Sunday, July 31, 2011

Silat Suffian seminar - notes and random musings

I had a silat suffian seminar yesterday with Guru Maul Mornie and was once again deeply impressed by his skill, the depth of thought and care put into the seminar's content and by his art.

What follows are some of my impressions, observations and thoughts on the seminar.  I was only able to attend Saturday's class, which was primarily concerned with basic drills that were to form the foundation for a lot of Sunday's content.  While I would have loved to have gone to both days, I was really happy to have attended just the Saturday session.  If truth be told, I tend to get more out of days where I can focus on the fundamentals, as too many techniques in one sitting can make my poor head spin!

As usual, what follows is my interpretation/impression only and is subject to my general lack of memory, filters and incomprehensibility.

  • correct distancing is vital.  Too far away, the attacker can reset, too close, the attacker can overpower the technique.  For practice, it is vital as the correct energy/feeling cannot be there if the attack is too far away.
  • body positioning always takes into account what the other limb/s of the attacker are doing, or are capable of doing.
  • each movement of the body sets up next movement, and places me in a better position than previous movement
  • any time the hand passes through, it attacks or can attack
  • don't focus on the knife.  Attempting to stop the knife is too difficult, it moves faster than the eye.  Focus on and stop the shoulder (and humerus?) to control the knife.
  • respect the knife.  Don't fear it, as fear will cause freezing/hesitation
  • each shift/step can knee or kick
  • look for the in-betweens and half-beats
  • the bad guy is not always the one with the knife
  • If you can find the in-betweens, you can take the initiative.  If you find the half-beats you can stop your opponent finding the in-between
  • body structure is so important
  • in icepick grip, knife is with edge down (towards wrist).  This way it becomes a hooking knife, and when hooked, a slicing knife
  • knives are bloody dangerous
  • a technique can be done in different ways, provided the principles are adhered to
One thing that got me thinking about karate was the emphasis on the drills as learning tools, not as direct representations of reality.  The majority of the day was either spent in, or based on, a flowing, reciprocal two-person drill with cuts from 12, 3 and 9 o'clock.  The drill was to train the receiver in recognising intent and direction in the attacker and to provide a platform from which to train specific principles and techniques.  This got me thinking about what we have in karate that fulfills the same function.  Is it kata?  If it is, it is a very, very rare karate instructor that spells this out (and it was explicitly spelled out for us in the seminar by Maul, with ample examples of how they would translate to reality given to us) or is able to show/explain how the kata, in any particular place trains a certain response or principle and how it translates to reality.

I do not consider myself a student of Maul's and do not consider myself a practitioner of Silat Suffian Bela Diri.  But it is something that has become a regular and increasingly important aspect of my personal martial training, and a rich tradition that I hope to at least get a semi-competent grasp of.

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