DLP Review DVD 1

on: April 19, 2012, 03:26:45 PM

So I finally went to the first DVD (third in my queue for the DLP list). I enjoy the basics. Basics are the foundation of an art, and the most utilized techniques. The basics BUILD the body mechanics.


And boy, did Maha Guru Gartin do a great job. He created an amazing sequence here that has me chomping at the bit to begin practicing. Call it what you may...isometrics, stretching, training, squat variations, throws, silk reeling, bone marrow transforming, chi gung / circulation...its all of these and more.


You see, when I started to have limited time to practice my arts, my super strong legs (and they WERE strong) lost a LOT of muscle mass. And that resulted in poorer health quality and quality of life. Its bound to happen. The legs are your SECOND circulatory pump. Your legs help your heart in pumping blood from the furtherest reaches of your body (your feet/legs) back to where its easier for your heart to pump it. If you have weak legs, you have a weaker metabolism, and a heart that's doing double-duty. Honestly, this was another one of the reasons I came to AKTS. You watch those postures, stances, and movements, and it shows strong leg training.


Well these leg exercises (with hand movements) done on the luru (line) and tiga (triangle) are the bees knees. They remind me of similar exercises I've done in Bagua and Silat, but there's also some Shaolin (something I have never done) in there too. Its a very systematic sequence that is bound to increase circulation, strength, and health. Oh yeah, and these are your key movements for the techniques of AKTS too. STRONG foundational techniques. High percentage stuff (like most of AKTS).


You get to see these techniques done multiple times, by multiple different folks. You see variations, and personal enhancements made by the practitioners. And it can accomodate most folks. My legs aren't strong enough yet. So I'll choose those I can work on now until I gain strength. Then I'll tackle the others. This screams to me "Morning Workout". Do it slow for meditative / chi practice / strength building. Do it fast for cardio and combative practice.

And near the beginning you get to see Maha Guru Gartin using the technique against scenarios which you're likely to encounter (relatively speaking). A person trying to strangle you, someone cold-cocking you in a bar, etc. You see the movements illustrated against a variety of scenarios.


So far? Its my favorite DVD of a series composed of favorites. But I'm a sucker for progression and basics. Alot of curriculums taught aren't organized very well. Its piece-meal, and doesn't fit cohesively. This does. It has the Silat, Taoist, and Shaolin training working in a unified structure.


Can't wait to watch more...



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DLP DVD #2 Review - Forms

on: April 20, 2012, 07:32:38 PM

I'm a big fan of forms. When I think about the more complicated systems I studied, that did NOT use forms from years ago, I forget a lot of what I learned. Its just hard to remember, and even looking back on old notes, its hard to remember what I meant by my shorthand at the time. That's where forms come in.


Committing a form to memory is a wonderful way to ingrain an encyclopedia of movement. Its easy to remember things because you have an associated anchor movement that links to techniques.


The myriad of options each movement contains in AKTS and Serak provide a lifetime worth of study.


That's where this DVD comes in. It contains the Warm-ups, Djuru Satu, Langka Dua, Langka Monjet, Pai Yun, and Ling Sing Toi. These are performed by Maha Guru Gartin, Uncle Bill (for Dua), and Guru Ted Garcia (I'm bad with names, so if I made a mistake on them, my apologies).


Wow. Having done Serak, it was interesting for me to see similar movements, but even more critically was seeing the movements that aren't contained within Serak. It was also an additional layer of complexity to see the different attitudes the forms have, which can be layered over each other. This is a treasure trove of information that I can't wait to mine. I had to watch the forms twice...once for enjoyment, and once more to imagine it with the blade or stick. Great stuff.


The video contains the forms, and doesn't go into much explanation into the movements. This can either be found in the other DVD's, or can be focused on in their specialized parent DVD (The Djuru Satu DVD, Langka Dua DVD, etc). There's just simply too much information to be fit into an hour and 4 minute video. How nice to have the key components of those videos parsed into this easy to view summary. Some of the forms videos are shown in slow motion during a second run, so you can see the actual movements being performed. This is going to require me to sit down with pencil and paper and mark everything down. Lotsa study material here.


Said before, and I'll say it again...can't wait to watch the next video. Great stuff. More importantly, can't wait to study and learn this.



