Friday, February 6, 2009

Willy Wetzel

A number of my students have asked me, where are system was born from, and this excellent online article by Guru Eddie Ivester gives a good detail of the foundation from where we come from, and respect should be given to the Masters and Teachers who give us this art, and who dedicated their lives in teaching others. Hopefully one day we can honour them, by passing this beautiful art on to the next generation.

Willy Wetzel:William “Willy” John Christopher Wetzel was born on January 23, 1921 in the village of Loemadjang, Java, Indonesia, and he passed away on March 17, 1975 in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, United States.Willy Wetzel was part Indonesian & Dutch and was born & raised in Indonesia and could speak three Indonesian languages. Monk Huang Wu Wen was hired by the Dutch secret service to locate rebel forces wishing to overthrow the Dutch government in Indonesia. Huang's cover was as a tea merchant and probably adopted the name Oei Kem Boen for his cover. Oei Kem Boen met Willy Wetzel when he was 9 years old and because of Willy's language skills and being a child from Java he recruited him to help locate secret rebel training camps in and around Java in return for fighting lessons. At age 14 Willy asked Monk Boen to teach him everything he knew about fighting so he could become a master like Monk Boen. At age 17 during WW II Willy served as a member of the Royal Dutch Indonesian Army and then was recruited into the Dutch Secret Service where he was assigned to locate leaders of rebel factions. It is said that Willy was in fact an assassin for the Secret Service and assigned to eliminate the leaders of the rebel factions that he located.Willy traveled throughout Indonesia undercover as a Pentjak Silat historian and as such he learned many different styles of Indonesian Fighting Arts from all over the Malay Peninsula. It is believed that Willy knew hundreds of different Silat & Kuntao arts and thousands of different techniques as well as several Japanese fighting styles. In 1949 Willy moved to Holland and then in 1956 he immigrated to Vanport, PA. In 1960 Willy opened his and the first Indonesian martial arts school in the United States to the general public in Beaver falls, PA. He combined and synthesized all of the fighting arts that he had learned into a new system and called his new system Poekoelan Tjimindie Chuan Fa.

Poekoelan Tjimindie:Poekoelan Tjimindie is a "Broken Mirror" system this means many styles woven into one. In the tradition of Willy you are not bound or restricted to any one style or form, rather you are free and encouraged to seek and adapt what is right for you and discard the rest. Poekoelan Tjimindie is taught and employed as the natural system and the students are eventually trained mentally to use their fighting/self-defense instinctively by accomplishing several moves at once without having to consciously plan each move and this is accomplished by not just learning a fixed set pattern or sequence of movements but creating their own Kembangan (flower dance/form) also known as the "Crawl" by Poekoelan Tjimindie practitioners.Poekoelan Tjimindie is a varied art composed of a wide range of animal postures and movements inspired by the Bingatang Ampat or 4 animals; the Tiger, Snake, Crane & Monkey. Animal mannerisms were included in Poekoelan Tjimindie because they increase human actions thus bringing to them a much wider range of technique possibilities and applications. Students learn to defend themselves from any position standing or on the ground. Striking, takedowns, weapons defenses and joint locks are all used and students learn the art through both structured forms and free fighting.
1. Tiger (Matjanan) the Indonesian tiger’s grounded movement leads to the three-limbed fighting style of Harimau. The surprising but deadly moves of Matjanan Tiengie- Leaping Tiger challenge practitioners to move quickly up from the grounded positions to attack either standing or grounded opponents with ripping motions, sweeps, springing shears or scissors, rolling elbows and knees. The Chinese tiger form uses open hands with extended fingers to claw or rip at vital targets. The method is to hit or place with the palm to the target, then grab and pull.
2. Crane (Blekok) the Indonesian fluid White Crane, erratic moods of the Mad Crane and the quieter more deadly moves of the Lazy Crane, various fist blows and parrying movements as well as balance, stability from the agile movement of the crane, aerial and multiple kicking techniques, long range striking and the ability to strike from a one legged position are adapted from this animal. The Chinese Crane style uses low to high one-legged body positions with turns. Every second or third move begins in a crane position, with a retreat covered by open hand parries, then follows with attacks or counterattacks. Kicks are delivered from high to low. The head rotates in all directions to watch for any oncoming attackers, providing a circle defense.
3. Monkey (Monyet) Indonesian monkey uses grounded stances, acrobatic movements, parries, grabbing, pounding fists, medium height positions, crawl, low movements, rolls, jumping and leaping with its playful energy sets. Also the groundwork for the heavy effective moves of the powerful ape and the crazy antics of the drunken monkey are seen here. The monkey style from China is noted by its bent knee, wide leg positions with the body at a low height and arm movements that are circular with open hand parries, and closed hand grabs with palms down. Defensive body movements are side-to-side and forwards and backwards with dodging head movements and body rolls across the ground when needed.
4. Snake (Ular) Indonesian snake is recognized by the close foot positions and medium body height. Elbow-to-elbow distance is kept close to the body to protect the midsection from injury. By weaving the arms, body and legs during retreats and attacks the snake exponent appears to be giving in but immediately redirects the fight to his advantage. Advanced striking and wrapping techniques come from the Cobra and King Cobra.The snake style from China has fast multiple lightning strikes from any position, spiraling and weaving motions and short-range sweeping.In the Poekoelan Tjimindie style correct hitting is invisible and the striking weapons are camouflaged by foot & hand movements and always strike indirectly. The blow never starts or comes from the place the Poekoelan Tjimindie exponent is positioned from and never strikes the target it appears to be aimed toward. This deception is accomplished by having the arm or leg relaxed while on it's route of travel to the real intended target. In that way the same weapon can hit multiple targets without withdrawing and fools & confuses the opponent into blocking to protect a target that is not going to be hit. Poekoelan Tjimindie makes good use of the head for butting action with head on, side to side and rear strikes, which are effective in very close in-fighting situations. Along with head strikes the use of elbows and knees are employed in close quarter combat as well. Poekoelan Tjimindie is also an internal art where Chi Kung (breathing techniques) and meditation are developed for internal strength, focus, and healing.


