I wrote these monographs based on a suggestion made by Todd Williams, a good man and good friend who died in early February, 2014. Thank you, Todd, for your friendship and your suggestion. RIP, my friend.
The Walking Langkah is a straight line, at least six feet long, with short hash marks every two feet. It is used to help the student develop the basic structure and learn how maintain that structure while advancing.
The basic structure in AGPS is drawn from the de Thouars lineage of Pentjak Silat Serak but has influences from several sources within that lineage.
Your lead foot should be centered on and parallel to the central line of the langkah. Your rear foot should be on the first hash mark and centered on the central line of the langkah. It should be turned 45 degrees from the central line.
Your body leans forward so there is a straight line from the crown of your head to the heel of your back foot. Your weight distribution should be 60% on the lead foot and 40% on the back foot. Your center line should be directly over and parallel to the central line. Or, put another way, your hips and shoulders should be perpendicular to that central line. This is the basic structure that is used for the sapu and biset sweeps.
The structure is not a "fighting stance." It is used to give a solid but mobile platform from which to disrupt your opponent's balance and effect your sweeps so it is used in the close range where you have the most access to these tools.
To learn the basics of moving while maintaining this structure you advance along the central line of the langkah. The advance is done in a specific way that enables you to maximize your stability through the motion.
I call the central line of the langkah the "line of intention." This is the line you are moving on and you want your structure to support the domination of this line. As you move you want to be as stable as possible on that line. Your balance always has vulnerabilities but you want to minimize them on the line of intention because that's where you're most likely to encounter resistance.
If you advance on the line by walking as you normally do then, in mid-stride, your advancing foot will not be on that line of intention. This will cause your center of balance to shift slightly off the line and make your balance and structure vulnerable on that line.
As you advance you want to keep your balance and structural integrity solid on the line of intention. To do this, pivot your lead foot forty-five degrees so your toes point away from your back foot. When you pivot, pivot on the center of your foot instead of the heel or toes. As you pivot, sink a bit to minimize the stress on your lead knee. This pivot and sink will open a space behind your lead knee that is directly over the line of intention.
Shift your weight forward, maintaining your lean and not letting your hips or shoulders rotate, and bring your back foot through that space behind your lead knee. Ideally your knee, shin, and foot will actually touch your the back of your lead knee as you advance. Step to the next hash mark on the line then adjust your back foot so its heel is centered on the line of intention.
Initially, your hands are in front of you, palms together, on your center line and you leave them there as you advance. This can be a useful guide for preventing yourself from rotating your hips or shoulders as you move.
As you progress you might do other things with your hands, like run jurus or throw strikes. When you start you'll simply turn around when you reach the end of the line of intention and advance in the other direction. Later you can use the turn around from the jurus.
Mirrors can be useful for checking your lean and the line from crown to heel and/or for watching your center line to prevent it from rotating as you advance. As useful as they are, though, there's a significant problem with mirrors. The very act of watching yourself in the mirror can disrupt your structure or distract you from what you're really working on. If mirrors are your only option, though, they are better than nothing.
The best method I have personally found is a video camera. If you want to check for center line rotation you can set the camera directly in front of you, looking down the line of intention. When you watch the video it is usually pretty easy to spot when you shift your center line off the line of intention. If you set the camera to one side or the other, perpendicular to the line of intention, then it's very easy to check whether you're leaning too little or too much and to see if there are any kinks in the line from the crown of your head to the heel of your back foot.
Sapu literally translates from Indonesian as "broom." In the context of Silat it is a sweep where your foot is moving forward - or, technically, to the side in front of you. There are two broad categories of sapu: sapu dalam and sapu luar. Dalam means "inside" and luar means "outside." So a sapu dalam means you are sweeping from inside their structure and sapu luar means you are sweeping from outside their structure. The concept of inside and outside can get a little hazy as you start looking at variations of these sweeps. When you're training solo, though, there is no dalam and luar. The basic mechanics of the sapu are the same regardless of whether you are inside or outside of your opponent's structure.
Further, there are two basic alignments for the sweep. These alignments, like dalam and luar, are defined by your position relative to that of your opponent or training partner. The terms I use in AGPS are the same terms I got from Guru Ken in Sikal. They are "L-Line" and "Side Line." I'll detail these alignments in more detail later in the variations section.
Basic Solo Training
The basic mechanics of the sapu in AGPS are first trained on the Foundation Langkah. I'll use one of the triangles from that langkah to describe the basics of the sapu. The basic triangle is the Langkah Tiga used in Pentjak Silat Serak and many other Silat systems.
For the basic sweep your left foot is on B and your right foot is on C and you're in your basic structure. Shift your weight to your left foot and move your right foot to Point A with heel down (on the ground) and toes up (lifted off the ground). As you sweep, your right foot will move from A toward B as it lifts so you'll end up with your right foot off the floor at about knee level in front of your left knee. This motion is also accompanied by a pivot of your body so you end up facing A along the A-B line. This pivot should happen on the center of your left foot and it is tricky. From there you step your right foot back down to Point A and you should be back in your basic structure with your left foot on B and your right on A, facing A and aligned along the A-B line.
That, in a nutshell, outlines the basic lower body mechanics of the sapu. There is a lot of detail still to be addressed in that relatively simple movement.
First, the pivot on your left foot. Don't think of the sweep as being a movement of your right leg. Instead, focus on your hips and your core. Pivot from your core and let it cause the pivot on your left foot while it also pulls your right leg through the motion of the sweep. This is probably hard to understand from a textual description but, as with punching, core motion is pivotal to power generation. If you sweep only with your leg you don't have much power.
