Guru Tuan Rennie Saunders
Guru Rennie has been a student of martial arts since age 12. Some of the styles he has studied and absorbed over the years include combat Judo, Nisei Goju Ryu Karate, Eskrima and a smattering of Southern Kung Fu. He was a card-carrying member of the NRA until they became overly rabid (when did that happen?). However, most of his practical early training came from wearing his hair long in a ponytail before it was considered fashionable. It was not until 1980 when he met then-Pendekar Muda Herman Suwanda that his training truly began. He received his first teacher certificate in 1992 and soon thereafter opened the New River Academy in Santa Cruz. This is where he made the acquaintance of Mushtaq Ali Shah. In 1997 he recieved Jagabaya Satu certification. As time permits we will tell more of this history including trips to Java, Sumatra, Bali and Malaysia.
Guru Mushtaq Ali Shah
It is very difficult to get Guru Mushtaq Ali to say anything at all about his past, but over the years we have picked up a few tidbits of information to share.
He received his first instruction in the arts at a very early age from his Grandfather, who taught him boxing and the local variant of “catch as catch can” wrestling. At the age of 16 he began studying a Moro style of Kali under Jalaleddin ‘abd al Salaam The father of his closest friend. This was a pivotal point for him in a number of ways, not the least of which was to set him on his lifelong search for Silat instruction.
Mushtaq Ali’s working life has consisted of mostly “high risk” professions such as bouncer, bodyguard, courier, Psych tech in the locked wards of County and State psychiatric hospitals and college professor. He has degrees in anthropology and philosophy and speaks several languages.
He arranged his life for many years in such a way that he could study with the best Silat teachers he could find. When asked about the Silat styles he has studied, you usually get answers like “a couple” or “not enough”. We do know that he had trained extensively in Cimande and Bangau Putih before finding his way to the New River Academy.
In 1992 Mushtaq Ali was, as he describes it “Qalandar”, which is to say, wandering on a spiritual quest. That summer the wind blew him to Santa Cruz Ca. where he picked up a local phone book, fliped it to the Martial Arts section, and found an ad for Pencak Silat at the New River Academy. The rest, as they say, is history.
Guru Muda Charlene Grondahl
Guru Charlene has been a student under Guru Rennie since 1992. She recieved her instructorship in 1997. Dubbed the Wolverine by her classmates, Guru Charlene takes a special glee in demonstrating Jurus Cimande. She is currently an assistant instructor under Guru Rennie in Santa Cruz.
Guru Muda Christopher Fonda
Guru Christopher has been a student under Guru Rennie since 1993. He recieved his instructorship in 1996. Dorothee has been a student since 1995. Christopher and Dorothee spent ’97 traveling the Indonesian Archipeligo for a year studying the culture, meeting great people and learning more silat. They were able to spend two weeks in Cimande village training with Pak Amin and getting some *very* nice bruises. Christopher and Dorothee currently live in Maine with their lovely daughter Gingko.
Soon we hope to add a general history of Pencak Silat, it’s growth in America and the West and specifically the experience of the teachers associated with Gerakan Suci and how it came to be the art it is.