Q1 - What is meant by, “American Silat?”

Pentjak Silat is a term to include Indonesian martial arts of many varieties. (Just like Kung Fu includes many Chinese martial arts) When we say, “this is American Silat,” we mean that we have taken the favorite teaching tools of our Indonesian and American instructors and organized them into a building-block curriculum that better fits the way we Americans learned to learn in grade school. We generally don’t use Indonesian words for things in the classroom, we use English terms. Other than the salutation, we do not exercise Indonesian custom or rituals in the classroom. We don’t wear Indonesian fashion.

The language and curriculum organization suits the American student. The execution of the Silat is still what we learned from the Indonesian mentors who brought the fighting systems to the U.S.

Q2 - What makes Silat Bledek different from other martial arts?

Our system has not been restructured for sport fighting, point sparring, or to establish a series of payment milestones for a business revenue plan. It remains true to the original Indonesian system developed to give the practitioner the skills to survive an attack by one or more enemies.

Our preferred strategy is to neutralize the initial attack with a counterattack and to close to very close range. At this range, it is easier to thwart an attacker’s strikes and to use angles and leverage to take an adversary to the ground where he can be subdued or disabled at the practitioner’s discretion. (The bad guy goes to the ground, we try not to.)

We do not rely on superior strength, speed, mobility, or fitness to prevail. Of course, those things are helpful. If a student wishes to develop those things, we have valuable ways to facilitate athleticism.

Q3 - Do you spar?

We do not engage in full-speed sparring, it is too dangerous within this system. We do gradually build up to addressing full-speed and full-intensity attacks. However, practicing full-speed and full-intensity techniques to break bones and mangle joints, on our friends, is unwise.

Q4 - Do you participate in competitions or tournaments?

We do not engage in competitions or tournaments; most of the stuff we train is against the rules.

Q5 - Do you train with weapons? Which ones?

Yes. Our students like to joke, “It’s all knife. Everything is about the knife.” We perceive that an attack by a knife-wielding attacker is the worst threat we are likely to face, so a great deal of our training is invested in addressing that. We also incorporate short stick and long staff training. It aids in developing many other skills, it is fun, and pipes, bats, hockey sticks, and pool ques are real enough.

Q6 - Do you have ranks and tests?

We do not have student ranks. We do not have scheduled tests, though the occasional pop quiz is known to happen. We do test for the rank of instructor.

Q7 - How long does it take to become proficient in your system?

Assuming a dedicated student, one who attends class and practices frequently outside of class:

6 weeks (results vary) to develop the first set of simple skills well enough to successfully address thugs, bruisers, or bar fights.

2 years (again, results vary) is a reasonable goal to learn a wide array of skills and develop the principles to effectively address real threats from one or more attackers.

5 or more years to develop instructors.

There is no real end to the journey; some of us have been enjoying it for decades.

(Don’t hold us to those estimates – everyone is different, and we don’t subject students to threats to prove it)

Q8 - Describe the training environment.

It is a collaborative environment for learning lifesaving strategies. We seek to help each other learn and develop and grow. We do not have ranks or separate classes for separate levels. To us, “expert” is the guy in the room who knows a little more than everyone else. Our instructors behave more like guides for a journey of exploration than drill sergeants or authoritarian dictators.

We have a private gym with firm floors for working movement drills and padded floors for falling on.

Q9 - What does the name, Silat Bledek, mean?

Silat is a term to mean martial art, specifically Indonesian martial art. Bledek is an Indonesian word for thunder. Together they represent the Indonesian heritage of the martial system and the characteristic “crash” our founding instructor, Maha Guru Bob Vanatta, is known for producing when executing techniques.

Q10 - Do you have a class for children and families?

We do have a course for children and families. Contact us to learn more.

Silat Bledek addresses real life-or-death threats with candid discussion and techniques capable of doing serious bodily harm to a potential attacker. We feel it is not right to expect children to make choices to use, or not to use, techniques that can truly harm other people. We do not teach children in the Silat Bledek system.

However, we do have a course curriculum that subtracts the techniques that break bones and joints and instead focuses on true-to-Silat-Bledek movements and protection skills, complete with counter-striking, and simple sweeps and takedowns. It makes a great choice for children and families and is very effective against blustering bullies or thugs. Later, if a student wants to study the adults-only Silat-Bledek curriculum, there are no bad habits or skills to unlearn.

Q11 - What about the Indonesian origins of Silat Bledek?

Pak Serak, the creator of the root system, Pentjak Silat Serak, had some physical disabilities that limited his mobility and reach. In the 1800’s he, out of necessity, developed a combat strategy that nullifies an adversary’s superior reach, strength or size, and mobility. By closing with an adversary in the opening moment of the engagement, Pak Serak’s methodology enables a less-athletic practitioner to overcome a powerful opponent.

Silat Bledek incorporates the strategy, principles, and methods of Pak Serak’s fighting methodology as it was taught to Maha Guru Bob Vanatta by the de Thouars family inheritors of Pentjak Silat Serak. Those mentors were Maha Guru Victor de Thouars and Pendekar Paul de Thouars, brothers who brought their family system of Pentjak Silat Serak to the United States from Indonesia.