A prospective student dropped by my class the other day and watched a session. I asked him how he had heard of my class and he said he searched “Silat in Fresno” and my website came up. That’s both flattering and frustrating. It’s flattering because it means this website is doing its job and reaching its intended audience. It’s frustrating because I wish there were more of a Silat presence in Fresno. It would be so cool to have a true Guru or Pendekar in this area.
What about me? Hardly. I am a student with no formal ranking in Silat. I studied Silat in Panama with an American who had learned from Willem de Thouars. When I returned to the USA, I continued studying from videos. I have done that for three years now and have become very comfortable in the art, though I am far from an expert. But I perceive that the movements of Silat have become a part of me. I am in love with the art. It is so fluid, fast and aggressive, but at the same time it requires no power. In that sense it harmonizes very well with the other arts I study and teach – Hapkido, Jujitsu, Kempo.
I learn something new every week. I watch videos intensively, then take the techniques to my class and we learn them together and practice them on each other. I’ve also begun to codify what we’ve learned into a series of flow drills, some with open hands and some with the knife.
It helps that I have experience in multiple other arts. I find – especially in the last two years – that I can watch a technique and immediately grasp the principles behind it, and visualize other ways to use it.
So what style of Silat do we practice? Well, I find that I am very attracted to the movements of these styles:
- Mande Muda – a style from West Java, Indonesia. Mande Muda represents a synthesis of 18 Silat styles.
- Silat Suffian Bela Diri – from Brunei, popularized by Guru Maul Mornie.
- Harimau – tiger style Silat. A very powerful ground fighting style.
- Buaya – crocodile Silat. Another ground fighting style, quite methodical and brutal.
- Maphilindo – this is Guru Dan Inosanto’s hybrid style (Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia). What I especially like about Dan’s style, aside from the fact that is is a martial arts living legend, is that he has organized and codified it so well. That makes it very easy to study.
So the Silat techniques we practice in class tend to come from these styles.