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Bodybuilding for Real People and Real Life Results

Bodybuilding for Real People and Real Life Results


In my first article, I discussed training and the importance of generating high intensity while utilizing proper form and getting adequate rest. As important as training is, it is only a small piece of the overall pie that delivers success and progression in Real Life Bodybuilding. A much larger percentage of that pie is Nutrition. Nutrition is by far the most important factor and is almost always responsible for both success and failure in bodybuilding, and for that matter any and all fitness programs. In the following article, I’ll lay out a basic nutrition program. With this program, you’ll be able to figure out your daily Protein, Carbohydrate, Fat and Calorie needs. I’ll also include some key tips on nutritional timing, metabolic enhancement and preferred food and supplement choices. So get ready! Bodybuilding for real people and real life results Nutrition 101 is about to begin.

Daily Caloric Intake

This is an area that has been used and abused a lot over the past several years. At one point, high calorie diets are in and a year later low calorie diets are back in fashion. The same holds true for Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats. Opinions seem like they’re changing on a daily basis and they are! The following formula is tried and true. lf you follow it and make adjustments where they’re needed, you can’t help but to achieve nutritional nirvana. Many complex formula’s for figuring daily caloric needs have been introduced. My formula is a simplified and effective version.

Take your current body weight or a realistic body weight goal (Up or Down), and multiply it by your desired factor (either 12, 15, or 18). If you want to lose weight or have a slower metabolism, multiply your weight by 12. For maintaining your current weight, multiply your weight by 15. And for hardgainers or those looking to gain weight, multiply your weight or desired weight by 18. This is a starting point for figuring out your daily caloric needs. (Example: Male who is 200lbs x 15 = 3000 calories per day, Female wh is 130 lbs x 15 = 1950 calories per day). You may need to adjust your caloric need by 50 – 100 calories per day should you stagnate and not be achieving your desired goals. This formula also works as a nice starting point for a bodybuilder looking to figure out the different caloric needs over the course of a year.

A Pre-Contest bodybuilder would use their desired body weight multiplied by 12. An off-season bodybuilder would use their weight or desired weight multiplied by 15 or 18 depending on how fast their metabolism is and how lean they want to stay in the off-season. I personally use my body weight multiplied by 15. This allows me to grow and stay very lean in the off-season. This formula works equally well for both men and women.

After figuring your daily caloric needs, you now need to figure out how many grams of protein, carbohydrates and fat you’ll take in per day. Roughly 30-35% of your calories should come from protein, 50-60% from carbohydrates and 10-15% from fats. Each gram of protein or carbohydrate is equal to 4 calories. Each gram of fat is equal to 9 calories. Your calories should be partitioned somewhat equally throughout 5-6 meals or more per day. Higher calorie post workout meals are encouraged and will be discussed later in this article. Although vitamins and minerals will not be discussed in detail in this article, I do recommend everyone use some type of Mega Multi Vitamins or Vitamin Pack on a daily basis. Such supplementation provides daily insurance and eliminates the worry of meeting required needs for general health and recovery.

10 Success Strategies to Transform Your Body

10 Success Strategies to Transform Your Body

Make a conscious decision to change!

Why do so many people, who say they want to change, remain the same, year after year? I will tell you why. It is because they overlook the essential first step – the step which begins to close the gap between knowing and doing. That step is… making a conscious decision to make a change.

I am not talking about making ambiguous claims like, “Yeah… this year I’m gonna get in shape.” Most people tell themselves this is one of their objectives every month. But how many people are truly moving in that direction? Unfortunately , very few.

And the reason? Because it is one thing to just talk about changing and it is a completely different thing to decide to actually do it. You see, when you make a conscious decision to make a change, your mind ‘awakens’ and starts searching for a way. You begin to develop a feeling – a deeply rooted need to make it happen. That sensation is what many people call ‘desire’. Before you know it, you will crave that change all day and night – the desire becomes a ‘burning desire’.

Fortunately, we all have desire. We may have buried it. But it is there. You have to let your desire propel you toward the goals you have decided to achieve. Do not let people, your surroundings, or circumstances convince you that you really do not have desire. When you decide you are not going to go on living the way you are living, when you decide the way things were last year is not the way there are going to be in this, you have taken the first step.

Find a reason!

“So I need to make a decision to do something here, to get off my butt and start moving. And keep moving. That is fine, but how do I do it?” Well, you just have to find a reason to change. I will say it again. Find a reason.

