your skill. You can do this by adding more and more into the mix or by changing the variables but staying within the confines of a drill so you really get a lot of reps, with high pressure, and adaptable variability.

Here's the thing about everything being one-step. That is a principle of the system. A lot of people don't like that or understand it BUT in fighting what do you think happens? In the fights I've been in, the situations (relationships) are changing constantly. The only thing that is sure is NOW. The next spot, next technique, next position may not be what you expect or may be gone altogether. You just don't know. You have to be able to complete a thing within a one or two beat time period.

That's why I'm always harping on it being about relationship and a one to one ratio (one of their movements/positions/attacks to one of mine). That's the only thing you can be sure of.

That's why I spend so much time developing the primary positions. Over the years, people have told me that they didn't understand or feel comfortable in any of the positions we have. They don't get it. It's not about jumping into a Masukan Kaki 3 or 4 or whatever. It's about recognizing it when it shows up - AND IT WILL. Look at any MA magazine photo series and you'll see all kinds of people unaware of their positions in relationship to the attacker (especially as a whole body from head to toe) BUT you can look at those same photos and see relationships or potential relationship from head to toe. BECAUSE of those RELATIONSHIPS you'll see many, many, potential techniques in just a quick look and that will grow for you as time goes on.

**Did you know that Pertempuran means Combat with Many? It's translated as Combat but it really means Combat with Many. Why then don't we spend more time doing multiple attack drills and all that? Because the premise of fighting MANY is the same as the premise of fighting ONE. Yes, there are a few tricks and ideas that you can implement and that we do practice here in FL but in a weekend you can learn those and have the rest of your life to perfect :)

If I have to put my finger on what was making me hesitant, though, I'd have to say that using the ales/masukan kaki as bridging devices really had me stumped. In combat, people move pretty fast. Many guys aren’t super committed with punches, but more quick jabs and kicks. So, how do I bridge the gap with someone who never commits with the big haymaker? Well, the level 6 elbow/hand berpasangan drills helped me to see how to limit the attackers targets. This means I have less to cover and frees up mental resources to handle those areas that I do need to cover. Which means I have a better chance of intercepting and bridging. I never saw that before this level because I didn't have that drill. I know it was there in the welcoming postures, but seeing it in the drill with some contact made all the difference for me.

A lot of people don't make big haymakers in the martial arts. Most martial artists are afraid to get hit. In fact, the majority don't commit to their attacks. So what are you afraid of? :) Anyway, that's not my experience in the street so much.

Personally I rarely use the material on Level 6. It's more about stick and knife from my perspective. I'm going to give you some methods below that may work for you. They work for me.

Before I start though, as I read this, it sounds like your playing the part of a victim. PSP is THE ART of attacking the attacker. What if you commit to attack him instead? As he does his uncommitted attack, why don't you attack him? I'm only guessing here, but what I am reading between the lines is this (I've seen this problem A LOT), if he is an uncommitted attacker and you are having a problem with him, it's likely because YOU are uncommitted/afraid and you aren't using your ales - at least not correctly. My guess is that you are probably backing up and trying to use Ales. For an aggressive attacker, that can work well, but for someone who is uncommitted you have to either stand your ground or move forward. Attack the attacker. It's relational so if they aren't coming to you, you have to go to them.

Here are some ideas. This all assumes you are using Sliwa.
Option #1
Against someone who wants to dance around. First, cut off their angles using your gerakan. Second, leave them obvious targets using Sikap Pasang -- that's the point of them. Once they start to get confident in their safety (this doesn't mean letting them hit you, but letting them TRY to hit you and you NOT hitting back - just about three times is enough) counter it by attacking when they move in. Do it like you mean it and finish it. It's not a dance class. Don't plan to do this the same way if you fail the first time because they will be much wiser :)

Option #2
Make them commit. You can't actually make them commit. It's no different than any other relationship, BUT you can encourage them to either stay away, or commit. Just like an old boyfriend or girlfriend who wouldn't make a decision. You first start this process by making them stay away. Low stop kicks are a great starting method. Land a few of those on the same leg (I mean REALLY land them) and they will be hesitant to come in, and when they do, they'll try to do it faster and harder than the last time typically. At least that's been my experience. Everyone thinks it's about trying harder or being faster. If he doesn't come in, you'll have won the fight without fighting. If the girlfriend stayed away - then you knew. Same.

Option #3
Similarly, you can't make them commit, but instead of convincing them to stay away, you can stay away. Run away from them a bit until the get confident that they are safe in chasing you. Then go back to attacking the attacker.

**Over the course of sparring you may have to move in and out of these three options, but these are just options. I suggest you try them.

