"Cikgu, I have a question..."
There are many things that are different about training Gayong in the USA and training Gayong in Malaysia, especially when it comes to asking questions. I am a notorious question asker, I can ask and ask and ask questions for hours on end. Many an email to Cikgu Sam or to Joel, have started with the words "Cikgu, I have a question..."Here in the USA, we are encouraged to as questions and as an instructor, to have your students ask you questions they may have.
Here in the USA, we have many questions on Gayong. We do not come from a Malay culture so we have questions about that. We don't come from Malaysia so we have questions about the country. We haven't grown up with Silat all around us, so we have questions about that. We ask because there are things we don't know, because we are not Malay. Malays tend not to have to ask questions about their own culture :)
Then there are the questions about techniques. I have found from experience training in Malaysia, that many students don't ask questions of their Cikgu or other instructors. I want to know why is Khatam Keris done near the sea? Why is Khatam Lembing done at a waterfall? Why? Why? Why? I don't think it's being disrespectful to ask a question. In fact, I think it's our responsibility to ask questions to preserve the heritage of Gayong. If we just do something over and over and over again without understanding "why" we do it, then we have lost essential knowledge within Gayong.
Cikgu Sam is always open to our questions and encourages us to ask and to answer them as instructors. He leads USGF by example, and patiently (usually) answers all our questions in detail and usually shows us the "why" part of a technique. Those of us that have been around for a while try don't like to ask "Cikgu Sam, what if I did this with Kacip Emas/ Fruit 4?" We know we will get put in that lock and it's going to hurt :) We do, however, encourage new students to ask! We know THEY will be the ones to get locked, not us haha!
The last trip to Malaysia, we had the opportunity to get to talk more with Cikgu Azman about Bunga Tanjung. Why does our Bunga look that way? What do the movements mean? We have since learned that the Bunga tells the story of Hang Tuah, the famous Malay Warrior. I didn't know that before I talked with Cikgu Azman. That puts a whole new perspective on our Bunga, what it is, why it looks the way it does, and why we do it at all.
As an instructor, answering questions is excellent training! Those questions make me look at my training and teaching in a different light. If I don't have an answer, I will seek it out. Those questions in turn, lead to my own questions and broaden my understanding of Gayong. Questions are productive, and essential to preserving the knowledge contained in Gayong. Silat Seni Gayong is much more than a collection of techniques... Unless we ask questions, we will never truly know Gayong.
Cikgu Sam and Joel teaching USGF's Gayong
perspective to Malaysian Students