Sunday, February 19, 2006

Jurus, as I understand them

I recently had a very intersting discussion with a proponent of the Reality Based
school of self defense. Now, I'm a very firm believer in the fact that you need to apply what you learn in a martial art in real life, sometimes I may be a little to noisy about it. In this particular school, they do not teach, and spend some time denigrating, the use of forms, or kata.
I do agree with them on some points, as I believe most MA schools have lost touch with the purpose of the forms. Seeing as the art I do, Silat Zulfikari, is firmly based in jurus, or meta-movement forms, how do I address this?
Well, first, jurus are not a series of techniques you string together. There is no concept of "if he does this, you respond with technique X". Jurus are used for two very important aspects, IMO.
They give you away to practice movement, by yourself, in isolation, to concentrate on the dynamics of that movement. You have to have a way to get your body used to moving in certain ways, and remaining in balance, and be able to control your center, and generate power.
Jurus teach all of this. They also allow you to feel where you may be screwing up a technique,
or movement. No Silat teacher worth his salt expects the movements to be used in the same context, or order that they are found in the juru, it is a training tool, especially when paired with the practice of langkah, or lower body meta-movements.
I use jurus to teach alignment of your body, the full range of effective motion you are capable of using in a given movement, and logical movement chains. Logical movement chains are
no more than the concept of what movements will logicaly follow the previous one. It would not make sense to follow a straight punch with a with a spinning backfist, so a juru will teach you a more logical follow up, like a clearing motion, or an elbow attack.
Jurus also provide a way for you to practice the movement by yourself, when you have no
training partners.

Now, The proper way to train jurus is different from teacher to teacher. Guru Mushtaq has talked about being able to perform randon juru chains of different jurus, on verbal command,
which, to me makes sense for a couple reasons. It teaches you to respond to different challenges and commands. Instead of just concentrating on performing juru 1, I now have to perform it, and listen for the command to switch to the second half of juru 3. This also avoids becoming locked into by rote performance of the jurus.
Jurus also become the basis where we derive all the movements for drills, buah(application),
and where the fighting technique comes from.
Not only do jurus teach the techniques, but they teach the timing, distance, structure, and base required to use them effectively.
As you can see, jurus are a very difficult subject to put into one article. They are the basis
of silat, but not the straight jacket that kata or forms have become in more traditional arts.
You see, Silat in general is a village based art, designed to take the villagers from no skill,
to being able to defend the village from any attacker that may come. You will not know who, or what the attacker is, so you need effective movement to deal with it. Does that sound familiar?
Kind of sounds like a Self Defense scenario, eh? But, when you have limited time to teach and train, due to life, you don't waste time on needless formality, and strict adherence to
perfect, carbon copy form. You teach the form, and let the student make it his/her own.
They also teach deception, decoying, weapons usage, and alot more, but that is something better experienced than read about.
I always remember the words of an Indonesian man, interviewed for Inside Kung-Fu's article on the great Rudy TerLinden of Ratu Adil Silat. I am Paraphrasing, but he said jurus teach you how to move, and be flexible. And the rest is up to you.
Thank you.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Changes, life, differences

I have never been known as the most faithful poster in the history of blogdom,
even though I am hounded by more people than I imagined read this thing.
One of the reasons is that my life, like yours, I'm sure, is always changing.
Sometimes more than I realize, and sometimes in very subtle ways. And in some not so subtle.
One of the things I am constantly assured of by my life experience, is that no matter
how much I want things to be calm and peaceful, things change of their own accord,
and can throw life into upheaval. New information reveals itself, old relationships come back, new ones change, and you cannot keep the sameness and still have a life worth living.
No matter your spiritual orientation, we all have one commandment we have no choice in
obeying;"Live your life", and by so doing, we evolve, things become different. You cannot be
shown new knowledge, or experiences, and remain the same person you were before.
You can hide from it, or deny it, but then you become isolated from the process of living,
or from those who care about you.
The funny thing about differences is, they don't have to be divisions. It seems, in this world,
differences count for more than they are worth. Political differences divide families, religous differences divide nations, and differences in thought divide people who would otherwise
work together. It is a very sad reality. We have to be able to transcend that. I can respect your differences from me, and still think they are wrong, without demonizing you for having them. I don't have to like the difference, I don't have to accept them as my own, but,
I also don't have to hate you, or denigrate you for having them. As is the true definition,
I can tolerate them, without adopting them as my way. I expect no more, tolerate, and maybe even discuss and learn. Differences bring change, and maybe even progress. Division
leads to regression, and needless pain, both for the people rejected, and to the rejector.
We are tasked with learning and growing, and helping people in this life. In order to have a world worth living in, we need to get beyond the false dichotomies given us, and be brave enough to embrace the differences we all have, and realize that together, we can live. We don't have to be friends, we don't have to be enemies, but we are all neighbors on this planet, and we
need to grow up. Time is short, and relationships are to valuable to waste on stupidity and rigidity. Life changes, and we either go with it, or we die, bit by bit, inside, until our bodies catch up with our atrophied spirits and minds.
Thank you.