We Asked Martial Art Experts to Review the Mataram Mayor's Kung-Fu Kicks

If you're a police officer in Mataram, getting kicked on the chest by Mayor Ahyar Abduh is a tradition. But how good are his kicks, really?
January 25, 2018, 12:25pm

There are few worse first days of work than this. In Mataram, the capital of West Nusa Tenggara, new members of the Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) were told they had to line up so the mayor could kick them in the chest. That's right. The mayor, Ahyar Abduh, welcomes new law enforcement officers by kicking them square in the chest.

A video of Mataram's karate-loving mayor showing off his skills went viral in Indonesia earlier this week. In it, the mayor, dressed in his official white uniform, just kicks away before a crowd of applauding government officials. The whole thing is bizarre, especially when you see the smiling faces of the Satpol PP members. It's almost like they were happy to be kicked.

The video was actually from an event last year, but it went viral after a photo of Ahyar kicking another Satpol PP member this week hit the press. You can watch the video yourself below.

So… a couple thoughts. First of all, the mayor is in great shape for a 57-year-old man. I mean this really isn't a surprise since he's also the head of the Indonesia Karate Federation (FORKI), as well as a pencak silat instructor.

The mayor has come under fire for the whole thing. I mean, a mayor probably shouldn't be kicking his employees all the time right? It's sort of an abuse of power, and straight up abuse at the same time.

But how do the Satpol PP members feel about it? Why do they seem so happy? Well, according to Bayu Pancapati, the head of Mataram's Satpol PP, the mayor does this every year. Bayu told the press that he saw nothing wrong with the behavior.

“It’s not only the new members, even I got tested by the mayor, it’s common for him to do it," he told Kompas. "It’s not him being nasty or anything, it’s a normal occurrence, if anything, officers of Satpol PP Mataram like this tradition as well."

Umm.. OK. I'm definitely not going to sign up for the Mataram Satpol PP, but if they like it, then whatever I guess.

But what about Ahyar's skills? Is he actually as good as people say he is? The more I watched the video, the more I felt like his kicks were a bit too loose, a bit less accurate than a true master's skills. But, then again, who am I? Sure, I've played more than my fair share of Mortal Kombat, but that doesn't exactly make me an expert, now does it?

So I got in touch with two actual experts, Halilintar Surya, from Reti Ati silat school, and Adi Paryanto, an instructor at Maximum Mixed Martial Arts, to figure out if Ahyar really has what it takes to be a martial arts master.

Halilintar Surya, Pencak Silat Master

VICE: On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate Ahyar’s kick?
Halilintar Surya: In the video there were actually three kinds of kicks performed by Ahyar: a side kick, a jump kick, and a spin kick. The side kick is a seven. The jump kick is a nine since its packed with more power. The spin kick is about an eight-and-a-half and it has a lot less power. Maybe Ahyar was in a rush and not totally free to move because of the uniform he was wearing.

Based on his kicks, how good do you think he is at martial arts?
It’s hard to tell based on a video, but I’m sure Ahyar has been around the silat world for a while. What he performed in the video are basic techniques. The form looked good to me. I assume he has been practicing martial arts for a long time.

Could a kick like that kill someone if you weren't ready to receive them?
If it’s done with full power, it can be fatal. Especially, a spin kick since you get more power from the body as well.

It seems like getting kicked on the neck is something you should avoid.
Our vital points are located five spans from the head. The neck is definitely vital, especially near the jaw. There’s a lot of nerves there too. You may get knocked unconscious if you get hit there. On a bad day, it can even cause death.

For normal civilians like me, what’s the right technique to receive a kick?
Normal people shouldn’t try to block it, just avoid it. Taking a kick to the chest requires a breathing technique that takes a lot of exercise to perfect.

Adi Paryanto, MMA Trainer

VICE: What do you think about the video of the mayor?
Adi Paryanto: The video doesn’t really showcase the mayor’s ability. If anything, I think it’s meant to highlight the officers’ strength, that Satpol PP officers are physically trained and ready to face physical contact.

But what about Ahyar’s kicks? Were they any good?
The form is pretty good, right on the money. He looks like he trained enough.

MMA looks brutal since the fighters use their hands and feet. What is the deadliest kicking technique?
In MMA, you’re not allowed to attack the groin, the back of the neck, and the throat. However, in real life, you may go for the throat. Anyone who receives a full-power kick to the jaw will most likely get knocked out. You can’t really train your jaw. Any kind of kick to the jaw will do the trick.

Is there a technique to take a kick to the chest without getting hurt?
In MMA, we emphasize reflexes. If you’re a pro, you have sharper instincts. In the video, the officer knew he was going to get kicked, so he prepared his body for the blow. However, in the octagon, it’s not like that, your opponent may do a feint. So there’s no technique to defend yourself in that way. If anything, you should just attack first.

If I ever have to be kicked by Ahyar, how much practice do I need to be safe?
It depends on your talent. If you’re a natural, a week of practice will have you ready. But normally, a person may need around six months.

Last question: how would you rate the mayor's kick?
I can’t rate it based on just that video. But the kick looks pretty controlled. It has some power behind it, but it's not full-on. I think it was only for the sake of demonstration.