***MOSTLY, I suggest that you don't do too much sparring. Most sparring is light contact and it's about as far from real fighting as you can imagine. The difference between a good contact punch and the light touch, is at least a few inches of range, and if someone is fast or has longer arms, or whatever, you're going to find that it's going to mess with your confidence and your trust of the system but IT's NOT REAL.

****Additionally, if you go from basic drills to sparring, you're missing several key steps to the training process, along the way. Sparring is fine once you've got some of the basics of that type of fighting hammered out but it's NOT fighting.

STUDENT: Lastly, I do still have an issue with kicks. The stop kicks help, but I still can't quite see how to apply the all of this against lower body attacks.

ME: Aaahhh!!! I'm about to release an e-book (hopefully this weekend) that will have some insight into this for you. You have to remember the principles of the things being taught. I know it's hard to do that - especially when you don't drill these things but think about this. What is the purpose of the Ales that you've learned already? When someone attacks your stomach what do you do? (move it out of the way.) When someone attacks your head what do you? (Yep, move it out of the way.) What should the principle be then? Moving the target, without changing the range. If I wanted to defend against lower body attacks, how would I do that then? It's a bit easier from the knees down. Think about it - then when I get it done, get the e-book and see what I show in it and compare it to what you were just asking.

**Look it's not possible for me to answer every conceivable question situation or issue that could come up in a curriculum. It would just get crazy. This one is already big - even though primarily it was about reduction and removal of stuff. So, the only way is for it to be principle, and attribute based. These are things that can very easily be added on to your understanding but I need to know what questions you have. I wish I could just do a download in a matter of a day but it's not possible.

***Someone recently had similar issues and concerns but he handled them wrong. He based his decisions on what he knew of the system, of what was on the DVD's. That's my mistake as a teacher. If he had asked me these types of things, I would have been able to help, but instead he kept them to himself and came up with his own answers by looking outside of PSP. From my perspective he failed me as a student because it was not his responsibility to answer the tough questions. It's mine. He was not a teacher but acted like one by feeling like he should have all the answers. That was his mistake. I hope you won't make the some one.

****In the end, I hope to have a symposium of instructors who can get together from time to time to discuss areas of the system and see where it can be improved. I'm sure there are pieces out there that need improvement but I haven't seen better pieces to take their place yet - that also fit with the rest of the system or the big idea of PSP.

STUDENT: Sorry this is so long, but hopefully this helps you see where coming from, at, and going.

ME: I appreciate you taking the time to write and read this. I hope in the future you will feel more free to ask.


What you said about me "playing the victim" is true. That sort of summed up the general feeling. I think what I'm learning in PSP is a different mentality about fighting. Your stress on relationships has stuck and it's changing the way I'm thinking. And I do understand about sparring, and it's noted. I'm not afraid to take a hit, and I do know the difference between someone tagging me with a point and someone laying into me. I tend to ignore the taggers and my sparring is often me sparring with me and another person just happens to be there to interject some chaos. But, your advice is sound and I do understand what you mean.

I've been reading the 3rd book you wrote (totally excellent, btw) and you often relate things in life with things in martial arts because their are many parallels. I find myself (spiritually, and martial arts-wise) in a situation where I'm looking for someone who can help me learn and grow. People who are mature/experienced who are willing to share some time/experience and grow a real relationship bent on learning and growing together. But, what I've found is that people that I'm meeting along the way keep looking at me like I'm the one who they want to be the leader/teacher/elder/mature/experienced person. Here I am thinking, "What the hell do I know?" Don't get me wrong, I'm confident that I know some stuff, but again, I feel I'm somewhat playing the victim in that I'm sitting back thinking that when I find someone who at least knows as much (hopefully more) comes along—then I'll start. But, what I'm finding is that I need to not sit back and wait for someone to make the first move, but I need to make the first move and make my own entrance.

I've been "waiting" to get far enough in PSP to get the OK to teach from you because I have it in my head that until I reach that level I'm not really ready to bring someone in and bring them up to the point where they can help me, which, when I think about it now, doesn't make a lot of sense. No matter who I train PSP with, they are going to be behind me and I'm going to be the teacher (so to speak) for a time, to get them up to the point where they can push me in PSP to the breaking point.

If I have questions, I'll bring them to you. And I don't expect you to have all the answers all the time either. At this point, I need to work harder at digging out the questions so I know what they are. That's something I'm working at in more than just my martial arts life.

Oh, and by the way, the format of the level 7 material on the DVD seems to have coincided with my mind shift. It feels more like a DVD that promotes exploration by the practitioner. I like it. My wife is gonna have a sore neck though.


ME: Hope this was helpful to you all.