Silat Melayu demonstration in Kuala Lumpur


 

After the Lian Padukan demonstration Vin and I put our sarongs on. Very kindly two of the Harimau group from Malacca had given us their sarongs. Next was our demonstration with Guru Azlans students. We had not prepared for this either but for some reason I was not nurves now. We went on stage again and performed the Lok 3 form with the other Silat Melayu students.

After we had performed we asked Guru Azlan what he thought ‘’ It was good but you guys were wairing shoes’’ He pointed out with a hint of disappointment. Indeed my running shoes didn’t quiet match with my traditional sarong and black gi.

one of Guru Azlans students performing a sai form at the Kuala Lumpur demonstration

PART14. Gunung Ledang mountain


Gurang Ledang mountain.

Nigel and Fong took us down to Malacca to climb a mystical mountain. Malacca is further South than Penang island and on the west coast. Mount Ophir or by it Malaysian name Gunung Ledang  situated in the Gunung Ledang national park which is in Ledang district, northwest Johor Malaysia.

We took another chilly air conditioned night bus from Penang to Kuala Lumpur and then to Gunung ledang mountain. We arrived at the base of the mountain in the afternoon and booked a room in the Gunung Ledang resort. A small hotel with a swimming pool. Vin, Lian and myself shared a room together. We unloaded our luggage and went to ascend the mountain.

Gunang Ledang resort

It had tropical forest as we walked up the steep path. Vines and trees, insects clicking and buzzing incessantly. The stone steps became incredibly steep and short and the climb became harder. I was glad for the hand railing.

Nigel Sutton and Lian Sutton by the waterfall

We finally arrived at a pool with a waterfall . The waterfall went as far as the eye could see, up the mountain. We had bought our swimming trunks with us and we all changed and got in. Both Nigel Sutton and Lian took their kris knives out and dipped them in the water.

Lian Sutton washing his kris in the pool.

Gunung Ledang has a legend attached to it about a princess with magical powers who was wooed by the sultan of Malacca; she agreed to marry him only if he could complete 7 impossible tasks. This is when it gets murky; some say he managed only to complete the first 6. The 7th task was to bring the magical princess a bowl of blood from his young son. Others say he was about to cut his son when an image of the princess appeared and told him she could never marry a man who would hurt his own son. Then she disappears forever.

Although there are different versions the point of the story is to illustrate the Sultans pride and how it blinded him to the real reason why the princess gave him the challenges. The reason being she really didn’t want to marry him.

Bathing in the pool or dipping your kris in the pool may be a way of imbuing yourself with the Princesses magical powers.

The pool wasn’t deep and the water was clear and fresh. Tiny fish began to nip and nibble our feet trying to eat the dead skin. It was almost unbearably ticklish.

Tim, Lian, Vin

 After I had swum a while I climbed up the rocks and followed the waterfall up the mountain. Passing the ‘’DO NOT PASS’’ sign and leaping from rock to rock. The waterfall crashing down beside me, thick forest on either side. I kept climbing up and up until I reached a grand bolder which I wasn’t prepared to climb. I sat for a while on the warm rocks watching the water crash down over the rocks. I meditated and focused on the spirit of the tiger. I rose to my feet and made my way back down to the others by the pool.

On the way down Nigel Sutton put a small rock in his pocket, apparently many people try and take items away from the mountain and the authorities have been trying to deter them. ‘’do not take anything off the mountain and you’re not allowed to take machine guns up the mountain’’ A sign warned at the base. Seriously it actually said ‘’no machine guns’’

Vin and I found an old tree which had fallen over on our journey down and we mounted it and practiced our Lian padukan sparring to try and topple each other off. Like so many journeys which have been built up or have significance you should grasp this one failed to take a hold on me. I didn’t feel anything special like many have claimed to. I didn’t see any strange animals or ghosts. We arrived back at the Gunung Ledang resort and had another swim in the pool.

Some people have revealing dreams after visiting Gunung Ledang. I desperately wanted to have some sort of spiritual encounter that evening but I didn’t and I woke up the next day disappointed and with no memory of my dream. Vin did mention that I sat up in bed late at night and said ‘’Vegetables’’ but I am yet to decipher its meaning.

