Start into the Sifat heaven

It’s ama­zing how time flies. Almost exac­t­ly one year ago I could lure Sifu Olaf Bock to Kal­le­tal for the first time. And now he’s come back, a slight­ly delay­ed San­ta Claus, so to speak. Well, the beard fits half­way! 🙂

Again it was about the Kata, which are the soul of a mar­ti­al art, as Olaf empha­si­zes. This time the Sifat were on the pro­gram. And for a very spe­ci­fic rea­son. A good one and a half year ago I star­ted trai­ning with Olaf, sin­ce then I com­mu­te mon­th­ly to far away Betz­dorf for his squad trai­nings. I have lear­ned a lot in that time, prac­ticed a lot, swea­ted a lot and had a lot of fun. And I have asked mys­elf more and more how I should teach our “old” Kata with con­vic­tion, when I have come to the insight that the true mea­ning of Shao­lin Kem­po is hid­den in the “new” Kata?

Some of my black and brown belts accom­pa­nied me from time to time to Olaf. And tog­e­ther we came to the con­clu­si­on: We fol­low the tea­chings of my tea­cher in our troop as well. And we imme­dia­te­ly start with the thi­c­kest board, name­ly the Sifat or stu­dent forms.

What does Sifat mean?

Sifat is an Indo­ne­si­an term and can be trans­la­ted with “cha­rac­te­ris­tic”, but also with “soul” and “essence”. Which is exac­t­ly fit­ting, becau­se the Sifat are an essen­ti­al basis: the essence of Shao­lin Kem­po. In Shao­lin Kem­po 6 Sifat are known. But accord­ing to Olaf they are actual­ly all tog­e­ther one form. But to be able to teach them bet­ter, they were divi­ded into 6 parts. Olaf has been tea­ching them unch­an­ged for more than 30 years and traces their deve­lop­ment back to the short time Gerald Mei­jers and Carel Faul­ha­ber spent tog­e­ther in the 1960s. And if you goog­le Kun­tao Mat­jan, the ori­gi­nal Indo­ne­si­an fami­ly style of Paat­je Faul­ha­ber, you will find clear simi­la­ri­ties.

The goal was to go through the Sifat tog­e­ther with my stu­dents, to stu­dy details and to ana­ly­ze the con­tents tog­e­ther with Olaf’s know­ledge — in other words, to do detail­ed work. Then they should move on to our tea­ching and tes­ting pro­gram. So let’s get to the first Sifat, also cal­led Sifat Pert­a­ma (Pert­a­ma is the Indo­ne­si­an nume­ral for one). Lif­ting and lowe­ring, tur­ning and swin­ging, weight shif­ting and foot posi­ti­on — for some of my stu­dents the torment of the last mon­ths made sen­se. Becau­se I had of cour­se done some preli­mi­na­ry work and taught the basics of the new stands, the deeper evas­i­ve move­ments and chan­ged sta­tics. Which did not always meet with appro­val. 🙂

Turn 6 into 1

But now the basic work made sen­se. Becau­se Olaf Bock is a fasci­na­ting tea­cher who, with his calm and deter­mi­ned man­ner, never lets anyo­ne “get off the hook” and has an eye for every detail and, above all, a hel­pful and fri­end­ly word for every stu­dent. This has made a big impres­si­on on my young juni­or Kem­po­ka in par­ti­cu­lar. Much to my delight. After all, St. Nicho­las gifts are all the more beau­ti­ful when you can sha­re them! 🙂

Near­ly four hours and count­less Sifat runs later ever­yo­ne was shaking their kne­es, bur­ning their thighs and cram­ping their shoul­der mus­cles. Again and again the sin­gle kata, always fol­lo­wed by all in one. All held out bril­li­ant­ly. And at the very end we could proud­ly announ­ce that from now on we will teach the Sifat, as taught by Cor Brug­man and unch­an­ged for more than 30 years by Olaf Bock, in the Kal­le­tal:

Sifat Pert­a­ma
Sifat Kedua
Sifat Keti­ga
Sifat Keem­pat
Sifat Keli­ma
Sifat Keenam

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