|By Guru Dan Inosanto
As a reader of this column, you are undoubtedly familiar with the multitude
martial arts. Among the more respected is Indonesian Pukulan or Indonesian
About 150 styles of silat can be found throughout Indonesia's 3,000
This area stretches from the Indian Ocean in the west and Australian
in the east to the Southeast Asian mainland and the Philippines in
and Australia in the south.
All Pencak Silat styles have technical similarities, but through the
have developed their own identities and traditions. Among the well
styles are: Harimau, Cimande, Setia Hati, Perisai Diri, Bhakti Negara,
Patai, Baru, Mustika Kweetang, Minangkabau and Pamur.
It is a popular belief among Indonesians that martial arts came to their
from India instead of China. However, there remain many Chinese styles
The Indonesians have a style of martial arts technically different
from the Chinese
Indonesia had two great empires. One of the earliest powerful kingdoms
of Srivajaja of Sumatra. This empire came to power in the 7th century
for 700 years. The other empire of importance was the Majapahit empire,
flourished from 1292 to 1398.
The English came to power in the 17th century. The Dutch, who assumed
of Indonesia in 1816.
Out of this turmoil came one of the world's great martial arts styles.
One of the most
effective systems of self-defense is Serak. I have experienced this
art many times
after being tossed on my behind. My pendekar (leader) in this art is
Paul de Thouars,
who teaches a highly sophisticated, technical and precise system based
physiology and anatomy.
THE SERAK SYSTEM
This style is one of the most practical and scientific arts in which
I have trained.
Serak is a martial art for one who has patience. But once the understanding
been achieved, the art works like "magic".
In the Serak Silat system, there is a basic or external side, and an
internal side. The basic study of Serak takes approximately seven years
practice at at least three hours a day, three times a week.
The basic Pukulan Serak consists of: physics, physiology, anatomy, 18
basic lankah, intermediate lankah, advanced lankah, and system change
And basic Serak platforms consist of lankah:
The basic technical aspects of Serak are the one point, two point and three
The basic major Serak Lankahs are:
The basic schedule or external system can possibly be learned in 3 years.
Lankah Juru Sepak
Lankah Juru Combinasi
De Thouars can count on one hand the number of students who have completed
The intermixing of pencak and silat training is possible, but it still
seven years of diligent training to accomplish this goal.
As far as the advanced side or internal system of Serak, only de Thouars
and his first
student and disciple, maha guru Victor de Thouars, have completed the
No one else in the United States has the knowledge of the internal
And it will stay that way until someone has the skill and endurance
to complete the
basic side. To understand the platforms and to know the
platforms are two different things.
To perform the lankahs and jurus is nothing, but what really matters
is to understand
what the lankah teaches. In other words, there are no guessing games.
The basic lankah Tiga teaches the adoption of torque and proper position
of the space
The basic Lankah Silwa teaches the concept of accepting total elusiveness.
The basic Lankah Sekurum teaches the concept of 360 degree vision.
Pancar teaches the concept of constant change and awareness.
Since Serak takes seven years to learn and takes a great deal of patience,
has created the Bukhti Negara and Tongat styles as sub-systems. When
it comes to
understanding the weakness of the human anatomy, nerve point hitting,
foot sweeps, throws, and elbow and knee strikes, very few systems can
the sophistication of this art.
The art was developed by the Badui people of Java. The Badui have maintained
their isolation from the outside world and are held in awe by the Indonesian
for their mystic and clairvoyant powers.
The founder of the system was from the Badui tribe, a man by the name
of Pak Serak.
Pak Serak had only one arm and a crippled foot. He was familiar with
nine style and
proficient in three. He could see the weaknesses and strengths of many
formulated his system of fighting.
His number one student was Mas Djut, and with his help Pak Serak organized
system into a format ranging from beginning to advanced levels of learning.
from Mas Djut that Johan de Vries learned the art of Serak. Because
of his good
nature and concern for the Indonesian people, he was taught the fighting
of Serak. Mas Djut offered Johan the leadership of the Serak system
after Mas Djut
had retired or died. But Johan declined; he did not want to dishonor
or bring disgrace
to the art by having novice or underling students change the style.