Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Sulong Tournament

Fun Times in Chicago.

Last Sunday (Sept 16) I took some of my students to compete in their (for most of them) first tournament.

The event was put on by Sensei Norm Basile, Sensei Marcia Chandler, and Guru John Bednarski. Norm and John attended the Spring Gathering this year and suggested that we might enjoy participating in their tournament.

I talked the idea over with my students, and they thought they were ready to step outside the safe confines of our school and discover how they might fare in the larger world of open competition.

I should mention at this point that Silat schools here in the States don't really compete very often, and never, to my knowledge has their been a Silat tournament here in the US.

There are a number of reasons for this I suspect.

First, all the older Silat teachers seem to hate each other with a passion equaled only by a Republican at a Gay Pride parade.

Most of them would not be willing to be in the same town, let alone in the same room with each other. Unfortunately, this is something that has been passed down to some of their students, much like racism can be passed down in dysfunctional families.

And then there is that little problem of one of their students losing a match. If you have been claiming for years that some other Silat teacher has no skills, or has gotten his rank off the back of a vegetable cart or some-such, then your students lose the tournament to his........... Well that might be a little difficult to explain.

Which brings us to the second excuse reason. That being "we would have to water our art down too much".

I have to admit, I do not see this as a problem. So far I have found that I can train my students for both competition and still give them the "martial realism" that is needed for more serious conflict. As a matter of fact, competition seems to help. Being able to work with fully resistant opponents, even when working under rules that protect the competitors from harm, can tell you some important truths about your game. Admittedly, sparring within one's own school can give a lot of benefit, but I personally suspect you will learn different, very valuable lessons from competing against people who have a different approach.

Finally, I have heard "our art is too deadly for competition". OK, maybe so, but then how do you learn such an art? Wouldn't you be losing students right and left to injury and death? And if the art is not tested, how do you know it is a deadly as you suspect.

The fact is, all the great warrior cultures from Japan to Northern Europe and Native America have found ways to test themselves without having to kill ones opponents.

But enough philosophizing, back to the tournament!

The Sulong has a "traditional karate" ring, an "open karate" and a "Pacific Islands" ring. The last is where we were going to play.

This ring had three events, forms, knife and single stick. This event has had mostly participants from the Arnis/Eskrima arts of the Philippines, but the rules were "blade rules", so I thought we might do OK. Indonesian and Filipino martial arts have enough in common that I was willing to give it a try.

Some of us met up at the school on the morning of the event to make the three hour drive to Chicago. Mariah, and her father Randy were providing one of the cars going all the way to the tournament, and Janet was driving some of us as far as Holland (MI) where we were going to meet up with my student/training partner Steve Van Harn and his son Cole, who would be the second car to the event.

So Stephanie, Scooter, Adam, Janet, Mariah, Randy and I headed off down the road to meet up with the rest of the crew. We grabbed Steve and Cole at a park-and-ride, divvied up people and set our sights for the Windy City.

We met up with the last of my hooligans, Marc, at the tournament site.

So team Zulfikari/Navadisha was ready to play.

We spoke with Norm and John, both of whom were holding onto their sanity by their fingernails with all the last minute details of the event.

We also hooked up with Buzz (that would be Mahaguro Brian "Buzz" Smith, head of American Maharlika Kuntaw) and Bill, his student, who had come down from the North Country to play.

Buzz had stayed at my place on the way out to Chicago a couple days before, so we had managed to catch up on things, and Bill had been down to train with us in preparation for the tournament so we had been talking about the event a great deal and were pretty stoked to be here.

The day started off with forms competition.

First we had the "beginners" forms and they were all pretty good, there was a lot of potential there.

Then came intermediate forms and Mariah was up.

Mariah getting some big air

Mariah is one serious player and took first quite handily. As she transformed from cute farm girl into blond Cuisinart with her double talibongs she even drew the attention of the spectators from the karate rings.

Buss gets ready to lay the smack down

Next came Master Forms. Buss did one of his superb Kuntaw staff forms and walked away with first place.

After forms came fighting. First we started with the womens competition. There was only one problem with this, the only two women competing were from my school.

Steph and Mariah show the boys how it's done

The girls were disappointed, as they had hoped to test themselves against women from other schools, but they got out and did their best. Mariah took first and Steph took second.

Then we had men's knife.

Scooter stabs Cole in the chest so hard it lifts him off his feet.

As the first couple of matches were going on the officials were consulting, they then invited Mariah to compete with the men, she jumped at the chance needless to say. The event was changed to an open ring, with no weight or rank classes, so everyone fought everyone.

This was great as it allowed my students to fight outside "beginners" class, being as most of them had been training for less than two years.