Second, people assume that their opponent's foot is on Point A and they are sweeping that point. While technically possible it's horribly inefficient. You aren't sweeping a point, nor are you sweeping the A-B line. Your opponent's foot should be inside the triangle and you are sweeping the entire area of the triangle. This means that the commonly seen "boot-to-boot" sweep (as Pak Vic referred to it) is not the goal. When you initiate your sweep your foot should actually be a few inches from your opponent's foot.
Third, and this is probably the most difficult to overcome in the transition from training to reality. In the basic model you start the motion by moving your right foot from C to A. While you can do the sapu in reality in this way it is a relatively weak sapu. When you move your foot from C to A you're actually breaking the sapu down into steps. The more powerful expression of the sapu starts from Point C and moves in a rising arc from C to its position in front of your left knee and the pivot happens in the midst of that arcing motion. In this way the sapu is more of a kick through their supporting structure than a hook and drag of their foot.
Why this dichotomy between training and application? I believe it serves two purposes. By beginning with the broken down version it becomes easier to focus on your structure and balance at each portion of the movement and throughout the movement in general. It also lends a layer of added safety to your early training. If you start off trying to train the sweep as a kick then you run a higher risk of injury to both you and your training partner. I want to put the more powerful version in this text, though, to make you aware of it. I advocate breaking the movement down initially in the more traditional way that it's taught but don't get mired in the mindset of having to do it as "1-2-3." Keep in mind that it is, in fact, one continuous motion and you are simply breaking it down into its components as a training tool.
I've seen several variations on what the upper body is doing throughout this motion. In AGPS the upper body motions, tied into the lower body sweep outlined above, are as follows:
Your right hand drops to your right waist, palm facing the floor, and your left hand moves across your face so its back rests against the right side of your face. This happens before you move your right foot from C to A. As your lower body performs the sweep your right hand will rise as your left hand drops and they form the outside arcs of a circle between them. As your right foot settles back on Point A you fire a left uppercut (sangsot), slapping your left forearm with your right hand.
Basic Applied Training
When you start training with a partner you become much more aware of the dynamics of dalam and luar and the roles of the various motions - upper and lower body - of the basic motions outlined above. I'll start by tying the sapu directly to the basic structure and triangle already described.
You start with your left foot on B and your right foot on C, facing B and your alignment oriented along the B-C line. Your opponent starts with his foot in the center of the triangle. If he puts his right foot into the triangle then you will be doing a sapu dalam. If he puts his left foot into the triangle you will be doing a sapu luar. The difference between dalam and luar is dictated by where you are in relation to your opponent's structure but the mechanics of the sweep don't change. For now I'll start with a sapu luar so his left foot is in the center of the triangle.
Remember, you're sweeping the entire triangle area, not just a point or line. Don't focus on his foot or your foot. You're going to move your leg through his lower structure. So, following the outline I already described, lower your right hand and place it in the crease of your training partner's hip, the inguinal crease. Your left hand crosses to the right side of your face. It might be striking or covering against attacks but for now, in this basic example, its primary purpose is to prevent your training partner from rotating his right shoulder toward you as you perform the sweep.
Sink your weight into your right hand. This accomplishes two things in this particular example. First, it disrupts your opponent's structure and his balance. The common term for this aspect is that you have "set" your opponent. The second thing this hand does is serve as an "anchor." Your anchor maintains the structural/balance disruption and creates a barrier that guides the effects on your opponent after the sweep.
For now you want to sink straight down. This should set your training partner, causing his center of balance to shift so it is mostly on his right leg but not completely. There should be a kink in his structure at his hips so that his butt is hanging over empty space. If you have ever seen anyone sit down while their leg is in a cast, the position you've put your training partner into will resemble that moment just before the person drops into the chair.
If you force too much weight into your training partner's right leg then his left leg will be empty and able to move freely. When you try to sweep he can simply lift the leg and maintain his balance. You want some weight left in his left leg. Your hand at his hip, the anchor, acts as a barrier preventing his structure from compensating. When you sweep he will try to reorient and catch his balance but the anchor will prevent it and cause him to fall in the direction of the energy in your anchor. If you are sinking straight down then your training partner should sit straight down. If you are pushing away from you then your training partner will likely stumble away from you and might or might not fall. If you are pulling toward you (not a very common problem when anchoring on his hip, much more common if you're anchoring on arm/hand) then you might get the sweep but your training partner will fall toward you and if you're not structurally sound he might knock you off balance or even knock you down as he falls.
I have never found a translation for the word "biset" outside of the translation that's common to the Silat community. This leads me to believe that it's a word that's specific to a particular region, language, or dialect of Indonesia but that is an educated guess on my part. In the Silat community I have heard several common translations including: "reverse sweep" and "backward foot drag". Both of these are descriptive enough to indicate the basic essence of the motion.
As with the sapu, there are two basic methods: biset dalam and biset luar. Refer to the sapu section for more details on dalam and luar.
Basic Solo Training
Like the sapu, the first place an AGPS student really encounters the biset motion is on the Foundation Langkah. I'll again use one triangle from the Foundation Langkah for illustration.
The biset is interesting because if you listen to your body it will, more or less, tell you how to do the sweep. Start in a right lead with your right foot on A and your left foot on B with your structure aligned along the A-B line (refer to the Structure section of the Walking Langkah for details on the basic structure).