PART13. A little red car (dont hitch hike in Malaysia part 2)


Unfortunately due to money shortage I must cut my trip short. I am planning to go back to China on the 2nd of September. At first I was very sad that I had to go. I have been planning to train here for years and now it has to be cut short. On the other hand I hate having to worry about money and also having to borrow money and it was really playing on my mind all the time so it tainted my trip slightly. I had hoped that Sarah could stay here as well but that didn’t work out so she had to go back to China. I miss her a lot. I always think about the next time I can see her and I wait every night for her phone call.

I am glad that I will see her soon and I will be going back to Shanxi to practice wrestling again.

Later on that week I planned to go to Balik Pulau to shop. As soon as I stepped out of the Zhong Ding training center a man purred up on a motor bike and asked if I wanted a lift, he drove me to the bus stop where promptly a car pulled up and a man popped his head out and asked where I was going. ‘’ Balik Pulau how much is it?’’ I asked ‘’no money no money’’ he replied.

 I got in and as he took me to Balik Pulau he told me that he was a school teacher we talked about religion and faith.  

 

The next day again I  wanted to go to Balic Pulau and I set off walking in high hopes that I would have the same luck as yesterday. My faith in the universe was strong.

 

Shortly after setting out a red car came up and stopped in front of me. “Where you going?” said the driver. “Balik Pulau how much?”. “Ah it’s ok, for free”. Just as planned. As we drove along I found out that the skinny older man was a factory worker. His car was blissfully air conditioned. Cold enough so that for the first 5 minutes it was very pleasant then after that it started to get uncomfortable, it was also pleasantly fragrant. We came up to the last turn to Balik pulau but he turned right.

“Hay it’s the other way”, I said

“oh I thought I show you around Balik Pulau a bit is ok?”. He replied casualy

 

 “Ok” I said,

 

 I didn’t have anything else to do. We passed a nice looking estate with large beautiful houses with balcony’s and large gates, “oh nice houses very big” I said. “You like?” he asked. He then slithered his left hand across my shorts and grabbed my groin.

 

” WOW! No, don’t do that” I said,

 

“you like?”, he said with a little giggle looking deep into my eyes as he drove.

 

 “No I don’t like I have a wife”, I replied as I batted his hand away

 “Oh some English have wife but they like it also”. He said still looking me dead in the eye. I noticed how thin and spidery his fingers were.

 

 “I don’t like it”. I said firmly

 

 We then had a few minutes of silence where I was trying to comprehend what just happened. I was not scared but I was wary. He was smaller than me and I had a knife on me but maybe he did as well, maybe he had friends nearby and things might go beyond my control. I decided that if he turned off the main road I would jump out of the car immediately.

 

For some reason I was still in the car acting like nothing happened. How English I thought. Or maybe I was just lazy; I still wanted a free lift to Balik Pulau.

 “Sorry you are angry with me” he said.

 

 “No I am not angry I am just shocked” I said. And now I was trying to make him feel better!

 

 Then he tried it again!. This time more forcefully. He grabbed my groin and lent over towards me. I parried his hand away. “Let me see it? I just want to see it”. He pleaded.

 

 “No! And I am going to get angry in a minuet if you try that again”. I shouted, suddenly angry, I wanted to punch him in the face.

 

“oh ok” he said and kept driving. I told him to take me to Balik Pulau immediately and he turned the car around and did so.

 

He started to turn off again just before the roundabout in Balik Pulau so a told him I was getting out. He apologized and I had to stop myself from saying something to console him. It’s just such a knee jerk reaction for me to be polite, most of the time I think it’s a good thing but sometimes I cannot stop myself and afterwards I regret not standing up for myself more. I controlled myself and said in a neutral tone “thanks for the lift” as I got out of the car.

 

After shopping and returning to the Zhong Ding training center via the bus I thought about my hitch hiking experience. I thought about Malaysia. My experience so far is that it has a noticeable seedy feeling in certain places. A few times when Sarah was here I noticed Malay men staring at her in a very creepy manner. On one bus trip an older man sat beside her and kept looking at her and had his hands by his groin. She got up and we swapped places and I sat beside the man and returned his gaze until he got off the bus.