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DLP DVD #3 and #4 Reviews - Solo and Partner Practice

on: April 21, 2012, 05:28:54 PM

The Solo Practice DVD covers a lot of the Kembangan. Dance. Although there are Kembangan clips throughout the DVD's, and some footage is duplicated, I don't see this as an issue. The other DVD's would have been lessened without the logical linking to the freestyle forms. This is the consolidation of clips, plus some new clips as well. Thinking of the DLP program like a spider's web, there has to be overlap in order to strengthen each strand. The Forms DVD would be weaker without seeing the movements done in freestyle ala kembangan. Likewise, its important to see things divided up into logical groups and having all resources on a subject in one place. This Kembangan DVD, more importantly, includes a nice dual bladed kembangan by Maha Guru Steve, which is worth noting. As I said, in prior reviews, as a freestyle method (akin to Carenza in Kali/Escrima/Arnis, shadowboxing, etc), it is an opportunity to let practiced and regimented movement from the forms flow freely, to create new links and sequences, and to experiment with altering movement variables (i.e.: making movements larger or smaller, reversing movements, interrupting a single move to flow into a different one). This makes a fantastic resource, letting you see how the masters move freely, and which movements they choose to do. Great resource.


The Partner Practice DVD shows multiple different partner drills. In order to learn how to fight, there needs to be a progression. Solo practice without equipment, solo practice with equipment (mook jong, heavy bag, rattan circle, etc), cooperative partner practice, non-cooperative partner practice, and then to sparring. Sparring still doesn't duplicate a fight, but its close. The problem is with sparring, certain moves need to be completely eliminated. There's not enough control in a chaotic environment like that to use high-percentage, dangerous movements. Furthermore, injury from very hard sparring will side-line training as injuries occur (I'm still harboring a few nagging injuries from sparring years ago). As you get older, injuring yourself becomes less appealing. This DVD features sticky hands drills (training sensitivity or "listening energy"), stick hand drills with knives (OH YEAH!), "Monkey Foot Drills" similar to "Nempel Khaki" or sticky feet, and then spontaneous cooperative partner drills. It focuses on spontaneity, and being able to "flow" with the chaotic variable changes in a fight scenario. What a great and logical progression from the solo practice.


This is how you get good. Find movements, master the movements, make them your own, and then learn the attributes required to use them in a non-controlled environment through an escalating scale of difficulty. I must admit to being jealous of seeing the partner practice. I hope to be able to find good people like the folks in the video, to train with locally to accelerate my growth.

A+ and A+.



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DLP DVD #5 - Fireside Chat

on: April 19, 2012, 12:44:48 AM

A lot of history and discussion of the art and how to progress through to Guru Muda. Great stuff. 2 hours worth of video spanning decades, featuring a TON of forms, applications, and demos by Maha Guru Gartin's peers, as well as his own son.


There was so much info in this DVD, it is a deal to purchase.


Now I think I stated my purpose in watching the DLP DVD's right now is to enjoy them and get familiar with them, before in-depth study, note-taking, and practice. Sorta like reading the Cliff Notes before reading the book, to see what areas/points require a lot of focus. Hard to do when the information in these videos are so dense.


Maha Guru Gartin does a lot of LONG kembangans in this video...empty handed, with keris, and with a machetes. To me, this is gold. Kembangan is your free-form expression. What do you think comes out of that, when you're "flowing"? From personal experience, unless I make it a POINT, its not the stuff I never practice. You ain't gonna see the Roger Rabbit or Robot when I do kembangan. Don't know them. You will see the forms I practiced though. That's where the magic is in these clips. Some folks may only see a lot of waving hands. I see the parts of the forms and training movements he practiced THE MOST. Are they repeated? Then he practiced those moves a LOT. Which means that someone who's been doing this for almost as long as I've been alive, has found a LOT of value in them. I'll never be able to memorize all of the forms in the AKTS catalog, but if I see its strongest proponent showing me what he practices and does the most, well that's darn good advice.


Same with when he takes to the blades and does his Kembangan. What are the angles of attack that he uses? What levels are the slashes at? Where is the thrust? Which moves show similarity in his empty handed kembangan? Vice-versa too? What were the deltas? Gold.


As a father with a child ABOUT the age of Maha Guru Gartin's when these videos were taken, it is pure joy to see the arts executed with some passion and enthusiasm from the young. I gotta start learning this stuff so I can teach my son.


You're also treated to expert peers of Maha Guru's doing Monkey and Mantis, with forms and applications a plenty.

I'm cutting this review SHORT, because I have so many more videos in the DLP to watch. But this has plenty of info, and probably a VERY good portion of the AKTS curriculum to boot (speaking as an uninitiated person). It would take chapters to do this video justice in an honest review. But suffice it to say, I enjoyed it very much. A+ again.



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DLP DVD #6 - Constant Training

on: April 23, 2012, 02:28:27 AM

When you study a system, what makes it really excel or not comes down to 2 main things:

1) The time you invest

2) Your teacher

A good teacher can turn a so-so system into something highly effective by weaponizing overly stylized movements. Likewise, a bad teacher can destroy a system by showing unrealistic movements and training methods. I've seen people invest decades in a system, that couldn't fight their way out of a paper bag. I've also been honored to have teachers who have completely opened my eyes to new possibilities and revolutionize what I had previously learned.

