2018 KunTao Silat Glenwood Gathering

From the perspective of one who was there:

Last weekend I attended the 2018 Gathering of Kuntao Silat with Pendekar Steve Gartin, Sigungs Joe Judt and Aric Fowler. All this last week I have been sitting with this experience of the weekend and the training and camaraderie i experienced. This last week I have been decompressing, digesting and just letting it all sink in. So much on so many levels happened on both for me personally and with the group.

First with me… I had been training mostly on my own through Pendekar Steve’s distant learning program video training program the last couple of years. Combined with that I was privileged to have 2 weekends over the past 2 years with Pendular Steve personally which was also EXTREMELY helpful. The last 6 months I had been very inactive with my physical training. That with the fact that I had been mostly physically inactive in all ways during that period made me a little nervous about going to New Mexico and at 7000 feet above sea level and being able to keep up physically, let alone at a skill level that was good enough with many high level practitioners.

So what happened?

In a nutshell I discovered at a deeper level than before that Pendekar Steve’s training methods are surisingly simple in a truly diabolical way. 😉

What does that mean?

It means that on the surface the basic exercises and stance work are ok to do but not that exciting. Pendekar Steve’s basic training protocol is standing in a few positions, walking with some simple turns and some other not so sexy looking stuff. It means starting to build into your daily life these simple movements plus a few seemingly simple applications, but on the surface, as my Croatian friends might say, they appear to be “nothing special” Nothing special my ass! This stuff is as special as it gets.

I understood intellectually the whole time as I trained quietly by myself that these were important building blocks of the art … But…. Meh… Not so exciting. I did them the best I could with varying levels of disciple.

Fast forward to this last weekend.

This weekend there were a lot of chances of partner practice on many applications and some other exercises. Partner practice is something that I have not had outside of the 2 weekends I spent in New Mexico in the 2 years previous to this. To my surprise this weekend i was shocked how easily I was throwing people around and, as Pendekar Steve would say, helping people fall down. 😂😂. It’s like I had drunk some magic potion and this Kuntao Silat had started to magically work. How was that possible?

It was and IS possible because those non sexy basic stances and apparently overly simple weird little movements ARE the magic.

Stunningly simple in a diabolical way! 😉😂😇😈

What Pendekar Steve had told me would happen was actually happening. Who would have imagined? Heh heh heh!

I had achieved a level of ability in this art that surprised me.

Let me be clear. I am not even close to being functional in a live fight using this art BUT, something happened to my mind and body thanks to that simple approach to this practice that I would not have fully believed was possible before experiencing it myself. Please keep in mind that this happened to me with my fairly low level of personal discipline the last year.

I had started doing things this weekend at a level that I did not think I had achieved but apparently, according to my performance I actually had reached a surprisingly high level of competency that I did not think I had reached.

Again I mischieviously repeat myself. Stunningly simple in a diabolical way. 😉😂😂👍😇😈

All weekend long I experienced this over and over again. It made me feel good about myself and open even more it made me realize at a deeper level how cool this art and Pendekar Steve’s training methods are.

The Group.

They say shit runs downhill. So do good intentions, honour, respect and generosity run down hill.

My experience of this weekend was exactly this from every single participant. Every single one of my practice partners treated me and each other with kindness, generosity, honour and respect during our time together. We all have egos. Everyone of us have egos. We may even sometimes have issues with someone in the group. That’s just being human. But even if that is and it was true with this group, I had the privilege of watching person after person choose consciously to treat each other with kindness, respect. honour and huge generosity!

Why did this happen in a gathering of warriors and Martial Artists of all levels of abilities from the world class level of Pendekar Steve down to the level of an enthusiastic beginner like myself?

It happened first and foremost because of Pendekar Steve Gartin’s lead.

In my experience so far of Pendekar Steve the last 2 and a half years I have never witnessed anything but a desire and choice to treat people with extreme kindness and respect and generosity both inside the martial arts world and outside the martial arts world no matter what may have been going on in his personal life at any moment. That is very rare in the world I have found. I am grateful I have had the opportunity to witness this combined with real humility in such a high level martial artist.

My opinion is that because of this way of being which is clearly present in Pendekar Steve, it has empowered everyone else in the system and certainly with the group of people who attended this weekend to be able to choose again and again the same way of being.