Your motion begins with your upper base. Rotate your upper base to your left, your lower base remains stationary; don't move or pivot your feet. At about 45 degrees you should feel your left hip begin to bind. Follow the suggestion of your body and, as you continue to rotate your upper base, allow your left foot to pivot so it releases that bind. As your upper base approaches 90 degrees you shift the majority of your weight to your left foot. Complete your rotation to 90 degrees, allowing your hips to rotate and drag your right leg into position to maintain your structure. You should end in a left lead with your left foot on B, your right foot on C, and your structure aligned along the B-C line.
When working on another person, a common mistake is to overextend the sweep. People feel that they have to make a significant amount of motion but, really, you don't. In the basic model your foot only travels about two feet. That's one of the things you can learn from the solo training on a langkah.
As with the sapu, I have seen many variations of hand work to accompany the biset. In AGPS the basic model employs two elbows. To tie these hand motions to the previously illustrated biset, as you rotate your upper base to your left, you fire a right horizontal elbow. In the solo expression, we do this as a compression elbow into our left hand. In application, it's more commonly an impact/pushing elbow that disrupts the opponent's upper base.
From that elbow, as you allow your left foot to pivot, you unfold your right arm and, as your lower body completes the sweep you fire a left vertical elbow that impacts your right falling hand just after your lower body sweep is complete.
Neither of these elbows is intended to have powerful body mechanics. The first elbow is intended to disrupt their upper base. It might have some solid power behind it but that's not it's purpose. Too much power will usually blast your opponent out of the structure you're trying to train. The vertical elbow, in application, is intended to meet the falling energy of your opponent's neck or head so it doesn't require a lot of body mechanics to be powerful. It just needs a solid structure behind it so the impact of your opponent's body doesn't disrupt your structure.
There are several variations of this basic biset but most of them are done with the same motions and mechanics. The exception is what we refer to as "Quarter Biset." A quarter biset is, technically, a biset but its mechanics resemble a sapu more closely than they resemble the basic biset.
Basic Applied Training
The basic biset done in AGPS uses an elbow structure to set and anchor your partner. I'll discuss this variation first then expand on it a bit to illustrate some other options and variations.
Like the sapu, it's important to remember that we're not sweeping a point or a line. We're sweeping the entire area of the triangle. So if you refer to the diagram at the right your partner's foot will be in the middle of the triangle formed by C-TR-RC, not on any of the points. For this discussion your partner has a right lead. His right foot is in the center of the triangle and he is facing point C.
People often think in terms of the partner facing the center point of the C-RC line. This is valid but a little awkward and, in my experience, it encourages a bad habit in the training. If your partner is facing the center of the C-RC line and you plan to move your foot along the TR-RC line then, when you step into position, you tend to go around your partner to reach the TR point. You don't want to step around our partner or your opponent, depending on the context. You want to step to a position where you're in good solid structure and, in doing so, you want to disrupt your partner's structure. Stepping around him means, by the nature of the concept, that you're disrupting your own structure to accommodate his structure.
For now we'll use a static starting point for illustration so your partner has his right foot in the middle of the triangle and is facing the C point with his right arm extended.
Put your left foot on the C point of the triangle and your right foot on BL with your structure aligned along the BL-C line. Bring your left arm up to the inside of your partner's right arm.
Now, maintain this structure, as you step with your right foot to point TR. This step should be from your Walking Langkah so it starts by pivoting your left foot, then stepping along the C-TR line with your right foot so your right foot ends on the TR point. As you step, bring your right elbow up horizontally so it lays across your partner's chest. Make sure it crosses your partner's center line so your hand is on the left side of your partner's chest and the tip of your elbow is on the right side of his chest. At the end of your step your right hip should be touching your partner's right hip. Ideally you don't accomplish "hip-to-hip" by adjusting your body; you accomplish it by manipulating his body. As you make this step maintain the structure of your upper base so it disrupts your partner's upper base.
Now, still maintaining the structure of your upper base, rotate your upper base toward your left. This will further disrupt your partner's structure and disrupt his balance more. Your partner, at this point, will likely take a "reset step" with his left foot to try to maintain balance. Most people take this step. Now, pivot your left foot while continuing your upper base rotation, then let your hips pull your right leg through the sweeping motion, dragging your foot from TR to RC along the TR-RC line. The contact point between your right leg and your partner's right leg should be in the upper leg, not the lower. You're not sweeping his foot. You're sweeping his lower base.
That is the basic biset from the Foundation Langkah. The Foundation Langkah, and the Langkah Tiga that it is derived from, only contain sixty degree angles. This is actually a weak angle for the biset. Using forty-five degree angles for the sweep is much easier and more effective in general. I believe the biset was originally taught on these angles for two reasons and these are the reasons I initially teach the biset on this weaker angle.
First, it's a learning tool, it's more difficult to find and get the biset on this angle which means that when you do get it, you've got it. When you start using the forty-five degree angles for the sweep it becomes very easy.
Second, for safety, the biset on the sixty degree angle is, generally, easier on your training partner. They tend to wrap around you and are able to use you as support during their fall and it's easier, almost instinctive, for you to control their fall. The forty-five degree sweep tends to cut their lower base out from under them and drop them very abruptly. It's much harder to do this nicely. It's good for a combative situation but can be rough in training.
