Author: Pendekar Hussein
If I give you a steak, you say thank you and you eat. If I give you two steaks, you say thank you, smile, then eat. If I give you three steaks, you ask me why, smile, then eat. If I give you four steaks, you get irritated, push the plate, ask me why, then refuse to eat. If I load that last fifth steak on the pile you’re about as irritated as you are right now because I’m repeating myself endlessly and it’s tiresome. This is the reality of fake martial arts. Lots of useless repetition that will ultimately irritate you and lead you nowhere even though you see loads of meat on your plate. Silat Sharaf takes a Caliphate Combatives approach to techniques by skimming the cream and serving up only what is actually tested and proven to work.
The Traditional Muslim Fighting Arts that soldiers of the Ottoman Islamic Caliphate used over the centuries was always a hybrid mixed martial arts system. There is no such thing as a “pure” Arab, Malay or Turkish system. Modern nationalist entities within the Muslim world would like to sell that idea to people but it has zero historical support. The Soldiers of the Caliphate came from all over the Muslim world and their fighting knowledge varied tremendously. Those techniques, family systems, closed arts, military experience, tribal warfare fights, whatever they had, was diffused into the greater combative curriculum of the military of the Ottoman Empire. And like most militaries of the world, principles and techniques were tested, culled and streamlined to fit the needs of the force as a whole, not individuals. Therefore, they sought out principles that could be applied to large scale combat and single-man combat. Combat techniques that were effective for a police officer and a soldier, as many times the roles crossed paths. Training methods that yielded a high output in terms of skill sets with a low investment of time and financial resources. Methods that could hone a weak-minded slave into a combat focused soldier vicious enough to face a Mongol horde in battle. In summary, the army of the Ottoman State always sought practical, high-percentage techniques and training methods. The important factors were that they were simple, violent, and in small quantity so they could be applied on the field in a short amount of time.
This Mentality is a Stark Contrast to the almost fanatical addiction that modern martial arts have with techniques and the library of drills that go with them. The insatiable desire to have hundreds and sometimes thousands of techniques and drills, most untested in real combat, is a selling point in 99% of martial arts seminars. That in itself is proof of the dysfunctional state of the majority of martial arts instructors who either don’t know or don’t care about the outcome of what they are teaching. These martial scholars for dollars are responsible for the destruction of thousands of honest students worldwide. And I dare to say, responsible for multiple deaths as well, even though we never hear about them. Seriously, look at your system and cull the crooked seals that clearly raise their head for all intelligent people to see. If you have 12 different ways to do the same thing, why are you doing it? If you need to memorize 15 different jurus for knifefighting, clearly your instructor never investigated how people are killed with knives. If you’re training for many years and still feel unconfident to protect, fight, die or kill other men when you are required to do so…something is very wrong with your training. This is the time you have to sit back and put your education through the Caliphate combatives test. Three things can quickly measure the quality of what you’re learning.
1. Extreme Violence of Action – This is not and should not be a monopoly of Silat Sharaf. If whatever you are training or teaching doesn’t incorporate acceptance of violence against people then you’re training wrong. In most modern societies where there isn’t war, people are totally unfamiliar with violence and socialized to be weak and submissive. This problem has to be untrained in order for any martial art to be effective. Military and Police do well in their training programs to get people ready for this reality psychologically, your combatives training shouldn’t be any different.
2. Strong Focus on Current Events – there is no practical use of training with a halberd if all you can carry is a tactical pen. Train with weapons that are practical for your environment and easily accessible. More people are killed with kitchen knives than Emerson tactical folders. Use what’s cheaply available and easily disposable. The last thing you want to do is waste your $300 Spyderco on a $2 asshole. If you are training or teaching and you don’t research what is happening in real combat close to you, it’s an automatic fail. Try and get ambulance ride-alongs, police ride-alongs, interview ex-convicts, speak to recovering drug addicts and social workers. These are all good places to get direct firsthand information on the street and what’s happening in it if you are not in a profession that allows direct access.
3. A Lean Battle-Focused Curriculum – I cannot emphasize how important this is. If you’re learning so much that you have trouble remembering sequences and patterns, and combinations and templates, etc, etc. Most probably you’re learning a system that’s feeding your instructor, not you. People who teach like that have to harvest students in order to get a good return. Some are very good teachers, some are excellent fighters, but at the end of the month they have to pay the bills and the cash comes from you. The longer you hang out on template number 47 struggling to execute move number 463 of the fifth set….they get paid. And you’ll be as confused as the last sentence I wrote to tell you that you have to pay to get confused. Are you confused? Get used to it.
Now for the record, I am not against paying instructors. They work and they deserve money for their work. I’m against padding curriculums to keep people around with bogus techniques and training drills that are dangerous. This shows little creativity by the instructor, disregard for students welfare, and even less understanding of how to educate people. A properly trained and qualified instructor can spin a simple principle into a small tight group of five or six techniques and drills that can be applied within minutes in real fighting. The long dead training times should be replaced with well thought out drills, scenario exercises, learning and employing strategy and tactics, ethics and morality, military history, high-percentage techniques, endless wrestling and sparring, and aggression building drills. If you cull the seals and trim your fat curriculum you’ll be expert at a few techniques and extremely violent when executing them. This is the best way to increase your chances against sophisticated, well-trained adversaries. Learn from the Ottomans who conquered country after country: keep it slim, aggressive, and focused if you want to come out on top.