Last weekend, I attended a two-day Silat Suffian Bela Diri seminar hosted by Shawn Zirger of the Zirger Academy in Toronto, Canada and taught by Cikgu Maul Mornie from Brunei.
This was a delight for me as the last Silat seminar that I attended was sixteen years ago in March of 2000. I was living in Columbus, Ohio at that time and training in Modern Arnis under Dan McConnell. Through a friend of Dan’s, we got interested in Pencak Silat Mande Muda taught by Pendekar Herman Suwanda. As it turns out, he was teaching 3 or 4 seminars per year in Indianapolis, Indiana as well as Dayton, Ohio.
The late Pendekar Herman Suwanda.
I attended 4 or 5 of Pendekar Herman’s seminars and had a blast at all of them. I particularly enjoyed talking about Indonesia with him as my parents were living in Jakarta at the time and I had visited Indonesia twice during their three-year stay. It was during this time that Indonesia went through considerable changes, including the forced resignation of Suharto, the President of Indonesia for 31 years. He seemed delighted that I was informed about the situation in Indonesia.
The last time we saw him was at a seminar he taught in Dayton, Ohio in March of 2000. Dan approached Pendekar Herman and his wife, Shannon with a proposal to host him for a seminar in Columbus. Pendekar Herman and his wife were delighted and indicated that they would like to discuss this once they got back from a scheduled seminar tour in Germany.
Alas, it was during their trip in Germany that he and his wife were killed in a tragic automobile accident on March 21, 2000. I’ll never forget the day that I heard the news. I was teaching a Modern Arnis class when a student passed the news to me. Even though I had attended only a few seminars, I was looking forward to learning more Pencak Silat Mande Muda. It was not meant to be due to his early death. He was a phenomenal martial artist and human being.
Fast forward to this year. Imagine my delight when I heard that Maul Mornie was coming to Toronto to teach his first Canadian seminar. I had seen several of his YouTube videos and were impressed with them. There seemed to be a good overlap with the Modern Arnis that I’ve studied.
The seminar commenced with a basic knife pattern based on what we in the FMA community would commonly refer to as angles 1, 2, and 5. Based on these motions, he introduced us to the basic knife drill, illustrated in the first part of the below video. This also involved three basic defenses. See the below video starting at 2:03.
Based on this template, he took us through the progressions of various techniques from the Silat Suffian Bela Diri system, showing us great translations and applications of the aforementioned angles and adding in various takedown techniques. Along the way, he gave us detailed instructions on footwork, positioning, structure, movement and much more. Maul Mornie used simple language to get his point across to us. For example, he told us to execute angle 1 as if we were doing a tennis serve. These are the kind of things that I listen and look out for to add to my teaching repertoire.
Knife disarms, foot trapping, takedowns, sweeps, striking techniques, foot/leg/ankle locking, and humour were all part of the seminar. I particularly liked a variation of the Modern Arnis side by side technique (also known as shihonage in Aikido) that he showed us. Not only did I see a fair bit of overlap with my Modern Arnis background but I saw a few connections to Vee Jiu Jitsu as well, particularly with respect to the takedowns and sweeps. I saw sinawali applications present in a fair number of techniques that gave me a few ideas to work on.
I had a great time working with Terence, Dref, and Cassandra as well as other attendees during the two-day seminar, exchanging tips, notes and observations of the various techniques we were practicing. The turnout was fantastic. The energy during both days was just great and this is a tribute to Maul Mornie who set the tone with his detailed teaching, friendliness, and humor.
If you are not able to see this video, please click here.