When you're training this on the sixty degree angles, it will be frustrating. Work through it and it gets easier. When you start using forty-five degree angles it will be that much easier. Don't let yourself "cheat" and force the technique. This is true of all your training. If you're grunting or working hard then there's likely something wrong with your structure. If your partner isn't resisting then you should be able to move him with light touches. Your partner shouldn't give the technique to you but he shouldn't resist either. Not at first. Resistance comes later.
As Guru Ken always said, "You've got to develop your tools before you test them." Ultimately you want to test your tools. You want to be able to use them against a resisting opponent who's trying to take your head off. Don't rush to get there, though. Rushing will build poor tools. If poor tools work, it will be due more to luck than to training. We accept luck when it goes our way and work with it but we should never rely on it because it might not be there or might even be against us in any given situation. Build your tools well in training. Develop them slowly and pay attention to details so your tools are solid and dependable. Then "heat treat" and "stress test" them.
Note on the "reset step"
Sometimes your partner or opponent won't take the "reset step" to catch his balance. Most people take that step intuitively and nearly unconsciously but not everyone. Sometimes, in training, people override that intuition because they think they're not supposed to step or they think it offers more resistance. Some people just aren't wired to take that step. If they don't take that step, then there's no need for the lower body sweep. Simply continue rotating your upper body 180 degrees and let your feet pivot with the rotation. This then becomes an "upper body biset."
The Foundation Langkah grew out of the Langkah Tiga - specifically from Pentjak Silat Serak but found in many varieties in many Silat systems. It reinforces the understanding of the basic structure and maintaining that structure while moving but it adds more layers to the movement. You start adding sweeps and stepping that take you from the relatively two-dimensional forward and back of the Walking Langkah and get you thinking about three-dimensions and the space that you can readily move through and affect around your body.
At the basic level it is only a footwork pattern. Later, the jurus get run on the langkah and it becomes a powerful tool for the foundational understanding of how to apply the motions from the jurus and langkah. This langkah is where the meat of your understanding is developed. The Walking Langkah and Bridging Langkah help you get into the space and range you want while maintaining your structure and balance. The Mapping Langkah and Combat Langkah are expansions on the understanding of the Foundation Langkah but the Foundation Langkah is the lynchpin.
Layout and Naming Conventions
The langkah consists of four equilateral triangles, two feet per side, arranged as two adjacent diamonds with a central line running through them. For this text I'll use the following naming conventions for the seven points of the langkah:
- C = Central Point
- RC = Right Central Point
- LC = Left Central Point
- TL = Top Left Point
- TR = Top Right Point
- BL = Bottom Left Point
- BR = Bottom Right Point
I will describe lines like so: C-TR = the line from C to TR, LC-BL = the line from LC to BL.
Throughout this pattern your structure will, with a couple of exceptions, be that which is discussed in the Structure section of the Walking Langkah explanation. Start with the heel of your left foot on C and its toes pointing toward TR. The center of your right foot is on the C-RC line and your toes are pointed toward RC while your right heel rests lightly against your left foot, just below your left ankle. This is similar to, though tighter than most, a "cat stance" from various Karate systems and is known as Kuda Mati (dead horse) in Silat.
Step out with your right foot to RC and settle into your basic structure with the center of your right foot on RC and your foot parallel to the C-RC line. This is Position 1.
Pivot 180° to Position 2. The pivots are done on the center of your feet. This is a difficult maneuver and takes practice. Depending on the surface and your footwear there may be too much friction but pivoting on the center of your feet is the ideal because it provides more stability and balance through the motion than if you pivot on your toes or heels.
Sapu with your right leg and step so the center of your right foot is on TR with your right foot parallel to the C-TR line. This is Position 3 and your structure should now be lined up over the C-TR line. This means your center line should be over C-TR and your hips/shoulders should be perpendicular to C-TR and you should be leaning so there's a straight line from the crown of your head to the heel of your back foot.
Sempok so your right foot passes behind your left leg and steps to BL. At this point you should be in a Siloh posture. Your right knee should be past your left knee and you should be sunk into the stance with your hips/shoulders parallel to the C-TR line.
Pivot 270° so you're facing BL and your structure is aligned with C-BL. As you rotate through this motion, sink so you end up kneeling with your left knee on the ground and your right knee up. This is Position 4.
Rise into your basic structure then pivot 180°. Biset with your left foot from C to LC along the C-LC line. You should now be in your basic structure facing BL along the LC-BL line. This is Position 5.
Pivot 180° to Position 6 (facing LC along the LC-BL line).
Sapu with your right foot and step to C so you're facing C and aligned with the C-LC line. This is Position 7.
Pivot 180° and draw your left foot to your right foot into Kuda Mati.
Now you are ready to step out with your left foot to Position 1 and repeat the pattern going the other direction. Where your right foot previously did Sapus and stepped through the Sempok, now your left foot will do those motions and your right will now do the Biset.
This is the basic stepping pattern for the Foundation Langkah. The next evolution is to add basic hand work to accompany your Sapu, Biset, Pivot, and Sempok motions.
Basic Hand Work for Motions
Assuming a Sapu with the right foot, you start in a left lead. Your left hand will come to the right side of your face in a parrying/covering motion and end with the back of your left fingers touching your right cheek. Meanwhile, your right hand will drop so it ends up at about hip level, palm down, a few inches out from your body.
As you sweep, your hands will describe a circle so your left ends up at hip level with palm up and your right ends up just in front of your left cheek with palm down. Just after setting your sweeping foot down you fire a sangsot (extended uppercut) with your left hand punching and your right hand slapping the inside of your left forearm.
