Faces of the USSSA – Joel Champ – Silat Seni Gayong

Editor’s note: In leading up to the USA Pencak Silat National Championships 2019, the USSSA is highlighting representatives from the many styles you’ll see at the tournament.


Joel Champ


Bolingbrook, Illinois

Joel Champ – You may recognize his face from National Geographic’s documentary series Fight Masters.


United States Gayong Federation (Facebook)


Silat Seni Gayong

How did silat find you? 

I met my Silat teachers (Cikgu Shamsuddin Salim and Cikgu Shamsul Salim) through a mutual acquaintance of my father, who would ask them to teach at my Fathers martial art school. After Cikgu Shamsul moved back to Malaysia in the mid 1990’s, I continued to train directly under Cikgu Shamsuddin Salim from 1996 to Present. I have had the honor to visit and train in Malaysia, and during one of those trips to be “adopted” by the late Siti Kalsom of Silat Seni Gayong, the daughter of the late Mahaguru Dato Meor Abdul Rahman. 

Fellow Silat Seni Gayong practitioner Dave Krzyzewski (Left)
Joel Champ (Middle)
Joel’s teacher: Cikgu Shamsuddin “Sam” Salim

Explain the history of your style as you understand it.

Our style of Silat dates back to the time old Malay warriors, Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat. This style is from the Bugis people and has been handed down through the generations to our late Mahaguru, Dato Meor Abdul Rahman. The art of Silat Seni Gayong has undergone changes through those times, but the spirit has always remained the same. Silat Seni Gayong is a sovereign art of the Malay people and a treasure for all. 

Cikgu Sam – Head of Silat Seni Gayong USA, and USSSA Director of Wasit / Juri Development

What excites you about sport silat?

I feel that Sport Silat can be a good tool to augment the training of traditional Silat regardless of style. It gives a added resistance to the training and teaches a lot of good lessons of distancing, timing and builds heart. The most important aspect is that Sport Silat unites us. It unites all styles of Silat for the single goal of promoting the art and culture of Silat. 

Anything else we should know about you?

I do not consider myself anything more then a student of Silat Seni Gayong. I am a simple family man that is honored with learning the art of Silat, and I am forever grateful to my Silat teacher, Cikgu Shamsuddin Salim, and all of my teachers who have taken time to share their art. Thank You

Dave Krzyzewski – Silat Seni Gayong