It is one thing to tell yourself you would like to get fit this year. It is a whole ‘nother matter to think of the most dreadful thing imaginable heppening if you do not get control of your body and your life, pronto! It is having a reason that fuels the intense desire and power (the inspiration, as I call it) for getting started and for following through. There is a world of difference between simply wanting something and having to have it.

Please made sure you clearly identify your reason for deciding to change, write it down, and read it every morning and night. Be particular. I know that you know deep down inside you have a reason, actually several reasons – good reasons – to decide to change.

Honestly “see yourself”!

Since we ‘see ourselves’ every day, we often do not notice if we are ‘slipping’. If we are not careful, before long, the image we have of ourselves in our minds will not be in sync with reality. What I suggest you do is have someone take a photo of you in a pair of shorts or swimwear. You may find this embarrassing, but trust me, it is worth it.

Now take other photos every month, and put them side by side in your bedroom, on your refrigerator door… someplace where you will see them frequently. This is help you honestly see yourself.

When you look at your photos, ask yourself if you are really satisfied with what you see and feel. How do you feel inside? How do you really feel about yourself? Are you confident, energetic, and proud? Or do you now honestly feel ever more insprited to follow through on your decision to change? What are the pros and cons of continuing on in the same direction you are going? Would you like to feel better about yourself and know you are creating a brighter future? Remember, right now you are the youngest you will ever be, and time waits for no one!

Set specific Goals!

You might be thinking: “I have heard about this goal setting mumbo jumbo before. It can’t possibly work. If it were so easy, everyone would do it.” Well listen, I really do not know what you might have heard before. But I do know this is powerful stuff. And if you find those echoes of skepticism creeping in and starting to chop away at these ideas already, you might want to take a minute and ask yourself where that is coming from. Change is about being open. It is about releasing old ideas to make room for new ones. It is about creating a better future for yourself. It is not about closing your mind. And it is certainly not about being cynical and negative.

Setting goals is vitally important to your success. However, I have discovered many people are not clear about what goals are – they do not know the difference between goals and dreams. It is important to clarify this – dreams are things you hope for – things you enjoy thinking about but really do not know when or if they will happen. Goals, on the other hand, are specfic things you have decided you need to accomplish within a clearly defined period of time. For example, the statement ‘Someday I am going to get in shape…” is a dream. However, if you declare that, “Within 12 weeks, I will lose 20 pounds of fat and gain 10 pound of muscle,” you are setting a goal.

This is interesting: when you accomplish your goals, you are reqarded with a tremendous boost of positive energy, which allows you to set and achieve ever grander goals! So, once you get this process started by achieving your first goal, you will feel it, and you will allo f the suddent start to create many exciting dreams for your life. That creates optimism and hope, which both feel pretty darn good to me! When I am optimistic, I can’t help but focus on the future. It is just so exciting, I can’t wait to get there!

The bad news is, when you don’t set and achieve specific goals, you can’t create greater dreams, and when you stop dreaming, you don’t have anything to look forward to, so you don’t look forward, you look down or back… you lose hope.

Here is a tip on how to set goals: find an example – someone who has achieved what you want to accomplish with your body and/or life – and set your goals based on that. Find someone who was in your present condition, or thereabouts, and take a long look at what he or she was able to achieve. The fact that they have done it is proof you can too.

A simple, yet very powerful practice is to be sure that you write down your goals. It works! Here’s proof: back in 1953, a Harvard University study showed that 3% of the students graduating that year actually wrote down their specific career goals. Twenty years later, a team of researchers interviewed the class of 1953, and found that the 3% who had written down their goals were worth more financially than the other 97% combined. (Make no mistake, writing down goals pays off, big time!)

Honor self-promises!

When you set goals, what you are really doing is making promises – not to me, your family, or your friends, but to yourself. The promises we make to ourselves, although they are the ‘easiest’ to break, are by far the most important ones to honor. You see, the very essence of confidence is self trust.

Would you trust anyone who repeatedly lied to you? Someone who broke the rules of the game, again and again? Of course you would not? So, if you have developed a pattern of not honoring self promises, this is a great time to make a change. If you can’t honor, trust, and depend on yourself, well that may be the root of a lot of the challenges in your life – a lot more than you realize.

The thing about lying to ourselves is we never, never get away with it. We may fool our conscious mind into ignoring or not admitting what we are doing, but deep down, in the place where all truth resides for each of us, in the place where we know and see ourselves as we really are – in that place, we are causing pain and damage every time we are not totally honest with ourselves. Lie to yourself often enough and your self trust – your confidence – will fade away. Into that emptiness will seep uncertainty, anxiety, and a whole lot of complex crapola you do not even want to know about.

