Suci Hati


Suci Hati is a style (aliran) from central Java in Indonesia.  It means - "pure heart".

Peter Clarke learnt silat from Jan de Jong.  Jan de Jong learned from Mr. Soehardi.  Jan de Jong was born in Semarang Indonesia of Dutch parents.  He initially studied jujutsu as a child and teenager in Indonesia.  It was not until returning to Indonesia in 1946 that Jan studied the central Javanese style of Suci Hati under Mr Soehardi.

In Jan's time, it was not that easy to become a student of pencak silat.  It involved making inquiries of appropriate people to speak to and then informal discussions with people which turned out, in effect, to be interviews.  The process was to ascertain whether the person was of a suitable character and acceptable to the hierarchy of the style.

Jan lost contact with Mr. Soehardi when he left Indonesia and migrated to Australia in 1952.  Jan visited Indonesian in 1981.  A demonstration of jujutsu was given in Jakarta by Jan which was broadcast as a news item on national television in Indonesia.  Mr Soehardi, by chance, saw the television programme and recognised his former friend and student, Jan de Jong. Mr Soehardi wrote Jan a letter which renewed the contact between them.  In 1986, it was arranged for Mr Soehardi to visit Jan in Perth.

Peter and Debbie Clarke were on a tour of Java with Jan in 1987 and as part of the trip, visited Mr Soehardi in Semarang.

It has been mentioned that it is not easy to become a silat student in former times.  Jan's story demonstrates this.  After the Second World War Jan returned to Indonesia in 1946 as a physiotherapist attached to the Royal Netherlands Indies Army (KNIL).  At the time of his return to Indonesia, the country was in conflict with the Dutch who were attempting to reassert control following the end of the world war and meeting resistance from freedom fighters headed by Sukarno.  Indonesian independence occurred three years later in 1949.

When Jan returned to Indonesia he expressed an interest in learning pencak to an Indonesian friend and asked him if he knew anyone who could teach him.  His friend said that he was not sure but he would ask around.  His friend would inquire on occasions about why he wanted to learn pencak.  Sometimes his friend would come to visit in the company of others.  They would sit and chat about many diverse topics.  Occasionally, the topic of silat might arise but not all that often.  Jan maintained a constant and heartfelt desire to do silat.

Eventually, Jan was accepted into a school.  Only then did he find out, and much to his surprise, that his friend whom he had initially approached (Mr Soehardi) was the head of the school.  The visitors that Mr Soehardi had brought from time to time with senior members of the school and the visits and seemingly chance encounters had in fact been informal interviews for his admission.

Once accepted into the group, the bond between members was strong. On one occasion, Mr Soehardi took Jan for training to a different location.  They only reached the location when it was dark.  Once there, Jan found a number of young Indonesian men with long hair.  Jan knew that at that time before independence, many Indonesian men grew their hair long and vowed not to cut it until every white man was dead or had been removed from the archipelago!  Jan was understandably concerned, however, his initial discomfort was soon allayed.  Training was conducted as usual with all of the usual care and consideration for training partners being shown.  It exemplified the fact that admission to the group transcended ethnicity and the political turmoil of the time.