Tuesday, July 17, 2007

An Unassuming Man

It has been my privilege for the last dozen years to study the martial art Pukulan Pentjak Silat Sera Plinck under the expert guidance of Maha Guru Stevan Plinck, in Washington state.

Group classes are once a week for a couple hours, sometimes a little longer, and the round-trip from my house is just under three hours, when the traffic is not too bad. If that seems like a long way, it isn't. One of our classmates drives twice that far, and we both consider ourselves fortunate to have the option.

Here is a world-class silat teacher, one of a few in the entire country. Sixty miles? That's nothing. Long as the gasoline holds out, no problem. Might be a little tougher on a bicycle in the cold and rain ...

I won't go on and on about how wonderful I think our version of silat is; obviously, if I didn't like it, I wouldn't still be there after all this time. More, it is my intent to keep trying to learn it as long as Guru continues his teaching, or I drop dead. Because there is always something new to learn. Never step in the same river twice, and while I believe I know enough to use the stuff if push comes to shove, that's not the point. It's not the end of the trip that matters here, it is the journey.

Guru Plinck is a self-effacing man. He doesn't flack himself or his teaching on the net or in the 'zines. If you don't know somebody, you won't find him. He has only a handful of regular students, not counting the enclaves in various other part of the world, ranging as far away as Finland. The videos he has made are designed for his students or already-serious silat players. He isn't looking to recruit new trainees.

There are guys with a tenth of his ability doing major marketing and making a lot of money, and he's forgotten more than they have ...

To those folks in the know in silat circles, there's no question that Guru Plinck is the Real Deal. However idiotic the political in-fighting gets -- all martial arts seem to have plenty of that, but the Indonesian stuff is particularly afflicted with looney tunes -- the senior students who are the closest thing to his peers all recognize that Plinck is the most-realized of Pendekar Paul de Thouars's students. He learned the art, took it to new levels, smoothed it out, improved it, and it remains an evolving study for him, as well as us.

Guru could pound his own drum and nobody would fault him for it. That he does not is just one more admirable thing about the man. He has the art. He is willing to teach it, and he is as good as anybody at conveying it thus. To be among the few who have found their way into this art as taught by this teacher is, no two ways about it, a peak experience in my life. A signal honor.

He won't tell you any of this. But I will. It's like finding a fist-sized diamond in your back yard, and I appreciate it more than I can possibly say; but now and then, a small nod is the least I can do.

Banyak terima kasih, Guru.


Bobbe Edmonds said...

>"There are guys with a tenth of his ability doing major marketing and making a lot of money, and he's forgotten more than they have ..."<

I think that figure may be a little bloated...We can safely say it's a LOT less than a tenth!

steve-vh said...

Same here with Mushtaq. The round trip is about 2hrs once a week though.
But certainly all the same sentiments.
When we first started he said "if someone asked where you learned that, tell them 'some crazy old man'" or something to that effect.