Assuming a Biset with the right foot, you start in a right lead. As you pivot your upper base, fire a right elbow. As you begin your sweep, unfold your right arm, describing half a circle so it ends up at about eye level to the left of your face but about eight inches in front of your left cheek. As you finish your sweep, fire a left vertical elbow that forms a shearing motion with your right descending hand.
Assuming you're in a right lead, drop your left hand down in a hammer fist just behind your left hip while your right hand moves in a crossing parry to your the left side of your face. The pivot is driven by your hips. Begin your pivot by rotating your upper base toward your left. Let your lower base pivot be pulled by the motion of your hips. This is the key to pivoting on the center of your feet instead of the heels or toes. As you move through the pivot your hands will describe a circle so your left ends up in front of your face with palm down and your right ends up just above your right hip with a palm up fist. As you complete your pivot, fire a right sangsot while slapping the inside of your right forearm with your left hand.
Sempok refers to a motion where you step behind your standing leg and sink into a Siloh position.
If you have a right lead, pick up your right foot and step behind your left leg so your right knee crosses the center line of your left leg. As you set your right foot down you sink. Your shoulders and hips should be facing 90 degrees from the line they started on or, looked at another way, they should be parallel to the line between your feet.
The Siloh position can be high, where your right knee just passes behind the center line of your left leg. Or it can be low where you are sitting in the Siloh position. Or it can be anywhere between those two extremes. The default height when running the Foundation Langkah is a mid-level height.
Depok, Spiral, and Twisted Horse
You can also get to the Siloh position by stepping in front of your base leg, called a Depok, or by rotating your hips and letting your legs fold so you spiral down into the position. In Sikal we referred to the spiral down as Siloh as well but I've seen it commonly used to refer to the position as well as the motion. In some of the other systems I've trained in, this position was referred to as a "twisted horse stance."
Jurus on Langkah
The next evolution of the Foundation Langkah incorporates the Jurus. You run the Jurus as you move through the footwork pattern of the Langkah.
The order of the Jurus is:
- Entry Juru
- Controlling Juru
- Mass in Motion Juru
- Level Change Juru
- Framing Juru
- Striking Juru
- Sweeping Juru
The numbers in the list above correspond to the positions in the Langkah as I described in the Stepping Pattern section.
Each technique can be broken down into three components. Entry, transition, and technical essence. The technical essence is something like a Sapu Luar or a Biset Dalam or Putar Kepala. You can also consider joint locks or disarms or a specific strike as a technical essence. It is, simply, the end goal of the technique.
In my training with Guru Ken we enumerated our entries and technical essences. Our transitions were never enumerated, though. Taking, for instance, four entries and four technical essences, there are a huge number of possible transitions from each entry to each technical essence. The specific transition used in training usually reflects a common scenario based on the opponent's likely structure or resistance or reaction. In the dynamic chaos of an actual situation, or, for that matter, even in sparring, the transition used must also be completely dynamic. And, of course, we never have a set plan in reality.
"Plans are useless but planning is indispensable." - Dwight D. Eisenhower
Our training is our planning. It's necessary. Any plans we make, though, will go right out the window in a real situation. "No plan survives first contact with the enemy." - Helmuth von Moltke the Elder
The act of planning, though, is vital. It helps us prepare our tools and our minds to be flexible and effective. To think a situation is going to go exactly according to plan, though, is naive. Playing with transitions in training helps us to develop the flexibility we need to make our tools effective. The more transitions I've worked with, the more likely my body is to recognize an opportunity to use a tool under stress.
Over the BridgeSplit EntrySlap & HitSpearing ElbowDive
These aren't all of the entries. These are just the ones I use most commonly.
AGPS Technical Essences
My default list is:
- Putar Kepala
However, this is a very generalized list. It's usually broken down into smaller chunks:
- Sapu Dalam
- Sapu Luar
- Biset Dalam
- Biset Luar
- Kenjit Siko
- Kenjit Kaki
- Putar Kepala
- Reverse Putar Kepala
"Kunci" are locks. This section breaks down, in AGPS, like this:
- Finger locks (hyper-extension, compression, side)
- Wrist lock (standard, reverse, vertical)
- Arm bar (outside, inside)
- Figure 4 (outside, inside)
- Shoulder lock (outside, inside, wrapping, prayer)
- Bent elbow lock
- Goose neck (standard, reverse)
That's the basic list of the most standard locks. Each of these locks has variations. This list is also all arm related. Many of these locks have equivalents that can be done on the legs, toe locks, knee bars, etc.
There are also several layers to the locking principles:
- Basing for breaks
Using the Concepts
Any technique you know or learn can be broken down into entry, transition, and technical essence. Breaking them down this way can help you isolate certain aspects and develop them further. It can help you tie seemingly disparate elements together. It can be used to take a seemingly difficult technique and break it down into workable chunks.
Once you've broken things down you can mix and match. Any entry can get to any technical essence, it's just a matter of determining the transition necessary to do so. Once you develop your entries and technical essences then you can start focusing on your transitions to make them more and more efficient.
This concept can be used in any training - regardless of system, and even outside of the martial arts. It provides a model for exploration of the technique and can help you dig deeper and deeper into your own understanding.
Start with your hands held at your chest, palm to palm. Step out with your right foot and extend your arms. Don't straighten them, just extend them slightly, elbows flared out a bit.
This motion has many names. In the Silat community it's commonly called "the dive." Some people call it "the spear." The principle behind the motion is to cover high center line. Anything this structure contacts will more than likely get shunted off to one side of the structure or the other. Combined with the forward motion which tends to either evade or jam low line attacks this motion is a very useful entry method.