 

After a short ponder I decided never to hitch hike in Malaysia again.

 

 

Has anyone else ever got in a little red car and regretted it? What would you have done?

PART12 My new love of weapons


 

Today we did some sparring and sword fighting. Putting on the fencing masks and using tonfa and bamboo swords to fight.

Tonfa, we use this as a forearm shield when we spar sometimes

the type of sword we use for sparring. made from segments of bamboo. Pictures from Wikapedia

 I fought Vin at first. Immediately he hit my finger, at the time it was not painful but even now a week later it bloody hurts. He basically beat me. He kept on coming in after I attacked and closed me down. He was very good. With lian it was a bit different. Because I am taller I had a better reach and I kept my distance and stayed out of his range and got him a fair amount with some good leg shoots and head shots. He didn’t move in much so it was easier than with Vin who would not play my game.

 Lian gave me a really good strike to the knee which left an impressive red and white mark. I find this sword fighting so fun. I want to do more of it and if and when I ever set up a club I hope to do a lot of it. Nigel says it’s not that important to do often but it’s fun and that’s enough for me.

One of Nigel Suttons teachers says that sparring altogether is a bad idea. That when you spar you are playing a game and that your not actualy trying to kill your opponent. So that if and when your life is really in danger you will not be able to react properly. This is said by a man who lives in a dangerous country where machete fights and murder are common. From what I understand this man has also been in many real fights himself. So maybe in that situation sparring isnt as important.

 On another note I am very pleased with my training at the moment. Before I came to Malaysia I wasn’t at all interested in weapons. My experience had been minimal and all I had learnt was Taiji sword and staff forms and also some nunchuck and sai forms from doing Okinawan Te. But I feel that the weapons training in Chen Taiji is incompleat compared with what I am doing now.

Now that Nigel Sutton has introduced me to a more compleat weapon arts like Krabi krabong, Eskrima and Silat I feel that a love for weapons has been awakened. I am very attached to my boken (wooden sword) and I try my best to carry it everywhere around the Zhong Ding training centre. As Nigel told us to.

Boken, hard wooden sword.

 

My waking dreams and sleep walking has now reached a most active point. Only last night I opened my eyes and knew there was an enemy behind the door trying to get in. I ducked under my mosquito net while wrapping my thin bed sheet around my left arm to make a shield, I then grabbed the machety which was propped up by my bed and stood in front of my door waiting for an attack to come. I kept waiting until the illusion faded and I realised it was only a waking dream. I was standing in the Krabi krabong stance with my left forearm in front to protect and my right hand holding the machete was above my head ready to generate a powerful strike.

 

Does anyone reading this sleep walk? I would be interested to hear some stories. Do you think sleep walking is a negative thing?

PART12. Do not hitch hike in Malaysia (part 1)


Thursday, July, 30th, 2009. We came back to Penang and settled back down to life at the Zhong Ding training center. Nigel Sutton had returned from his seminar trip to the UK. He looked pleased when we showed him our Tari we had learn while studying Silat lok 9 with Guru Azlan Ghanie. ‘’It looks like he gave you a touch of the Malaysian spirit’’ Nigel said.

 

I thought about it and I agree. Guru Azlan practices a distinctly Malay martial art and while being with him I feel I learnt not only another Silat style but I also learnt more about Malaysian culture.

 

But it was good to be back. Guru Azlan showed us the Malay way of staying up late drinking coffee and training and now it’s back to the Chinese way of getting up before the sun to practice chi gong. Vin is coming to the end of his 100 days iron shirt training and I can see that he is looking more solid and muscular than when I first met him. In the morning you can see him vigorously pounding a sock full of rocks into his stomach and sides.

 

I am also having hand shaking withdrawal symptoms and whenever I see Lian or Vin we will usually exchange heart-felt long handshakes which exasperate Nigel.

