Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles

After Silat, Ray's next choice is Braillezilian Jiujitsu
Hey Ray. Which martial art should I learn?
Silat Stevie. Silat.

Ray’s second suggestion is Braillezilian Jiujitsu.

Apakah ini lucu?

Mungkin tidak, tetapi permainannya kata-kata mau dijelaskan pula. Di foto diatas digambarkan dua laki-laki. Yang di atas nama Stevie Wonder. Yang di bawah nama Ray Charles. Dua-duanya musisi buta yang terkenal di dunia. Stevie tanyakan Ray, “Yang aliran beladiri sesuai sama saya”. Ray menjawab “silat”. Bacaan kata “silat” bagi penutur bahasa Inggris seperti kata-kata “see lot” berarti “lihat banyak”.

IOPS USA Black Belt Certification 2018

Recharging the Batteries

Every two years the senior students of Inti Ombak Pencak Silat make a pilgrimmage to Colorado for an extended weekend we refer to as the IOPS Black Belt Gathering.  This is truly something special.  No two gatherings have been the same. Whether it is your first or your latest, one never knows quite to expect.

The gathering is a time to renew connections, exchange knowledge, refine understanding and set new trajectories.  The crew from Green Mountain IOPS Vermont says it best.  “We come back to recharge the batteries”.


The weekend serves as a capstone assessment for the past two years. This is an opportunity to test for promotion and/or to defend one’s current rank. In Inti Ombak the Black Belt is not something you keep automatically;  it is something that must be regularly evaluated, which is why all Black Belt certificates come with an expiration date.


Congratulations to the following members of the Inti Ombak family for their hard work in earning their certifications for 2018!

Sabuk Hitam Polos

Thom Le
Kireeti Sangadala
Nicole Wandrie

Sabuk Hitam Tingkat Satu

Morgan Brownlee
Christopher Burke
Earl Hurlburt
Patrick Keys
John Montenieri

Sabuk Hitam Tingkat Dua

Ed Alexander
Jeff Hurst
Thomas LaJesse
Brent Thomas

Sabuk Hitam Tingkat Empat

Damon Abraham
Jason Makris
John Ross
Mark Zizis

Sabuk Hitam Tingkat Lima

Andy Holman
Charles Brandon Stauft

Sabuk Hitam Tinkgat Tujuh

Lee Becker

Sabuk Hitam Tingkat Delapan

Jake Richter

Sabuk Hitam Tingkat Sembilan

Michael Leininger

Sabuk Hitam Tingkat Sepuluh

Daniel Prasetya

2015 Boulder Creek Festival Demo

This year Pencak Silat Inti Ombak Boulder performed at the Boulder Creek Festival as part of A Place to B’s variety show extravaganza. Here are our two sets of playing silat while accompanied by the energetic beats of TNT Taiko.

Set 1, part 1

Set 1, part 2

Part 2

Langkah Pancar Lima

This past weekend was the second biennial gathering of Inti Ombak black belts. One of the the things we learned was a langkah (stepping pattern) named Langkah Pancar Lima. As we practiced its application, it became clear to all of us who had never seen this pattern before that it is especially useful for cutting off your opponent’s center line.

Fresh off the high of the gathering, I was inspired to assemble an animated gif[1] to help study and practice this step. Enjoy!
[gfycat data_id=”PeacefulBlushingAztecant” data_autoplay=true]

[1] Actually this has been converted to HTML5 using a nifty website called gfycat. If you’re ever tempted to share an animated image with the world, try uploading it to gfycat first, it will save on bandwidth.

V-steps and srimpets

When teaching footwork, I repetitively talk about how the v-step is often referred to as “sikap simpurna” or “perfect position” because it leaves you the option to adjust weight and direction as needed. We also practice the srimpet and simpir langkah quite a bit. These cross-steps may seem overly flowery and vulnerable, but amazingly they allow you to advance and move off line without losing ground. They also serve an important function when wearing traditional, full-length sarung. Take note of the footwork in the video below, especially around 7:40. The woman is v-stepping and srimpet-ing up a storm. Without the srimpet, she would have tripped over her outfit at the beginning of the performance.

Ngapurancang and Sengoang

I just wanted to add a little running commentary to this video featuring Guru Daniel and Mas Kyle as there are lots of details that can be overlooked if lacking some additional background.

0:05 The term for this position in Javanese is ngapurancang (pronounced eng-ah-poo-rahn-chawng). This is a common position in Indonesia as it expresses humility and respect towards others. Conversely, standing with one’s arms behind the back is considered less respectful and standing with the arms crossed projects coldness and distance.

0:08 Pointing with the index finger is considered rude in Indonesia. It is more polite to point with an open palm like making an offer, but pointing with the thumb out and the fingers folded is considered the polite method.

0:22 Just another example of how block+check can come from anywhere.

0:50 While ngapurancang can have either the right or left hand on top, it is more common for the right hand to sit atop the left as the left hand is considered unclean in Indonesian culture. The right hand is shielding others from seeing something undesirable, much in the same way that Javanese blangkon hats keep the not in back.

1:01 Sengoang (pronounced suhn-go-awwng) with the arms forming an L-shape, and the palm just to the side of the cheek is a slightly more intimate position than ngapurancang. Though the position has changed, almost all of the same openings are available.

