IFF Title  

Journal of Asian Martial Arts
Volume 16, Number 2, June, 2007

Media Review - by Kirstin Pauka, Ph.D.,
University of Hawaii.

Despite its slightly sensationalist title, this book is a valuable handbook for practitioners of Indonesian pencak silat.  The stated purpose of the book is to present fighting principles found in various styles of silat and kuntao as taught by Dutch-Indonesian masters.  It provides a much needed description and analysis of techniques, methods, and tactics, as well as underlying principles.

A welcome feature of the book is its fairly extensive first chapter on teaching philosophy and learning models, something not typically found in martial arts books that focus more on detailed descriptions of techniques.  The basic learning model employed here is based on conditioning, repetition, and observation, and it is the foundation to learning the techniques and principles illustrated in later chapters.  The author shares his own experience in developing training methods in a clear and credible manner, based on the continuous refinement of his own long path of learning.

Each of the following chapters that discuss specific principles is preceded by an introduction or overview that situates the principle within the world or silat, or by extension in the world of martial arts in general.

Chapter 2 deals with the main principle of "Adhesion," or sticking closely to one`s opponent, a central feature of silat.  It applies to techniques and strategies to gain and retain the proper fighting distance to maximize possible choices of follow-up techniques and control of an opponent.  Absorbing this principle is often difficult for students since it is typically the opposite of the instinctive reflex to get away from harm.  Although other arts such as Aikido use this principle as well, in silat adhesion is taken much further than in most other martial arts.

Chapter 3 introduces the principle of "Whiplash," an "explosive and sudden change of direction used to incapacitate an opponent."  It incorporates the opponent's natural reaction or response to an initial push or pull in the opposite direction.  Techniques based on this principle are typically executed in a linear fashion.  An expansion of this into circular movements is called "Gyroscopic Rotation" and is addressed in Chapter 4.  It is mainly applied to an attacker's head and neck, hence it is very dangerous, and the author rightly admonishes utmost care while practicing these.

Chapter 5 illustrates techniques that apply the principle of "Shearing," the application of opposing forces passing each other along parallel lines.  Through applying this principle various two-handed techniques as well as foot techniques are enhanced in their effectiveness.

Chapter 6 deals with "Seating" - the sudden drop of the defender's center of gravity to a lower level - followed by the illustration of various leg maneuvers in Chapter 7.  This chapter also includes six sample drills to learn various combinations of leg techniques.  These core chapters (2-7) on principles are well written with concise language and usefully illustrated with black-and-white photos in easy to follow steps.

Chapters 8 and 9 offer an excursion into Philippine martial arts and Chinese kuntao respectively.  Here the author extracts techniques and principles that fit with his overall approach to fighting fundamentals, and he briefly outlines general similarities and differences.  To those readers familiar with more than one martial art, these short comparative chapters should be of interest.

Chapter 10 returns to silat and illustrates six basic jurus or fixed forms used for practice and public display.  The book is rounded out in the final chapters by an extended discussion of historic references and legends about the cross-over between silat and kuntao, the role of spirituality and inner power (tenaga dalam), social responsibility of the martial arts practitioner, and a short outline of the author's relationship with Willem de Thouars, his main teacher.

Overall this book is an enjoyable read and informative throughout.  Its main strength is the presentation of fundamental principles found in silat and kuntao.  The techniques, tactics, and methods shown in detail are organized in order to illustrate the principles, and the principles in turn become much clearer through the illustration of appropriate techniques.  I would recommend this book to any serious student of silat, irrespective of what particular style he or she might practice.

Our emphasis is on the practical.
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E-mail: Ron@OrlandoKuntao.com
Last update:  Aug. 6, 2016
by Bob Orlando
Web Site of Bob Orlando: Instructor in Kuntao-Silat (Chinese kuntao and Dutch-Indonesian pukulan pentjak silat), author of two popular martial art books: "Indonesian Fighting Fundamentals" and "Martial Arts America: A Western Approach to Eastern Arts"; and producer of four martial art videos: Fighting Arts of Indonesia, Reflex Action, Fighting Footwork of Kuntao and Silat, Fighting Forms of Kuntao-Silat. Offering practical martial arts instruction to adults living in and throughout the Denver metropolitan area including, Lakewood, Littleton, Morrison, and Golden Colorado.