By understanding the past it is also an open door to the future.
My family came first from Scotland to southern France in the 9th century when the lord of Tours escaped the prosecutions from the king of England. He later became the Marquis of Thouars after marrying the Contessa Thouars , of Thouars. Through annexation of the city of Le Mans he also acquired the rest of the neighboring cities.
The castle outside the city of Thouars was built in the middle of the11th century, where it still stands firm. And the city itself is very clean and the food is excellent. You would probably enjoy taking a vacation trip to the place in France.
Our fore-fathers were also crusaders, and fought in the Middle East and were part of a corps of noble men that once conquered the empire of Turkey. During the 4th English war in 1780 - 1784 many of the French nobility fled their country, but a brigade of French grenadiers under Marc Anton Thouars (marquis of Anjou), settled in Hilversum, Holland. At the peace treaty in Paris the French gave the Dutch back their land. For the "Free Frenchmen" to remain in Holland as citizens, they had to change their names. The "de" before the name of Thouars made this transition into a genuine Dutch originality.
The French foreign legion was first formed in 1860, It was also the beginning of the American Civil War in a conflict between the northern and southern states. From the beginning the legion was divided into 2 battalions, the Estrangers and the Elite.
My grandfather, Willem Karel Otto Lodewijk, joined the legion at the recruiters station in Tangiers in 1875 and was assigned to the battalion Estrangers. After many of his adventurous engagements with the Legion in Algiers, the Sahara and French Indo-China, he retired to Sukabumi, in West Java, in 1900. He obtained here a job as a journalist for a local colonial newspaper, and remained writing the daily news until he passed away in 1916. Forth-coming of his marriage to Sahidjie, a Sudanese wife, he wed her in 1901 and she gave birth to two sons. My father Henri Alexander was Born in 1903, and my uncle Rudolf in 1905.
The family de Vries came first as land developers out of Holland to West Java in 1788, and became very successful tea growers in the Garut region. During the time of their arrival in the east in the East Indies, the VOC suffered a loss of 87 million in 1725-1799. The interesting part of this era was, when the company seceded its existence in 1799, it was still paying out dividends to share holders of 16.5% to keep the truth from spreading among the public of the predicament the VOC was in .troubled as they were, the company was still able to make good on their promissory notes. Corruption within the structure of the companies organization with underpaid staff employees, outdated matters in bookkeeping and severe concurrency from France and England brought an end to the VOC.
Out of the marriage between my great grandfather, Johan Eric de Vries,
and Mary Thoufard, the daughter of a black American missionary, from San
Francisco, California, - she gave birth to 6 sons. My grandfather Jan de
Vries, was the oldest son in the family and was born in 1880 in Garut, West
After his parents died in 1906 , Jan became the owner of the tea plantation in Garut, and my mother, Susanna was born to her Sudanese mother. She also has 7 other brothers and sisters from a second marriage, my grandfather had wed another Sudanese wife. Jan de Vries was not only prosperous as a tea grower, but also a top expert in Pentjac Silat Serak (Sera). It was in the fields of his own plantation that he met the famous legend Mas Djoet, and became a very enthusiastic student in Serak.
Mas Djoet was the successor of Pak Serak, who was born in Cheribon in 1860. Mas Djoet was responsible for spreading the art of Serak also in Batam, and had dealt with the outer circle of the Baduy people in the Kendang mountains. The settlements of 40 villages where the Baduy lives is only 150 kilometers from central Jakarta. The Serak Banten is a tribute to Mas Djoets teaching .
My grandfather had never a dull day in his life, and he gained a great reputation for fighting, and even held pencak silat matches against other gurus in the backyard of his plantation home. Other Dutch neighbors considered him uncivilized when they had to listen to the drum music of de Vries' ongoing festivities until deep until the early morning hours, every time he organized a Pencak Silat Kendang event.
Each Silat art has a form of Kembangen (flower dance), and performed on the beat of a drum the two fighters would be doing their particular flower dance before bowing to each other traditionally and moving in for their encounters (actual pukulan). The better prepared fighter who has focused his training more in djurus, combination djurus, langkas, seliwas, potongs, guntings, pukuls, denkuls, pantjars, besets and sapus is usually the winner over the fighter that practices only the kembang and nedangs. The loser was constantly swept of his feet.
I hope you can realise that I am using incorrect Bahasa, since most of the terminology's used by me is lots of the old Jakarta slang. Several of the old Dutch Indo masters have also with their contributions created systems of Silat in old Batavia, and were never acknowledged by the Indonesians.
A certain Petit de Rooy from Jakarta was the founder of Pencak Monyet
Tjengkerit in the early 1900's.
"Pukulan" was term used by the Mardjikers (Mardykers), and the Mestizos ( first considered Indo Europeans , and later Dutch Indonesians) in old Jakarta (Batavia) in 1619-1623. The Mardjikers as a race, who have lived in the Tugu region of Tanjung Priok, totally disappeared in the 18th century. Their Portuguese language has influenced the Bahasa to great extent, and also the krontjong music came from them.
Jan de Vries was a "hard core" practitioner of different arts, what he lacked was patience to teach. He sent 3 of his nephews; Ferdinand, Ernest, and John de vries to Mas Djoet for Serak training. The three brothers at the end were so thoroughly well accomplished in the system, that John was given permission by Mas Djoet to teach Serak in 1928 in Bogor (Buitenzorg). He was also Mas Djoet's successor in 1938 after the legends death. There were a total of 8 uncles de Vries who practiced Serak or Ci Mande. Following in their footsteps are now the nephews , 4 of the brothers de Vries residing now in Holland and one de Thouars, and 3 other de Thouars living in
My 2 older brothers, Maurice and Paul received Serak instruction first from Ernest de Vries (Uncle Ventje) in Thailand (Siam) in 1946, and I was first introduced to western boxing by Mr. Hamilton in that Camp.
Paul continued his training in Serak, this time Further under the guidance of John de Vries in Amsterdam, in the early 50's. After his return to Holland from Korea, Maurice resumed his studies again in the family art under Ernest . Respectively, of the 2 brothers, Paul was first appointed to be the successor to of John in the 70's , Maurice later on before his Guru died in the 80's. The youngest of the brothers , Victor was
fully trained by Paul in the 50's.
My background is very simple, when I left Indonesia in 1953 for Holland, I had studied mostly Kun Tao and also different styles of Silat . I could have never fully matured in the arts as practitioner in Indonesia. When I came to Holland I continued my studies in fencing, boxing and ju jit su.
My studies in learning the science of martial arts has never stopped. In the U.S. I obtained training from the very best experts in shao lin, karate, kenpo, tai chi chuan, pa kua, and the inspirational blessings and their excellent instructions. There is no need for me to be the successor of anyone.Through the shao lin , I have received the rank of Sigung , and also have a 5th dan in Okinawa-te.
After 53 years of practice, my learning has grown to include the studies of
herbalism and the healing arts, I have created my own system of Kun Tao /
Silat de Thouars.