angelrules007 said...

Being from W.Java it is hard to find the truth in the United States about this man's death. so it takes many years and much hard work and interviewing to display this message.
The article is accurate and informative. It should be noted what I was told by a family member of the Wetzel's confirmed by too many pathologists to ignore. The man was murdered. Those who are lying must face the God of Judgement.

Anonymous said...

A great Martial Artist, Willie was. And the story preceding my comment is true and yet with much more to tell. The details of his life aren't romantic. As as long time friend of the family, I have never once heard sons, daughters, cousins speak of that tragic incident as murder. Always conflicting feelings.

Each of the Wetzels who are teachers has contributed their own assets in a form and style genuine to the art with an inclination indicative of their spirit. Every one has offered so much to this art.

Anonymous said...

A deep loss and undeniable frustration over an awful turn of events. However, Willie Wetzel was, like many people, diffferent in public than he was at home with his family. I and my friends have been friends with the Wetzel Family since the late sixties. We have studied with Father and Sons and the others.

Across the world, all serious Martial Artists know the names of the Wetzels, Willie, Roy and Jim. Each excelled in their own right and shared the total commitment to this lifestyle.

The death was sad and tragic but is not thought to be murder. All legal docs (court and medical)are available at the Beaver County Courthouse in Pa. Hearsay, gossip, rumors and a mountain of pain at the turn of events with this family have caused strong emotional reactions. I have only heard people talk on the internet of Willie/Roy as Teachers. I have never heard any statements of their family life with the wives and children.

These three men (and the other family members) have all inspired thousands of students and their families. Many carry the torch and teach. I've seen it practiced in Indonesia and was wowed watching schools and communities pratice all together. I have never seen it done with such fluent intensity. Even now, they influence through stories of past tournaments and feats of strength and speed. There is no other Martial Art practiced like theirs.

Anonymous said...


I wept when my mom called me to tell me of my teacher Willy's death; it was difficult to learn that a superman was strangled.

I had been a devoted student and teacher at Willy Wetzel's school in New Brighton, PA at the National Guard Armory in the 1960s. We later moved into a remodeled former factory in Beaver Falls, PA. I have good memories where I learned to do seemingly impossible things in combat.

Willy was a great combat master, as he had become a proficient ruthless killer in Indonesia. He was also a Japanese prisoner of war with master "Red Ant".

I posted newspaper articles and photos regarding his death on the Poekoelan Community forum at:

It was a life changing experience for me. I'm an old man now, and try to share what I remember to keep history and teachings truthful.

Jimmy Wetzel was a few years younger than me and Roy Wetzel was a few years older.

Thank you for allowing me to post here.

Mike Kline [Independence, MO]

Anonymous said...