'PAK'ING PUNCHES in to PAY-PER-VIEW
With Pencak Silat Serak® Maha Guru 'Pak' Vic de Thouars
Recently, I paid an unannounced visit to an unassumingly small martial arts studio in Bellflower, California, which is operated by the rather colorful Maha Guru 'Pak' Vic de Thouars.
As a youth, in the early years after WWII, de Thouars traveled from Java to Siam (Thailand) to be with his father and his other family members. In Siam his brothers began Silat training with his uncle. In 1946, he and his family had moved to the Netherlands then soon back again to Java. Later, in the summer of 1948, Vic de Thouars began his personal Sera martial arts training.
'Pak' Vic is now best known as a Master of the Indonesian martial art called: Pencak Silat Serak®. This still fairly exotic fighting system was originated many centuries ago in the islands of Indonesia and then later introduced to the rest of the world only within mere decades past. Since then, it has become a highly sought after martial art for many enthusiasts seeking to study more specialized self-defense systems.
After formally introducing myself to Guru de Thouars as a humble student of the Martial Arts in Los Angeles, I was finally able to persuade him to allow me a precious few moments of his valuable time to sit down and speak with him as he began stretching out his leg muscles in preparation for an upcoming class later that evening. Once seated, I glanced around his studio a bit as we both talked and noticed a video camera was neatly set up in a corner of the room. I asked him if he did a lot of filming and if he was planning on recording that evening's training session.
He then explained that he'd been airing some of his classes live via the Internet to various studios around the world on sort of a Pay-Per-View program. I found this very interesting and inquired further on the usefulness of this modern technology. He confessed that he felt broadcasting a more convenient option than having to physically travel to so many different locations to teach in person, and it also seemed to him that he could reach out easily to certain students in some the most remote areas of the planet more frequently.
'Pak' Vic had been able to set up these digital cameras and broadcast his training sessions online while a variety of participating martial arts studios paid him view the lessons using the websites E-Commerce services. Guru de Thouars claimed that he was the first he knew of to utilize web cams over the Internet to achieve real-time class participation, a method now more commonplace. 'Pak' Vic said that even though his students abroad are now able to train with him more often online, he still encourages them to periodically come and visit him in person to "touch hands".
Up until recently, Pencak Silat Serak® Maha Guru 'Pak' Vic de Thouars could be found conducting martial arts training seminars and classes in the Los Angeles area. More information on training DVD's and books by Pencak Silat Serak® Maha Guru 'Pak' Vic de Thouars can be found at: Serak.com
Pencak Silat Serak: A Historical Note of a Dynasty Lost
By Victor de Thouars
On the Island of Java, many of Silat systems can be found, especially on the Western sector of the Island of Java. One of the systems of Pencak Silat named "Serak" can be found there that is practiced in the city of Bogor.
Nearby that city, the city of Garoet can be found, where my mother was born on March 25, 1905. My grandfather Johan de Vries is the only European recorded by the Bogor Serak organization as a Serak Practitioner. What is as strange as ever, in essence that organization does not have Pak Serak as the founder of the system of Serak, and why is that?
The main reason could be, that these folks are basically the direct offspring root or "Cabang" from Mas Mustafa, the one student that Pak Serak accepted from outside his own Village circle. Normally, each village or Kampong had their own "Doekoen" or Medicine man and closed family and village rules of Adat and Hormat applied. Superstition and a regular fear of "Black Magic" or Guna can also be seen there as of today.
Because of these factors and village isolations, the record of the true founder of Serak is unknown to today's Serak practitioners in Bogor. Is there a greater example of greatness lost? The answer, yes there was.
While there is only so much information, this article is more directed in honor of Pak Serak, and not to the full and awesome historical record of Indonesia. However, some information leading up to the time of Pak Serak is covered.
The Mojopahit or now known as the "Majapahit Dynasty"(1293-1527) ruled a extremely large area, in essence, even larger then the Roman Dynasty that ruled Europe for several centuries. The Majapahit, as it is known, means of "Mojo - Maja" as fruit and "Pahit" as bitter. The main reason why the dynasty got the name is because it came into existence by much bloodshed, hence it was the growth and existence with bitter fruit.
Many years back, the Queen "Tribhuhana" was very young and her ability to rule the land was not possible. In her place, Hayam Waroek (1350 - 1398) ruled the area with great success and was marked by much conquest. His achievement is also credited to his prime minister Gadja Mada.
Even today in Indonesia, the name of Gadja Mada is more readily used, even in naming Universities and streets. A well know story, when the Dynasty came into power, their first project was to destroy a cannibal tribe that populated the area around the old city of Yayakarta, now known as Jakarta. Upon Gadja Mada's death, it took four people to rule in his absence.
In time, the Dynasty became weaker and was finally engulfed by the conquering Europeans who found the Islands an easy mark, so they plundered much of the resources the Archipelago had to offer. Especially with the ideas the old Dutch installed of "Divide and Conquer" to rule. Finally, after 350 years of European rule, the Islands gained their independence from the Dutch on August 17, 1948.
On that day when we left the "Pradjekan" sugar plantation, I can still remember my best friend whom ran behind the truck as we were leaving. The memory of my very best friend nicknamed "Blackie" being left behind was a gut wrenching event for me. Till today, I have still a very big lump in my heart...62 years plus later, to me, it is as it just happened on that day.
We left the sugar plantation on our way to Surabaya, then to Jakarta and then finally on the Italian liner the Suriento to Genoa, then with a Euro-rail ending in the Netherlands.