1:20 Up to this point all of the motion has been in the style of Mataram Central Java. If you look back on the previous opening, you will notice the range is longer and the posture more upright. Also pay attention to how when Guru Daniel engages with Mataram motion his chin is either level or upright. Now with the example of Madurese motion, the range closes to less than an elbow’s distance, the stances sink, and the chin is either level or looking down. For most the rest of the video Guru Daniel transitions naturally between both approaches.

Rhythm and Rules

I have had the same question nagging me for seven years.  This question first formed when I began my training in Yogyakarta, and each and every silat video I have watched since then has only made me more uncertain and more curious.  At its core I have been wondering, “Why is it that Indonesians look like they are practicing silat, while many of us back in the U.S. look like we’re doing something else?

My thoughts have conjured several hypotheses including body build, cultural heritage, age, environment.  In a sense these all contribute, but only recently have I had the tools and vocabulary to know how to ask my teachers what I should be looking for.

Often times people ask practitioners (pesilat) of Inti Ombak Pencak Silat (IOPS), “What are your signature movements?” The response I most frequently share is that we do not have signature motion, instead we follow a set of kaedah (roughly translated as rules of engagement) that govern our motion.  Primary among these kaedah is an adherence to the possibility of a knife attack.  If you look closely at the jurus or applications of an Inti Ombak practitioner, you will see this dictates everything from the footwork, the choice of blocks and strikes, and even the gambits the pesilat is willing to take.

While the recognition of kaedah has begun to gel for me, and has granted me a whole new perspective on silat, I still found myself returning to my question about what makes silat look like silat.  To me, it didn’t make sense that the kaedah would make our motion starkly different from all other types of silat, as our style is just as rooted in that ancestry and history as any other.  It also didn’t seem that body type would make a difference as I’ve seen Indonesians of all shapes and sizes perform silat in a very silat looking way.

Finally when asking a question about a video I saw recently, my teacher said something enlightening.  He said the pesilat have different kaedah from IOPS kaedah, but they have correct rhythm and power generation.  Eureka!  The answers have been there right in front of me for years.  As someone with an engineering background, power generation is something that always made sense.  But as someone who can’t play an instrument,  the notion of rhythm had long escaped me.  This was that intangible cultural factor I couldn’t quite verbalize.  So even though kaedah governs motion, music and culture is the lens by which a teacher interprets the kaedah.

When I step back to reflect on the origins of silat, this makes sense.  The music and dance govern the silat, but in a dimension separate from those dictated by kaedah.  Rhythm is the breath of our motion, and it controls what type of power we use.  While many of our drills address rhythm, it has always been implicit. Concepts like flow, power, and timing are easy to learn via osmosis at an early age, but for an adult learner this requires a more explicit awareness.  Another complicating factor is the slight variations in rhythm.  Indonesia is home to 6000 islands with nearly 300 ethnicities, each with their own take on music.  Rhythm is difficult to change, and unless you are a silat savant your own rhythm will appear.  Consider this video.  The pesilat here comes from a style from East Java.  The music however is from Sumatra.  Notice how his training is fighting the external rhythm?

In retrospect, rhythm was not emphasized as much in my training because in IOPS, kaedah comes first, and rhythm builds from there.  In short, rhythm can shift and change from person to person, but a loss of kaedah is a loss of the IOPS philosophy.

Post Script:

In an effort to cultivate some rhythm, I have asked Guru Daniel to share the music of his training, so that his students can better understand his motion.  Again the picture is not so simple as he learned Madurese silat that had already migrated to East Java.  He then later mixed it with the Central Javanese style of his grandfather’s lineage.  And I imagine there have been further influences from his migration to the United States

Here is some tari remo as Guru originally practiced.

And here is a more modern take on tari remo.

And here is some gamelan that combines the rhythms of Central Java, East Java and Madura.


IOPS Seminar with Guru Daniel

Guru Daniel Prasetya will be sharing his experience and knowledge of Pencak Silat on Saturday, September 21, 2013 at the Inner Wave Martial Arts School in Fort Collins, Colorado. To RSVP, follow the contact info at

IOPS Seminar 2013/09/21

Interview with Mas Sigit

An interview with Inti Ombak Senior Mas Sigit in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Even if you don’t understand Bahasa Indonesia, watch this to get a sense of the training back in Indonesia.

KM Camp 2013

A couple of weekends ago I attended the 2013 Kapatiran Mandirigma (Brotherhood of Warriors) camp at the Hermit Park Campground outside of Estes Park, Colorado. As it has been every year, this camp was a great way to learn from many skilled teachers of the Indonesian and Filipino arts. This year’s highlights included the colorful language and instruction of Master Kurt Graham, receiving the frame to Master Style Nagarajen’s house, witnessing the speed and power of Datu Rich Acosta’s Scientific Lightning, and of course getting to eat hearty servings of Rica Rica and Adobo.

More importantly it is great to reconnect with the extended martial arts family to share stories, trade knowledge. I come away learning as much in my interactions after hours as I do during the seminars. If you’re looking to attend what I consider the best three days of Silat, Eskrima and Kali in North America, I would strongly encourage attending future KM Camps.

Finally, here’s a small taste of what we did.