Our training is not for sport or fighting, but totally for self-protection.
We teach practical, no-nonsense self-defense. Our entire training philosophy stands on that purpose and that purpose alone.1 To that end we seek to provide a challenging and rewarding learning experience that encourages individual initiative, fosters success through teamwork 2, and demonstrates a passion for excellence.
Classes are structured, but relatively informal. This less-formal atmosphere fosters communication. Open communication is the best tool the student has for understanding what he or she is doing. Further, students are constantly encouraged to question what is being taught and why.
Ours is a school of martial arts (plural) because we teach principles from more than one art. Our primary arts are Chinese kuntao and the Dutch-Indonesian method of pukulan pentjak silat; however, this does not mean that we teach "pure" kuntao or "pure" silat. As our school motto so accurately states, "Our emphasis is on the practical." We, therefore, focus on those arts' combat principles and methods of execution, allowing them to permeate everything else we teach. In addition to kuntao and silat we also incorporate techniques and fighting principles from Chinese kung fu and kenpo, as well as elements from Filipino fighting arts, Western boxing, jujitsu, grappling, Mexican judo and any other fighting method that contributes to effective self-defense.
Although we teach Asian fighting arts, we remain an American school. By this we mean that while we respect our arts' ancient roots and past masters, we use training methods that reflect and exploit our Western characteristics, needs, and virtues. For example, most of our terminology is in English. Whatever Asian terminology we use is limited to those terms that are either more concise than their English equivalents or otherwise not easily translated into English. Sempok and depok (Indonesian terms for ground sitting postures) are two such examples. As another example, while many schools train in bare feet, we do not. Barefoot training comes from a time and culture where most practitioners had no shoes (as we know them) or trained indoors where custom demanded they remove their footwear. In our culture wearing shoes is the norm. Forced to fight, then, we will most likely have to do so in shoes. Our training and practice reflect this reality.
Not everyone can become a black belt in our school. There are a variety of mental and physical conditions that prohibit many from reaching what we hold as expert level. For example, if karate is as an Oriental art of self-defense in which an attacker is disabled by crippling kicks and punches, then the requirement to kick effectively becomes a barrier to one confined to a wheelchair. Proficiency in other areas of the art may be within reach of those so impaired, but in this school, black belt-level is not. (It is not our intention to be cruel or insensitive here. We have an adopted son who is blind, suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, and has an IQ of just 70. We love our son, but the reality is that black belt level in our school is simply not within his capabilities.)
Admittedly, black belt means more than just the ability to kick and punch. A black belt must be not only technically proficient in the art, but also possess an understanding of the principles employed and be able to pass that knowledge and skill on to others in a clear, concise, and systematic manner. Black belt recipients from our school are taught, trained, and equipped to do just that.
Sparring and Sports
Because of the danger inherent in the techniques taught here (e.g., arm breaking, knee smashes to the legs, kicks to the knees and groin, to name a few), sparring, in the sport martial arts sense (including Mixed Martial Arts with all their rules), is simply too dangerous for use in the light of what we practice, teach, and train. However, sparring-like drills — drills that develop the ability to close on a moving opponent — are a regular part of our training regimen.
Our primary concern during training is safety. Therefore, certain uniform and safety equipment items are mandatory. For example, in all classes and lessons (group and private) ALL students (male and female) must wear groin protection. Additionally, female students must wear breast protection. There are no exceptions to these rules. Although this equipment is mandatory, it is never construed as license for greater contact. Rather it is insurance against excessive contact. Contrary to the opinions of some, the use of such equipment does not lull the student into a false sense of security – the blows are still felt. The equipment simply allows practitioners to make mistrakes while learning without having to pay for them for the rest of their lives.
Advancement and promotion are not normally attained through "formal" testing. Because ours is a small school, the instructor is able to work closely with every student, constantly monitoring his or her progress. Students also work closely with each other – often with a senior instructing a junior. That teaching requirement (seniors teaching juniors) forces everyone to know the material and provides a better means of testing the student's knowledge and understanding. Each student, then, is tested constantly.
It takes years of dedication and hard work – a sizable investment of one's time, energy, and money – to earn a black belt. It is important, then, for those considering martial art training to determine (as much as possible) if a given school's personality, philosophy, and purpose are compatible with their own. It is our hope that this Statement of Purpose assists you as you decide where best to make such an investment.
Thank you and best wishes in your training and study.