Over the last one week, emails, SMSs, chats, phone calls and wall comments were exchanged by a group of friends we call the Bukit Mas team, a group of silat-mad folk who bounce around looking for masters to study from. Together.
The gamut of communication was to arrange a trip to visit several of our masters for Aidilfitri.
I know, I know, Aidilfitri lasts for only a day in Makkah and most of the world, but this is Malaysia, where we love a celebration and will absorb as much fun from it before it passes. Therefore, Aidilfitri lasts a month over here.
Unfortunately, only 3 of the original 9 members of the team could make it as we live closer to our masters. We had no contact with one, another is in Sarawak, 2 are in Johor and another one simply too far away to make it in time. Our ninth member, Mahrizal, passed away several years ago. May Allah bless his soul and relieve him of his burdens in the hereafter.
Several days before, I represented the group to arrange a visit to guru Dahlan Karim's (Silat Setiabakti) house. I called him again just as I was leaving the office at 6pm, and he confirmed that we should be arriving at his home at 8pm. We normally wouldn't visit him that early, but he had a 9.30pm class last night and we didn't want to impose on him.
We did a virtual roll-call. Who would be attending? Myself. Cikgu Norazlan Wahid of Silat Kuntau Tekpi (and also administrator and co-founder of SilatMelayu.Com - yes... there are plans to rehabilitate that site) and cikgu Zainudin Ismail, whom we call 'ustaz' because of his penchant for religious coffee table talk (which we love, by the way).
Tagging along, is the mercurial cikgu Firdaus, whom we call Maulana for his facial similarity to the sheikhs of old and cikgu Yazid Abdul Rani and family of Lian Padukan Pak Mat Kedidi, who would be meeting us there.
I left Putrajaya a little after 6, made my way through the mad traffic and heavy rain along the MRR2 and managed to land at Surau Al-Taqwa in Keramat (where I studied Silat Kuntau Tekpi) an hour later. After Maghrib, I intended to stop by my instructor's house, but it was dark inside, and I didn't want to be late. It was already 7.30pm.
I called cikgu Norazlan, whom I call 'Coach' and requested that he begin making his way to cikgu Dahlan's house while I rush over to ustaz's house to pick him up. The traffic was worse than I thought. It was already 8 when ustaz jumped in my car. At least, Coach and Maulana would be there early.
It took us another half hour of wading through cars and water only to be shocked by a phone call by Maulana asking for cikgu Dahlan's address! They weren't even there yet! In all the confusion, I got lost and it took the two of us another 30 minutes to find his house. It was now 9pm.
Cikgu Dahlan was gracious as ever. He invited us in. Coach and Maulana were already there, browsing through the dozens of Silat Setiabakti books cikgu Dahlan had written, but had yet to publish. As we entered into his humble double-storey terraced home, signages, logos and weapons hung on the wall greeted us, the Setiabakti brand adorning all of them.
Cikgu Fuad, SENI BELADIRI's current editor, was also present to visit cikgu Dahlan.
"I'm getting old," cikgu Dahlan told us over a bowl of sumptuous noodles. "I worry that no one wants to continue studying silat," he confided to us. "But I will continue doing what I'm doing to keep this art alive."
"Quick, simple and effective," he declares, as he quotes Setiabakti's motto.
"That's why I can produce instructors in a short time. The system that I've spent years to build is now complete. Anyone who wants to be an instructor, I welcome wholeheartedly," he baited us.
Just then, his student, Tengku Musa, walks in. "Nadzrin, right?" he asks me and we greet each other. We recognised each other immediately. Tengku Musa is the elusive TM of http://gayanglima.blogspot.com/ and http://silat.tv/.
Tengku Musa recently appeared in SENI BELADIRI magazine with his master, Pak Atan "Air Batu", master of Silat Gayang Lima. Tengku Musa was given permission by cikgu Dahlan to teach Gayang Lima under the auspices of the Akademi Silat Setiabakti in the bangsal he built. The roofed gelanggang cost him RM18,000 to build and includes basic amenities like electricity (by generator), running water and male and female toilets.
"I'm open to anyone who wants to use the gelanggang to teach their styles. I pity those masters who depend on an open air gelanggang. When it rains, they're forced to cancel their class. I built the bangsal for that reason," he sighed.
"Now, I don't hold anything back. If anyone wants to come and learn, I will teach. I'll show them the most effective techniques, nothing kept. Come one day," he said excitedly.
Coach suddenly asked cikgu Dahlan, "Are there no more gendang classes?"
"None. The kids aren't interested. I paid for the lessons," he replied with a sad smile as we chatted over cups of black coffee.
To be continued...