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Kali/ Pentjak Silat Dojo Review

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    Kali/ Pentjak Silat Dojo Review

    Yesterday I went with my gf to the Full Life Fitness Martial Arts Academy ( and took their Kali/Pentjak Silat freebie class. This dojo is located in a total shithole. I don't mind that, personally, that's usually a sign they're not about making $ . When I arrive an Aikido class is beginning to let out. Bunch of hippy looking dorks, imo. The instructor for my class arrives. He looks like the KING of all dorks. This guy couldn't have weighed over 150 lbs, had huge glasses, teeth that are the envy of the British Empire, and an ANNOYING personality. This guy talked for about 10 minutes about nothing but himself refusing to ask anything about ourselves (not even our existing MA background). The class is listed as Kali/Pentjak silat. The first 45 minutes is for Kali, the next 45 for Pentjak Silat (although I never heard him use this term, he kept calling it something- serra). He dropped a lot of the right terms, like Inosanto, at least. The class floor is made of this weird tiled plastic shit, it was very cold. There are also some mats around for when they do "TEH GRAPPLE". For the Kali class we break up into 2, my gf and I getting training from some guy that's been doing Kali even longer than the instructor. He teaches us a few good stick fighting moves. He's basically trying to tell us the noob basics and giving us a feel. He's done lots of other MA's and has the right jive down. We go on and he starts teaching us some boxing moves. I know a little bit about it, and what he taught seemed legit. He was talking about muscle memory, inadequacy of Karate's chamber punches, etc. What impressed me is that he was taking stuff from other systems, like Kung Fu, and saying how this and that could be integrated into a boxer's standup to improve holes in your personal standup game. So I liked this guy at least.

    At one point I overhear the instructor talking about how to beat BJJ guys. I couldnt help but smile at his fearful attitude towards us. If he had bothered to ask, he would've realized there were 2 bjj practicioners in the class he could've used as a resource.

    The second half of the class, we do the pentjak silat, and this is really where my bullshit meter starts getting spiked. The instructor, aka hot bag of wind, lectures us for about 15 minutes on the history of the system (punctuated with his murder-worthy annoying laughs). He talks about the origin of the system, saying how it was made by a guy with a clubbed foot and half an arm. As such, he had to make it brutally effective, because "he didn't have time to fuck around". As if other MA's are less effective because they have the non-handicapped luxury of being so. He talks about how its a complete system, integrating weapons, grappling, striking, multiple attackers, etc. He says they start teaching the "weaker techs" first, and as you prove your dedication and worth, you gain the more dangerous knowledge later. Jesus. Fucking. Christ.

    We bust out the mats and do a little bit of grappling. I smile, because this is where I'm gonna know whether these fuckers have any clue of they know what they're talking about. The main instructor is showing off this throw to take a person down, then he follows it up with a variant of the armbar (which he calls a "joint lock" but whatever). He demos the move, its somewhat similar to a Judo throw I know, but I realize this particular variant will get you killed. I ask the instructor "What if he simply pushes against you", "What if he goes for the single leg?"

    His response is "Those won't work." That's it?! So because he says it, it cant happen?! I would've respected him a lot more if he instructed me to try it on him while he applied the move. No dice. What a pussy.

    Regardless, 2 different people try the move on me and neither of them can take me down. It's not even a difficult counter to figuire out. They're basically grabbing your arm, holding it tight against your body, and dropping you down. Unliike the judo throw I know, they're not going into you, nor tripping you over any part of their body, they just assume I'll be dragged down. To counter, all I have to do is widen my base a little, a completely intuitive counter even for the untrained. Worst of all, they're totally exposed for a single leg takedown. I cant imagine it being very difficult to take the back either. I was actually told I wasn't supposed to move my feet for the purposes of having this throw applied to me (one person called me a cheater). OOOOOOOOOKAAAAYYYYYY.

    Class winds down and he gives us yet another 15 minute lecture. Because of his prattling the class has gone way over the alloted time. I ask him if there's any real sparring in class. He tells me that they can "if he brings in the gear" for Kali. I noticed early on there wasnt even a hint of protective equipment in the room, just a lot of sticks, swords, and plastic knives. It's pretty obvious they rarely if ever spar Kali at full intensity. He tells me that there is only drilling for Pentjak Silat because "it's too dangerous to be sparred safely". Straw that broke the camel's back, imo.

    My gf and I left, and the first thing she tells me is that she doesn't like the class because it relies too much on trying to drill techniques instead of the heavy "action" you can find in BJJ. This is why I love her. Anyways, yeah, the people in the class were generally of unimpressive shape. I hardly got any excercise doing it, as opposed to my BJJ class, where I generally leave feeling like I'm ready to puke. The instructor said Pentjak Silat doesn't focus on conditioning, because the founder of the style was handicapped, he couldn't "run around or improve his physical shape". What a steaming load of shit.