But you can change that. It is a lot easier to keep the promises we make to ourselves than it is to break them. And keeping those promises unleashes enormous energy and potential – that potential emptiness created by self-deception can also be filled with strength, certainty, and yes confidence if you honor self-promises. (We have all heard the phrase, “The truth shall set you free.” Well, nowhere is that more true than when we apply it to our relationship with ourselves.) Better yet” “To thine own self be true.”

Focus on your future vision!

Unfortunately, most people will never delovep a strong future vision for their lives. They will never admit to themselves, or anyone else, what their dreams really are, and they won’t put a deadline on those dreams and transform them into goals. Thus, most people will never even begin to harness their true potential. What they don’t realize is if they are not focused on their futures – if they are not consciously creating their lives – ten they are living accidentally, not intentionally. They are merely reacting to life.

When you have faith in your future vision, it creates resilience: when things do not go your way, you will be able to pick yourself up because your future vision will be stronger than your setbacks. Doing the particular things you need to do to move toward that future vision will become automatic, a habit. It is close to the certainty of religious faith – the comforting, assuring feeling that whatever happens will happen, but in the end, you will succeed.

It helps me to surround myself with photos and reminders which keep my future vision and goals on my mind. This is another simple yet powerful strategy.

Remember that everything we experience in the ‘real world’ is merely an external manifestation of what has already happened in your mind. That is where the relatively well known maxim, “If your mind can conceive it, you can achieve it” comes from. And it is true. If your mind , you see, anything is possible. So nourish your mind with postivie uplifting images… it’s worked wonders for me!

Face your fears!

Most people are afraid to change. They’re afraid to face the uncertainty which we all feel when we leave our ‘comfort zones.’ Some afraid of failing, and others, believe it or not, are afraid of succeeding. What is sad is most people do not realize they have become paralyzed by their fears. Millions of people with great potential have been ruined and their entire lives wasted because they do not face their fears head on.

You may recognize people who are afraid and hiding out in their comfort zones by their constant complaining about people who are moving forward. “See that guy over there? I’d have a great physique too if I worked out,” (Well then, why don’t you do it instead of just talking about it?) Rationalization and excuses have become the only form of “exercise” many people get.

Remember this: if you move away from your fears, they will eventually dominate your life. But if you move toward your fears and face them head on, they get smaller and smaller.

Make mistakes fast!

One of the things I have noticed is, people who try to get in shape or make another change, don’t measure their progress often enough. This is not good. I call this “failing in slow motion.” Some people do not notice what is not working until months or even years have been squandered. Then they look back and realize their error – they did not notice their mistakes sooner!

If you want to succeed fast, you need to be willing to make mistakes fast. And you must learn from your mistakes.

Don’t be one of those people who do exactly the same things in the coming months that did not work in the past and expect a different result. If you have not achieved the level of success you want, do not be so naïve as to think that if you make the same mistakes in the future as you did in the past, you will get a different result. If you want different results, you must allow yourself the opportunity to learn fast and take a different approach.

So, evaluate your progress at least once a month by measuring your bodyfar percentage and having a photo taken. Remember to celebrate your progress and also look for opportunities to do even better in the future. If you are not making progress, make a change, and keep changing until you start getting the results you want.

Take action!

Please, don’t be afraid of change! Don’t do what so many good people do, which is “accidently” smother their true potential by clinging to what “seems” comfortable. Success is created by action. People who get results keep moving, even if they are a little fearful! They do not quit. Sure, there are always some forms on inconvenience and stress in your life that seem like they might be obstacles that would keep you from taking action. Your challenge is to succeed in spite of all this!

Don’t wait until you feel “ready” to take on a new challenge. Don’t fool yourself into believing now is just “too soon”. If you wait until everything is “perfect” in your life before you take action, you will be waiting forever! The time to do it is now.

The longer you wait before you take action, the more you delay the rewards that are rightfully yours. “Waiting” to change is not enough. Do something – please do something!

Don’t give up!

At times it might seem as if your goals are not attainable, in spite of your best efforts. That is normal – we all feel like that sometimes. In every challenge, there will come a time when the going gets tough! You have to break through these barriers! When you do, you will discover they were blessings in disguise. You see, we become stronger because of them!