That's what this DVD is. A chat from the master of the system (Maha Guru Steve), with his insights into the art for the first 50 minutes, and then repeat clips of the various training options for the next 60, to get you going.

Perhaps even more importantly, for students who cannot train with him in person, is the benefit of inspiration.


Training alone for awhile may get old. We live in a society with SOOOO many distractions. SOOOOO many things to do. Its a luxury of being a part of such a wonderful country. Occasionally, training may get pushed off. This DVD really inspires you to go and train. It really stresses what a treasure the system is, and how important it is to make it something that is part of your reactive muscle-memory. And its told with the trademark good humor of its master.

Knowing a movement isn't enough. When I toss a ball to you, you'll catch it without thinking. In a second, you recognize the angle of acceleration, the trajectory of the de-acceleration, approximate speed in 3D space, and are able to casually put your hand where the ball is going with only the slightest of micro adjustments as new information is processed. It takes >NO< conscious thought, because its something that's been done SO often in your life, its automatic. Likewise, fighting reflexes must be. Knowing something intellectually takes too long to process. He shifts his body weight, I react. I can't depend on he shifts his body weight, I see a punch chamber, he steps forward and launches the punch, I calculate the angle and speed of the fist, and position my hands to either cover or cut the angle while simultaneously stepping out of the way of the incoming fist....nope. POW, I got hit. He moves, you react. It should be autonomous like catching a ball. And that only comes out of practice. Out of doing a set of movements thousands of times, and being mindful of them. Out of training over and over. With a partner. Without a partner.

And there's the beauty of this system. Its portable. Everything you need, anywhere. Got partners? Great. Solo? Great. Equipment? Great. No equipment? Great. Sitting? Sure, hand movements can be trained. Walking through a crowd at the mall? Sure, work footwork, angling, and distancing. Flexible. Scalable. Portable. And with this DVD, inspirational. Makes me wanna train immediately. Infact, I think I'll go over what I remember from the Basic Training right now.



Pasted from <http://kuntaosilat.org/forum/index.php?topic=223.0>


Starting review of DLP beginning with DVD #...7?

on: April 17, 2012, 12:54:27 AM

I'm smack dab in middle aged life. Love it. Nothing greater than family, children, and work. But multiple responsibilities tend to carve into an ability to isolate a regular amount of free time. Work deadlines, family necessities, etc tend to make attending a class regularly very difficult. With my background in Silat, and specific study into body mechanics utilized in internal arts, cane (stick) work, and study of knife defense, imagine my gob-smacked happy grin when I found the AKTS distance learning program. An entire curriculum for a very low price, that covers internal mechanics, silat (and the style I studied no less), the blade, and Kuntao to boot! Goodness gracious, I was a happy camper. I was sold there. Then I saw the progression of the DVD's. This is exactly how you must learn:

1) Isolation exercises...the foundation that is used to make you good. Straight up silk reeling, drills, shadow-boxing, etc.

2) Solo Practice - Forms. A library of material so as to ingrain proper mechanics and to have the encyclopedia of movements within your system. This in itself is easily a lifetime of practice. How is this form with a blade? A stick? What if I isolate the pulling motions? The pushing motions? Internal mechanics? External mechanics? What if I isolate just the elbows from every form? How about thrusts? How about throws?

3) Kembangan. Shadow boxing. Your expression of what you learned. Your combos and movement to explore your work.

4) Two partner drills. This is how you get better. Cooperative drills, that scale up the spectrum to non-cooperative. Learn the "tells". Minimize your tells. Get used to punches flying at you. Learn to trust your art. Learn distancing, timing, etc.

5) Practice Groups - This is how you isolate what works. Your creation of drills to work with the students will allow you to ingrain even deeper, what your partner drills will teach you. I taught for a number of years. If done correctly, your abilities will grow commensurate with the time you invest.


"But you can't learn from videos!"


Really? Visually seeing something, and having it explained to you, with a progression on how to practice it with partners, and a resource like this board to ask questions, and you can't progress? Folks, this is more than college has going for it. Do a form. Video yourself. Watch yourself side-by-side with the video. How do you look? Having trouble with a technique? Slap it up on youtube and ask a Guru for advice. Or ask the folks on this board. Or practice it some more and explore. Or visit a Guru or go to a seminar for a tune-up. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of schools have TOO many people to correct and isolate individual mechanics. Or its in their financial vested interest, to let you struggle with it so they can make rent on the studio. Or the teacher is petty and doesn't want you to accelerate. Or the teacher wants you to figure it out on your own anyway since they had to struggle with it. Or the teacher doesn't care. Or the teacher shows the techniques to his senior students, and you learn from them as they figure out the technique for themselves. Folks, it comes down to time invested, and a well-laid path, and this DLP has it. A logical progression with all the pieces to the puzzle. I can't wait to see more.