    This particular class is definitely some shit run by a geek with fantasies of beating up blacks with knives and defeating those big nasty BJJ guys. The first half of the class showed promise, but is ruined by its own lack of aliveness training. The second half is just terrible, just awful. I'll be back to this academy, but only to check out their Muay Thai I believe.
    Last edited by Te(V)plar; 11/06/2004 2:19pm, .

    I'd also like to add that at this point I feel like I can only be trained by someone (barring old age) that I feel could kick my ass. This dude is definitely not that.


      I know that story, about the one arm club foot guy, that is de Thours stuff.

      I don't practice Silat, and that guy sounds like a tool, but there are some Silat guys that can kick your ass.
      If a `religion' is defined to be a system of ideas that contains unprovable statements, then Godel taught us that mathematics is not only a religion, it is the only religion that can prove itself to be one. -- John Barrow

      Talk to TBK's boyfriend:


        Originally posted by Little Idea
        I know that story, about the one arm club foot guy, that is de Thours stuff.

        I don't practice Silat, and that guy sounds like a tool, but there are some Silat guys that can kick your ass.
        Unfortunately, I have yet to see one.

        Thus far Silat is 0 for 1 in my book.


          I've heard the story about the clubfoot, one-arm guy developing a system of Silat. However, I didn't hear how it made his system more brutal. The guy supposedly just had to learn how to deal with using his shoulders and such to make throws and technique work. Silat can be ok, and it is somewhat hard to spar in the traditional sense. It's not so much because it's outright too d3ad7ly, but because changing the form for the safety of the other person makes it no longer Silat.

          The throws aren't so different from judo or jujitsu, just usually a different emphasis on how to land the opponent. Judo and jujitsu look for clean throws for opponents to land somewhat safely, silat looks to lean an opponent in a hard way. I agree, though, according to your story, these pukes don't want to really train hard, just learn cool moves.

          I think it's funny what you said about the Aikido guys leaving the gym. In my experience, Aikido guys have mostly been queerish hippies.
          "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities." Voltaire.


            Just for the record, I've never done Silat. But if you're looking for Silat guys that know their shit, look no further than Tuhon Tom Kier or Tuhon Roberto Torres. Uncle and his brothers are outstanding too.
            "We spoke to them in the only language they understood: the machine gun"


              From what you described that teacher doesn't have "it" meaning, he is all textbook technique but not able to adjust and be real in situations. A from my expereince a real teacher never looks the same all the time the principles would be there but the technique might look a little different. Yes, a real teacher would have pulled you up had you do the single leg or what not and handled it. Like you said I would have gave him props for trying to stop you and not being able to do it. I wouldn't waist time with him if you can't feel he can whup your ass, meaning he doesn't have that presence. I'm 200 pounds and I've seen some 150 guys I wouldn't fuck with. There is also another problem unfortunately in Silat you just can't come in and mix it up right away there is a lot of shit you have to learn first which make you think too much.
              "Its not important to be strong, its just important not to be weak."


                the legacy of bapak serak is primarily of leverage refinement.

                one arm guy had to do things just right to effect takedowns.


                  Originally posted by Hawkeye
                  Just for the record, I've never done Silat. But if you're looking for Silat guys that know their shit, look no further than Tuhon Tom Kier or Tuhon Roberto Torres. Uncle and his brothers are outstanding too.
                  I have met Robeto at seminars in the past. One of the most likable guys you could meet. One of the meanest mother fuckers you would not want to piss off. His silat is great and he is a De Thouras student. Tel is sounds like you met up with the wrong silat instructor. So don't blame the system due to one retarded instructor.
                  Jeremy M. Talbott

                  Originally posted by Phrost
                  "Bullshido isn't just a place to hang out when you're browsing the net. We really are trying to accomplish something fucking extraordinary here that nobody's ever had the balls to do before."
                  Originally posted by D.Murray
                  "Which is better, to learn the truth, or to enjoy the illusion of being right when you are not?"
                  Originally posted by hangooknamja88
                  My definition of Ki is our energy. it's rather hard to explain it in words. It's not some mystical type of energy like white people...

                  SUPPORT BULLSHIDO!


                    Originally posted by miguksaram
                    I have met Robeto at seminars in the past. One of the most likable guys you could meet. One of the meanest mother fuckers you would not want to piss off. His silat is great and he is a De Thouras student. Tel is sounds like you met up with the wrong silat instructor. So don't blame the system due to one retarded instructor.
                    Yeah, I was REALLY disappointed. I had heard some good things about the system and this turned out to be one of the worst schools I had ever visited. An almost complete reversal of my expectations, imo.


