Keluarga Silat Nasional Indonesia Perisai-Diri, or Kelatnas PD, was officially founded on 2 July 1955 in the city of Surabaya, by Raden Mas Soebandiman Dirdjoatmodjo.
R.M.S. Dirdjoatmodjo was born on 8 January 1913 in Yogyakarta. His father was Raden Mas Pakoe Soedirdjo of the Pakoe Alam family.
Periodically, a Pencak Silat expert was brought from Solo to teach the young men of the palace. However, because he was still only 9 years old, Soebandiman was not permitted to participate in the lessons.
Despite his age, Soebandiman’s desire to learn Pencak Silat compelled him to spy on each lesson. He would later sneak out of the palace, collect the village children of his age and then mimic the lessons he had just seen. Thus, at the age of 9 years, Soebandiman had already become a ‘little teacher’.
These ‘lessons’ continued, but resulted in his growing sense of frustration at the restrictions imposed by his family until he decided, while still quite young, to go out into the world.
His steps led him to the region of Jombang, East Java. When he was satisfied with his studies at Jombang, he left there and headed to Solo. Following his studies in Solo, he moved to the city of Semarang in an effort to satisfy his desire for knowledge of Pencak Silat.
After he felt that he had gained as much as he could in Semarang, his urge to improve his understanding and abilities led him to Pondok Randu Guntung, near Semarang. On exhausting the avenues of study there, he moved onto Kuningan, in Cirebon, to seek another teacher. With a steel will, a spirit like a ‘banteng’ bull, and a huge curiosity in the world around him combined with a feeling of being chosen to devote his life to studying the art of Pencak Silat, motivated Soebandiman to continue his journey into remote regions of West Java, seeking teachers to satisfy his thirst for knowledge.
At this stage, Soebandiman had studied the martial arts of twelve Silat experts or Pendekar, but even so, he felt that the qualifications he had acquired were still lacking.
It was during this time of despair, that the young Soebandiman travelled to the region of Banyumas. Here, Soebandiman worked to consolidate the various streams of Pencak Silat he had studied into a unified form.
From the various streams of Pencak Silat, Soebandiman sought to identify the essence of effective martial art techniques, and to combine them into a more practical form. Even though he still felt that were deficiencies in the capacity of the traditional martial arts, notably, the speed, efficiency and simplicity of the movements.
It was in Banyumas that R.M.S. Dirdjoatmodjo opened his first Silat school, named EKO KALBU (EKO). Shortly after opening his school, Soebandiman realised that there was yet another teacher he could learn from, a teacher that would ultimately influence him greatly in his quest for knowledge of the martial arts.
R.M.S. Dirdjoatmodjo was introduced to a Master from China who lived in the Parakan region, named Yap Kie San. Shortly after meeting, Soebandiman was determined to have Master Yap Kie San as his teacher.
Soebandiman stayed in Master Yap Kie San’s house and helped with the household chores. Whilst working there for three months, Soebandiman was totally ignored, not even addressed. Each day on waking, Master Yap Kie San would step over Soebandiman, as he slept in front of Master Yap Kie San’s door.
Every time Soebandiman bolstered his courage to ask about studying under Master Yap Kie San, the answer was always, “Don’t worry about studying Silat, you’ll hurt yourself!”. However, reminding himself that this might be a test given to determine his resolve, made Soebandiman even more adamant to gain Master Yap Kie San’s favour.
After a further month had passed, whilst accompanying the Master fishing, Soebandiman once again asked Master Yap Kie San to teach him. Finally Soebandiman was accepted as a pupil. Soebandiman was invited home and given his first lesson. Soebandiman’s first lesson entailed entering a chicken-coop and assuming a horse stance. Soebandiman was told to hold the position until his Master returned, which was not until the end of the day.
At other times Soebandiman was told to practice movements in the chicken-coop, every time he felt tired and decided to stop for a rest, Master Yap Kie San would suddenly appear and scold his student, forcing him to repeat his exercises again.
Master Yap Kie San noticed a capacity in Soebandiman not common in most, and agreed to pass on all his knowledge to his dedicated student. As a consequence, Soebandiman’s commitment to training was all consuming as his lessons became increasingly difficult and demanding.
Soebandiman’s training regime under Master Yap Kie San lasted 14 years. It was as a student of Master Yap Kie San that R.M.S. Dirdjoatmodjo was longest under instruction.
On completion of his studies under Master Yap Kie San, Soebandiman’s wanderings continued to add maturity to his understanding of the world, especially to that of the martial arts.
Once again Soebandiman sought to consolidate his knowledge of the various streams of Pencak Silat under a common banner, this time basing his efforts on how to learn Silat without injury. The result of R.M.S. Dirdjoatmodjo’s efforts was the birth of the technique and training system of Silat Perisai-Diri, characterised as being practical, with techniques that adhered to the natural movement of the human body, resulting in a system of self-defence that was simple in application whilst maintaining its effectiveness.
It was in the city of Surabaya that R.M.S. Dirdjoatmodjo, or Pak Dirdjo, settled and subsequently founded Keluarga Silat Nasional Indonesia Perisai-Diri on 2 July 1955, with the assistance of Pak Imam Ramelan.
In 1970 he retired and continued to hold the post of IPSI Advisor East Java and “sesepuh P.B.IPSI” in Jakarta.
Pak Dirdjo, the founder and “Guru Besar” of Keluarga Silat Nasional Indonesia Perisai-Diri passed away at dawn, 9 May 1983, leaving an invaluable legacy.