Very interesting. I love martial arts. I don't really get into football, baseball, musicals, ballet, whatever. There's nothing that really captures my interest. But watching good martial arts, whether a movie, sitting in on a class, or taking notes on an instructional...I love it. I could (and DO) do it for hours on end. I enjoy it. Sure, doing it is wonderful too, but for entertainment and to really get my neurons firing, watching it is inspiring.
Key features important in a martial arts system to me are these:
1) Cane/stick/knife ability. After all, I don't troll bars. I've walked away from virtually every fight. Its not worth the legal issues, the risk of getting hurt (even if you win, you're still nursing busted up knuckles in a lot of scenarios), or just having to look over your shoulder if you win for the forseeable future. Its NOT worth it. Which means if a fight happens, and I couldn't get away from it, I'm in bad shape. Ergo, equalizers. "Tai Chi" for when you're old sounds nice, but me? I'd rather have a nice big stick.
2) Internal mechanics. Being able to generate short range power is critical. Sure, I can toss a solid haymaker. But that's distance. Its visible. What if my hands are trapping his against his chest, and they're only a few inches away from his face. Do you I want to pull my hand way back and strike? Inefficient. But being able to utilize large muscle groups to put mass and velocity into my scrawny arm to strike from a few inches with no wind-up? Now that's a skill worth learning.
The conundrum has always been this. Traditional internal arts used outdated weapons (spears or swords). These aren't likely to be encountered. Traditional bladed arts used real-world weapons (knives), but you don't need alot of power to cut...infact, using just ARM is faster than firing off leg muscles, through the waist, into the arm... (a+b+c takes longer than a). Simple physics.
This is where Kuntao Silat comes in (and DVD #8 of the DLP). You may have seen I'm a big cheerleader for this, and this is why. It marries two things that I feel are critical into a COHESIVE and UNIFIED system. That's nice. In this DVD, you get to see Uncle performing PoKwa Zen, I Shing Po, and Taih Kieh.... Bagua Zhang, Hsing-I, and Tai Chi. But there are fundamental differences that are necessary in a blade oriented culture.
With the Po Kwa, you see the circle walking, but a stronger emphasis on the turning. Makes sense. Mud isn't as forgiving in a fight. Standing in place, with shorter steps, is far more likely to allow your balance. It is also a more confrontational attitude, which is understandable from a country that's been invaded so often. "I'm not going to draw out this fight by walking around, I'm going to close the distance, grab something, and turn to break it". The Single Palm Change (most noticable in djuru 4 of Serak) is seen in this, with far tighter movements than in traditional bagua. Overt signs of jing are minimized in favor of speed for dealing with a bladed opponent. The backs of the arms (non-bleeders) are presented more often. Very impressive. Horizontal and vertical power palms still remain, as per the originator's version of the art (additional palms were added by his disciples). This is very much in line with historical Bagua, and makes sense if the art migrated to Indonesia, prior to its more recent additions in mainland China.
I Shing Po has the recognizable Pao Chaun. Other aspects are not as immediately obvious. Hsing-I is mainly known for "Guarding the Centerline". Its repeated in every form, and even in its most fundamental stance, Santi-Shi. Hsing-I also always goes forward. This has retreating steps. This was confusing until detailed examination. Hsing-I was derived (according to most people, although >ALL< martial arts history is dubious until the last century where we have written, historical records, to accurately review) from spear. Hence its adherence to center-line guarding and power mechanic. It was meant to be used for foot soldiers, so teaching baiting tactics was difficult. But on a battlefield, having multiple soldiers standing shoulder-to-shoulder with spear, it makes sense. It was easier to dominate center line and move forward, than the more evasive nature of bladed-arts. So I Shing Po OPENS. Its inviting. Its welcoming. It says "My centerline is open...". Then it closes. Just as its backsteps are counter-fighting movements for someone closing in. A blade mitigates the need to step in. And as a throw, it leverages the concept of "The Void". The form ingrains the blade strategies and tactics into the traditional art. And as it needed to be used quickly, rather than using a SINGLE movement over and over as a form, as is done with traditional Hsing-I, it takes all pertinent movements and puts them into a single form. Pao's power mechanic is duplicated in Beng and Heng (I hear auditory gasps from purists, but that's my feeling). And Heng's "wipe" is already contained in Silat exchanges. Hand positions are seen indicating Tsuann (uppercut), and Kuntao is already known for dropping low, which mitigates a need for Pi (different mechanic, but more blade oriented). I Shing Po is a clever evolutionary branch that draws upon environmental necessity.
Tai Kieh. Bill's Tai Kieh form at the end is perhaps most exemplery. It is strongly Yang based (the rest of Kuntao is done fast, so no real need for a fast form). The main milestones are there. Brush Horse's Main, Play the PePi (or however its spelled), etc. But the trademark Kuntao kicks exist, indicating a more confrontational (as opposed to absorb and redirect) attitude of Kuntao Silat. After all, a punch thrown may only necessitate movement of the target, while keeping the center in place. A blade necessitates moving the ENTIRE center or an immediate close to "listening energy" range.
All in all, the forms are unique. They aren't 100% true to their origins in China, but to remain viable in Indonesia, they couldn't be. These are well worth significant study.