Remember that as long as you are trying, you have not failed! When it feels like you have given it your best and it is time to let go, just keep holding on. Keep pushing like your life depends on it – it just might. Prove to yourself and others that you are a winner (winners finish what they start)! Honor your self promise! Focus on your reason for deciding to make a change and please do not give up on yourself! No matter what! You deserve to succeed! And when you do, you will feel a powerful, peaceful sense of pride and joy which no one can ever take away!

5 Biggest Nutrition Mistakes

5 Biggest Nutrition Mistakes

Too Much Fat & Sugar

The twin demons of nutrition. Fat is calorically the densest of all nutrients, with nine calories per gram. Fat is hard to digest and is the body’s preferred storage material. Though a certain amount of fat is needed for brain and other bodily functions, the little that’s required is easily acquired through regular low fat eating.

Excess sugar is easily converted to fat once in the body. Buyer beware: A food may be advertised as low fat and still be loaded with sugar. Taken in excess, this sugar can be quickly converted to fat. Quite a few a few of the sports drinks and nutritional sports bars are loaded with sugar. Limit fat intake to roughly 15% of your total caloric consumption.

Not Drinking Enough Water

As we know, the body is 67% water, and we should drink lots of water throughout the day. Water courses throughout the body’s plumbing; downing copious amounts throughout the day keeps the pipes clean as chrome. So flush the system continually and regularly, regenerating muscle cells through water replenishment. Drink 10 eight ounce glasses of water a day.

Lacking Positive Nitrogen Balance

Positive nitrogen balance is the physiological state in which muscular growth is possible. How to achieve it? Take in a fresh supply of muscle building nutrients every 2-3 hours. The human body works most efficiently when given small feedings at regular intervals throughout the day. These evenly spaced feedings should be composed of high quality protein and carbohydrates.

How can you eat every 2-3 hours when faced with the rigors of a job, family and real world responsibilities? A nutritious sports bar and a glass of skim milk can supply 50 grams of protein and 50-100 grams of carbohydrates. How long does it take to eat a sandwich? Or drink a protein shake? How about a piece of fruit and a chicken breast? You get the idea. This ties into food preparation; pack clean food snacks and graze throughout the day. When an athlete is in positive nitrogen balance, the body is ready, willing and able to grow.

Lacking Food Balance in Meals

Imbalance is rampant in this off kilter world. Food consumption is no exception. Balanced eating as defined by some nutritionists is not quite the same as balanced eating as defined by the muscle elite. The optimal feeding, according to the elite, is a skillful blending of lean protein, starcvhy and fibrous carbohydrates, minuscule amounts of fat and no sugar. The proportional divisions vary depending upon individual characteristics. Some folks are carb sensitive and need to keep starchy carbs to a minimum, otherwise they blow up like cartoon characters who’ve swallowed an air hose. Others thrive on a diet heavy on potatoes and rice with no ill effects.

How you metabolize food is as individual as your hair color or height. You need to determine how foods affect you. Rule of thumb for proportional balance: 50% calories from carbs, 35% from protein and 15% from fat. This is a good starting point, and careful monitoring once on this 50-35-15 regimen will dictate any necessary adjustments. The goal is building muscle and reducing bodyfat. How do you achieve a real world balance with traveling around with a scale, calorie book, and calculator? At each meal, fill 50% of your plate with carbohydrates. Half of these should be dense, starchy carbs (rice, potatoes) and half should be fibrous carbs (broccoli, green beans, lettuce, etc.). The other half of the dinner plate should consist of lean protein (skinless chicken, turkey, fish, etc.). Don’t worry about the 15% fat… it’s there!

Ignoring Supplementation

We all have little holes and shortcomings in our diets, and supplements help us round them out. All elite athletes use supplements. The expense, hassle and confusion of diet supplementing scares off some trainers. Big mistake. State with a prepackaged multipak. In addition, a quality protein powder, a high grade carbohydrate powder, and a big supply if beef liver tabs will do wonders for your recuperation, training, and physique.

3 Big Mistakes in Nutrition

3 Big Mistakes in Nutrition

Insufficient Protein

The fact remains: Protein is the single most important nutrient for muscle regeneration and building. The trick is to use only lean protein. Protein and fat usually coexist in food sources. Meat, fish, fowl, dairy, these primary sources all can have much fat content. In the old days, we did not worry about such inconveniences. As a result, heavy protein consumers developed nasty clogged arteries and astronomical cholesterol rates. The fault wasn’t in the protein, but the fat attached to the protein.

