An invitation to teach and share at the Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts
My martial art study has been anchored around the teachings of Guro Dan Inosanto. It has been this way for me because, he is the person that Bruce Lee named to carry on the teaching of Jeet Kune Do, its movements, concepts and philosophy. I suppose I was originally attracted to the philosophy of Bruce Lee, it fit me well and gave me the freedom and framework to study martial arts in the way that I wanted to, exploring teachings of warrior-ship, in the search of myself. Over time, I found that I was hungry for knowledge, needing to widen my base of understanding and no one has more curriculum from more sources than Guro Dan. I find now that I follow Guro Dan because he is a man of his word. He exemplifies the attitudes and the philosophies that he teaches, and I can’t imagine a better role model as I move toward my fifth decade of life as a martial artist.
If you have been following my posts and writings you will have seen that for the past three years, while I have continued with all my other training, I have been obsessing over Silat. For me, it has been the toughest to master, of all the training available to me through the Inosanto Academy. For years I had been looking for Silat teachers available locally to augment my training, and they where simply, no where to be found. So I turned to Youtube to further my understanding of the ‘Beautiful Art’.
Maul Mornie stands out like no one else when it comes to his teachings of Silat and Kuntau. Over the past decade Maul Mornie has gone from having a small cadre of students working with him in his university flat, to heading up an international training group dedicated to learning from his teachings. More impressively, he has generated this following, offering up nothing but his willingness to share the art. Maul does not sell online memberships, videos or certifications. In fact the only thing that you stand to gain in training with Maul Mornie, is top notch instruction,
and a wonderful community of friends from around the planet. When I first saw his videos, I immediately called up his organization and inquired about hosting a seminar. The response was awesome, “We don’t know you. Why don’t you come and train with us first.” I was hooked immediately, partly it was Maul’s precise and unique movement, the rest was the sheer integrity of that response.
I have trained with Maul many times now, travelling to meet the training groups in and around the US, in Italy and next month in Brunei. I’ve met amazing people from all over the world as a result, SSBD seminars regularly attract established martial arts instructors and tactical professionals. One thing about training with Maul is his attitude to cross training, he once told me that it is a part of the culture of Silat, that following their training, the student will go on a warriors journey, a Merantau, and learn from many teachers and many styles, in order to fully discover themselves and their own art. It is incredibly refreshing to go to a seminar where the teacher asks you, “Have your trained with Alvin from Open Circle? What about Nadir Singh? Oh! Have you met Alexander Pisarskin? Did you get a chance to train with ……”, always with a sense of excitement and appreciation. I only get that with such zeal in one other place , and that is at the Inosanto Academy, where all of the students seem to share the love of training with any and all of the great teachers they can get time in with.
It was incredible to be included on a mail to the SSBD group leaders where Maul was absolutely thrilled to have been invited to the Inosanto Academy, to present the Bruneian Cultural Martial Arts, Kuntau and Silat. I was so excited that it had happened, and while I was in no position to afford it, I found my way down to California to be there for the event.
It was an awesome trip. On the Thursday I had a the morning and early evening to train with my fellow students at the Inosanto Academy. We spent the morning with Guro working on FMA drills, some of which I had never seen. Always a highlight. I met up with Eric, Gene and Jose of the SSBD group for lunch, sharing laughs and stories through the afternoon. Then we got back in time for some Muay Thai with Guro, before the evening was handed off to Maul. Dan rounded Maul’s introduction with a quick historical reference, indicating Brunei as another people (other than the southern Philippines), who repelled Spanish Conquest in the days where Spain was the worlds super power. He also noted that he held the opinion that SSBD silat is one of the best systems of silat being practiced today and he gave similar kudos to Maul and his level of skill in the art.
I could see that Maul was nervous, but being the very social and integral person he is, he opened with thank you’s and respects to the Academy, Guro Dan and Paula Inosanto. I was very impressed with the way he had presented his lesson plan. The context and the introductory drills painted a cultural picture of martial application in historical Brunei. The progression of drills, applications and of course Mauls masterful physical presentation of the material had the crowd oohing and aaahing all evening. Dan had a huge smile on his face the whole night. At one point in the evening I took a moment to ask Guro Dan how he was enjoying the seminar. He was very complimentary and also somewhat nostalgic as he compared Maul to some of his great Silat instructors, notably, John de Jong and Herman Serwanda, both of whom Guro has great regard for.
And it wasn’t just Guro Dan that was loving it, there were several very notable attendees, as there always are at the IAMA. This is one of the main reasons that the academy has to be so strict about the no filming or photographing rule at the academy, as many of the famous instructors, stunt people and fight coordinators in attendance cannot have their names and images made use of outside of a professional context. So I just tell you, some very cool people, they were there. I’d love to list their names…but out of respect, I’m not going to.
Also in attendance was Guro Mark ‘Crafty Dog’ Denny, a long time fan of Silat. In fact parts of the the DBMA Martial Arts Curriculum, is influenced by his trainings in the art of Silat. Marc was also alternately focused or smiling and laughing throughout the evening, enjoying the demos and intently watching the training. As always the seminar was seamlessly progressed from the basics to dynamic and exciting applications, this thanks in part to Eric Olea, who seems to be able to take all manner of hits and falls without permanent injury. Eric’s presence always ensures that Maul can present Silat Suffian Bela Diri to its full potential. Pretty much everyone was able to put the moves together by the end of the night. Maul is just that good at organizing the material, something I get real excited about as a teacher. It is just so much fun to go to a seminar where the basic material builds directly into the advanced material, because we to get to feel and understand it.
The seminar ended later in the night than planned, everyone was having a great time and wanted to just keep it going. There there were group photos and thank you’s all around from Maul to Guro Dan and Paula Inosanto, with a special thanks to Conrad Cayman for organizing the event, and of course thank you to Carlo Andreis for starting the snowball effect that propelled the first SSBD seminars in Italy, to the world wide phenomena they have become.
The Inosanto Academy presented Maul with a plaque and a personal letter offering their thanks for his generosity in sharing his art with them. It was obvious by the way he handled the gift that Maul was deeply moved to receive it.
For myself, I was so thrilled to be there. I got to see three of my martial families come together and appreciate one another. The Inosanto Academy, the SSBD training groups and the guiding force of the Dog Brothers all in one place, training, chatting, and embracing in friendly appreciation for the opportunity to share. Many of us stayed together for dinner, as is generally the case with Maul and the SSBD community. It was midnight by the time we all left the restaurant for our homes and hotels.
The next day was full with turning about LA and Hollywood, Maul always likes to make the most of his travels, and there is generally a cadre of folks that chase around with him, taking in the sights as he masters the arts of tourist photography. I am just so jazzed to have been there. The seminar, the touring around, the dinners and then the seminar on the weekend it was all amazing. I got to hang out a bit with Sean Barrows who organizes the seminars in Orange County, such a chill guy, great story teller and just another example of how Maul draws together great people who have this one thing in common, they just want to train great martial arts. I cant wait to see em all again.
So you see, I broke the bank for this trip, I feel it was and will be an important event in martial history. In a lot of ways, I think Maul is doing for Silat and Malay martial arts, what Guro Dan did for Filipino martial arts and the Philippines. Through their own excellence these men have captured the interest and regard of the world, and because they do not forget the principals and philosophies that have brought them to this moment in time, they pass that interest forward to the greater community of martial arts instructors, revealing the great cultures that underpin their arts.
I am proud to have been present, proud to be a member of both communities when they met and I am humbled to be among the greats, to train and break bread with them and their communities.
Congratulations Maul, you earned a great acknowledgement and you bear it with respectable humility.