Comment: The only book on Silat published in the U.S. up to this time, Draeger gives an excellent overview of the many different styles that comprise this fascinating fighting art. He seems to have gone to considerable trouble to see as many of the different styles as possible, visiting many villages and islands to seek out the different styles, probably quite an undertaking back in the 70's when this was written. A unique volume on an obscure art form not seen much in the west and a worthwhile addition to your martial arts library.
On a personal note, I only know of one Pentjak Silat instructor in the U.S. at that time. Back in the late 60's, there was a Dutchman by the name of Rudy Ter Linden in Los Angelos who was teaching Silat. He did an interview in Black Belt or Karate Illustrated Magazine, I can't recall which, and he demo'd several of the forms.
The interesting thing about their katas is that they don't all end in one place, so they can be strung together in one long form if you want,sort of interesting. Anyway, Rudy eventually closed down his school and went back to college in L.A. to finish his degree. He was supposed to have several young black belts who went off on their own to open their own schools, but I never heard anything further on this.
*Note: Since I wrote the above a year ago, I did some web research and discovered that Rudy has unfortunately passed away, although he couldn't have been that old. There were some nice tributes to him and to what a great teacher he was, and I was sorry to hear he was gone, because he was a true pioneer in the teaching and dessemination of the Indonesian martial arts. He had gone on to develop his own style that was a synthesis or four or five different styles of Pentjak Silat. Rudy made an important contribution to the martial arts and although I never had the oppportunity to meet him, obviously he will be missed as a teacher and as a human being.
Comment: I have the 1974 edition and it's still one of the best of its kind.A fine cornerstone to any really good martial arts library for its technical content,historical content,as well as cultural insights.
Summary: First book in U.S. on fascinating but obscure art
Comment: This is the only book on the many styles of Silat I'd seen up to this time, and probably in the 20 years since. I thought Draeger did a fine job presenting and documenting many of the aspects of this little-known art (at least in the west), and it was interesting to see how it resembled or differed from the many Japanese, Korean, Okinawan, and Chinese arts I've studied over the years. One difference, at least from the standpoint of the more linear, more power-oriented Japanese and Korean styles I've studied, is the greater emphasis on circular movements and techniques, evasive tactics, and less tendency to meet the opponent's power head on, along with the footwork to support such techniques. In recent years I've begun doing this to a much greater extent myself in my own training.
Draeger also seems to have gone to some trouble to get to as many of the different islands as he could to see the local styles, and I enjoyed his descriptions about some of the special features of each style, such as in the case of the high flying kicks of Perisai-diri, or the position on all fours on the sand that Harimau Pentjak Silat uses to get a purchase on unstable ground, from which the exponent leaps up into your face surprisingly quickly, clawing at your face.
Overall a fine book on an obscure art that deserves to be better known, and an interesting addition to your martial arts library.