Nowadays, we hardcore weight trainers confine our protein to nonfat or low fat sources. Skim milk, egg whites, fish, skinless fowl, flank steak, and of course that staple of weight training, protein powder. These foods represent powerful, clean protein sources. Start by ingesting 1 – 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. To stay anabolic, divide the total intake into 4-8 equal portions and eat these low fat protein sources at regular intervals throughout the day.

Failing to Cook for Yourself

Meal preparation is a critical skill. To be truly successful as a bodybuilder, you should be able to prepare your own food. Nutritionally sound foods eaten throughout the day are necessary to obtain anabolism. Most male bodybuilders (and more than a few female ones) do not cook. Big mistake. Why depend on mom, your spouse, restaurants or fast food joints for the endless succession of small, nutritious feedings required to mount a serious bodybuilder effort?

Not only do you have to come to grips with cooking, but you have to develop a wide and inventive repertoire of dishes and meals. Otherwise you are locked into the equivalent of prison chow. Jail house cuisine is bland, unimaginative, tasteless. Kinda like the clean foods we bodybuilders choose to contend with day in, day out.

You need a lot of imagination to deal with clean food. Tuna and egg white need not be dull. How do the ignorant become enlightened? Comb the magazines. Read low fat cook books. Assemble your ingredients, set aside some time and have at it. Plus, you’ll impress the heck out of your mom when you serve her a low fat gourmet feast some fine Sunday.

Not keeping a Nutrition Log

As cumbersome as it might sound, the muscle elite keep daily records of what they consume and when they consume it. They write it all down in a log. This allows them to keep a running tally of their nutritional progress. They establish a long term game plan and keep daily tabs on food and supplement consumption. Tracking results, identifying trends, finding what works, discarding what doesn’t, a log becomes your nutritional report card. You can make truly accurate assessments and implement intelligent corrective action when you base your adjustments on factual data and objective analysis. Otherwise it degenerates into wishful thinking and self-delusion.

So begin by assembling data. The truly complete nutritional log lists date, time, food type, and carb, fat, sugar, sodium, protein and caloric content. Body stats are notated along with short descriptive phrases on the athlete’s general condition. Drawn up in column format, the comprehensive notation of a meal takes about two minutes. And you’ll find that the purchases of a food nutritional value book (available at any bookstore) will be of a great help. Did I hear you say what a hassle? It could be worse. Thomas Jefferson wrote down every financial transaction he made in his adult life and he lived to be 83.

Two Biggest Eating Mistakes of Bodybuilders

Two Biggest Eating Mistakes of Bodybuilders

Eating Too Much

We all know the biology. Excess calories are stored as bodyfat. For overeating to be at the top of the nutritional false move list is no mistake. Building muscle is the number one goal of bodybuilding and bodyfat is the bodybuilder’s number one enemy. What’s the sense of working an impressive set of muscles requiring much blood, sweat and tears, if it’s obscured by a layer of lard? May I suggest the obvious? If you are overweight, eat less. The simple act on consuming less food will cause you to lose weight. Be aware, however, that if you eat less but retain your current food profile, you will just construct a miniature version of your old self. Less of the same will shrink you, but your proportion of muscle to bodyfat will stay the same. The end result? You look like your old self, just pounds lighter. Truly sensational physical transformation lies in losing bodyfat while maintaining muscle. To achieve true nutritional nirvana, building muscle while simultaneously losing bodyfat, we need to practice nutrient based dieting.

To lose fat and retain muscle, besides doing aerobic exercise, you need to eat precise amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fat. You need to become nutrient conscious. Read the labels on the food you eat. What is the consensus on achieving metabolic nirvana? To hang on to muscle, you need protein and lots of it. To maintain energy and fuel growth you need quality cards. To shed the fat blanket and keep the muscle, to effect the physical transformation you seek, you need lots of quality nutrients, but not in excess. You tread the razor’s edge between enough and too much. Everyone is different. Experiment and monitor.

2. Eating Too Little

Undereating is as bad as overeating. Physiologically, it’s impossible to build muscle if your diet lacks proper nutrients. Ample amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and yes, even fat are necessary to build muscle. The trick is balance, you need enough high quality food to grow muscle. Yet even the finest muscle fuel will be stored as fat if taken in excess. One key strategy is to confine your eating to ‘clean fuel’, nutritionally dense foods with little or no fat and sugar. And you need to eat plenty of them. A serious weight trainer who additionally performs regular cardiovascular work will need to the extra nutrients to cope with the additional metabolic demands.