It's not really intended to deal with a particular attack. It's designed, rather, to neutralize or, at least, to minimize many likely attacks. If you get hit it will most likely be a glancing blow which slides off the structure or, in the case of a low line attack, it will either miss, get jammed, or connect without serious power.
This method of setting up a structure then moving the whole structure is very common in AGPS and Silat in general, as well as other martial arts such as Tai Chi Chuan. You don't try to affect your opponent by moving a single limb, you move your whole body, get your mass moving behind the motion.
From the dive, drive your right hip forward. Focus on the right hip moving forward. Your left hip will automatically move backward, your right arm will automatically extend forward and your left arm will automatically draw back. All these things happen because you drive your right hip forward. This particular nuance is critical and becomes obvious in application which I'll discuss in a moment.
Now think of compressing something between your right hand and your left elbow, fired horizontally. Like driving your right hip forward did in the previous motion, this compression will cause a lot of things to happen in your body: your left hip will drive forward, your left elbow will drive forward, your right arm will draw back slightly. Again, focus on the compression, the core, not the individual elements. Let them be driven by the core motion.
From the elbow, we go into a very complex motion - especially when written in text. You will pivot toward your right, corkscrewing into your base. In the Silat terminology I was taught this is a Siloh motion, though doesn't go all the to the seated posture. I've heard some Chinese martial arts practitioners call it a "twisted dragon stance" or a "twist stance." As you pivot, your right hand will drop low and move with your body, sweeping back then rising. Your left arm will extend forward then drop. Your right hand fires a forward palm smash while your left comes in palm down below the right elbow.
Pivot back toward the front, moving from your core or, as the Chinese say, your tan tien. This will bring your arms in front of you but, as before, you're not moving your arms. They're moving because they're part of the structure and you're moving the entire structure. Your right hand will be high and your left will be under it.
Grind your right hand - move it from palm away from you to palm toward you as you bring your forearm to your chest - and pivot to your left into a shallow horse stance.
Grind out with your right hand - move it from palm toward you to palm down as you extend it - and pivot back to center. Your right hand in this motion is effectively firing a knife hand, shuto, in Karate terms. You also want your left hand to slap the right forearm as it passes or, more precisely, you want your right forearm to shear past the left palm.
For the record, the angles I'll use in this monograph are from Inosanto blend:
- Angle 1: diagonal down or horizontal forehand to temple, jaw, neck, or clavicle
- Angle 2: diagonal down or horizontal backhand to temple, jaw, neck, or clavicle
- Angle 3: horizontal forehand to abdomen or waist
- Angle 5: straight thrust or uppercut to abdomen or a straight punch to the face
- Angle 12: straight vertical strike to crown of head
In the Filipino martial arts there is a set of drills commonly called hubad. The full name, as I learned its spelling, is higot hubad lubad. However, I think a more accurate spelling is higot hubad lubid.
I've never heard a satisfactory translation of these words. Running them through Google Translator yields these results:
- Cebuano: ties
- Filipino: cords
- Cebuano: naked
- without dress
- Cebuano: rope
The interpretation I learned for this phrase was, "tie, untie, and blend," and this interpretation is similar to what I've heard from several instructors over the years, though specific phrasings may vary.
I can see how the naked translation for hubad might relate to "untie" but it seems a bit of a stretch. The translation I find most interesting is "devoid."
Looking up the word "devoid" in English:
** de · void **
** adjective **
- entirely lacking or free form.
From this I get an interpretation more along the lines of "free form rope ties". This makes some sense to me and satisfies the etymological part of my brain.
Having said all that, I think "tie, untie, and blend" works very well. It certainly points to what the drills teach.
What do they teach? You may be asking. They teach many, many things. As I told a student once, if you're doing it properly then it's everything. If you're doing it poorly, it's nothing.
Esoteric answers aside, though, one of the most obvious things it teaches is trapping and not getting trapped. However, it also sets some foundational groundwork for timing, position, placement, body mechanics, axis control, coordination, and many, many other things. One of the great long-term aspects is what Guru Ken calls "technique generation."
Hubad, in all its myriad forms, can be used as a playground for exploring possibilities. This is beyond the scope of this monograph but I will give a few examples at the end.
I'll just use the very common single word hubad for the remainder of this monograph.
First, I think it's important to understand that hubad doesn't refer to a drill. Rather, it's a category, an umbrella term, under which there are many drills.
In Sikal there are five basic aspects to hubad, plus quite a few variations. In AGPS, I have broadened this to include other drills which I feel fall under the same umbrella. I'm going to use a mixture of terminologies in this list. If you don't recognize a word, ask me or google it.
- Forehand with tan sao like "waiter's hand"
- Three Count Straight line
As I previously mentioned, there are many variations on these five but these form the core in AGPS.
In AGPS, I've also included a variety of other drills under the umbrella of hubad.
The AGPS Expansion
- Slap hands for straight lines
- All Right
- All Left
- Outside Alternations
- Single Hand
- Shooting Punches
- Single Hand Shooting Punches
- The linked page describes the basic pummeling from wrestling. In AGPS and Filipino martial arts, these drills, and many others in the same vein, are used in empty hands in much the same way they're used in wrestling. However, since the FMA are weapon-based, these same principles and drills can also be methods of weapon retention. I don't currently have a delineated list of the drills or specific names for them so listing them isn't currently feasible.
