Silat by Inosanto

Dan Inosanto is a very famous martial artist and master: he joined one of Bruce Lee’s school back in 1964 and developed his skills in becoming a master in at least 6 differents arts.

Silat is family of martial arts originated in South East Asia, particularly Malaysia and Indonesia: what I find fascinating about Silat is the very flowing movements develop into strikes, joint locks and throws, switching in very fast motions between one position and the other.

This short clip I found on YouTube shows Dan Inosanto explaining a couple of combinations of attack and defence that develop from a kick and a punch from the attacker into his total annihilation.  The guy on the right hand side of the screen is Ron Balicky, director of the Inosanto Academy and expert himself of Jeet Kune Do, Silat and several other styles.

Enjoy the view and please leave a comment:

Meet Maul Mornie

After having seen the numerous videos that Maul has on his You Tube channel I was convinced I had to meet him and try out his style. I was initially discouraged by the fact that he is always travelling to different places delivering seminars and that he is usually booked for a good part of a year in advance but, nearly by mistake I found out he was in touch with a local teacher of Silat that runs classes in Cambridge University, Lee Wilson, and so I caught the opportunity and turn up at a seminar held in Darwin College in early March.

Silat Suffian Bela Diri is a martial art that originates in Brunei and I believe it is somehow related to other Silat styles that are practiced in Indonesia and Malaysia: Maul himself admits to have little knowledge of those other styles and that what he practices and teaches is a direct lineage from his family.

The first impression of meeting Maul is warm and friendly: he appeared in the training hall greeting in a very friendly way people he met in previous occasions and welcoming in a equally warm way myself and others he was meeting for the first time.  His smile and facial expression is very reassuring and encouraging as well as his teaching style that is involving from the very first second.

Silat, similarly to other martial arts of South East Asia, is a martial art based on weapons, particularly knife: the training is usually starting by learning how to handle and defend against a weapon and moving onto bare hand fighting at a later stage.  As the seminar was open to all levels and there were people that, like me, had very little weapon experience he decided to start with the very basic drills that included the three basic knife strikes (cutting down vertically to the head, cutting across slashing the throat and stabbing horizontally toward the stomach).  Within minutes we were all practicing these basic drills and developed amazing ways of dealing with these kinds of attacks that would potentially be deadly if applied by an opponent with a live blade (all training is practiced with training knife blunt blades and edges).

The most amazing thing was seeing how Maul could handle these attacks with amazing precision and all counter attacks where at the same time conceptually simple and amazingly effective within a broad range of situations and circumstances.  The other hard to believe feature is his skill of moving incredibly slowly to demonstrate a technique that could potentially harm the opponent but then accelerating at an unexpected (even for a trained, expert martial artist) speed when showing how a techniques should be delivered in real life.

I was really amazed and totally impressed by Maul as a top martial artist and teacher as well as by his great personality and friendly manners: if you have a chance attending one of his seminars just go and try his style, technique and his unique teaching skills.

Martial art to learn as a background for a security course?

I was recently awarded best answer in Yahoo! Answers by replying to the following question:

For someone who is looking into enrolling in a security course, what is one of the best martial arts to learn as a ind of background into self defense. I have heard that Ju Jitsu is good as far as grappling goes…. Any ideas

and here was my answer:

I agreed that ju jitsu can be the first and correct answer to your question it is also true that aikido offers as well great level of joint locks that are excellent for security work. They will surely protect you against people pushing and grabbing you although they might not be the best answer against somebody attacking you with punches or other strikes at short range. For those I’d suggest Wing Chun that also allows great attacking skills when needed. Another interesting alternative could be Silat that offers both attack and defense against strikes but with a broad range of joint and limb locks and grappling techniques.

For any of the above, in any case, you should consider a consistent practice in order to learn and assimilate the techniques: by no means expect to be proficient in a martial art within a few weeks or months.

All the best in martial arts

Should i do karate or taekwondo?

I was recently awarded best answer in Yahoo! Answers by replying to the following question:

hey guys im a teenage girl and i really want to do either taekwondo or karate. i just dont know which one! what one would be better, and be more to my advantage?
if that makes sence

and here was my answer:

I agree with most answers so far but I would like to add a couple of technicalities. TKD is based mostly on kicks above the belt: that means is very suitable for lean and flexible people.  Anybody with heavy, inflexible legs will suffer and never really pick up on their techniques.

Karate has a much broader range of techniques that include kicks, punches, elbows and knees so it can suit a much wider range of people.  Please bear in mind that there are many different styles of Karate: Shoto Kan, Wado Ryu, Goju Ryu, Kyu Shin Kai and Shorin Ryu just to mention the most popular ones. They all share common factors but they are physically different.

My suggestion would be to have a good look at a few classes, if you have clubs near by, and then think which ones will be suitable for you two.

BTW have you tried considering Kung fu, or Silat or Aikido?

The importance of proper technique

If you ask a person with no experience in martial arts to throw a punch or a kick you might get some kind of result that will be, in most cases, very inefficient and inconsistent. Having a foundation based on some kind of martial art ensures the application of a technique based on the style(s) this person has studied and that will apply one of the basic theories behind the art itself.

Each style of martial art has a basic philosophy and underlying foundation that determines various characteristics of the style itself. Usually this was outlined by the person that originally defined the techniques and it reflects four basic principles:

  • His background and experience:
    • a broad range of different styles might have generated a clever mix of the useful techniques from each style
    • a long experience in a single style might have just evolved into a new one that is more in line with his personal taste
  • His body shape:
    • a small, short person might have developed styles that must be, by definition, very clever in defeating larger opponents;
    • a person with good flexibility in the lower body might have developed a style with many high kicks
    • a stocky person with lower centre of gravity might have developed a wrestling and grappling style
  • His taste for one or the other technique: certain people like punching others like kicking or grappling
  • The environment where he grew up and where he developed his techniques: the kind of opponents he had to fight and defeat determined what techniques and defence strategies that he considered useful to be in his style.

Have a look at the many styles available; some of the principles behind them will be even in contradiction with each other:

  • A Karate expert will mostly strike his opponent while a Judo or Hapkido practitioner’s main goal will be to grab, throw or manipulate the opponent’s body
  • Wing chun mostly uses straight strikes and footwork while Aikido is all based on circular movements
  • Kicks delivered by experts of Kickboxing, Thai boxing, Tae Kwon Do are similar although the emphasis is on different rhythm and targets on the opponent’s body
  • A Silat expert will keep a typically open guard that attracts the opponent to hit in between, working like a trap, while Wing Chun will protect the central line inviting the opponent to go around it

It is important to remember that a style was not defined overnight. Whoever has spent long time to define a martial art did a great job to understand human anatomy, biomechanics and how to exploit natural movements while using particular groups of muscles that are suitable for certain situations.

It is therefore paramount understanding the style you are practicing and what the logic behind it is: this is to maximize your power, speed and efficiency in any given situation. A reality check is obviously a good thing to do once you start understanding your style. Any comment is appreciated.