Seven Steps Toward Establishing Yourself As A Bodybuilding And Fitness Professional

Seven Steps Toward Establishing Yourself As A Bodybuilding And Fitness Professional

Do you have aspirations of becoming a bodybuilding and fitness professional someday? Although my journey has not been an easy one, I’m fortunate enough to earn a living doing what I love to do.

I want to save you some of the pain and frustration that I suffered through by offering my insights. I want to share with you what I’ve learned, help you succeed, and achieve your dreams:

  1. Develop, create, or invent a “turnkey-type” system or structured plan (i.e. training, nutrition, supplementation, lifestyle, or a combination of all of these factors) for targeted audience or niche market.
  2. Create a highly recognizable, gimmick-type name or title for your system would be an extremely helpful marketing tool now and in the future (i.e. Thinking Big, Mass Machine, MAX-OT, Heavy Duty, etc).
  3. Master your craft and develop your style as an inspirational WRITER. Get together a short, 10-chapter book going that explains your unique story and system-and do so as soon as possible in your journey in the business of fitness.
  1. Master your craft and style as an emotion-inducing SPEAKER. Get in front of as many people as you can and as often as possible.
  2. You must treat your passion for bodybuilding and fitness as a moneymaking endeavor from the very beginning of your journey. That’s if, of course, you ever hope it will eventually become a moneymaking business. Sure, you love to help people-and so do I. And, yes, you will have to share your expertise for free as you establish yourself as an authority. But let me make this point perfectly clear: There will be a point-in-time when the thrill you get from helping others for just a “pat on the back” will no longer be a satisfying. That’s what forces many health and fitness professionals to stop what they are doing. They move on to other things in their lives-long before they’ve mastered their skills and touched as many lives as they wanted.
  3. Remember that, while you are in a business with the specific purpose to earn money, you must really connect to your audience and have the sincere desire to help them improve the quality of their lives.
  4. Be persistent. Stay true to yourself, your dreams, and your plans and keep searching for ways to create the extraordinary life you wish to have in the bodybuilding and fitness world. The road you are about to embark on will be challenging at times. But isn’t that true of anything great that’s worth having in life?





This website is dedicated to all of my Pendekar Herman Suwanda
teachers,particularly Shaykh Taner Ansari and Pendekar Herman Suwanda (May God protect his Secret). The treasure you find in my teachings is here because of the love, guidance, and attention they have given to me. What is coarse and unfinished comes from this one. I dedicate myself to train harder so that, as they have taught me, my every movement brings praise to the Divine. Shaykh Taner Ansari
Thanks are also due to the students who have come to learn and in the process helped me grow as a teacher and as a lifelong student of the martial arts.
Rennie Saunders



Primary Studies & Teachers

Pencak Silat
Mande Muda (’81-97) Pendekar Herman Suwanda, Ibu Ike Suwanda, Maha Guru Rita Suwanda, Pak Tholib, Pak Dadang Gunawan

Agama Kuring (’84, ’87, ’92, ’97) Ibu Mimi Rukmini, Ibu Fatima, Ibu Mimi Hendra
Qadiri Rifai Sufism (’92-03) Shaykh Taner Ansari

Iyengar Yoga (’96-04) Mitra

Other studies

  • Special Forces combatives (’72-73) Budd Saunders
  • Nisei Goju Ryu (’77-80) Chaka Zulu (Sensei Earl Monroe)
  • Sil Lum Pai/Choi Li Fut (’81) Sifu Ron
  • Silat Batak (’94-95) Guru Josef Sirigar
  • Cimande DOMAS (’97) Bapak TS Hendra – Sumatra
  • Bahala Na Eskrima (’97-98) Guro David Hines
  • Silat Serak (’00-01) Guru Michael Roberto

