Start into the Sifat heaven

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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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