My Journey Through Pukulan
Written by Mas Josh
I first put on a white gi and belt in January of this year. However, when looking back, I think I began my journey and training years ago. My son has trained Pukulan for five years now and it truly has been transformative for both him and our family. I remember vividly Mas Goeroe Agoeng demonstrating one of her own personal forms at the end of one of my son’s classes. She moved seamlessly to the Kirtan music of one of my favorite musicians. My son came to me afterwards and said, “I have to have that music and I want to be able to do what she just did.” I walked out of One With Heart that night and have to admit, I had the exact same thought.
In 2010 I graduated medical school. Two days later I fell 30 feet in a rock climbing accident. Two broken legs and three surgeries later, I got to spend months in a wheel chair, then crutches, and finally on a cane as I tried to learn how to be a physician and walk again at the same time. After witnessing Cun Tao and Pukulan I knew I wanted to give it a shot but continually used my injury and my new busy schedule as excuses to hold off. Finally, the draw of the art, and excitement of my son overcame the excuses and I began my journey with Cun Tao.
As a medical doctor the first transformations I began to notice were health related. A busy schedule in medical school and residency had left me with extra pounds I had hoped would never be a problem. After just 3 weeks of training in Cun Tao, I pleasantly saw 10 of these pounds melt away. In the wake of my two broken legs some surgeons told me I may never walk normally without the assistance of a cane. After 1 month of training with the likes of Mas Goeroe Agoeng Janessa and Mas Jen, I was not only walking but was running, miles at a time as I prepared for that next test. Additionally, the weight loss, the cardio conditioning, and the strength building began to translate into other areas of my life. I was finally rock climbing again just as though I had never been injured.
I next realized that Pukulan and Cun Tao are not only for physical health but also for mental health. I learned weeks-worth of holds of Cun Tao self-defense holds preparing for my speed through. I continually ran into one obstacle, my breath. Mas Goeroe Agoeng would look me in the eyes and say, “Just breath, control your breath and you will control your mind and your movements.” I believe this concept is translational and can be used in many arenas of life other than martial arts. I work as an emergency medicine doctor at a level one trauma center and I see the sickest and most critically injured patients in our region. I have to make very quick, life-or-death decisions about patient care on a daily basis. The mindset of breath, control, and meditation I learned in Cun Tao I now carry with me every day to work. Whether I am doing a critical procedure or leading an intense patient resuscitation, I always hear my teacher’s voice saying, “don’t forget to breath.” I believe I am a better physician and provide better medical care because of this mental clarity.
Finally, and in my mind most importantly, Pukulan has changed the dynamics of my family. I have a bond and connection with my son that I never had before I started on this journey. We get to train together. We sweat and we laugh together. We help each other with our personal forms and standards in our make shift garage studio. We have gotten to serve food and tea while we support our teammates at tests and promotions. We have both met families like the Shackeltons who will be lifelong friends for both of us. This list could go on and on but I think most importantly, we have learned and now practice a mutual respect for one another that I once thought was not possible.
If you have made it this far in the article I want to say thanks for journeying with me as I get to share what Cun Tao and Pukulan have meant to me and my family. It really is an art like no other and I encourage you to give it a shot. I can’t promise that your experience will be my experience, but I can promise you will have an experience and it will be transformative. I look forward to training with you, and don’t forget to breath.