 

Our 7 coffins Khatami grading is looming near.Lian has now come to live at the school with us and trains regularly, he will also join us for the 7 coffins. We all keep going over the Lian padukan forms and have learnt the weapons forms which include a sai form and Nigel Sutton has incorporated a five ancestor’s straight sword form into the syllabus. We have learned the ritual form where you bless and energize your weapons. Your fists, knees, elbows feets. You speak a series of words which have energizing qualities but which Nigel Sutton doesn’t know what they mean.

a picture of Sai from Wikipedia

 

They are not Malay or Chinese and Nigel has researched to try to find their etymology but without success. You say each word at you slap your weapons, moving forward with one breath until you finish the energizing and let your last bit of breath out.

 

We have also been practicing sparring. Similar to Wing Chun sparring you start off with a brief preset of hand strikes before engaging. We practice set moves which are part of the Lian padukan syllabus and which are in fact quiet effective. They are practically applicable in the free style sparring which gives me a lot of confidence in this art.

 

Lian is a fast learner. I sometimes forget that he has only been doing Lian padukan for a few weeks. He has learnt the forms in half the time I did and keeps up with everything else as well.

 

With our grading coming up it reminds me of my old Karate grading’s. I now have a list of things I must practice and remember before our 7 coffins. It’s constantly on my mind.

 

 

 

On the weekend tried to go to a nearby village for internet. I waited for about an hour for the bus ‘’you learn to wait around to wait around’’ Nigel’s Voice echoed in my mind as I waited. Apparently waiting around is a large part of life in Malaysia.

I tried to visualize myself being picked up by a nice person and driven to the internet cafe. As I did this a crappy old black car flew past and the shifty man driving eye balled me. He then executed an impressive fast turn and came back to the bus stop and halted in front of me.

 

The driver and his equally shifty looking friend gave me a strange grin which showed off their brown cracked teeth.It was a couple of young Malay men. They looked at me for a while sniggering away. I didn’t really feel like saying hello so I just waited for the next thing to happen. The passenger said something which I didn’t understand so I gave him a quizzical look. He said a lot more which I also didn’t understand. “Balik pulau” I said. I assume they were asking me where I was going. “ah ok” they said and sniggered again.

 

 They gestured me to get in. I knew they looked unsavory but for some reason I didn’t get a bad gut reaction so I got in the car. They asked for 10 ringet so I made a very slow and obvious reach for my door to show them that I was not willing to pay that much “five ringet five ringet” one of them said and the price was settled. It was agreed and we sped off.

 

We stopped off on the way and picked up a scummy looking man who got in beside me and stared. He also started to talk to me in Malay. I nodded and said that I did not understand. “Ganga u like?” he said. He brought out of his pocket a big bag of marijuana and rolling papers. “ganga Bob Marley you like?”. I told him that I didn’t want to smoke in Malaysia because I didn’t want to be executed, I made a cutting gesture on my neck to make him understand. They all laughed.

The driver was going way too fast and only just missed a group of school kids as he hurtled around a corner and his friend passed him the spliff. I arrived at the internet cafe and shock all their hands and exchanged names which I forgot as soon as I heard them. Later on when I told Nigel about this he said that if we got caught by the police it would have been me the foreigner who would have been hung. This is what usually happens in Malaysia. I would not be getting in their car again that was for sure. It was a bit scary.

On the way back from the internet I got the last bus back along with the noisiest school kids in the world. I sat down and slowly brewed up a rage as they screamed and shouted at each other jumping all over the bus and saying in load voices ‘’AM MOR GAO!’’ Or however one spells it, basically it means red-headed monkey which is what Malaysians call white people. It’s racist. They also spoke in mandarin which I actually understood a bit and they were saying equally racist things.

I sat there and thought about how I would dispatch them. I imagined that the boy to my left who was saying the most would receive a sharp elbow to the face and then I would get up and start to lay into the rest of them quickly working my way down to the front of the bus, using the Lian padukan fast strikes I have learned recently.

 On a related note when people practice Lian padukan Silat they seem to get more aggressive, because it’s such an angry forward moving art that it affects your personality. Nigel was saying how he experienced it when he was doing it intensively. Imagining what he would do to the biggest person he could see and generally thinking about fighting people a lot. I was getting this as well. Or was it just a bad day I was having?

Another story was of a Lian padukan Master in Malaysia who was training so much that in the middle of the night he was sleep walking and kicked his wife in the guts.