Mariah's first match with the guys

She won her first match.

Mariah with a bigger opponent

And her second as well.

At the end of this event Cole had taken first place and Mariah had taken third in Men's knife.
(I don't yet have the names of all the winners, but will add them as soon as I can)

Me either giving Mariah sage advice for her next fight, or teasing her about all the young gentlemen who were paying her much attention between bouts, I forget which.

Next came men's stick. This event had the biggest number of players and it would take making it through five fights to take first.

Cole doing his "death from above" attack (the funny thing is that it works for him)

after a few matches some of my guys ended up having to fight each other.

Adam and Marc show off our style

In many ways this was my favorite fight of the day. Adam and Marc are about the same size and weight as well as close in skill level. It was an excellent demonstration of our style. Marc took the match.

Mariah solves the problem of fighting people taller than her.

Mariah was doing quite well against the guys and winning their respect I think.

Marc and Scooter

Marc's next fight was with Scooter. This was a "David and Goliath" match, Scooter being about a foot taller and fifty pounds heavier than Marc. Marc too this match as well, putting him in contention for first place.

Bill and Mariah

Mariah's next fight was with Bill. It was by far her hardest of the day, Bill being a superb stick fighter. Bill took this match and Mariah retired from the field.

Bill and Marc contend for First

The fight for first place was between Marc and Bill. It was a hell of a good fight with each player reaching down deep and giving it their all. At the end of the match the judges counted up the score and gave the match to Bill by one point.

The rankings for Men's Stick were Bill first, Marc second, Cole third, Scooter fourth, and Mariah fifth with a field of about twenty five fighters.

The Masters bout

The last match of the day was between Buzz and a Modern Arnis Guru (I don't have his name but I believe his rank was sixth degree black belt)

It was a very well fought match, and Buzz won it, which gave him the Grand Champion spot.

Kewl toys

John understands these things, so instead of getting trophies or medals, the winners were given weapons.

At the end of the day

Here is the obligatory group photo. Not everyone was there, many having already left by the time this was taken, but it was a nice shot nevertheless.

Why do they always meke us hold these big knives?

And here is a final shot of Cole, Steve, Mariah, and your humble servant.

A good time was had by all and I am already looking forward to next year.


Michael B. said...

Sounds like a great day to be sure. Congrats to yo and yours trained them well!

Anonymous said...

You covered the day perfectlly!

Steve Perry said...

Hey, we'd spar and like that, except that our art is too deadly and we'd have to water it down and stuff ...

I figure that off the truckload of sand that Stevan put down in his yard, I've carried five pounds or so home in my shoes and pants pockets over the summer.

We're moving back to Cotten's garage soon, the rains and cold are about to start and we're a bunch of pansies, especially Tiel, who goes into hibernation once the temperature drops below eighty.

Sounds like you had a fine ole time, Mushtaq. Someday if I can ever manage to find the space between books ...

Marc said...

I really hope you have the videos all nice and ready for me to watch when I come up for Thanksgiving! I really want to see my knife fight from a distance.

It was indeed a lot of fun. I can't wait to have another go at it.

Terry said...

Way to go, guys, congrats.
Mushtaq, I need video of this, if you could.

Bill said...

It was a good day indeed.
I look forward to the next one.

Mushtaq Ali said...

Steve, You should come out this spring. There is a rumor a mutual friend might be joining us.

Marc, I do have the footage and I should have it burned to DVD by the time you get here for the holidays.

Terry, I think I might be able to get you a clip or two.

Bobbe Edmonds said...

And Bobbe?!? What about me? Doesn't being Mega great grandmas-

Seriously, congratulations everybody on team Zulfikari/Navadisha. Way to show 'em how we do things downtown.

Er, on the farm. In the boonies. Wherever.

Todd said...

Good job. You showed that people can get Silat skills in reasonable time, kick serious booty, not "water down the Art" and not kill sparring partners.

I nominate Mushtaq for the next open position on Mythbusters!

Janet said...

I was amazed a Marc's transformation! He was an animal.

Sophia said...

Way to go, team! Congratulations. The photos looked marvelous! Loved the action and forms. Made me wish I had something like this in my area to participate in!

jdh837 said...

Hi ugly knife maker...I thought you might like this article...

The Evolutionary Psychology of Perfectionism

jdh837 said...

Here's another while I'm at it...I'm a southpaw.

Creation of the Sinister: Biological Contributions to Left-handedness

murid_aisha said...

Thanks GUru!

Many congrats to your team. Way to go Mariah!! She should be thanked for showing the guys ladies know how to rock too :)


Anonymous said...

salam.its very nys.thanks for sharing...

