Silat Kalam, Silat Tomi, and Kyokushin Karate
Because the art is so closely tied to religion, I also receive daily lessons in the religion and language of the Muslim people of Malaysia. I feel extremely honored and lucky because not many westerners have had an opportunity to be so closely associated with this important world religion which plays so deeply on our foreign relations.
Guru Mazlan hopes that we will be doing a series for Malaysian TV about my training with him. After that, in addition to working as an instructor here he hopes that I can spread the art outside of Malaysia. “Send it to the world.” He said. “You will spread the teaching, either through your direct teaching or through your videos and books.”
In doing Martial arts Odyssey, I travel from place to place, meeting different masters. Some I film with and interview. Others, I actually stay and study with. The brand new styles that I have added to my own repertoire during these many years include: Khmer Boxing, Bokator, Kuntaw, and Muay Chaiya. But now I have added Silat Tomoi, Silat Kalam, and Kyokushin Karate to my list of arts I am actually studying and hope to absorb.
On the Malaysian Island of Penang, I met with Grand Master Anbananthan, a teacher of the Indian martial art of Silambam. Silambam is an Indian stick fighting art, which has nearly died out in India. In all of the research I have done, every source has credited Grand Master Anbananthan and his team in Penang as having preserved the art. The Grand Master returned to India recently and said that the Silambam he saw practiced there was no longer pure, it had become influenced by other martial arts and possibly movies.
Silambam is a very unique form of stick fighting in that the stick is an odd length. In most other martial arts, you use a long stick, such as a staff, which is close to the height of a man. The stick is held in three sections and is wielded with two hands. Or you use two short sticks, one in each hand. But the Silambam stick is shorter than a staff but much longer than two short sticks. It is also wielded with two hands, but normally the two hands are close together and you swing the length of the stick at your opponent. The practice is all about learning to control and direct the stick on these huge, lightning fast swings.
Finally, on this trip, we visited Kyokushin Karate and I immediately added it to the list of martial arts I am now practicing. My first exposure to Kyokushin came from my Khmer boxing trainer, Paddy Carson, who is a Second Dan or second degree black belt in Kyokushin. Paddy loves western boxing and had been involved in professional western boxing as well as kick boxing, Muay Thai and Khmer Boxing for more than forty years, but he always spoke with love about the ten or more years he was involved in Kyokushin.
Kyokushin is full contact karate. They fight barefisted and they kick with their shins, like Muay Thai. The only thing they can’t do in a fight is punch in the face, but they can kick in the face, and they wail on each other’s bodies with punches, knees and kicks. The founder of Kyokushin is Mas Oyama, who is on my list of top five greatest martial artists who ever lived. His personal training regime was insane and I never tire of reading biographies about him.
In Malaysia the primary Kyokushin school is located in Selangor, minutes from my apartment, and is run by Shihan Michael Ding. Before we began training, I watched Michael doing his conditioning work. He was pounding a bamboo post with his shins and fists to harden the bones and toughen the skin.
In my training with Shihan Michael and a senior student named Chris Tan, I was asked to do countless knuckle pushups on the hard, wooden floor. I say “asked” because I only managed about fifty, when I thought my knuckle bones would come through my skin. After that, we did a number of painful drills, including drills where you stand still and let someone kick you and punch you. Then you switch, and your partner stands still and you kick and punch him.
It was brutal, wonderful, and tough. I loved Kyokushin and now I am making arrangements with Shihan Michael so I can train on a regular basis while I am in Malaysia.
I took an apartment in Selangor, right behind Kru Jak’s club so I can train everyday and also so I can attend practice for the DVD filming. The apartment is near the train, so I can go see Guru Mazlan each day. Hopefully we will find an acceptable way to work Kyokushin training into the routine. And, of course, I continue to do Martial Arts Odyssey episodes about other martial arts.
Antonio now has a paypal account. The only way he can keep filming and writing is with the help and support of people who enjoy reading his stories and watching his videos. You can donate through Antonio’s facebook profile, or you can click on this link and donate directly. If you can help, thank you so much. If you can’t help, don’t worry about it. I know things are tough out there. But, either way, please keep watching and enjoying Martial Arts Odyssey. I never wanted this to become a huge business, and I wanted everyone in the world to be able to watch for free.