Personal History
Rennie began his martial arts training with his father Budd in the early ’70s. Budd noticed his son’s inclination toward the fighting arts through Rennie’s regular tussles at school and decided that the discipline of training would allow him to develop self control and perhaps settle him down. Or, at the least, to reduce the incidence of bloody noses. Thus began Rennie’s training in Judo and Special Forces knife combat.
In the late ’70s, while attending art school in NYC, Rennie had the fortune to study Karate under Sensei Chaka Zulu for several years. This time was critical in the formation of his personal martial philosophy.
Upon moving to California in 1981 Rennie joined the Jade Phoenix school under Sifu Ron where he studied southern styles of Kung Fu for a year. As fate would have it Sifu Ron moved, leaving Rennie in search of a teacher again.
Pak Herman moved to the U.S. in June of 1981 and set up classes in San Francisco, Berkeley and Santa Cruz. It was in October of that year that Guru Rennie joined Pak Herman in Santa Cruz and began his Pencak Silat training.
Rennie was part of the first trip to Indonesia led by Pak Herman in 1984. The group spent two months in intensive training that included meeting many masters, visiting Cimande village and performing at village ceremonies.
Rennie trained on a weekly basis until 1987 when Pak Herman moved to Los Angeles. It was also at this time that Rennie was awarded his Guru Muda certificate and instructed to open classes of his own.
During the next few years Rennie traveled to LA on a regular basis to continue his training. In 1987 he joined Pak Herman in Malaysia to participate in an international Silat competition. The American team placed 4th (behind only Indonesia and Malaysia. Surprise!)
In 1991 Rennie was awarded his Guru certificate at which time he opened the New River Academy in Santa Cruz.
Along with Pak Herman’s wife Shannon, he represented Mande Muda at the 1997 international championships in Terenganu, Malaysia; placing 3rd in the weapons form competition. Rennie actively studied with Pendekar Herman until 1998, which included participating in over 120 hours of seminars and the completion of Jagabaya Satu.
Guru Rennie began his training as a sufi dervish with Shaykh Taner in March of 1992 and has been his representative in Santa Cruz since 1994.
Rennie’s Iyengar Yoga training began in 1996 under Mitra. He is currently working on his yoga teacher certification.
Gerakan Suci grew out of a mandate from Shaykh Taner to present a fighting art to Westerners that incorporates spiritual chivalry as taught in Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Iran, and India. So, for the last several years Rennie has been working to condense the volumes of information he has been given into a cohesive system that integrates his understanding of the Indonesian fighting arts with the spiritual development practices of Sufism.
Gerakan Suci should be viewed as Guru Rennie’s expression of Mande Muda developed under the constant guidance and feedback of Shaykh Taner Ansari and with the permission of the Suwanda family.

Open Circle Academy, November 2002
From left, standing: Brent, Sally, Bill, Dustin, Ben, Charlene, Lauren, Elizabeth, Josh.
kneeling: Steffan, Rennie, Mike, Megan.
Chivalry 2