Here it is. An entire system laid out. Wow. This is my chance to look at each video quickly and get an overview of the entire curriculum. Then I start at square one. So being a logical person, what did I do with this? First, I put them onto my iPad so I can study the videos and take notes. I want to learn it. And so I did the logical thing. I skipped to the part that interested me the most (instead of starting with the beginning like I should have)...square one comes NEXT round.


I jumped to the Serak DVD #7. Wow. Let me say something arrogant first. "I was very pleased to see that Guru Chas said a lot of what I believed about the system of Serak". Its easy to say with a straight face, because his POSTS on it shaped my understanding of it, years ago. He and Sigung Gartin were the major resource out on the net that spoke of the history, background, purpose, and specifics of the art, openly. This provided me with a giant "cheat sheet" when I'd go into class, and really accelerated my knowledge and learning of the art. And this DVD gives you the keys to the kingdom. A quick synopsis of the forms from Guru Chas through 8, with his incredible depth of understanding and explanation. The guy is an encyclopedia on these arts, and he gave me new insights into these forms. But here's the nifty part.

You get to see 18 Serak Djurus from (I believe) Paul's Lineage. Then you see what I believe are 18 Tongkat djurus from Victor, and then Victor's 18 Battle Djurus (his expression of the Serak djurus with a Pukulan emphasis). You also get to see "Monkey Foot", which some called "Nempel Khaki" (or Sticky Feet), and body sticking exercise for the feet. Multiple flavors of the art, done by multiple people. This is a true treasure.


And boy is the sequence just great! Guru Chas' explanation showing people to look beyond the Pukulan (striking) and see the throws and MYRIAD of options available really whets the appetite when you see the later forms. "Oh man, what can I do with that?" Makes you wanna go find your favorite Murid Mati (training partner) and really explore.

Now all flavors of Serak are great, and slightly different. I speak only of the US and European versions, as I hear its done rather differently in Indonesia. But our versions (from the Dutch Indos) has a grouping of forms (18), and an emphasis on the triangle. Aside from that, different lineages/branches have different curriculums (and last I counted there were at least 7 of them). Each lineage will interpret moves differently, have different stick work, etc. But the >CORE< is the 18 forms, which are discernible by at least the gross motor movements. And you get it, right here, in one tape. I wish I would have had this resource years ago. Don't let the differences of the lineages bug you. Look at boxing. You have point fighters, and folks looking for the knock out. You have counter-fighters, chargers, anglers, and runners. You have power hitters. And you'll have different mixtures of everything I said. And even then, they'll have a unique flavor. Its all boxing. To dismiss the efficacy of boxing because Mike Tyson fights differently than Ali or Sugar Ray would indicate a set of priorities that I don't understand. At the end of the day, can you fight with it?

Now just to put forth a few thoughts...


1) Most folks group a few djurus on a single video for about 40 bucks each. So maybe 3 per video would equate to 6x40 or $240 dollars to get a nice record of all 18 djurus. <ahem>. This was all on 1 DVD (out of 8...) for $200. Folks, it don't get better than that.


2) The video was DENSE. Rather than 6 or 8 moves done 4 or 5 times (slow motion, regular motion, middle speed, etc. etc.), this had a lot of material. Guru Chas's 8, another Guru's 18, what I believe were Tongkat's 18, and the 18 Battle Djurus. My oh my. >AND< they had their students do Djuru Satu. So you get to compare the Kuntao expression of some of the movements, and see the parallels and differences, by different people with different body types and capabilities.


The video is not a Hollywood Production. Its put out by people with a love for the art, who have a greater investment in seeing the art spread, than in making money. The material is visible, the audio is understandable, and its a DVD that allows you to go over each section at your own pace. For people like me, its also a treasured glimpse into the history of the art and seeing its expression from different perspectives. The footage is culled from over a decade's worth of video, and probably more than 2-3 decades in the entire series. A personal history lesson, seeing the folks in the prime of their youth (no grey), and in the prime of their mastery (grey...). Gives hope to a middle aged codger like me.


This get's a giant A+ from me. I'll be going through the other videos and hopefully posting reviews as I go along, so I do hope to have a quick summary of these videos up eventually. But what a great resource. I can't wait to see what else they have in store.


If I mistake titles or spelling, forgive me. I don't have a lot of time, but I do enjoy this stuff a lot and wanted to share my perspective. I'm sure I sound biased. But here's the thing. I >CHOSE< to come here based on the art and skills of the teachers, resources, and the DLP. >OF COURSE< I'd like it. I knew what I was getting. So if you're on the fence, consider what I say and see if it makes sense and seems logical. If not, call me on it. I'll be glad to elaborate. I'm sure you've been able to figure out by my posts so far that I just love yammering' away.