Audio Version of the story of Pencak Silat Pertempuran and Guru Stark.
My journey started in Tae Kwon Do as a teen. I didn’t do much in it because my parents couldn’t afford it. Actually, I’m not sure if that’s true or not. I didn’t even ask because it always seemed like money was “tight.” My Mother and father were divorced when I was young. My mother had re-married to someone who was diabetic, used dialysis, and eventually had a kidney transplant. Lots of medications to keep him tickin’. All that to say, that things were always financially difficult it seemed so I didn’t even ask about MA training. However, I had a friend who studied and was a Black belt who used to teach me. It was informal of course, but I knew I liked it.
From this start I had the opportunity to study a little here and there while I served in the Army as an M.P. Nothing crazy, but of course your standard military style combatives and then in Germany I got exposure to some Judo and Aikido. Very small exposure but it helped me see that this is what I wanted to do someday…
After a brief stint into the working class blue collar life I decided I wanted something else and I decided on going to school. Through that process I was introduced to the first person who I was able to really study martial arts from. It was a kung fu style. Essentially a “cotton fist” style that relied heavily on relaxation. With that I also began studying Wu and Yang Tai Chi. I did these for about 8 years and taught for 4 or 5 of those. I was also introduced to some Judo and Aikido again in an art called Budo Aikido. Most of this studying was done with Sifu Ron O. Skipper and a little with his Sifu, Jim Bregenzer.
Around ’92, when I got married, we moved back to Wisconsin and I began studying Wing Chun off and on with a few different people, JKD, Kali, Arnis, Hok Kuntao and smatterings of Maphilindo and Mande Muda starting around ’94. I was still teaching Kung fu and Tai Chi more so that I could keep learning and growing. In college I also did a few semesters of Judo and began a short stint into Bak Shaolin Ji Ying Jow Pai.
In ’94 I got introduced to Sifu-Guro Dan Molash. He really turned me on to the Kali, JKD, Silat, and Hok Kuntao. His primary art was the Hok Kuen which is very similar to Ngo Cho Kuen – though a smaller system overall. It seems that many of the forms that we share in common are similar in structure and style – not identical by any means, but similar. It’s a good system and one that I have enjoyed. My sights began shifting from the Kung fu I was doing to the Hok Kuen (Hok Kuntao), Kali & Arnis, as well as Silat. At this stage silat was interesting but I didn’t have enough information. However, the Kali, Arnis, and the Hok Kuen were being hotley pursued (just to clarify, when I say Kali AND Arnis it’s because I was practicing with a few different instructors in different systems that went by different names).
By ’98 I had shifted through 4 years of Arnis, Hok Kuen, and Silat and I decided that I needed to just drop the kung fu and tai chi. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. In ’97 I began studying Silat as a primary art in Raja Sterlak Silat with Guru Cruicchi. I also began studying Garrote Larense (a Venezuelan Machete art).
During this stage my Kali and Arnis training began to decline. I was still actively pursuing Hok Kuen but I was devoting as much or more energy to my pursuit of Raja Sterlak Silat as taught to me by Guru Cruicchi, and to him by Guru Muthalief. In ’98 I began studying Pamur Silat and got introduced to Jati Wisesa Silat and Serak Silat. I quickly dropped Serak Silat because of the enormity of extra baggage that comes with studying that system here in America. I pursued Pamur silat regularly for the next 4 years as well as Raja Sterlak and Garrote. To this day I still practice portions of Pamur. Less of Raja Sterlak and little Garrote. It’s just a matter of available time in life… recognizing that the best I can ever be will happen by focused pursuit of a single thing.
By ’96, “Hugo” ( a close martial arts friend) and I, were on the same path with similar questions concerning martial arts and possibilities, etc. It was always amazing to me how we would get together after a 6 month hiatus from “killing” each other and we would find ourselves asking similar questions and pursuing similar topics. Almost always in differing ways 🙂 Often appearing as polar extremes.
In ’97 when I began pursuing pencak silat fully, a transformation began to take place in my martial arts and by ’98 when I began really studying Pamur some interesting questions were in my head. By mid to late ’98 those questions had been given answers. I can still remember that it was fall of that year and where it happened. I remember walking home from a class or something and having the beginnings of an epiphany that would last around 2 weeks! One insight after another. Within that two week time period the majority of PSP (Silat Dirty Boxing) was laid out and born.
Of course, it was the product of many, many, different experiences, teachers, training’s, thrashings, etc. that I received. All were strategically provided as though the timing was planned in all cases. (This is a much longer story but I would be willing to try and explain what I can at another time.)
In any case, With the base from my previous years of training, the combination of questions in my head that I had been searching for answers on for years, the teachers I had met, the losses I had dealt with, and the introduction of me to Pamur, PSP seemed to magically appear. No really, it still feels (literally) like magic to me how it all came to be.
When I think of the art as it stands today and its history, I still get butterflies in my stomach and feel the adrenaline and excitement that I had when the first moment of insight came and others immediately followed. It was outside of me–as though I was looking in on it all from another place. It sounds weird… probably hokey but that’s exactly how it felt. (Just to be clear, I recognize that the epiphany that led to PSP was the product of a lot of experiences, introspection, struggle, and learning opportunities that all converged at the same time.)
In any case, I haven’t looked back since. It was clear that something unique had happened, and the material that came from it made more sense than I’ve ever seen another martial art make. To me, it felt like I had finally found what I had been searching for.
Some of the material came directly from the various silat systems I was studying but some of the materials were the obvious next steps in that original material and were developed as a core to answer those questions that had been bouncing around in my head.
The really cool part to me, is that I’m still learning and growing from the system. I’m still challenged by it. I still pursue it’s understanding. I’m still very much a student. Each passing year, now going on 19 years of focused learning of PSP and I’m still stunned by how much I have learned and how much I will probably keep learning.
I hope you will join me on this journey! It’s been a helluva journey.