Guru Ingram's Autobiography

        I was born in Cheribon, Indonesia in 1930 of Dutch-Indonesian parents, also called "Indos."   My father worked for the police and was transferred from Cheribon to Batavia (Jakarta), where we lived in Kramat (Nieuwe Laan).   I started my martial arts training in 1937 when I was introduced to a man (a Djago) named William Loreo who was well-known as a skilled fighter.   He lived in Kweetang and later moved to Tanah Tinggi.   Besides the Kweetang system, he had learned the Tjimande system and Pukulan Kemajoran.   In those days, he controlled his own area as a "Djago" - a protector.

        I had to learn silat because of the trouble that I got into after school.   I was a daredevil and challenged dares.   Most of the time, when fathers were policemen or preachers, kids would rebel and not follow their fathers' footsteps.

        Most of the silat systems at the time were named after city suburbs, rivers, or animals.   There were no titles but teachers were called Oom (Uncle) or Guru.   During that time, we seldom used the words "Pentjak Silat."   We called it "Main" in Indonesian or "Spel" in Dutch.   In addition to training in silat, there were a lot of Indos who trained in boxing that became champions.   Pentjak Silat was first organized in 1947 in Jogyakarta and later became a union called "IPSI"-Ikatan Pencak Silat Indonesia.   In those days, I was not too concerned in the history of the art, I was only concerned about learning self-defense.   But I do remember my teacher telling me that the Kweetang system came from two creators.

        The former East Indies where I grew up had been a Dutch colony for three and a half centuries, but became Indonesia when the country received independence in 1949 from the Dutch.   In 1956, we left for Holland, where Frits Vermaessen and myself trained and taught people in the basement of our apartment building.   He did his own system and I did mine.   We were the first to start teaching silat in Amsterdam.   In addition, I learned Pukulan Japara from my father.   I also learned "Gelut" (also called "Gulat" or wrestling) and Vitamaen stick fighting from the Mollucans.

        In the 1960's, we left for the United States.  After we arrived and settled in Washington State, I started teaching from my garage.   Every year, I go to Holland to learn more from the pioneers.   I'll always be a learner for the rest of my life, because if you think that you know everything, that is when the learning stops!

        Through the years, I have modified and developed new techniques.   For the rest of my life, I will dedicate my training and teaching to the most unique forms of self-defense.   I have learned a lot of systems and adapted them into my own techniques.   No one style contains all the answers or magic that go into creating one human fighting machine.   What I did was revise the old to satisfy the new.   To avoid misunderstanding and conflict, I have changed the name of my system to Amerindo Self-Defense System.   In the United States, martial artists sometimes call me Pendekar or Guru Besar.   I don't care much about titles, but it's their way of showing respect and acknowledgement.   I was never a founder of a system and have never stated that I was.

        Although we Indos never got the recognition, we were the forerunners that brought our culture , dance, cooking and martial arts to countries all over the world.   We are rich in culture because of European background from the father's side and Indonesian background from the mother's side.   My respect goes to all the Dutch-Indonesian pioneers that brought the fighting art and culture from Indonesia to the United States and the rest of the world.

Jim Ingram

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