Martial Tai Chi™

Martial Training Association

De-mystifying the Mysterious

DVD Review

The Fighting Forms of Kuntao-Silat by Bob Orlando
3 Hours of Expert Martial Analysis

In his latest double DVD "The Fighting Forms of Kuntao-Silat", Bob Orlando creatively examines two of the major forms of his school. What is there here for those of us who don't practice these forms or train in his school? A lot.

Because Bob always explains himself in such great detail, you get the opportunity to think about the concepts he is presenting and apply them to your own martial style, whatever style that is. For any martial artist, here is a treasure chest of combative ideas which should help you to think creatively about whatever forms you practice. Bob examines how the same movements can be performed in a number of different scenarios, how they can be adapted to changing circumstances and how they can be seen to relate to both empty hand and weapons work.

Whereas previous videos have dealt with various details such as general fighting principles, leg patterns (langkahs) and hand forms (jurus), the purpose of this video is to draw everything together into a coherent whole. The Forms of Kuntao-Silat develop whole body connection, integration and fighting application. The body mechanics and combative strategies are excellent and are explained thoroughly. 

Bob is humble about his performance of the forms, but it is his clear mind and in-depth analysis that we viewers most benefit from. We also know from making our own DVDs that movements that feel a certain way, whether you are performing them or if you are on the receiving end of them, do not always look as flashy or powerful as they feel. Perhaps we have all become a little too accustomed to the larger than life aesthetics of the Kung Fu movies - real martial artistry can be genuinely subtle.

Something we value greatly about Bob (and a perspective we endeavour to share) is that he is evidently on the martial student's side. This is actually quite rare: all too often martial artists climb through the ranks of their lineage, gladly holding back secrets - handing on incomplete teaching and even misinformation so as to maintain an upper hand over their students. This is the main reason arts dwindle and die out. I think this is certainly often true in the realm of Chinese martial arts. Practitioners of Chinese styles can benefit greatly from studying the fighting arts of the South China Sea archipelagos - places such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, where real tooth and claw fighting systems have remained relevant until very modern times. When viewing Kuntao and Silat styles, I frequently find myself thinking "here is real Kung Fu".

Bob is prepared to examine and evaluate the movements he has been given, keeping them alive and thriving, rather than just handing on cultural relics without a thorough and critical investigation. He has done what we believe every martial artist should do - he has made the forms his own. Because he understands them, he owns them and because he owns them, he is able to pass them on to us.

Production and presentation values are high. Use of split screen enables the viewer to see the forms from multiple angles and sequences are repeated in slow motion as well as at normal speed. The bulk of this DVD is taken up with application and analysis and is rich enough to necessitate repeated viewings. 

Purely for the sake of my own students I should point out that in our school we would perform a few of the movements a little differently. I do not think it is appropriate to be critical over stylistic matters such as different movement rationales: suffice to say what we do stems from different origins and at times we find different solutions for the same problems. That said, much of what is here is true in a universal sense, so this DVD has a great deal to offer.

Listen to a podcast of Bob speaking about his new DVD and his approach to training here.

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