Magick and Lineage in Indonesian Martial Arts: An Interview with Guru Besar Marce De Thouars

Below is an interview with Guru Besar Marce De Thouars, son of the legendary Pendekar (Grandmaster) Paul De Thouars, head of the De Thouars Serak and Bukti Negara systems of Indonesian Pentjak Silat. Guru Marce is the only one of the senior master instructors under Pendekar Paul to teach both systems, Serak and Bukti Negara, as an integrated whole.

The interview was conducted by Manuel F. Nuñez — a student of the martial art and of esotericism — the interview looks at the nature, development, and magical or occult forces of the art — the latter being rarely mentioned in public.

Manuel F. Nuñez: Guru Marce, you are your father’s inheritor of both the family art of Pentjak Silat Serak and the shorter sub-­system that was created by your father (Pendekar Paul De Thouars), Pentjak Silat Bukti Negara. There are a few lineages of Silat Serak (or Sera as it was originally spelled) that hail from Java, Indonesia. Although this has been covered in other publications, for the readers of Phalanx, what is your family’s lineage of Pentjak Silat Serak? From where and from whom is it derived?

Guru Marce: The founders were from Surabaya, I believe, in Indonesia. It came from Mas Djut and Bapak Sera, for our system, Pentjak Silat Serak. There were a few teachers in between Bapak Sera and Mas Djut and it went to John DeVries and Ventje DeVries (the uncles of Pendekar Paul). There were a few teachers between Bapak Sera and Mas Djut but it was long before my time.

M.F.N. There were some publications that hinted or outright stated that “Bapak Sera” is a code name for the founder. There are also legendary histories that tell of him being of the Badui tribe. Continue reading “Magick and Lineage in Indonesian Martial Arts: An Interview with Guru Besar Marce De Thouars”

The Spirituality of Sacrifice

“A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, and must empty ourselves,” Mother Theresa taught. My view is different. I agree with Mother Theresa that through sacrifice, and with the help of God (we might use a different name — Odin, Buddha, the Tao, etc.), the individual will be able to “accomplish great things.” But is pain an essential aspect of, or even helpful to, making the act sacred or spiritual? I don’t believe it is.

We hear a more neutral take on sacrifice from Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, who, in regard to the Islamic injunction against eating pork says that, “it’s a partial fast… We fast from some kinds of food throughout our lives [as a religious act of resisting some temptations].” He points out, in essence, that to refrain from enjoying certain things is a spiritual act. Continue reading “The Spirituality of Sacrifice”

Physical Strength as The Basis of Enlightenment

physical-strength-spirituality“First of all our young men must be strong. Religion will come afterwards,” said Swami Vivekananda. “Be strong, my young friends; that is my advice to you. You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of the [Hindu religious text of the Bhagavad] Gita… You will understand the Gita better with your biceps, your muscles, a little stronger.”

We in the West have inherited the Christian image — and I would say, largely a false image — of the spiritual or enlightened man: self-sacrificing, passive, slender, and in a sense anti-physical.

Where Christianity has declined or disappeared, this image and the assumptions of the religion — equality, a focus on — or a belief in — the poor and the outcast, and strong suspicion of the physical body, especially physical strength — have become the major motifs of politics.

But the traits we associate with spirituality and intelligence are not necessarily accepted by either non-Western or pre-modern cultures.  Continue reading “Physical Strength as The Basis of Enlightenment”