Sunday, August 14, 2011

Jan De Jong Pt 10 - Indonesia 1995 Pt 3

The 1995 Indonesian tour continues.

The photograph to the right was taken when we visited a pencak silat school/instructor in Bandung. It would appear that pencak silat has far greater respect in Indonesia than most martial arts in other countries as the tourist maps of the city included a number of silat schools to visit. We visited one such school which taught Mande Muda style of pencak silat.

The instructor's young son was playing with toy cars on the ground when we introduced ourselves. Jan de Jong paid some attention to the young lad who, when invited by his father, put on the most amazing impromptu display of pencak silat. The instructor showed some of his tactics and techniques using, you guessed it, yours truly as the receiver of the techniques. He then asked if we wanted to see how they condition their arms for combat, to which De Jong expressed his interest.

I was instructed to sit on the ground with a specific leg configuration (see photograph). The instructor then proceeded to beat my forearm from wrist to elbow along the ulna with a short stick. He only stopped when there was an unbroken, raised welt the full length of the ulna. He then proceeded to massage a truly revolting smelling liquid into the bruised flesh (see photograph). Then the bashing continued, followed by more massaging of the bruised flesh. I'm not sure what hurt more, the bashing or the massaging of the bruised, tenderised flesh that was my forearm. Not wishing to embarrass De Jong, I didn't object to this assault and tried not to register any expression of discomfort or pain. After repeated cycles of this process I must confess to having thoughts about what other uses the short stick could be put to. I ended up with a perfect, unbroken, raised, deep purple bruise running the full length of my ulna. Apparently they go through this process twice a week before moving onto harder materials to condition their forearms.

We ran into one of De Jong's pencak silat students in the back blocks of Java. The tourist 'attraction' where we ran into this student was a place with bubbling, grey, sulfur-smelling mud. Sulfur-smelling meaning it smells of rotten eggs. Why sulfur-smelling mud is a tourist attraction is beyond me, but, that is where we ran into De Jong's student. De Jong of course remembered who he was. He had an amazing memory in this regard. At one of the seminars in Holland in the mid 1990s, a grandfather of one of the young seminar participants approached De Jong and asked him if he remembered him. De Jong looked at him for a moment or two then said he did and that he was one of his students during WWII, nearly 50 years previous. The grandfather confirmed De Jong's identification and then tearfully and proudly showed him his membership card he'd kept all those years.

We visited many places of significance to De Jong. The house where he grew up, various places he practiced as a physiotherapist after WWII, and of course the place where the Saito's dojo used to be. De Jong pointed out the school he used to attend in Semarang and told of the time when his father visited the school to check on his son's progress. His father was somewhat surprised to learn that his young son had not attended the school in the past six months. De Jong had been attending his jujutsu classes instead of his school classes. De Jong explained, with a rye smile, that his father was not pleased.

We also visited Surabaya, Indonesia's second largest city. Shortly after writing the blog concerning De Jong's return to Indonesia after WWII, a newspaper article was published which told of an Australian 'who had a front row seat as history unfolded' ( British Brigadier General A.W.S. Mallaby was killed by Indonesian independence fighters in 1945 to which the British responded 'with a terrifying and vengeful sweep of Surabaya aided by a huge air and sea bombardment.'
'That was the cruelest thing I had seen,' says Rafty. 'They didn't care who they bombed. They killed many women and children. There was no justification for what they did to the city of Surabaya and its people.' It was a bloodbath, which Rafty vividly recorded in a series of sketches. Some 10,000 Indonesians died and many more fled the city as the British gradually asserted control after three weeks of ferocious fighting. The day the bombardment in Surabaya was launched, November 10, is National Heroes day in Indonesia, its equivalent of Anzac Day. And, like Anzac Day, it honours a terrible defeat.
This was in addition to the deal Lord Mountbatten made with the Japanese to disarm the Indonesian's before they surrendered to the British in order to pave the way for the Dutch to reclaim their colony. Interestingly, it was Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels, who advised the British of Mallaby's assassination which sparked this post WWII bombardment.

Don't you find it interesting (or hypocritical) that a basic tenet of our legal system is that only proportionate force is legally allowable to an attack in cases of self defence. However, our governments, in our name, have often used force against others which is out of all proportion, e.g. the bombing of Vietnam and the British bombing of Surabaya.

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