The Combative Corner had the chance to catch up with Silat master Maul Mornie. Maul is from Seria, a small town in Brunei Darussalam but is currently based in the United Kingdom. Maul has a popular YouTube channel that he started in Feb. 2006 and currently has 4,000+ subscribers and almost 3.5 million upload views (as of Dec. 2010). Click his picture above to view is website or click here, Maul565 to visit his YouTube channel.
How young were you when you started training in the martial arts? (and did you study one system only?)
I started training in the silat at the late age of 12 years old under the guidance of my grandfather and great grandfather. They started when they were 6 years old. One other art that I commit to practicing is traditional japanese jujitsu. I started informally (without a curriculum) when I was in college at age 20 from a Malaysian who was working in Brunei.
I am a bit choosy when it comes to martial arts training; it has to have the right attitude, the right methods and the right mindset. I have met many martial artist in my travels around the world and I found ALL martial arts and systems are effective. What makes them less efficient is the practitioner itself. When coming to Europe to continue my studies, I found out not all traditional jujitsu styles are the same, regardless if visually they look identical.
While people are in the MMA and Tactical Combatives hype, I was not looking for a “reality-based martial arts” or “combative fighting”; just good training with good spirited people, I was more interested with the “traditional” martial arts that makes people engage with one another with respect and self developement. And like the silat that I was taught, traditional jujitsu had the same principles of “mutual benefit”.
Did you always have a desire to teach Silat professionally or did you have other passions?
I started to instruct publicly in an open seminar in May 2007. I never thought anyone would be interested to learn traditional silat. Back home in Brunei, the younger generations are more interested with taekwondo, karate, kung fu, Muay Thai – everything non local and anything that they see on TV and the movies.
I was an engineering student in the UK, it all started when I was showing 2 guys one “option” on how defend from a knife in one of the jujitsu classes (they worked as security guys). Through word of mouth they promoted me to their friends. They were more interested with fast, effective, self defence techniques rather than traditional training, while other students had part time jobs at cinemas, restaurants, etc on the weekends. I was training security guys the size of rugby players with bisceps the size of my head.
A musician from South Africa (who lived just a few houses from me) approached me on my final year before I completed my studies because he was attacked while he was abroad. He trained twice a week. I was about to leave for Brunei in few months, so as reference for him when I leave, we recorded a video in the park nearby. Being a student at that time, I had no DVD burner to give him a copy, so I decided to post it on a “descreet” website ‘http://www.facebook.com/l/b505f7Lk5-2DYFTKocWfAi2alww;www.Youtube.com’. This was in 2007, that time when you search for ‘Silat’ on youtube, there were less than 5 videos. So who’s going to know?
In a few weeks I’ve received emails and messages from a number of people from around the world. I was thinking to delete the videos because it was starting to gain too much attention and the fact that I was being bombarded by emails from people I do not know. Though I felt honoured and I appreciate everyone’s support and emails, most were more interested to discuss techniques, philosophy, and not physical training.
It was not until 2 months before I was about to leave for home, an Italian businessman/martial artist by the name of Carlo Andreis, after watching my videos, contacted me and invited me for a 10 days private lesson and 1 public seminar. 16 martial arts instructors from Milan, Verona and Desenzano came to my 1st seminar. They liked it and Carlo Andries asked me if I was interested to come to Italy again in 2 months, just a few weeks before I was about to leave for Brunei for good, so I said to myself, why not? The seminar attracted people from outside of Italy, and after that I got invited to Germany by Cristian Velici and then everything was like a snowball rolled down a hill.
I was not intending to teach martial arts, if I had not posted that one youtube video, my life’s journey would have been different and I would be an engineer in Brunei right now.
How do you compare your training from when you lived in Brunei to when you moved to the UK?
In Brunei, as a child training, it was more intense. In the west you would call it “Child Abuse”, but for me it was everyday training, I also got all the love and attention I needed as a child from my parent and my whole family. As a child you tend to soak everything up and question nothing; I go to school, go for extra classes, come home, train and sleep, this was my routine in my early years. When I first started in Europe instructing adults who themselves are experienced and skilled in their own martial art systems, I came to meet a different mindset , they tend to ask questions “Why? Why? Why do this? Why do that? Why don’t you do it this way”, the culture back home is different, you don’t ask why, you don’t compare the art or the movement, you just do what you were told and you gain all the benefits from that training.