                      Sorry to bump an old thread, but I was discussing my experience with an avid Kali/pentjak Silat practicioner, and he said that there is a real problem these days with "Strip Mall Silat" joints springing up. He really wishes the style would go back underground.

                      Sort've reminds me of how people dig underground bands and then wish they never got discovered. It's good to have more people join your art, but it does suck to have its credibility tarnished.


                        I gotta agree with your friend, and you, in general. I am thoroughly disappointed by the new trend of silat/FMA twat McDojos springing up all over the place.

                        On a semi-related note, regarding Serak (club footed guy silat), I was lucky enough to be invited to a couple of seminars with Pak Vic, and he's one crazy badass. Unfortunately, last seminar, it looked like his health is steadily deteriorating. That fully sucks, because in the 2 seminars I attended, he showed me some really cool blade stuff that changed my whole attitude about knifework in general.

                        But sorry to hear about your experience with it.
                        Kuha'o - Kela - Koa


                          Firstly, I'd like to clarify that Silat shouldn't be confused with the FMA. In the States, this has sadly happened, and the association between the two is now entwined, and as a result, there is little idea as to what Silat really is.

                          Silat has gotten a real bad reputation, and to be honest, I can't blame the critics, as most of the Silat being taught (both in the US and the UK) is pretty poor. HOWEVER... I train a very realistic, no nonsense system of silat, which couldn't be further from the rubbish I have seen on many websites.

                          Te(V)plar, I can understand why you think Silat is no good.. If I was exposed to the silat you seem to have experienced, I would be the same.

                          No disrespect to the US silat scene, but the majority of the silat being taught there is pathetic.



                            Sad but true......

                            Pentjak Silat is one of those arts that regretably attracts the "Walter Mitty (wannabe)" types. Because of the fact that (when taught the right way) it is geared exclusively to life or death combat or at the very least severe physical injury. Thus it cannot be sparred. Therefore, the art attracts either the "I'm too deadly to spar" types who have never had their noses broken and hide behind the no-sparring component and the seasoned veterans who truly want to dedicate themselves to a brutal warriror art.

                            The "martial arts," for lack of a better term, offer practitioners a variety of different things: fitness, a hobby, entertainment, sport, an art, and self-defense. Different arts and different practitioners emphasize different features. I personally have trained for over 26 years in the martial arts/self-defense and continue to do so to this day. In my youth I was attracted to sparring and tournament fighting. I quickly got to hate point tournaments because of their lack of realism. I was disqualified from a few for not using "correct karate punches," go figure! This led me to seek extensive full contact and bare knuckle karate matches as well as to going back to the grappling arts which I began in my childhood. I liked the realistic non-cxooperative matches of Judo. Even before the movie "Fight Club" I trained with a disciple of American Goju-Ryu Master, Peter Urban (known for very hard bare knucle fighting in his schools). I would show up to work the next day "bloodied to a pulp" even if I had had done well sparring the previous night. When you go all out, or close to it, both fighters will get hurt. It's inevitable. Whereas I do not consider myself any kind of badass, I will tell you that I do have extensive experience in what's real in fighting and what is bullshit. I have had the good fortune of training throughout the years with some of the finest instructurs I have ever known. Some reknown, some unknown yet formidable. I also have run into my share of bullshit artists, weirdos, and people full of shit. If you train long enough you can't help it. I have had my nose broken, fingers, toes, ribs, jaw, teeth knocked out/chipped, ankle fractures, wrist with torn ligaments, dislocated shoulders, have been choked out countless times, you name it.

                            In my experience Pentjak Silat taught the right way is the most unbelievably brutal martial art known to man. I emphasize, taught the right way. First, Pentjak Silat seeks to establish a mindset and muscle memory geared to "railroad" and break an opponent in half without giving him even the slightest opportunity to respond, to a fair fight, to spar. Sparring, though a CRUCIAL component of developing pain tolerance and fighting spirit against an unwilling opponent, has rules.... and it implies give and take. Self-defense, particularly the Silat way is all-out. Keep in mind that a skilled Silat practitioner is an excessive use of force or wrongful death law suit/prison sentence waiting to happen. Thus, this should not be taught to minors and used only in the most extreme situations where fighting is unavoidable. Think about whether you could justify such a level of force to a judge/jury.

