Friday, December 10, 2010


Most recent Sera class started with a tight and condensed version of Djuru Sepok. (Or maybe "Sepak," I'm never sure which, given the idiosyncratic spellings of Bahasa and Javanese, neither of which I know. I pronounce both close enough to the same way to fake it in conversation, but not when writing.)

However you spell it, this is a kicking form,  training for leg-strength and balance. If you have a mind to start up the old "alive" or "dead" debate -- don't bother, I've heard it too many times already. You aren't going to change my mind. If I wanted to do it the other way, then I'd be there doing it that way.

 The form is something we use because, aside from strength and balance, some of the specific moves can translate to something useful, so it's more specific than general calisthenics.

As my teacher points out, you don't use forms for fighting, and any combination longer than three moves is probably not real useful -- can't get it done in three, you likely can't get it done in four or five. 

Or as Monty Python has it it in the Writ of the Holy Hand Grenade, "Three shall be the number of the counting, and the number of the counting shall be three ..."

The longer form ranges around and covers more ground, first one side and then the other, and I confess that at the moment I can't remember it all; however, there is this wonderful thing called "writing it down" that I have found most useful. Like many activities, the use-it-or-lose-it dictum holds sway. Fortunately, if you haven't used it for a while and you have written it down -- in a way that jogs your memory, which is sometimes quite the trick with physicality -- then you can recover it. I've found that more often than not, the moves come back pretty fast.

I have the form written down. Once I get it remembered, I am going to crank up the video cam and record it. I'm a writer, but pictures often do a better job than words. Pictures and words are better than either alone: Here is what it looks like; here is what we call it, and what those terms mean.

This dance, like other forms, is not a fighting exercise, but an exercise to help prepare you for fighting. You ought not have to be an Olympic-class jock to make a style work, but being   fit doesn't hurt, and strong and supple legs are an asset. Better too much ammo than too little.

Since our workouts in silat class haven't been real athletic of late,  I figured that I could hit the gym that same day and do a fairly good workout for my legs. Bad timing -- Murphy must have been watching and rubbing his hands together in glee. Need to get our legs in shape, Guru says. Hey, I'm ahead of you, I already did that, so we can skip it ...

Uh huh. Right. You get to do it again ...


Dojo Rat said...

I am so with you on writing forms down.
Not only does it re-wire it through my brain differently, it provides a record.

Richard Sackville said...

Steve, do you find Sepak helps your hip and back?

I ask because sometimes it puts my hips out of kilter and that causes my lower back injury to play up (hurt).

However I have been told that's not unusual for men my age (45) and it’s a case of use it or loose it with hips.


Steve Perry said...

I haven't been doing yoga much lately, and I'm stiff as a result, but I haven't found that it bothers my hips to do siloh.

I do however, worry about my knees, and I expect that some of the torque is risky.