Sigungs Joe Judt and Aric Fowler were a shining example of this during the weekend. These men are the top students of Pendekar Steve and the top instructors of the arts of Malabar Kuntao Silat and American Kuntao Silat.

Both of these gentlemen, with us and even more importantly with each other, unerringly were completely honourable and extremely generous and kind to each other and to the group. Together without any destructive or competitive ego they guided the rest of us through the weekend.

I cannot tell you how good that made me feel and how much it allowed me to be my best and to open much more fully to the training. I felt completely safe to do my best all weekend. Never once did I feel belittled or disrespected just because I would sometimes struggle to understand and apply their lessons and instructions.

Not only did these men provide world class instruction in an art that is profoundly effect, but they did it in a way that helped every single one of us blossom and learn and grow. We blossomed and grew not just as practitioners of Kuntao Silat but also as human beings because of their lead and them choosing to be these generous honourable men.

I am so grateful to them and especially Pendekar Steve for that and the gifts that they gave us all because of the choices they made.

On a less abstract and practical level I was stunned at the level of knowledge and abitilties these men humbly revealed to us. Over and over again as they shared their knowledge and wisdom with us I found myself quietly under my breath repeating “Holy Shit….. This is so freakin’ cool”. I was constantly feeling profoundly impressed and grateful that I had found my way to where I was and to whom I was with. I was constantly amazed at what I was being shown and given. I am not even close to being an expert in the martial arts but I’m telling you I know enough and have seen enough to know when I see something remarkable and absolutely brilliant.

So, I wanted to share this experience I had and how it impacted me.

Thank you Pendekar Steve. I am aware that you are not comfortable with this designation and being called Pendekar. You did not ask for it or even want it but in my humble and uneducated opinion I agree with Sigung Joe that it is appropriate. My intention in using it is not to make you uncomfortable but to acknowledge you and your decades of work and your special gifts that I’m grateful for beginning to be able to see and appreciate.

Thank you Sigungs Joe Judt and Aric Fowler for your huge generosity and all the gifts you gave us this weekend on multiple levels. Those gifts absolutely helped me immeasurably on this path and will also help me in my life in ways I may never be able to tell you. I look forward to our continued journey together.

Thank you also to ALL of my wonderful practice partners. Without you I would not have had the chance to see and accept how far I had actually travelled in my personal journey of Kuntao Silat. Every one of you WITHOUT exception was equally kind and generous in ways you might not always realize. I’m very grateful for this.

There is more that i could ramble on about but for now that’s all.

As Pendekar Steve would probably say, Have a blessed day.


5 Responses to 2018 KunTao Silat Glenwood Gathering

  1. SigungAric July 8, 2018 at 8:35 pm #

    We love you too Brother and are honored to be part of such a sterling example of hard work, honor, and integrity. Thank you for including us in it.

  2. Kyle July 6, 2018 at 9:29 pm #

    Truly this was an amazing weekend. It was a great adventure! Coming out to Thunder Rock was a heck of a trip and training with Steve, as always, was enlightening. Not only was the learning from Steve great, I got to meet up with some of my training brothers to find both what I was good at and needed to work on. Finally, was blessed with a test that went well and was given the rank of guru muda. Thank you Steve for hosting!

