29 November 2007

Cross Training in Silat Part II - Training The Core

I observe that when cross training, many people seem to understand martial arts as set techniques, and not natural survival expressions. When we think like this, then cross training becomes difficult, because we are tied down to the instructor's way of thinking (notice I didn't say guru).

An instructor normally understands an MA as a syllabus of techniques, and sadly this is rife in silat today. Traditional silat, once upon a time simply called Silat Melayu (now this term encompasses all type of silat), focuses more on development of core competencies such as strategic thinking, tactical analysis, kinesthesis and understanding kinetic energy, human and animal psychology and many, many more.

Thus, many people accuse Silat Melayu of not having a syllabus, when in fact it just means they have no set techniques. What they do have, are training methods that provide understanding for self empowerment, creating positive mindsets, and applying it to various aspects of life.

This 'life-wisdom', when taken into a physical direction, becomes Silat, the art of war. When taken into politics, becomes Percaturan or Siasah, the art of persuasive management. The source of this life-wisdom is various, depending on the area of Nusantara and the worldview each different Melayu clan accepts.

In some areas, it is clearly Hindu, as in Bali. In others, it is Budhhist and Animism or Natural Tauhid (like the Natural Americans, who many claim to be pantheists, but actually subscribe to a Single Diety idea).

When Islam arrived in Nusantara, it affected quite a bit of these life-wisdoms and collapsed these sources into two: Islamic and Folk. Now, because these life-wisdoms are so vast and various, it is impossible to encapsulate it all into a syllabus.

Thus, masters often only transfer mental tools, paradigms, maxims, or in Bahasa Melayu, called Petua which allows the student to explore his abilities, his weaknesses, his life, alone, without continuous guidance. Essentially, the master gives his students the necessary tools to master himself and eventually become a master.

I believe this is what Ustaz Saiful meant when he wrote:

"The appropriate way in deepen one's understanding and elevate one's skill in silat will be learning from the acquired knowledge. Let the knowledge 'mutating' itself into an 'unseen being' that'll guide oneself towards perfection."

These Petua are not unique to Silat, but exist in many different MA under different names. Void, Point, Straight Line, Circle, Compass Points, Opposites and Switch. Terminologies used by English-speaking martial artists.

Melayu call these petua: Ruang, Titik, Alif, Lam Alif, Mata Angin, Jantan Betina and Jengkal. These petua exist on different levels of understanding and usage.Among them, the physical (as in physics) realm, the social realm, the financial realm (no kidding), the psychological realm and the spiritual realm. In reality, all part of the single realm we call Life. Thus, the term Life-Wisdom.

Successful cross trainers are those who realise that all MAs share a common element: Human.

This is why we find that people who cross train from one Silat syllabus to another find it difficult to adapt, whereas those who have good grounding in traditional Silat Melayu can easily take to the structured arts.

This too, is what I believe Ustaz Saiful meant with:

"In our style, Silat Bongsu, apart from being the "Ibu Silat", it is also known as "Sendi Silat" or The Joint of Silat. Thus it is suitable to be incorporate into all kind of silat or non silat martial art. This can be done with strict adab".

This is why we find that THESE people never become newbies in ANY gelanggang. I have met many silat masters who fit this description very well. However, I would like to pay homage to Grandmaster Leo Gaje Jr of Pekiti Tirsia Kali.

He has the ability to look at any technique, silat or non-silat and immediately perform it, integrate it within his own fighting style and in many cases, reexplain it better than the owner of the technique himself. If he only held to techniques in the first place, he wouldn't be able to do this.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab


Anonymous said...

kikiki..never thought i've been 'watched' all this while =p

It's true that certain gurus have reached a level in which they can 'play' with guru from diff style. However, ur statement on Grandmaster Leo Gaje Jr sounds pretty interesting and i would love to see some examples on "reexplain it better than the owner of the technique himself" if u dont mind. (hopefully he wont end up like 'the kiai master')

Anyway, other than "leaving the ego at the door", another rule to crosstrain (which is applicable to most of us 'non-guru' level) that i found useful is "Shut up and learn. Analysis/questions can come later", which suits a Malay saying: "Biar byk mendengar, kurang bercakap..drpd byk mendengar tetapi lopong, byk berckp tetapi kosong." IMO, this rule will help to prevent 'opposing currents' that may shortcircuit our learning process.

ps: thx for the human weapon links. Hope u dont mind if i share it with the MCM members (uh..i need to reinstall my winrar, and w8 for next 'download session' =p) ;)

Mohd Nadzrin Wahab said...

Assalamualaikum Mike!

Thanks for the comment. Keep posting here. At least I have a friend!

It's not so much as being able to 'play' with other masters, but the ability to recognise basic core movements and replicate them.

Guro Omar Hakim told me of his teacher GM Leo Gaje, who understood motion and movement to such an extent that he can watch someone perform a technique, Kali or otherwise, and after a few minutes, can not only perform it better and more fluently than the first performer.

He can also extrapolate multiple uses for the same technique and even incorporate it into his repertoire, even without studying the whole system.

Thanks for the saying:

"Biar byk mendengar, kurang bercakap..drpd byk mendengar tetapi lopong, byk berckp tetapi kosong."

I agree it might help to prevent software conflicts, but I add another condition, that the master teaching actually knows what he is doing, and knows what you already have and knows how to integrate his teaching into your present skills and not overlap them.

As for the Human Weapon links, thank Mr_Hulk. He gave it to me.

(Still waiting to download the rest... sigh)


Tehsin Mukhtar said...

wah...so jeles...write very well ah...aiyah...

Mohd Hisham said...

Assalamualaikum wrh wbt
Natural Tauhid? Natural Monotheism is the more accurate term imo. Tauhid is has its own unique and absolute definition (see wikipedia for wanting a quick reference).
Natural Americans? Probably you meant Native Americans.. just my 2 cents
Salam persilatan

Mohd Nadzrin Wahab said...

Waalaikumsalam Hisham,

I agree with your comments on both counts. However, I did it on purpose. Words are loaded with meaning and emotion.

I chose Natural Tauhid to illustrate the suggestion the Melayu race actually descended from the Prophet Ibrahim's son via his third wife Keturah. This was proposed by early Ulama who researched the origins of the Melayu.

It's not academically provable but I personally believe that a large part of the theory is true. Thus, to create that link, I used 'Tauhid' to stress that we inherited Prophet Ibrahim's aqidah.

Secondly, in the anthropological fields, 'native' has a negative connotation, and although I understand that this meaning is softening in the United States, but I chose 'Natural' American to mean that they never needed to be 'naturalised' as recently as the Caucasian, African, Latin, Asian and Middle Eastern citizens.

I apologise if my worldview causes offence.