- Other elements which I consider part of hubad, though I don't specifically include them in the AGPS curriculum:
- Lap Sao Cycle
- Pak Sao Cycle
- Ordabis Drill
- Siko-Ordabis Drill
Remember: On target with intent
As you continue reading this, remember on target with intent. You're not trying to knock your partner's head off, move slow and with control, but if he doesn't respond or his structure is weak then your strike should touch your intended target. If you pull your strike short or aim off line then both you and your training partner suffer in the long run.
Slow the motion down for safety but fire with intention. If you speed it up, it should land solidly, on target. If you're going very slowly, then your strike will be a push, but it should penetrate and affect your training partner.
We tend to fight the way we've trained. I've never had a problem adding velocity to motion when in a real situation, in fact, adding velocity has never even required conscious thought for me. However, if you train to avoid contact, either by pulling up short or by aiming off line, then there's a chance you'll do that in reality.
The technical breakdown
I'm going to give a technical breakdown of the core forehand hubad. This drill is very common in the FMA community. Most people are at least familiar with it, or a variation of it, even if they don't practice it regularly.
This breakdown comes from how I learned the drill in Sikal.
We start with the "waiter's hand" variation. This is a slightly modified tan sao structure. Another common variation uses the bong sao structure. In Sikal and, by extension, AGPS we start with the waiter's hand because the bong sao structure is more difficult to do properly. So we start beginners with the easier variation and bring out the bong sao variant later in the training. Both methods are completely valid, though.
The very basic breakdown, on the right side, goes like this:
- A: launches an Angle 1 (right forehand knife hand or hammer fist, diagonal down, toward partner's jaw, neck, or clavicle)
- B-1: shifts to his right, triangulates, and meets partner's forearm with left waiter's hand (tricep parallel to ground, forearm 45 degrees upward, hand palm up, facing ceiling)
- B-2: brings right hand to the middle of the upside down V formed by the intersection of his forearm and his partner's forearm
- B-3: carries partner's arm up to clear his head as he shifts his weight to his left
- B-4: after partner's forehand strike passes, left hand slaps partner's forearm into his structure, trapping it
- B-5: shifting his weight back to center, he fires his own right forehand strike and the drill cycles with roles reversed
This set of motions takes less than a second to accomplish, even moving slowly, but there is a lot going on here and there are a lot of important nuances. Many of which often get overlooked.
First, there are a lot of structural considerations. The weight shift in B-1 gives B a little time and space and moves him "off the X." (The "X" is where A is planning to encounter B)
If B stays "on the X" then, if he messes something up, he eats the full brunt of A's strike. If he moves off the X, in this particular scenario, then, even if he does nothing else, A's strike will land after its power apex and B won't catch the full brunt of the strike's power.
There are three ways to move off the X. You can jam, evade, or lead. This particular example leads. Which means it gets ahead of the arc of power and catches it after its power starts bleeding off. To jam, you'd move toward the strike and catch it before it builds power. To evade, of course, you'd get completely out of the way. All three options have merit, the circumstances dictate which is "better." Any of these options is better, though, than staying on the X and begin a sitting duck.
Back to B-1 structure. By triangulating, placing your shoulders parallel to A's forearm at point of interception, you give yourself a strong foundation on that line of interception. The human body is designed to be strong on 90 degree angles - your center line and your shoulder line. By aligning your shoulders to A's forearm, you aim your center line at the point of interception. This gives your intercepting arm a solid foundation. You might also make sure your shoulders are perpendicular to A's forearm, so your structure is founded on your shoulder line. This would be valid but would lead to a very different expression.
The arm's structure in B-1 is important. I won't go into a lot of detail here, if you experiment you'll find which errors cause which results but if your structure is off then one of two results is likely:
- Your structure will collapse and A will hit you with your own hand, then his
- Your structure will provide a rail and A's strike will ride that rail directly to your ribs
Another thing to understand about B-1 is that the interception is NOT intended to STOP A's strike. It is NOT a block. It is a STUTTER. Your intention is to stutter his strike, not stop it. So, your interception is there and gone.
A's strike should be **on target with intent **. It should be committed. If you only stutter it and do nothing else then your arm should intercept it and vanish, causing a little hiccup in the motion of A's strike, but it should continue toward its target after that hiccup.
If you stop A's strike then you reset the timing. He gets to do something now, you've used your "beat" to reset things. Napoleon had a great quote, "Never interrupt an enemy when he's about to make a mistake." This is the essence of the stutter.
I want A's motion to continue. I just want to create a hiccup in the timing that I can take advantage of. He set the timing when he attacked, I want to steal that timing, make it my own.
The principle in play here is commonly referred to as half-beat. Motions B-1 through B-3 are one fluid, compound motion which, assuming you stutter his arm, takes place in the same amount of time, the same beat, as A's strike.
The weight shift in B-3 is an important aspect of the efficiency which makes this half-beat insertion possible. If you don't shift your weight then A's strike will clear your head but you won't be in a position to launch your return attack which means, once again, that all you've done is reset the timing. By the time you position yourself for your next attack, A is also in position to do something else.
With the weight shift in B-3, though, you position yourself in an advantageous position and move farther toward the weak area in A's structure.
This brings us to B-4 and B-5. These are, again, a single compound motion, done in the same beat.
By taking advantage of timing and position in the half-beat of B-1 through B-3, you have opened a tiny window in the overall timing. It's not much, but it's enough.
When you slap A's forearm, stuffing it into him, jam his structure, trap his arm, and fire your return attack in B-5, you're able to exploit that tiny window in the timing.
