Pencak Silat, Kerambit and Zaandam

The participants of Kerambit Seminar Zaandam

Joko Suseno with pesilat from Germany and the Netherlands at Kerambit Seminar in Zaandam.

Whenever Pak Joko (it’s how I call Joko Suseno, the principal master of pencak silat style Tapak Suci, who manages and trains in Tapak Suci school in Bonn and  Cologne, Germany) shares his pencak silat knowledge and skill through a seminar, convention, joined training or the like in Germany and the neighboring countries, I always ask Juan Carlos (my husband, one of the trainers in Tapak Suci Bonn, who also frequently takes part in such activities) whether I can also go with them (as an onlooker, not as a participant). The main reason why I always want to be in any pencak silat activities, where Pak Joko shares his knowledge, is to witness and observe the enthusiasm of the Europeans, who practice pencak silat and are keen on obtaining a deeper understanding of this Indonesian martial art. This enthusiasm and passion I try to capture and keep memorable through photos, videos and blog posts. And (upon asking Pak Joko whether I may tag along or not) Juan Carlos always comes with “yes, you may” as an answer :D. My latest opportunity in observing the European pesilat (a person who practices pencak silat) who eagerly learn self defense tehcniques from Pak Joko was in a kerambit seminar in Zaandam, the Netherlands (30 km northwest of Amsterdam). 

JS and JC

Joko Suseno and Juan Carlos from Tapak Suci Germany, posing with kerambit.

Among the participants, I recognized some faces, that I’ve seen in previous similar pencak silat gatherings across Germany and the Netherlands. This is also what makes Pak Joko excited and satisfied as a trainer. “There are some participants, who are very loyal. The first seminar was in Den Haag, when I’m not mistaken, and here it is the second time already. And I realize, there are some people, who always participate”, he discloses. “So, I am glad when I see familiar faces, who also show enthusiasm. That way, I enjoy the training more.” 

So, what is the story behind this kerambit seminar? To satisfy my curiosity, I interviewed Dave Brouwer, a dutch pesilat who trains the Setia Hati Kombinasi style and manages/owns De Vechtfabriek (the fight factory), where the kerambit seminar is held. In this place, people can train not only pencak silat but also other self defense styles, like kickboxing. Here is my conversation (I) with Dave (D)

(I): Do you often organize pencak silat seminar here in De Vechtfabriek?

(D): Yes, with Joko Suseno this is the second time already. Previously, I’ve invited Kang Cecep (Cecep Arif Rahman from the film The Raid 2) to train us with golok (a weapon similar to machete) and Kang Rudi from Silat Sunda Institute.

I: Alright, so there was already a seminar about kerambit in 2016. Why do you organize it again this year? 

D: Because I love Pak Joko and he is the expert in kerambit techniques. I also have a good relationship with him and glad to invite him to my home. 

I: How did you advertise this event and make people interested to come?

D: If it is seminar with Pak Joko, I don’t have to advertise. It is not that difficult to make the seminar full. Most of them were also here in the last seminar. So, I just wrote personally to the people to let them know that Joko Suseno will be in De Vechtfabriek and they respond with “ok, I come with six people..”, “I come with seven people…” and then it’s full.

I: So they were not like “ah kerambit again..? Last year there was this already?!” 

D: Maybe if it is somebody else, they would respond like that, but it is Joko Suseno, everybody was excited. 

I: I see, so it’s because of the person, because of who Pak Joko is.

D: Absolutely.

Kerambit - Zaandam

l-r: Arthur Brenkman, Joko Suseno and Dave Brouwer, welcoming the participants of Kerambit Seminar at De Vechtfabriek, Zaandam.

I: How many people are participating right now?

D: Originally we had 36 participants, but since the place is too small for 36 people, I decided, full on 26. I told my students, we have to give the opportunity to other students. If it is only us, then we can go to Bonn but since it is here, then we have to give other people from other pencak silat schools the opportunity to learn from Pak Joko. So, from my 18 students, there are 4, who are participating now. The rest is from various pencak silat schools in the Netherlands. 

I: Will you make this kerambit seminar as a regular event? Like annually?

D: I hope so, I want to do it. But it does not depend on me, it depends on Pak Joko. If he wants, he could give a seminar here every six months, but he is also busy with other seminar and stuffs. 

I: So it does not depend on people’s request?

D: No, even when there would be no participant, then I’d train alone with him. (Laughing)

I: Why did you choose kerambit to be taught here, not other weapon?

D: Joko once told me, the open-for-public kerambit seminar is only here in De Vechtfabriek. So, yeah it is special. He can do private seminar for silat school, but for public, it is only here. But I’d love to invite him, I will discuss it later, to do seminar with golok. He is not only good with kerambit but with any weapon, like golok and celurit. You gave him any weapon and he will dance with it, just beautiful.

Do you want to see how the kerambit seminar was and how Pak Joko beautifully dance with kerambit? Check this out:




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