So eventually we arrived at my stop, with all the kids alive but some of them did give me a wary glance as I must have been pulsing. As I stood up one of the kids said ‘’bye am mor gao’’ and the whole bus laughed. I replied ‘’ GOODBYE MONKEYS! ’And got off the bus. Nothing like a bit of public humiliation in a foreign country to really piss you off.
I feel a bit ashamed to have gotten so angry and for even responding to a child.

 

For anyone reading this blog have you ever been subject to racism in another country? I would be interested to hear what ticks you off and cannot get used to when living abroad. I find 95% of the time everything is fine but that 5% can get you down sometimes.

PART 10 Holding my breath and mass martial arts teaching


Today we had a little test which was to do the lock 3 form with the Kris without breathing. It takes about 45 seconds to complete when done quickly and most of the moves have very low stances. We all dressed up in traditional Malaysian Silat cloths with a sarong and belt to put our Kris in and also a Malay hat which is basically a bandana .

 I was quiet nerves as the French group sat around us and watched in the conference hall. Guru Azlan told them they should try and discourage us from being successful. Vin and I took the floor and began to perform.

Completely by mistake I took a breath before the end also because we were not in sink we had to do it again.

 I did it in one breath this time probably turning a deep purple as I sprung up to the finishing move. The Harimau people did quiet a restrained job of distracting us, they just laughed and one person kept saying ‘’eeeeh!’’. Guru Azlan was pleased with our last attempt and so the Harimau group got to their feet and formed a line and we shock hands.
 

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjKdR8H6O9w&feature=youtu.be

Click on this youtube link to see Vin and I perform lok 3 while holding our breath.

The next day we started off as usual and did the senaman tua exercises for an hour then went on to do the Kris forms. Guru Azlan has also been teaching us privately in the evenings by the swimming pool. This is when the Harimau group has gone back to their hotel. Guru Azlan teaches Vin, Lian and myself well past midnight. Going over details so when we practice the next day we can help him instruct the harimau group. Staying up so late every night has made it too hard to get up early in the morning and train on the beach.

 
In the afternoon Guru Azlan informed us that we would be teaching a bunch of Muslim school students who had come to stay at the resort. I had witnessed the strange act of these students swimming the day before. As we sat eating by the pool side cafe we saw about 100 children all the girls with their head dresses and the boys in trousers and shirts pile into the swimming pool. A small sign asking the people staying at the resort to shower and use the right swimming suits before they got in was ignored. They all splashed around screaming and shouting and quickly the water turned a murky green. We have stopped using the pool now.

Guru Azlan was absent in the afternoon so we waited at 5 o clock for the school students to come, we ran through lock 3 as we waited. I don’t know why you should hold your breath. It goes against the most basic martial arts principles not to mention it goes against the very act of living. At six o’clock we were just about to leave the large conference room thinking that the students must have canceled when a man came in through the open door and told us that the 200 students were hear.
We didn’t know it was going to be this much! Vin, Lian and I had just about enough time to exchange wide eyes before the students came marching in through the doors. They just kept coming and coming, there were teachers with them who sternly told them to get a move on and stand in neat lines. When the room was filled the teachers just left us to it. The boys stood at the front and the girls at the back. There was a small strip of floor which was just enough for us to walk up and down on.

The lesson plan we had prepared was useless because there wasn’t even space to take a full step let alone perform a whole form. Thinking on our feet we decided to teach them some of the senaman tua exercises which only involved sitting and moving your arms a little.

Me teaching the girls one of the empty hand moves from Guru Azlans Silat, I dont think they are paying much attention

Me teaching one of the seated Senaman tua exercises

 

Vin stood at the front teaching the boys and I stood at the back teaching the girls. Lian moved about taking some pictures and helping out instructing. As we went through the exercises the heat rose and the smell of 200 sweaty teenagers became over powering. The girls could not stop giggling as I taught them, I soon realized it was a bad idea to try and correct them individually.

After an hour we all stopped and they went out. I was very impressed with their order and discipline. Even though it was cramped hot and uncomfortable none of them misbehaved and apart from the incessant tittering and laughing they behaved themselves.

