Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cultural Attributes

In my limited experience as a silat teacher I have noticed one or two things that impact attribute and skill development. I have been training two separate age groups, an adult group and a middle/high school group. An attribute that I see needing development, in both groups, is what a colleague/student calls, "the third world squat". For the purposes of this discussion, I would highlight that PSP does not work in static pieces, but is a fluid, dynamic system. Please excuse my indiscretion referring to "the third world squat" as a stance, as stance would suggest static or stuck movement. PSP is neither.

This colleague of mine is a former Navy SEAL, from SEAL Team 5. We were working through any of the various meta movements inherent in PSP. I noticed that PSP works more effectively when the pesilat develops a close quarter approach and a low stance/squat. I mentioned this to my colleague to improve his training. The close quarter attitude was not an issue. The low stance or "Um Bah Wah" was in need of increased development. When I articulated this low stance, my colleague said,"Oh, you mean the third world squat". My initial response was a weird look and a "what"? My colleague informed me that in most developing countries a similar stance is affected by the populace as a means of relaxation, comfort or the beginning of a long, desired and sometimes heated conversation. In short, they can stay low from childhood.

This truly got me thinking. I do not consider Malaysia, Indonesia or any South East Asian county lacking in culture or development. However the strong traditional ties contained in these countries would suggest that this type of posture or stance is still continued from generation to generation. I questioned my personal training as well as the American approach to silat. My conclusion I was at a deficit.

The next day I began watching TV, showering, playing with my kids in the "third world squat". Every opportunity I had I was in a flat footed, toes forward, knees over toes squat. My hip flexors, my periformis muscles all of these hip and lower back muscles that felt fused months before began to loosen. My Silat has improved immensely. I believe it has a lot to do with continued practice, attention to details and the connection to a cultural attribute that I was quick to look over.

I suggest we all squat.