Chivalry 2

Some suggestions

  • Bow to the school when you enter and when you leave. Leave your shoes at the door.
  • Perform ablutions (ritual washing) before beginning class. Maintain good personal hygiene as a courtesy to your teachers and training partners. This includes keeping your fingernails and toenails trimmed, your breath fresh, and managing any body odor you may have.
  • Bow to your workout partner before you hit each other. Keep contact intense but peaceful.
  • When listening to an instructor or when waiting for instructions, stand in pasan santai (feet shoulder width, right hand over left).
  • The perguruan is a house of discipline, peace & safety. Nurture these attitudes in class and take them with you when you leave.
  • Treat the perguruan as a sacred place of learning where you have come to grow and become the person you envision in your secret heart.
  • Maintaining a clean school is of paramount importance and is the responsibility of the students, not the teachers. Take the initiative to get things done. This is your school so treat it as such.
  • Bring fruit, snacks, and flowers to share with your classmates. Check with the Chai Baba (Tea Master).
  • Consider the study of martial arts as a path to self-healing, confidence, discipline and spiritual unfoldment.
  • Treat your teachers and fellow students with respect and dignity.
  • Treat yourself with patience and gentleness.
  • Be always sincere but never serious.
  • Be lighthearted but not frivolous.
  • The head: Refrain from patting people on the head, even children, as this is considered the seat of the soul in some cultures.
  • The left hand: In many countries it is considered impolite to do certain things with your left hand. This is because in many parts of the world the left hand is used to clean oneself after going to the bathroom. Therefore:
  • Reach for people with your right hand and try not to touch them with your left hand. Obviously this doesn’t count when working out.
  • Do not put your left hand on an eating surface or handle food with it. Eat with your right hand.
  • When moving through a group of people, it is polite to put your right hand in front of you and your left hand behind your back and bend over slightly.
  • Give and receive objects, money, etc. with your right hand. This can be difficult for lefties at first, but becomes easier with practice.
  • Feet: It is impolite to point your feet at another person or to touch them with your feet, other than when doing Silat. Therefore do not point your feet at another person when sitting. Do not rest your feet on another person. Do not step over another person.
  • Weapons and musical instruments: Do not step over them as these items are assumed to be imbued with spirit and spiritual properties. Always treat them with the utmost care and respect.
  • Pointing: It is better to point with the thumb than with your finger.
  • Eating: Politeness when eating becomes very important in poorer countries. We observe several practices here and recommend several when eating in Indonesia. General politeness is always important.
  • Always serve others first, serve yourself last. Usually guests are first, then elders then others in descending age order.
  • When offered food or drink, thank your host and accept, then continue conversing. Wait for several offers to begin before you actually do. This shows that you are not visiting because you need to eat, even if you do. It is most polite to wait for the elder male to begin eating first.
  • When you become full, leave a very small amount of food on your plate. If you clear your plate it will be filled again for you.
  • Addressing instructors:The Perguruan, like Indonesia, is casual but polite in personal interactions. The head instructor, Rennie Saunders, is addressed as Pak (sir or father) or Guru (teacher).
  • In class: It is polite to bow before beginning a drill with another student or guru. This is a reminder that this is only practice and that your opponent is your friend helping you to learn.
  • Leaving class: Always ask permission to leave a class in progress, even if just getting a drink of water. Remember to bow when leaving and returning.
  • Arriving late: Always bow to the instructor when entering a class in progress. Do a quick stretch and then enter the group as quickly as possible.
  • Entering the perguruan: Always bow, as indicated above, when entering or leaving the perguruan. This is a sign of humility and a willingness to learn as well as respect for the perguruan, the gurus, the art and all past masters.
  • Give salaams to the gurus and then to your classmates.
  • Hand gestures and body language: In most cultures hand gestures and movements are considered powerful forms of communication. Certain gestures that are common in the US are considered impolite in Indonesia.
    These include:
  • Motioning with your index finger to ask someone to come to you. This is very rude. If you wish someone to come over to you, scoop the air with your palm facing down. Always approach a guru or elder rather than motioning them to come to you.
  • Do not stand with your hands on your hips while listening to a guru. This is effectively saying “you don’t know what you’re talking about.” Standing in pasan santai with your right hand over left in front of your body as mentioned above is preferred.
  • Correcting an instructor: It is very bad form to correct an instructor while they are teaching. If something seems wrong, assume that the misunderstanding is because of your incomplete knowledge. Ask politely for clarification. It may be a variation and it will probably be covered by the FAQ (page 36 of the Student Manual). You should find over time that this humility will speed your learning.
Chivalry 1

Chivalry 1

Chivalry and Adab
Adab (good manners) are the foundation of chivalry and are essential qualities on the path to peace and self development. Adab means to treat people with courtesy and politeness, to be refined in your actions and humble in your speech and also to be respectful of your elders and teachers. It means to be helpful to others beyond your own needs.
If you have good manners you greatly lessen your chances of getting into fights. Good manners are contagious and help foster politeness and ease in your everyday life. Some of the good manners we encourage are common sense and some are aspects of the Indo-Malay culture from which Pencak Silat came.
As an adjunct to your physical training we encourage all students to use good manners when at the school or at school events and to let these habits spread to your daily life. In this way students of Gerakan Suci will be known not only as proficient martial artists, but as polite and humble citizens.

School Etiquette
A martial arts school must have a well-developed etiquette and sense of ethics in order to provide a safe and supportive training environment. We have developed the Open Circle Academy as a family environment. We encourage our students to treat the teachers as your father and mother and each other as though they were brothers and sisters, or as if they were all living in the same small village. We especially want the Academy to be a safe and supportive place for women to train, as this is not stressed enough in the martial arts.

It is essential that new students be treated with the same courtesy as long-time members, if not more, as we wish for them to find the Academy to be a safe place to learn. It is considered the height of disrespect for Academy members to intimidate, harass, make sexual advances, or victimize other students. This includes using excessive force in exercises or unwanted flirtation. Those who haze others will be expelled from the school with prejudice, and will forfeit all dues and fees.

Dating among students is discouraged in the strongest possible terms. We have seen over the years that dating between students can often produce unpleasant stresses for the entire school. While we will never stand in the way of true love and know that it is possible to meet your “soul-mate” here, we respectfully suggest that it is more likely that you meet him or her at a dance class or your preferred religious gathering. It should go without saying that dating between teachers and students is also discouraged as it is a violation of the basic level of trust for all concerned.