Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pendekar Passes

Paul de Thouars

The Pendekar has died, and I need to speak to it here. He was my teacher's teacher, and though what we learn now isn't quite the same, the genesis of our art came from Paul de Thouars. For that, I am grateful.

I never knew him personally. We talked on the phone a couple of times, back when I started Bukti training and I bought some videos from him. I have trained under one of his most senior students for almost eighteen years.

He was a most knowledgeable martial artist. He was the man who first brought Silat Sera (later Serak, and then Serak™) to the United States. He and his brothers, Willem and Victor, were among the earliest teachers of silat and kun-tao in the U.S., and over the decades, Paul's teachings eventually helped produce some outstanding teachers.

He was, back in the day for our art, the man.

Not that there is agreement on that, but that's what my teacher said, and he would know.

I used to engage frequently in the silat word-wars. I spent way too much energy doing so, and it was, I realized, a waste of time, so mostly I stopped doing it. Now and again, I'd stick my head up and see who was back-biting whom, and the accusations of lying, cheating, stealing, homicide, and my-style-is-better-than-your-style pomp and ceremony were (and still are) always evident.

When Paul passed, it was in full swing, and paused but briefly for condolences:

He is a miserable lying son-of-a-bitch! What? He died? Oh. Well, in that case, he was a swell teacher and a fine human being ...

One isn't supposed to speak ill of the dead, and I won't go very far down that road; then again, I'm not going to gloss over it. I will say what everybody involved with the brothers de Thouars already knows: They were a contentious family, with each other, and with their students. That more than a few of their best students went their own ways, and as often as not, involuntarily so. 

The old joke about Sera players is, you aren't anybody until you've been kicked out of your system at least once, but I was there, I saw how shabbily my teacher was treated by his teacher, and it wasn't funny, it was ugly.

Loyalty is supposed to be a two-way street, but it isn't always. 

Somebody will step up to take Paul's lineage, though who the best-qualified teacher is will be hotly debated as much as anything else. Lineage-holders in our art have been changed more often than a diarrheic baby's diaper. Yesterday's fair-haired boy, who spent a decade or two of close personal study with the head guru and was deemed one of only a couple finished students, will, as often as not, be today's ne'er-do-well ungrateful know-nothing who, when the guru tells it, studied only a couple of weeks, and didn't really learn anything.  

Odd that that happens, but it surely does. Look around.

It won't be Maha Guru Stevan Plinck stepping up to claim Paul's lineage. When I jokingly said maybe we should start calling him "Pendekar," he said, "Please, don't!" Not even as a joke.  

Paul de Thouars has passed on, and it was, for a number of reasons, a sad thing. I mark his passing with mixed emotions. This is not a political post; it's the truth as I see it. 


  1. Hi Steve, personally I am kind of hoping that the title Pendekar for his line will pass with Uncle Paul, which in a way would be a nice mark of respect.

    In Holland everything is documented and has been for along time, down to dates and times people trained etc. Hopefully that's the same with Pauls line/branch.

    I was training today and did my djurus, with a picture of Uncle Paul looking down at me got to about number 12 and thought,do you know what, I can do better, my centres way out. I started again. I think that's what Uncle Paul would want,train the basics hard and well but above all enjoy life as best as you can because its all too short.

    Kind Regards


  2. Steve,

    Having been in that position, and kicked out twice; once by Uncle Bill, and once by Maha Guru Gartin (regained grace), I completely agree with you, as it does get very ugly. Interesting how the tide turns with the direction of the wind, is it not? Always a pleasure to read your posts.


    Guru Aric Fowler

  3. Hello Sir,

    *bows deeply*

    I never met him but from what I've heard, he had superb technique.

    RIP Pendekar De Thouars

    Very truly yours in the MA,


  4. Uncle Bill said it would be his rep, Victor's rep, then Stevan Plinck and Cliff Stewart. Personally I would follow the last men into hell.
    I think this is a good thing. Only Stevan has been exposed to Uncle Jon Dejong along with Dan Inosanto and Blaise Loong.. so this knowledge must not end.

  5. Paul de Thouars was a man, who was also a martial artist. He was human and made mistakes. But, he was also a good person. Please let him rest in peace!

  6. Nobody is trying to stir him up, we honor his achievements, and I said so.

    We also like to touch base with the truth now and then, and if you are looking to make the Pendekar into a saint, you are in the wrong place.

  7. If Steven Plinck has trained with uncle Paul then like it or not, according to silat adab, that he is a lineage holder and every one of his students can claim lineage to uncle Paul.

    1. what kind of bull shit site is this

  8. What kind of site? One where you know who I am; one where people who post horse crap like you did get all the respect they deserve, which is to say, none at all.

  9. It's not good to loose your teacher, I just lost mine sifu Dave carnell. He trained with guru plinck in 1994 in Finland, this was because guru plinck was assisting Paul with his European seminars.

  10. I happened upon this post again today, adn was interested to see some of the predictions have already come true.. Sad. I met him, latterly, and liked him, though the poison his art and the contentious family generated will damage future generations of silat practitioners. His legacy will be tainted, but i hope the man rests in peace.