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KunTao Silat, Martial Arts, Knife, Self Defense







Serak Camp 2003

(photo property of VDT Communications)

Hi Steve and All,

Just got home last knight.

"Steve Perry" <> wrote in message
> In article <>, Chas
> <> wrote:
> > I'm jealous.
> > I've been talking to Gartin at the Serak Camp 2003 that Pak Victor de
> > Thouars is holding in LA this week and the report is just intriguing as
> > hell.
> > It looks like he's been developing about 30 guru/practice leader people
> > the last decade or so, and they are getting the workout of their lives.
> > time will begin to finish them off as practitioners, and it is hoped
> > will develop the teaching skills from their own practice and carry it
> > to their groups to expand the technical understanding of the art.
> > There are people from Europe, all over the US- and some of them have
> > prepared other practice leaders in their own areas. Serak is about to
> > a lot more available, and it's about time.
> I'm really looking forward to Gartin's report.
> --
> Steve

Good day all,

A couple of months ago, I was informed that Pak Vic was in the terminal stage of a life-threatening illness.  Additionally, several other issues had arisen that I could be of assistance with, so Chas and I decided to sojourn to the Republic of California to accompany Pak Vic to DragonFest.  In the meanwhile, I had asked my good friend and KTS GuruMuda, Joe Judt to look up a good Chinese medical practitioner to fix Pak Vic.  He did indeed find such a person, Sifu Mark Chang . . . so the treatments began.

During our stay, Pak Vic broke out a mass of records about Pak Serak dated circa 1891 that neither Chas nor myself (nor anyone else) had ever beheld, as he expounded upon the events of the years since I lived with Pak Vic and Chas studied with him.  One of the most important of those events was the open teaching of Serak in 1994.  When I first met the de Thouars Brothers, they all expressed the intent to make Americans the best martial artists in the world; as hormat for honor of living HERE.  Unfortunately, a difference of opinion developed over the years that prevented any practitioners from learning, seeing or teaching Serak past the First Level.  Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise, since there are practitioners of the First Level that are highly respected for the finesse and effectiveness that their art expresses.

Pak Vic invited us to attend the annual Serak Camp where he planned to show Level Two and Level Three to his Pembatus, Gurus and top students.  What an honor!  I could not decline.  So we started planning to return.

One of the underlying currents that needs to be addressed is the unfortunate occurrence of my dear teacher, Willem, presenting Joe Simonet a *Serak Certificate* ostensibly qualifying him to teach Serak in the November 2003 issue of IKF.  Willem has ALWAYS confessed that he does NOT know Serak; I cannot imagine why he would participate is such an obvious fraud, but I cannot sit idly by while boldfaced lies are published in such a well-respected trade magazine.  More on this subject later . . .

Exigencies prevented Chas from joining me in the second three thousand mile pilgrimage, but Pak Vic was adamant about me arriving several days early and staying late.  Upon arrival, I began to understand.

Guru Jerry McCleary, John and Richard (the French Connection) were just launching off into a four day intensive overview of the First Level, which they allowed me to video.  Two things became immediately obvious.  The system is HUGE, but meticulously organized and documented AND Guru McCleary was well acquainted with the material and one of the finest teachers I had ever seen.  As the first four days progressed, so did my respect and admiration of Guru McCleary and my awe at the extensive detailed documentation Pak Vic had provided for his gurus to teach from.  All ten sections were posted on the Academy wall, so the magnitude of the System was soon apparent as each line item was taught and practiced.

Pak Vic and Ibu Jane took us to their favorite ocean front video spot on Thursday before the Serak Camp began to shoot the introduction for our new knife video, Blades of Thunder I (available Jan 2004).  The little shop by the beach provided our French visitors a unique taste of Southern California, date shakes were the big hit.  The filming went smoothly and I think will look really good . . . the meat of the video was shot after the Serak Camp when we were all good and tired.  See if you can tell.