Now, within the context of the drill, your trap is relatively light. You're going slowly so A is able to find the empty in your structure, meet your return attack, and continue the drill.
At speed, though, it's very difficult for him to deal with your return attack because your trap should disrupt his axis, steal his center line, and disrupt his balance, all of which makes it very difficult for him to stabilize enough to either avoid or counter your return strike.
This is the breakdown of Angle 1 hubad as I learned it from Guru Ken in Sikal and as I teach it in AGPS. This isn't the only valid way. As I said at the outset, there are many, many variations and expressions of hubad. This is mine expression and my understanding.
The stutter is only necessary when the angle of the attack diagonal down or horizontal. It can be added on a center line strike - either an overhead vertical or an uppercut or straight thrust - there's no real need for the stutter. You can skip the B-1 component of the motion, shift your weight to the left, and bring your right arm into play to deflect the attack farther to your right.
On an Angle 1, though, it's very difficult to get to the outside of the attack, where you want to be in this drill. If you have impeccable timing, you might pull it off safely. Most of us, though, especially early in our training, don't have impeccable timing so a stutter is a useful tool to create a window we can take advantage of.
This Angle 1 explanation covers a lot of ground. It addresses Angle 1 and the basic Elbow hubad, which is also thrown on Angle 1. The same can be used for a body hook, Angle 3.
The straight line, Angle 5, whether it's a punch to the face or an uppercut, can be answered without B-1 stutter. However, on the uppercut I usually use the stutter because I'm usually thinking in terms of a knife thrust and expanding the window of my timing a little bit feels good when there's a knife involved. Technically, though, if they're coming with an Angle 5, you can skip B-1.
Angle 2 is an interesting situation. If you look at the breakdown of Angle 1 closely, you'll realize that, after B-4, A's strike is in the same basic vicinity as it would be if he were throwing an Angle 2. And, in fact, he might be throwing an Angle 2 if your timing is off a bit or you don't stuff the trap hard enough to disrupt his structure.
So, with Angle 2, you just skip right to B-4. Slap it down and return your own attack. In the case of basic Angle 2 hubad, you return an Angle 2 and he skips straight to B-4, slaps yours down and returns his.
The reason I expanded the basic hubad umbrella to include, for instance, the slap hands for straight lines material is that these expansions also focus on the same fundamentals: timing, position, placement, body mechanics, axis control, coordination, trapping, not getting trapped, etc.
One variation I've seen doesn't stutter the attack. Instead, the structure, tan sao or bong sao, yields to the attack, slowing it down and redirecting it. This accomplishes the same thing and, in fact, I use this variation too.
I teach the stutter variation first because I think it's easier. It requires less sensitivity. Ultimately, as sensitivity improves, the yielding model becomes more and more useful and can set up some very interesting options within the structure.
Once the yielding variation is ingrained, it can also serve as a backup to the stutter variation. If the stutter fails, due to poor position, placement, or structure, then the yielding method can work as a fallback to recover and regain the timing advantage.
Examples of Technique Generation
The easiest examples, and most obvious, are, of course, traps since they're integral to the basic motions and there's already a classic trap within the basic motions. B-4, in the basic motion I described, is Pak Sao Da.
If you and your partner freeze at the point between B-3 and B-4, though, you might recognize the "high reference point" used in Jun Fan/JKD and Wing Chun. From that point, all the classic traps from the JF/JKD/WC realm are possible.
If, instead of Pak Sao Da at B-4, you do Lap Sao Da, pulling them off balance and striking over their extended right arm to hit their face, then you're set up for a classic Figure 4 lock and, usually, they're trying to retract their right arm so they hand the lock to you.
Another option in that same space, use Lap Sao at B-4 but rotate their right arm as you extend it, and you quickly find a classic Arm Bar lock.
And another option, also based on the Lap Sao at B-4, you pull them forward and off balance, then step through their right leg with your right leg, effecting a Sapu Dalam sweep.
These are just a few of the possible techniques which can be generated from the basic hubad platform. The more you explore, though, the more you'll find. There are locks, sweeps, strikes, chokes, disarms (if you're using weapons) all over the place.
Working these techniques from within the hubad flow can help make your material more alive. Your training partner isn't offering you a stem to work on. S/he is still trying to continue the flow. It's not the same as resistance training but it approaches it. It's a half-step toward full resistance training.
More importantly, though, it provides a relatively controlled environment, a laboratory, for exploring various options. Once you've found an option and trained it, then you can take it into the realm of resistance training and full sparring.
While hubad is one of the most common drills in the FMA, I think it's also one of the least understood. I've met quite a few people who have discarded the drills from their training because they didn't see any value in them.
When I ask to work the drills with them, I find that they "patty cake" the motions. They don't strike on target with intent. In turn, their structure is sloppy because it doesn't have to contend with intent. When my intention meets their poor structure, it falls apart.
I've had some people get frustrated and flustered and close their minds. Others, say, "Okay. I'm missing something here."
Ultimately, though, like I told my student, if you're doing it poorly, then it's worthless. Throw it out. Find something that suits you better to work those foundational principles.
If you like hubad, though, and really want to get solid benefits from it, then work it with intention and an eye toward structure, timing, position (your position related to your partner), and placement (targeting of strikes).
This is true of all the variations and expressions of hubad. Your variations and expressions may differ from mine but if you're doing them with intent and an eye toward those foundational aspects then you'll find value in the drills.