PART8. Teaching wrestling to children in Penang island


Friday, June, 26th, 2009.

 

We were all doing standing post meditation; it was the Yi chuan style with a more alive stance than the Taiji variety. Just standing still with your arms out in front like your holding a ball. We did half an hour of it, well John and Vin did. nearing the end of it when my arms felt like falling off I started to feel a bit ill and faint the white mist creeping in from the outside of my view, so I let my arms down a bit. This was when Nigel said in a very serious voice ” I have told people to leave when they cannot complete this”.

 

I panicked and raised my arms up again. The mist quickly came back and I could feel my face empty of blood. I felt like I was going to be sick and pass out.
Thankfully my ashen face must have convinced Nigel that I was not faking it and I was allowed to sit down. Very kindly Nigel offered to get me a drink and he also got out a little gadget to test if I had low blood sugar levels, I didn’t, also it was not that hot and I had eaten and drunk enough that day. This has happened before a couple of times but usually when I over do it in the heat.

 

I have always found standing post meditation hard. My mind rebels against being so still and my body gets itchy and fidgety.

Later on in the week a group of school kids came to the Zhong Ding training Centre. They were all from Fongs Kung foo class. They would be here for the weekend. It was a chance for Vin and I to practice teaching. The kids were split up into two groups. One for me and one for Vin. My group was the Shaolin monks and Vins group was the Wudang mountain monks. No particular reason for these team names but Nigel Sutton refused my idea for having Transformers, Autobots vs Decepticons.

 

 

 

Vin taking some of the children through a warm up

Vin took the classes at the beginning and warmed them up then I taught them wrestling and Vin taught them kick boxing. I don’t really like kids especially when they don’t do what they are told. But this group aside from one or two lazy one was pretty good. They picked up the wrestling very fast, doing a few throws even after just 20 minutes of being taught. Nigel Sutton said this was because wrestling is so natural and instinctive. He also said that in some cases even if someone has been doing martial arts for a long time a wrestler will usually beat them in a fight because they just do so much more actual sparring compared to other arts.

 

Nigel and John also taught the kids and Lian, Nigel’s son got involved. At the end of the weekend we had a competition for the children, getting them to have a wrestling competition and also to chose a form that they knew and perform it in front of us, one speed test involved hitting Lians padded hand holding a stick as many times as possible with a rattan stick. Unfortunately as the minute wore on the children’s accuracy which wasn’t much to talk about before became worse. They madly thrashed and threw themselves at Lian,s stick. Quiet often they would hit Lian on the forearm or catch a tender spot which was ill protected by the glove. Lian kept an indifferent look on his face letting out a controlled ‘’aow’’ when he was struck.

Instructor Nigel Sutton teaching

 
Vin and I have done this before as well and it’s still very painful even with the pad on. Holding out your arm for a few minutes while someone goes crazy smashing your hand, the odd blow penetrating through the pad and bashing the thumb.

 

There was also a kick boxing competition which I was apprehensive about but which turned out really well. I expected wild flailing punches and tantrums, But there was none of that. The children were very sportsmen like even after trying to beat each other up. At the end of the competition the scores where even.

 

 So Vin and I put on fencing masks and took up our kendo bamboo swords and had a fight. Although the bamboo swords really hurt you don’t feel it at first because you’re so pumped with adrenalin. The odd whack to the leg stings a bit and if it catches your hand its smarts. Vin won on points but Nigel said that there was one strike that I did to Vins head which if it was a real sword would have finished the fight, so Shoalin won. YEAH!

 

 Apart from that not much else has happened, we have just been training away. We have finished all the forms of lian padukan, and we are slowly getting ready for our Katami test in a couple of weeks. It involves a week long test called the 7 coffins where we have to sleep outside and are attacked and woken up any time of the night to fight and train, then after that week we get injured by Nigel Sutton. I still have not found out how or where we will be injured.

 

Then after all that we finish off by having an all-night test where we must face our fears. That’s all I know so far. It’s getting closer and closer. How do you prepare to face your fears?

 

 

If anyone who is reading this blog has ever felt faint or sick from meditation or Chi gong I would be very interested to hear about it. I hope I am not the only one. Please leave a comment, what do you think causes it?