The participants began arriving and I had the joy of seeing some old friends and making some new ones.  The Serak Camp 2003 began with Pak Vic's overview of the agenda for the camp and demonstrations of many things I had never seen before.  Pak Vic assured us that he had never shown anyone these things, so I didn't take it personal.  One of the things I did take personal, however, is that I mentioned that the first thing Pak Vic did when he and I moved in together was to tape a pantjar on the living room floor . . . but he never taught me what it was for.  I was the ONLY disciple who remained faithful to Willem, so - by default, I became his #1 and Pak Vic knew that I would share anything he taught me with Willem.  In light of Willem's recent disgraceful conspiracy with Simonet, I acknowledge Pak Vic's intuition in that matter.  Yet, I was a bit surprised to find that the pantjar I had seen was ONLY the first of Five levels of pantjars.  By the end of the evening, it was obvious why we were scheduled for three ten hour days without any lunch breaks . . . there was a ponderous amount of material to work through, even on the superficial level we were inspecting.

Friday morning we began with the First of the Three Structures of Serak: Mas Djut was a direct disciple of Pak Serak and was graced with a normal physical anatomy to which he adapted Pak Serak's teachings.  He was also a traveler and trained in many diverse martial arts which he brought back to his teacher.  As we progressed through this structure, it was obvious that Mas Djut was a martial genius with an eye for adaptation and incorporation. I was impressed with the *compleatness* of the Mas Djut structure and was left wondering what could possibly be next.

Saturday began the second structure: Mas Roen was also a direct disciple of Pak Serak who remained close to Pak Serak and concentrated upon understanding the STRENGTH that Pak Serak's *disabilities* gave him in terms of leverage, position and direction.  The Mas Roen structure mirror's Mas Djut in many ways because Mas Roen chose to mimic Pak Serak's anatomical attributes and apply them to a normal anatomy with all the angles, levers and bases set precisely as Pak Serak without the influence of many other systems.  It suddenly became obvious that it was critical to this Level to understand just HOW Pak Serak was different and how he applied the various principles.  I had NEVER seen any of this structure before, and Pak Vic assured us all that very few EVER had seen this Level.  Wow! and more to come. . .

Sunday dawned with an aire of expectation and the hardest part of the Camp to come:  Pak Serak was born with a short left arm and a right club foot. Today, we had to forget the priceless gift YHVH has given us in a normal body and train as though we had Pak Serak's physical attributes.  It was not difficult to understand WHY this phase is reserved for those who have passed through the Mas Djut and Mas Roen structures.  The threads running through all three structures start to become apparent as we struggled through a cursory performance of these principles on each other.  I had the honor and joy of being teamed up with Pak Vic's doctor, Sifu Mark Chang during the Serak Camp.  Sifu Chang is a very skillful practitioner of Shuai Chiao, and other CMA, so it was comforting that he shared the awe and amazement I felt as the Three Levels were woven together before our eyes.

Even though a VAST amount of material was covered, Pak Vic noted the elements that he had to bypass as too difficult or time consuming and we realized that as much as we had seen. . . there was STILL a lot more to be seen.  I'll book early for Serak Camp 2004.  Everyone had the opportunity to demonstrate what they had learned and speak of their experience before the official closing of the Serak Camp.

Then Guru McCleary, Pak Vic and myself - with the able assistance of our French Connection (John & Richard) filmed the Blades of Thunder I video.  I think this one is going to be a classic!

Monday, Pak Vic, Ibu Jane and I laid out the business plan for the Sangat Knife Company, drafted our first seven designs and I'm now making arrangements for manufacture.  Pak Vic has over two dozen designs specific for Serak.  Blades of Thunder I will be the first time that this fighting style will be seen by the public . . . it IS different.

During the Serak Camp many of Pak Vic's people commented on his return from the gates of Death and we all expressed our gratitude and appreciation for Sifu Mark Chang's good work on Pak Vic.  He is getting stronger every day, praise YHVH.

There is lot more to tell, but I'm dog tired and way behind on everything I deserted to go to California . . . so until later . . .

Steve Gartin


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