Pak Flohr, a special man……

By: Stan van Ooyen, student of Pak Flohr

 

My father and I had no idea how our lives were going to change when we first visited Pak Flohr in Breda about 30 years ago. After many years of hard training we had both earned the 1st Dan Ju-Jitsu in the Netherlands and we were training for the 2nd. We also possessed the 1st Dan of the World Ju-Jitsu Federation, awarded by Professor Robert Clarck and a black belt Tai-Jitsu, granted by professor Al Pieters (respectively 9th and 8th Dan Ju-Jitsu). I myself was appointed instructor of the World Ju-Jitsu Federation and as such I gave lessons to the higher graduated pupils of various martial arts schools.
 
After the door was opened with a firm swing and we were greeted exuberantly with a hearty handshake and embracing pats on the shoulder, Pak Flohr invited us to come along to his attic. The shaky (folding) attic stairs granted access to a small mezzanine with a wooden floor and a frayed carpet. Apparently a lot of people had been walking here....
 
Then Pak Flohr asked me to show him some of my techniques. With a lot of self-confidence I thought I could easily show that Indonesian man what Ju-Jitsu really was. After all, I had recently won the Dutch Open Ju-Jitsu Championships, so this was going to be a piece of cake.
 
When I grabbed Pak Flohr and thought that I could take him in a clamp without too much difficulty, something went really wrong. I noticed that the grabbing felt different. When I tried to turn in order to make a clamp I got hit on my ribs and while he slightly unbalanced me, he took over. Before I knew it, I was stuck in a clamp myself with my legs uncomfortably crossed below me and an elbow of Pak Flohr against my chin. Imagine what would have happened if he had done this with some force. The ‘champion’ would be finished within 2 seconds...


 
My father and I were flabbergasted. How could this happen? Why had we never seen this before? We could not understand where this man’s strength and perfect timing came from. After having tried several techniques on Pak Flohr, I considered giving up on Ju-Jitsu immediately. My Ju-Jitsu skills seemed to be completely gone. Even the most basic techniques had become worthless.
 
A few hours and innumerable humiliations later my father and I went home. What should we do now? What about the hundreds of techniques we had learned by heart? To continue our training like we used to was clearly pointless. This nearly 60-year-old Indonesian man was simply laughing at us and, in all honesty, for good reason too.



Driven by the desire to learn, we made another appointment with Pak Flohr. I was very eager to find out how he took over my techniques and I really wanted to learn this myself. Fortunately Pak Flohr enjoyed training with us and he liked to improve our techniques. Pak Flohr asked us to come to his attic every Saturday afternoon for training. During the other days of the week we were busy inventing the most ingenious and dangerous techniques. We were convinced that there had to be a technique that could overwhelm him. No matter how hard we tried, Pak Flohr remained invincible, but we learned a lot from his lessons. My Ju-Jitsu knowledge had increased enormously since I started training with Pak Flohr. I first noticed this during the Tai-Jitsu course I attended in Antwerp with professor Pieters.
All of a sudden I could easily take over other Ju-Jitsu instructors and higher Dan holders. I just had to apply the basics Pak Flohr taught me, combined with my own feeling. I remember that during a Tai-Jitsu exam I had to defend myself with a short stick. The instructors in Belgium had never seen anything alike and at the end of the exam they were all standing around me admiring the special techniques of Pak Flohr. Professor Pieters praised my 'fabulous techniques' and thus we made a really good impression on all of the other instructors too.
 
Stan (l), Pak Floh and Stan's father (r)One day Pak Flohr phoned me and asked me to come to his house. In the attic he told me that I was one of the few people who were interested in his clamping and take-over techniques and that I also understood the basic principles and patterns he used. Then he asked me if I wanted to learn a style that could be used against all martial arts, "even against Pencak Silat". This offer immediately piqued my interest, so - in addition to practising clamps and take-overs – we started to train Pukulan. He taught me the langkah that was an important part of his style. I learned a large number of techniques, as well as an own style, called the ‘village-style’. Pak Flohr also stimulated me to try out my new style on fellow pupils. Furthermore, Pak Flohr taught me the monkey style. In fact, this style consisted of the basic principles that Pak Flohr used to make the clamping and take-over techniques more efficient.
 
Thanks to Pak Flohr I have become much better in Ju-Jitsu and I have learned to take over almost every technique in various ways. I have also learned to improve the existing techniques, so I could continue to use them and did not have to throw them away after all. In addition, I have become a 'Pukulan player' and Pak Flohr gave me a style best described as a combination of Pukulan Madura and Serak.


 
Now, some 25-30 years later, I understand even better what Pak Flohr tried to teach me. Recently I met Walter van den Broeke again and he has shown me the impact of the Serak on the original style of Pak Flohr. Walter understands the Pukulan, the way we learned it about 30 years ago from Pak Flohr. In addition, he has studied the Serak for years and he has convinced me that the basic principles and laws of physics of the style of Pak Flohr, originate from the Serak. Walter has managed to bring the Pukulan that he received from Pak Flohr to a particularly high level.

By studying the Pukulan at Walter’s school I recognize a number of principles Pak Flohr used when he humiliated me years ago at his attic. I now realize that it is a permanent learning process that will never end.
After Pak Flohr’s death in 1998 his pupils were forced to stand on their own and to further develop the techniques and principles they learned. We will now have to find the answers to all our questions by ourselves and we can only try to imagine what Pak Flohr would have said.
 
In the last 30 years I have met many Pencak Silat teachers and Ju-Jitsu teachers from home and abroad and I have exchanged techniques with many of them. However, no one even comes close to the level of skills of Pak Flohr.

Stan van Ooyen

Stan van Ooyen

Practiced martial arts:

 

  • Student of Pak Flohr
  • World Jiu Jitsu Federation (instructor, 1st dan)
  • Jiu Jitsu Judo Bond Nederland (1st dan)
  • Tai Jitsu (1st dan)
  • Tai Chi Chuan
  • Kung Fu