  3. Paco July 4, 2018 at 7:51 am #


    Stephen, thank you for your kind words. I went through a similar thought process as I was learning the daily practice routine. But I think you did just great! Your quiet demeanor was hiding all the amount of knowledge you were taking in lol. I know when I’m in the presence of folks that know so much and share it my dumb old brain just catches the tip of the iceberg… but for the next year or so, until I get to meet with my teachers and seniors again, I go to work on that “tip of the iceberg” until “my eyes bleed” (as Guru Joe says). The results, as you yourself have experienced, will amaze you. More than one master level martial artist has said (albeit in different ways) : fear not the person who knows a thousand techniques, but the one who has mastered his basics.
    Pak Steve, thank you for welcoming us in such a loving and fun way! Your corner of this world seemed not only a different time zone away, but a different world altogether. Despite the hardships that the students travelling into town endured, your hospitality (as well as Ms. Rose’s lively sense of humor) made all the stress vanish into thin air. Seeing you in action is a joy. Now I need to work on more questions to pose and get myself on the right track… There are so many great things I’d like to mention but i can’t do a better job than Stephen did.
    Let me just take the opportunity to sincerely thank my seniors and teachers. First off, Larry and Chris from the great state of Texas. Larry especially, he graciously invited me to Guru Joe’s Seminar at the Alamo Judo Club via the auspices of a mutual friend at a moment when my resources were scant. It was a couple of years back, but none of us could remember when lol. It feels like we’ve known each other longer than that. As well as Sigung Joe… all I can say is thank you for taking this martial arts stray pup (i.e. me) in!
    Thanks to Chris for helping me make it to all the Gatherings, whether in Texas or elsewhere. Thanks to ALL the Texas crew. Dr. Go means business!
    The Chicago crew is something else. Not to belabor the point, but if I had to go rumble, I’d like to do so with all of you gentlemen on my side. You guys are training hard in the Windy City! congrats to Guru muda Kyle! Guru Jeff’s “apps” are AWESOME. Estevan is a great man, simply bursting with positive energy. All I can say, caro amico, is that la bella Italia is BLESSED to have you there!
    A very special thank you to Guru Aric and Tim Eagan. If it weren’t for Tim, Chris and I would’ve been unable to make it to Thunder Rock! My gratitude, Tim, for giving us the directions, not letting us get lost or freak out when we saw how the road looked lol and the Polish beer. Guru Aric, it was a privilege to meet you in person. I hope we can all meet again soon. Your blades and trainers are excellent. All of us had stimulating conversations. Most especially, it was awesome to see another one of Pak Steve’s finished students in action. Most of all, it gave me confidence that kuntao silat works regardless of body type. At one point I was despairing thinking that one had to be of a certain height and build to excel in this art. But Chris and I noted how you are living proof that KTS adapts to YOU, once you make it your own.
    Thank you everyone. If I didn’t mention anyone by name it’s not that I’ve forgotten, since all of you are close to my heart.

    • Kyle July 6, 2018 at 10:13 pm #

      Paco! Always a pleasure to train with you! I have to echo a great deal of what you said. I love that our get togethers always have a high caliber of people, not just in martial ability, but in quality of human being. It was a pleasure seeing you again and it was fantastic to meet Stephen, Estevan, and Aric! All of whom are good people before anything else. And thank you again for the congratulations! It’s exciting, but i feel like nothing had changed. Haha

  4. Steve July 4, 2018 at 5:38 am #

    Gibran said, “the mountain, to the climber, is clearer from the plain.” As I ruminate upon the event, my heart is overwhelmed with the love I witnessed among those who made the arduous journey to the New Mexico wilderness to partake in the Gathering.

    Oft I say that the best defense is a big smile ~ and Bill Chang often told me that it impressed him that I always laughed when fighting. That attitude prevailed amongst the KTS Practitioners as they battered each other and compared and “claimed” huge lumps and bruises and lamented a lack of dit a jow whilst enjoying a beer or so afterward on ThunderRock.

    I am truly humbled to see the skill, tenacity and proficiency of our Senior Teachers. In my forty some odd years in martial arts I cannot recall a more erudite martial gathering. I realize that most all those who join the KunTao Silat Family have “been-around-the-block” ~ but I have known many other master martial artists in my life and few compare with this group. Not just skill in combat, but it is the skill in teaching that truly impresses me. I oft implore The Creator to enlighten me how and why these sterling martial masters call me “teacher.”

    Most folks know that I never wanted to be a teacher, especially of martial arts and I certainly never deliberately set out to create my own system and most certainly never entertained the thought of spreading it about the Earth. . . but as a salesman, photographer, videographer, publisher I did have those aspirations for the de Thouars Brothers and helped as best I could ~ under the dire conditions some might explain became my life story.

    Yet, here I am and I feel sometimes like an aberrant donkey being led down a road I don’t care to travel. “Blessed are the PeaceMakers, for they shall be called the sons of YHVH.” This has long been my desire, especially after discovering that Melchizedek means the King of Peace and that the Changing of the Ages is close upon us.

    So when I see Peace, Love and Kindness manifest in a group of fighting men it makes me pause to consider that perhaps my long-held desire is truly manifesting in my life. Yes, it is true that I go forth quite well-armed. . . but the smile is still my shield and Peace my purpose.

    Thank all of you who shared my dream and contributed to my comfort and well-being. You are truly the Family that has eluded me for 70 years and I love you all.

    May YHVH richly bless, enlighten and protect you all, in YahSheua’s Great Name,

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