                            True Silat is only secondarily about grappling. The first rule is Pukulan..... To hit.. Not just to punch and seek a knock out but to "head and groin hunt." As well as strike other vulnerable areas immedeately (muscle memory) and incessantly (this it has in common with Wing Chun). Thus eye gouge, punch throat, kick knees, crank neck -or break, solar plexus, genitals. Do not waste your time..... If you can get a sweep, take it. If you trap, strike, If you grapple, hit, head butt, eye gouge and bite...., and grapple (in grappling you can deploy hidden small blades you carry with you). Hit him and break him all the way from standing position to when you have him on the ground. I admit that Silat is weak in ground grappling. Keep in mind that these techniques are traditionally done with blades (some hooked- e.g. "The Kerambit") to assist in the grappling and striking techniques. This fact changes the whole concept of a ground game. I blend my Silat with Shooto & BJJ -but I "Silatize" the BJJ & Shooto. If your guillotine segways into an actual attempt to "break the neck" or if your heel hook includes a groin stomp follwed by a neck break after actually breaking the ankle, the whole "ground grappling" game has changed. Also add biting and eye gouging (not to mention blades) to the guard and mount and the whole system changes. Don't get me wrong, the techniques of BJJ & Shooto are essential to a well rounded fighting system. but for me ..., for actual self-defense they are incomplete. A true Silat practitoner would have encouraged you to go for his leg. He then possibly would have gone for a thumb eye gouge followed by a neck snap or guillotine (then neck break). Then maybe he would have kneed or elbowed if possible. If your leg take down would have been succesful and he couldn't take your back neither. Perhaps he would have gone into the guard and immediately sought to bite you and eye gouge you. If you would flinch or let go he possibly would attempt to reverse arm bar you or mount you. Either way he probably would continue to bite and eye gouge (and strike) and would pull out one of his blades and use it on you. This is the way a Silat practitoner thinks.

                            Another interesting element is raised if you have multiple attackers. A difficult situation no matter what art, but not the best situation to be in ground grappling in. You're dominating in the guard or mount, you go for the arm bar, arma plata or mata leon and the guy's buddy caves your skull in with a kick when you were busy with his friend. Stuff to think about.....

                            Yet another fact is that the weapon that you are most likely to encounter these days in the street is a handgun. So you better carry one (legally of course) and train with it too. Of course, spar with it on you and do your hand to hand combat with it on you also. So you can get used to its weight, to weapon retention in hand to hand combat, and to deploying it and using it safely, legally and effectively in a life or death situation. I personally train with a .38 spcl snubbie in the front pocket of my jeans. Held in place by a Barami grip. If I have to go into a hand to hand combat situation I let it down into deep pocket carry. Very difficult to have it taken from you this way. In fact, the guy will probaly not even notice it on you. I also carry a Kerambit, an Indonesian spur and a Spyderco Fred Perrin Street Bowie Knife.

                            Ideally, training will be done by people 21 and over with lots of full contact fighting experience who want to focus on primarily self-defense based non-sport warrior arts. The curriculum should focus on the following:

                            1) learning techniques, djurus, sambuts, flow and concepts to be applied to opponents who use resistence (hitting and getting hit hard).
                            2)Training with street clothes on and carrying (safely for training- or safe versions of them) the weapons you will carry on. you in the street.
                            3)Training with practice weapons.
                            4)Individual and partner "live blade" training (safely) as well as live cutting practice (on cardboard, pieces of meat, etc.)
                            5)Handgun & Weapon retention.
                            6)Combat Handgunning.
                            7)Full contact Sparring & Grappling (to assist you even more to being "conditioned"). But an emphasis must be made that this is not REAL combat.
                            8)PT (push ups, sit ups, running, etc.)
                            9)Weight Training
                            10) Combative psychology
                            11)Legal & Ethical Issues of Self Defense/Use of Force
                            12)Nutrition, First Aid, etc.

                            First and foremost..., try to avoid getting into any altercation.... You do not want to be emroiled in this "crap shoot" called our legal system. Lastly, I highly recommend that you reconsider and seek out true Silat practitioners, not that "joke" that you went to see. If you do run into one you will know it when you see it. You will know instinctively that there is a total lack of bullshit in what he offers. It will be difficult to run into one, because most do not teach commercially.

                            Sorry for the lenghty exposition, but Pentjak Silat is very close to my heart.


                              Sorry one is going to read any more than this:

                              Originally posted by OJG
                              Sad but true......

                              Pentjak Silat is one of those arts that regretably attracts the "Walter Mitty (wannabe)" types. Because of the fact that (when taught the right way) it is geared exclusively to life or death combat or at the very least severe physical injury. Thus it cannot be sparred. ....
                              And even if you hadn't dropped that idiot bomb, I honestly couldn't have gotten through more than half of that at the most. The bit I skimmed had most of the warning flags. Go read the NOOB faq and try again.
                              Fighting evil and upholding justice in blue silk pajamas baby!


                              Bah!!! Puny Humans.



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