Mike Roberto

Mike Roberto
Kepala Regu
Santa Cruz, California

Finding Pukulan in the Unified Art

I received my eight PDT Bukti Negara tapes 20 years ago in 1996. I went to southern California twice to train, the second time was May 24 & 25 1997 for the annual 2-day gathering.

Afterward I had trouble stayingin touch with the head student at the time (early days of email) and later studied under Victor de Thouars in his version of Serak from August 1997 to February 2005, and earned Guru Satu ranking from him in 2003.

Around 2000 I also had the opportunity to train with a fellow from Holland who I believe later introduced Walter to the de Vries family. At that time he had been training with them for two years. He was amazed that we in the U.S. had all these juru-juru.

I asked him how many he had and he said, “None! All we do is hit, hit, hit.”
It was so great to reconnect with Olivier upon meeting Walter in 2013 and I value our friendship.

One time in 2000, my friend Joe Judt and I saw Stevan executing a flurry of hitters in an alternating flow exchange with one of ‘Willem deThouars’ top guys, and after seeing that, I knew I wanted to learn from him. He didn’t look like any VDT or Bukti Negaraperson I had seen.

From 2006 through 2012, I studied with Stevan Plinck, by bringing him to Santa Cruz for 11 weekends, and by promoting gatherings for him on two weekend occasions, 2006 in Reno and 2008 in Las Vegas. His approach was different than Victor’s and I liked it for that reason. Mostly from him I learned his 16 or so “defensive sambuts”, which I also learned separately from my friend Narin Latthitham (R.I.P.), who was widely regarded as Stevan’s
longest and top student.

During those 15 years I observed and worked out with many students who descend from the teachings of Oom Paul deThouars, including some who claim other lines but who clearly were practicing PDT juru-juru. Their range of expression was often highly personalized or stylized but the root movement, philosophy, strategy, priorities and tactics were all the same.
Observing clips now, I can see that there is a very wide range of good vs. horrible movement, but all within the PDT USA Serak/BN paradigm – even if it was poorly understood or applied by most on the many video clips.
I was always concerned with the full name of the art starting with the word “Pukulan” because in all my travels I never saw any foundational hitting drills. Victor had some hitting strategies (clearly invented by Victor) that came into play 2 or 3 years into his curriculum and Stevan’s sambuts indicated hitters (I first saw them in 2000 as he was teaching one of his long distance students in his hotel room at a gathering, but they were taught as indications only, (“Yes, he’s been hit”…) with no apparent hitting drills to match the choreography.

When Narin and I trained with Walter it became immediately apparent that Walter had tools that simply did not exist in either Narin’s or my understanding of what we had been shown. I was excited and Narin was depressed! But for both of us it was a no-brainer to learn this new aspect of the art that we had not seen before. The same epiphany was shared by
several people who I trained with over those first fifteen years and who had achieved rank in 2003 from VDT.

As an aside, the current VDT successor and Maha Guru –awarded that distinction following our departure – as featured in his many videos – doesn’t perform the VDT Serak as we did even though we came from the same teacher at the same time. No value judgments here, just stating the facts.

In May of 2013 I was accepted as a student of Oom Paul deThouars, and I
started in Unified Bukti Negara with Walter in October of 2013. I remain
grateful to Walter for recruiting me and to Oom Paul for accepting me.
For three years now, 80% of what we have done has been the practice and refinement of hitting and kicking, which form the foundation of this art. This was simply not the case with what I have seen taught or posted from people descending (whether they admit it or not) from the PDT Serak or old Bukti Negara lines.

The great news is that it is clearly the same “map” but a very different “territory” – and more detailed and complete. There isn’t much I need to “unlearn” from what I learned before – other than my own bad habits, of which there are many – and so I’ve started over in some ways but am simply continuing my education of the art in most ways.
Of course I could walk around with a big head and pretend that I already “had it all” or say, “It’s all the same art”, or say that “It’s not the art we here in America do so it’s not legitimate”, or something other that would be dismissive of Walter and the de Vries way ofdoing things, but I’d rather learn.

I remain grateful that Walter was given the flexibility to adjust the curriculum to reflect the art as practiced by both Oom Paul and his cousin Oom Dolf de Vries — to create this awesome Unified pukulan art from Oom John and Oom Ventje de Vries.

Unified pukulan art from Oom John and Oom Ventje de Vries

Personal information

Name: Mike Roberto
Date of birth
: February 12, 1957
Place of residence: Santa Cruz, California.
Country: United States of America.

Training history

Date from- To Art/Style Teacher
dec. 1995 – may 1996: PDT Bukti Negara, Danny Huybrechts
aug. 1997 – feb. 2005: VDT Serak, Victor de Thouars
aug. 2006 – sep. 2012: Sera Plinck, Stevan Plinck
may 2013 – Present: PDT Bukti Negara, Walter van den Broeke


Date  Title/ Recognition Teacher/Organization

june 2003 /  ‘Guru’ or teacher /  VDT Serak

Why I joined

To go further into the art by learning how it was and is practiced from the Pukulan side.


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