Pukulan Pentjak Silat Bukti Negara 2.0
By Chris Gielen
USA, October 10, 2016
“Pukul terus, tidak kembali”
I first heard this phrase in 1998 in the storage facility where I was training Pentjak Silat Rante, a style created by Pak Rudy Kudding. We would train 4-5 days a week hitting heavy bags, focus mitts, sparring, and shin conditioning (this was quite painful). Unfortunately the school shut down and as one door closed, another opened. The miracle of the internet allowed me to search out Pak Victor de Thouars who at the time was living in South Carolina. After a thorough introduction I was accepted as a distance student in September 1999, and later began training at his home in SoCal. For the next 5 years or so, Pak Victor invested a lot of time in me as a student and I invested a lot of time and energy in learning the art of Sera-Serak.
I really enjoyed learning from Pak Victor and since moving on from the academy I have had the opportunity to spend time (sometimes briefly) with other senior practitioners in the de Thouars lineages, as well as other excellent martial artists (MG Jerry McCleary) who were able to open my eyes not only to what I had learned, but adding in components of the art that were missing in the school training setting. You guessed it, the hit and kick your way in portion. I had spent years learning how to move people around using body mechanics and angles, but not to use the art of pukulan to accomplish the same things. To the layperson, pukulan just refers to hitting and if you hit at somebody while doing silat, you must be doing pukulan. This is where your education begins.
I was introduced to Mr. Walter van den Broeke while visiting my long time friends at the Santa Cruz tjabang led by Mike Roberto. After the formalities I was immediately asked to make a horse stance and hit straight out from my shoulder. Before I could even move my hand, I had to make adjustments to my feet, knees, hips, shoulder line, weight distribution and hand position. Then I fired a punch out there and all of the corrections fell apart. I found out immediately that every detail mattered from the very beginning. The drills seemed simple enough to replicate (with bad form), but when you see first-hand how they are supposed to be done in live time, a keen eye can see that there are a lot of subtleties to the way the body moves in conjunction with the hits themselves. Once the time for hand to hand explanation came, I felt truly lucky, for several reasons.
First, the implied hits and targets were no longer implied, they were getting thumped by center knuckles and sikuts. The “when and where” of the hits were being revealed and fortunately I could immediately find a connection to the hitting drills and djurus. Second, the pain that comes along with getting thumped caused my body to move in a certain way and direction, as if by design. Third, the timing in relation to moving your body or throwing a kick revealed what was intended (!) by drills and forms. Finally and this was the most important part for me, when I had a question, I got the answer in the form of bio-feedback, which is the best form if you want to really know what it feels like.
Walter is able to articulate the art in a way that is understandable to us students and can actually do it with perfect form; this was a drawback with some of the lineages as many couldn’t articulate the hitting and relate it to the use of your body to accomplish your goals. If you are a silat practitioner and would like to learn a never shown aspect of the family arts, you owe it to yourself to attend one seminar. I am confident that you will appreciate the precision and skill of Walter, and your window into the closely guarded family arts is closing.