Yellow Bamboo – Ultimate in Gentle Form of Martial Arts?


I have been teaching traditional Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan since 1977,  and that is 27 years,  and I have always considered Tai Chi Chuan,  especially the Cheng Man Ching lineage,  to be the gentlest and most peaceful martial art.  

But I am being challenged here,  by Yellow Bamboo which claims to be able to defend oneself without any physical contact.  The attacker is supposed to fall down,  and sometimes be unconscious or in spasm.  

Some may perhaps speculate that Yellow Bamboo is perhaps the ultimate form of gentle Self Defence,  since it involves no physical contact at all. 


Peaceful and gentle?  Maybe not.  Cheng Man Ching Tai Chi is very difficult to beat on that score.  But defending oneself without touching the attacker is something most desirable!  Causing an attacker to fall and be harmless to oneself is perhaps close to the ultimate in martial arts.  Tatang Ilustrisimo,  perhaps the most formidable eskrima fighter of the 21st century,  referring to the time that he defeated an Indonesian Pentjak Silat master who surrendered the arranged fight in the ring without the fight actuating,  by the use of his mystical incantations,  said that defeating an opponent without fighting him is the highest art.  If it is true that Yellow Bamboo can do this,  then I would raise Yellow Bamboo’s profile towards the top end of the ultimate martial arts.  


BUT, …………. Yellow Bamboo is not a martial art.  The founder Pak Serengen himself said that it is a spiritual path.  We should not confuse these two paths that may be quite different.  


Many Indonesian Silat styles (such as Cimande, Merpati Putih, Nampon, Minankabau, Satria Nusantara) contain mystical teachings which enable them to have certain protective power,  such as invulnerability,  super strength, or even the ability to hit an opponent from a distance  -  it is believed.  This sort of mystical powers is not the monopoly of Silat practitioners.  Many mystical movements (non Silat) in Indonesia also have such beliefs.  Yellow Bamboo (and others like Kilimasada, Sumarah, Prana Sakti, Marga Luyu) are such mystical or spiritual movements.  These are not martial arts. 


Thus,  we should ignore the question as invalid because Yellow Bamboo is not a martial art.




John Chow

June, 2004