Doc D said...

Doc D here !!! FYI , actually in the 1998-2000(??) time frame ( I believe it was) I was approached by the AAU to set up their division of Island Arts tournament in conjunction with their CMA National Championships. For several years we had a silat competitions. As we did not want to "water down the art" , competition was focused on several events: 1) Kembangan or bunga 2)Self Defense, 3) knife sparring ( which was open to the Kali competitors as well)4) stick sparring using green 1/2 inch rattan, fencing mask and heavy sweats...emphasis on the stick as a blade simulator, and minimal armor to make people treat the stick a bit more like a blade...again open to kali as well. The spirit of the competitions was one of interaction and education. Those who participated loved it. Eventually , CMA competitors entered and rule changes were made that seemed to detract from the experience that the kali and silat folks seemed to enjoy. The self defense competitions required a 2 man team to demonstrate a credible street self defense technique against 3 types of attack with a 5 second time limit per technique ( the idea was street credibility) The attacks were 1) a strike ( kick, punch) 2) any grab/ hold /choke 3)an attack with some sort of weapon. AAU safety regulations did not seem to let us do sparring the way we envisioned it but the empty hand CMA Sparring ( open to silat players, as well) was available to those wanting kick/punch style sparring at full speed , so that element of competition was also available. It was a while back so exact dates , rules, etc , are hazy. We held competitions for a few years....sent out invites to the silat groups & styles we knew of at the time. We had a lot of the local silat schools, Dallas / Austin/ Ft Worth participate as well as a Mande Muda group from Hawaii....and a lot of kali schools esp. the Pekiti Tersia Schools compete( students of Erwin Ballarta , Tim Waid, Omar Hakim, Lesie Buck) and some Inosanto-Lacoste groups from Dallas, Lewisville and Austin areas. No one else every really answered the call. AAU membership may have been a stumbling block for some ....and for some it might have been the excuses cited in this blog.Those who came thought it was an educational experience. We all learned a lot. Generally, after the competition all the silat and kali folks would get together and discuss what the experience was and what the lessons were....very positive experiences. So, there have been some USA silat competitions. If nothing else, I can say I have been the coach to several AAU National Silat Champions....hee, hee. One of my teachers Herman Suwanda had envisioned having some Pencak Silat competitions here in the USA...he said it was one of his real hopes. It had seemed to me that this was a way to help realize that. He had envisioned it being open to all, so I set it up to be that way. Unfortunately , we could never get enough competitors to make it a great event. By 2005, we essentially let the AAU silat and Kali competitions lapse. It was an awful lot of work for not much attendance.

Warm regards

Mushtaq Ali said...

I Have to admit Doc, I had never herd of any of these events. The AAU must have really dropped the ball on advertising.

Did anything ever make it out of Texas, or did the tournaments stay pretty local?

Doc D said...

The invitations sent out were meant to encourage practitioners from all over the USA to attend the AAU Nationals . It was hoped that after that , they would become involved at the state level. The President of AAU CMA ( Sigung Earl Portnoy) hoped that AAU state reps would actively extend an invitation to local silat groups within their states. The AAU announced the availability of the competitions and I tried to directly invite those I had contact information for. At that time ,I did not ( admittedly) know of all the silat groups that I now do. Certainly I was unaware of you and your silat methodology. I believe I sent invitations to head organizations of such groups as the DeThouars Serak and some of their branches, Pukulan Cimande Pusaka and a local group , Inosanto academy / Maphilindo silat, Pencak Silat Mande Muda groups , perhaps Silat Amerindo, White Crane Silat,etc.( Again, it was a long time ago....)I did not get much response ....but I did get a competitor from as far away as Hawaii. So, no , really we did not get much beyond Texas....we might have had some Oklahoma and Missouri competitors too. However, we never saw AAU Pencak Silat clubs develop out of established clubs. Its hard to say if I knew of another half dozen styles and contacted them if the outcome would have been different. My ignorance of some of the groups/ styles of silat certainly was a limitation. Some groups here in the USA ( Silat Gayong, Pencak Silat Setia Hati, Silat Tua, etc) seem easier to find and contact than they were in the 2000 time frame....or so it seems to me.( I was not very internet savy at that time, either). In 2005, I discontinued active involvement as I had other pressing issues to content with and the "National Events" were essentially only local in scope. I am not sure if the Island Arts Division persists as an AAU competitive category with any vitality now. One thing that seemed to confound our inroads with the schools was the requirement for the AAU membership and liability requirements. I think that the schools had no real interest in being associated with this organization , in addition to their formal or traditional organizations.

Warm Regards