I had the amazing opportunity this last weekend to travel to Los Angeles and train for two days with Guru Maul Mornie, a Silat master from Brunei (though he’s a humble guy who doesn’t like to be called either Guru or master – sorry Maul :-).
Silat is the martial art of the Malay people and is commonly found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and southern Thailand. It is closely related to the Filipino martial arts as well.
Maul teaches his family’s traditional style, known as Silat Suffian Bela Diri.
Guru Maul was phenomenal. His speed and power were amazing, even shocking. He flowed seamlessly from one move to another, adapting instantly when the opponent did not react as expected. He maintained a fast pace throughout the seminar, presenting about 40 or 50 techniques, including knife and empty hand.
The techniques included knife defenses, knife counterattacks, throws, joint locks and ground finishes. We also practiced battlefield scenarios where you move rapidly from one opponent to another in a chaotic environment, which was easy to do since we had about 35 men and women in a small dojo space.
Guru Maul also taught us a lot about Bruneian martial culture and the attitude of the Bruneian martial artist. For example, Silat Suffian emphasizes always unbalancing the opponent, and forcing the opponent to come to you, or to move in the way you want, rather than you going to him. Guru Maul expresses this as, “If you have a question you must come to me, and I will give you the answer.”
Also, traditional Bruneian combat often took place on narrow footbridges or on boats, so there is an emphasis on maintaining balance and upright body structure.
It was a fantastic opportunity and even though I’m sore from the training, I’m very glad I went. I’ll be presenting some of the material I learned in class over the next few weeks.