Malaysian Silat | Interview with Paduka Guru Glenn Lobo

Paduka Guru Glenn Lobo is the Chief instructor for the British Silat Association and Pukulan Langkah Mati. He was the first Westerner to travel to Malaysia to learn Silat and was awarded the highest grade in Silat Lincah, his main style, from the now retired Prime Minister of Malaysia. 

He is the Wakil of the last major Maha Guru in Malaysia, and Chief Instructor for Europe for Silat Lincah. Guru Glenn was also an instructor of Silat Harimau, and Pancasila Gayong Harimau, and is also an instructor of Lightning Scientific Arnis, under Master Shaun Porter, and certified by the GM Mang Ben Luna Lema.

Ben Lee recently caught up with him to learn more....

Hi Glenn, thank you for your time. You got started in the martial arts at an early age, could you start by telling us a bit about this long history you have and how it all began? 

I started age 10 in Judo. I struggled in our class against bigger opponents cos I was a small child, so when it became difficult to train judo I switched to Taekwondo. I then found that being short was a disadvantage when I was trying to kick people in the head who were much taller than I was. I then tried Aikido and had a great partner who came from karate so we didn’t fall over for each other and made the techniques work. When I went to Uni, I couldn't find an Aikido school nearby so I found a Wing Chun instructor and trained that. I then attended a few Dan Inosanto seminars - but had then started training Silat with Jak Othman. When Richard Debordes appeared on the scene I trained with him as well, eventually attaining instructor grade black belts with both instructors. In 1987 I attended the World Championships as part of the GB team, and trained with Silat Lincah there. I returned over the next decade to learn Silat Lincah. Having done some Jeet Kune Do and Kali I wanted to learn some weapons so trained Lightning Scientific Arnis for some cross training and a better understanding of some weapons.  

So of all the styles you have been involved in, what made you more inclined towards Silat? 

Silat is a very complete art. It is quite aggressive, is relatively unadulterated by sport, and still has a philosophy and ethos that I like. It covers ranges weapons and many different options for grappling and striking. Lastly, while in Malaysia one of my instructors created a link between silat and food, and since I like Malaysian cuisine, I was hooked! One of the main things I like is that in silat your own style of movement is allowable, where I see people in other arts being corrected for the smallest thing, and I will when its important, but in silat there is great freedom of expression. No 2 people are the same so we all move to different music and rhythms.. silat allows that.

What is silat for those of us that do not know, or want a better insight into it? 

Silat is the indigenous fighting art of the Malay people- covering Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Southern Thailand, and some of the lesser know countries like Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is a fighting art, a warrior art. Some refer to it as a battlefield art, but it is also a duelling art and a street fighting art, depending on your style and your disposition.

Do you prefer unarmed or armed training more? 

I cant really say I have a preference.. weapons is more dangerous and sometimes more fun.. unarmed is what I train most so it allows me greater freedom of expression

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Glenn (Left) with Johari Jantan -
Paduka Guru Muda of Silat Lincah
You have had many instructors, who has been your most influential and why? 

The ones with whom I have spent the most time I guess have been Johari Jantan - Paduka Guru Muda of Silat Lincah, and Pa Flohr of Pukulan Madura. Paduka Jo has great skill, timing, and knowledge as a pesilat, and generosity humility and kindness as a human. I am incredibly proud to have him as my teacher and to teach Lincah in his name. Pa Flohr was one of the most incredible silat men of the time. He too had such humility, generosity and kindness, which for possibly the best pesilat or Pukulan Player in Europe is special.

Not only are you an instructor of silat, you are a osteopath. Was this influenced by your martial arts and does it help with your martial arts, or is it a completely separate entity?

I originally wanted to be a doctor, but I got ill, so wanting to remain in a healthcare field, I chose osteopathy. It has helped me in both ways.. understanding the anatomy has helped with my ability to damage for sure, but also the skills you learn in locking allow me to transition from one am hold to another as a therapist since they are the same as a martial artist. There have been lots of crossovers.. learning the healing aspect of silat has been easier because of the work I have done over the years too. So while they have been separate, there have also been some very helpful cross over and reference points.

Do you have a favourite quote? 

I have loads.. “drills teach skills”..”practice doesn’t make perfect.. perfect practice makes perfect”… “never give up.. never .. never.. never”..."whom no-one could overcome either with gold or steel"...“The ultimate measure is not where you stand in moments of comfort, but where you stand in times of challenge"

What plans do you have for the future? 

I can tell you more about that soon! I hope Malaysia has, after 25 years of asking, finally understood what I need to develop Silat Lincah around the world. I have had lots of inquiries to teach but the main hindrance for me is time away from my business.. so if I can get the support I want I can open centres around the world very quickly to teach Silat Lincah and spread the art. 

What advice would you give to a student just starting out in silat? 

Silat is a real Minefield.. there are lots of very capable instructors out there, but very few gurus even though they have the title, it is a huge title to live up to. The student in Silat is the "anak murid".. child student so the guru has a parental responsibility to their students.. so not to injure, damage, harm them, in fact to nurture and develop and assist their growth. They have a responsibility to the community to not use their skills to harm the community but to protect them, and to behave with humility, honour, and dignity. Now we all have our moments, but they must be an example to everyone in almost every aspect of their lives. There are also a lot of stories about silat “gurus” and their histories.. read around the subject- disciples of a teacher spout the same stories as their teachers- it doesn’t make them true. Find other people who know and ask them so you get an overview of the teacher..my philosophy in silat, with all the stories is “show me.. then teach me..” show me YOU can do it, then teach ME how to do it.. there is no point is saying you can do something if you never show it and cant teach it.

Thank you for your time Glenn it has been a pleasure

If you would like to learn more about Malaysian Silat or training with Paduka Guru Glenn, you can contact him via his website: www.loboacademy.co.uk glennlobo@lineone.net or you can call him 01582 721531

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