But again I also understand that as a child, I had no responsibilities other than school and my daily chores, but as an adult, you cannot go to work or come home to your family with bruises on your face and your forearm (plus juggling everyday life responsibilities).
Are there any changes that you’ve personally made to your martial art teaching to make it more “exciting” or “mainstream” to non-Bruniens?
I have not changed anything in instructing the dedicated members of the closed doors training groups. Travelling to different countries and meeting people from different backgrounds, I only changed the intensity of the training and body conditioning when intructing the ‘open public’ seminars to avoid “liability issues” when training with people I dont personally know.
Basically, my closed door training are more to “body and movement conditioning” and my public seminars are “techniques-based”.
What are your feelings about sport competition? (Do you encourage your students to test their skills in this manner?)
There is no competitive mindset in SSBD, its aim is to finish a confrontation as soon as possible efficiently without effort. A sports (competitive) mindset and traditional training mindset in martial arts training are two totally different things. – At the end of the day it depends on your goals and intention. 8 out of 10 of who trains in SSBD is not interested in competing in the tournament circuit, most I have met are interested in self-preservation and self-defence regardless of gender, age and life style. Everyone who trains with me either are already skilled in another art or they start from scratch and have different goals and intentions in their training. What they decide to do in the martial arts training not involving SSBD or myself, I usually give them full support.
Silat Suffian Bela Diri is a very efficient and deadly art-form, especially when you bring weapons to the table. How important is gun and knife training to you system?
SSBD does not teach anyone “how to use a weapon”, it teaches one to “understand the use” of the weapon, so that we can defend from it. For example, to understand to defend from a good boxer you learn from boxers, to understand to defend from a powerful kick you learn from Muay Thai practitioners. To learn to effectively defend from weapons, it is very important to efficiently understand their use.
In getting to know you (through your videos, website and facebook) I see that family is very important to you. Is there a strong family tradition of teaching Silat in your heritage?
Family is very important to me. Silat has been in my family (both my father’s and mother’s side) for generation but it was never taught openly to the public, only for family protection and personal preservation.
You are busy with SSBD workshops and travel all over the world. What is your favorite and least favorite things about traveling?
Most airports that I travel out from are basically 4hr+ away from where I live, I have to check in 2 hours before which means I have to leave home at least 6hrs before the flight. What’s funny is that my flights in Europe are never longer than between 1hr to 2hrs 30mins but the journey from home to the airports take a large part of the day. I travel via public transport, what is usually frustrating is when the flight times fly too early or returning too late during the day that there are no public transport services available before or after the specified times, that I have to sleep over – either at airports or airport hotels, which basically are unnecessary expenses and time away from home .
There was one time I had to leave home about 12 hours before the flight due to worker’s strike. The flight was only 2hrs.
There are many people, even experienced martial artists that do not know a lot about Silat. What makes SSBD different/unique?
Unfortunately I do not have enough experience in other systems to compare SSBD with other arts. I can only present my videos for others to see and only “they” can see what is unique and what is less in it.
Since I posted my 1st youtube video, it is open for ALL to comment, I do not filter them, I only delete those who promote religious or racial slandering. I take everything as positive and constructive criticism, these people help keep my feet on the ground, though once in a while there are people who just give negative comment for the sake of commenting and brings no benefit whatsoever to anything.
I think that is what makes SSBD unique, I am open for any constructive criticism, it helps keep quality control. I am proud to say that for the past 4 years I’ve only posted around 30 to 33 quality videos on youtube.
What are your future plans regarding your work?
At the moment, I plan everything 1 year ahead in advance, I try to take little steps to reach my goals and concentrate all my efforts to those little steps. For me reaching success is an ongoing process, a position which I am yet to reach, I have my own personal mile stone, that is to make my family proud of me and not disappoint them.
I constantly receive invitations for seminar in different parts of the world, but I try to make the right decisions, I don’t just accept the next invitation that comes my way, I have to evaluate the long term potential before accepting anything, which includes networking and positive growth in the propogation of SSBD and Bruneian martial heritage in general.
For More Information on Maul Mornie and SSBD, visit his website by clicking his above picture
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