Derived from the cultures of China and
Indonesia. The Liu Seong system was brought to America, from Indonesia, by
Willem A. Reeders (1917-1990) who was of mixed heritage, being of Dutch and
Chinese blood, but raised in Indonesia.
He received training in a variety of martial
arts, no one knows how many exactly. His primary teacher was his great uncle
Liu Seong, whose title he bore. His uncle taught him his family's Kuntao
system, a sophisticated form of fighting which focuses on close range
technique. Reeders also studied many silat systems, having over ten silat
teachers. His silat styles included Tjikalong (Cikalong), Tjimande
(Cimande), Harimau, and Serak, among others. Reeders was an extremely
accomplished martial artist who was able to tie many focal elements of
various arts together into a cohesive whole. The result is an art that
although bearing many similarities to many well known arts still retains a
distinctive identity with its own signature movements, strategies, and
tactics. It is based firmly in an objective approach, based on the
principles of physics, anatomy, and psychology. The patterns of movement are
designed to be extremely effective and one hallmark is the ability to throw
a large volume of attacks very rapidly.
Many styles that are the result of combining different methods are often
termed "eclectic" and often are lacking a core, instead relying upon the
continual addition of new strategies, tactics, and techniques. The Liu Seong
system although hybridized is not at all "eclectic", and the basic movements
are also the advanced. Understandings and applications change, but the
essential system does not. This allows for a much greater depth in the
development of skill owing to the continual refinement of a base that does
not inherently change, but instead becomes more advanced.
The Liu Seong system is culturally derived from the arts of China and
Indonesia, and accordingly has tactical elements of both. The adopted
cultural aspects, primarily school etiquette, may vary between Chinese and
Indonesian terminology and practices, and may even include elements of both.
The origin of many tactics and techniques in the system is unknown.
Speculation of where a particular tactic comes from, in terms of root style,
is often a point of discussion amongst practitioners. Because of the hybrid
nature of the art, many techniques taken from other arts may very well have
been transformed by its absorption in the system to the extent that they no
longer resemble their parent art. It is often stated by those that knew
Willem Reeders, that he was primarily concernced with the technique
applications and fighting tactics of the arts that he studied, not with
ritual elements, like forms, or juru-juru (prearranged sequences of
This fact plays out in the many different methods of engagement that can be
found within the system. Due to this variety, the art cannot be rigorously
classified. The common thread found running through all the schools are the
principles of operation. Although Liu Seong encompasses many techniques, its
true definition is found in the tactical transitions of the distinctive
postures of the style, and the syncopated rhythm of attack which are used to
enter, strike and achieve a wide variety of locking and throwing techniques,
culminating in finishing attacks upon the downed opponent.
Liu Seong is an art of self defense, and not meant for sport competition.
Practitioners spar at less than full speed and strength, and many attacks
are not used due to their inherently dangerous nature. This concession is
considered a necessity in order to prevent injury to the students.
The Liu Seong system, in great part, has not undergone modernization, as
have many other disciplines.
Willem Reeders' system of martial arts still retains its old school combat
orientation with techniques that are designed to seriously injure an
attacker. The essential premise of the art is that for self defense to be
adequate it must take into account the worst possible scenario in which you
could find yourself, in a fighting context. Accordingly, this would be
having to face multiple, armed attackers who are versed in the martial arts
as well. This assumption lays the theoretical basis for the art.
The Liu Seong system is a 'blade aware' or weapons based system which is
generally trained without weaponry. Weapons are added to the training at
advanced levels as an extension of the hand technique which is considered
paramount. This is a departure from the method of many other styles of
weapons combat which begin training with weapons first and take up 'empty
hand' methods after basic baton, knife, or staff skills have been learned.