I had already briefly met Mang Eem the day I arrived, more so as an icebreaker and for him to see how he felt about teaching me, a westerner. Luckily, he agreed, and the following day, I went through his traditional Cimande ceremony, which is typical for all to become students. I first took part in this traditional Cimande ceremony in 2002 under Guru Makmur, so I was familiar with its implementation. Mang Eems Cimande was a combination with some other local systems. As such, his ceremony had a couple of additions that were new to me.
In the Youtube video that forms a part of this article, you can see aspects of the actual traditional Cimande ceremony. I began with the Talek Cimande, which is essentially a code of ethics I pledge to observe, along the lines of the ten commandments. Do not kill, steal, be kind and polite, and so on. There is a real sense of reverence when going through these because you realise martial arts becomes entwined with every aspect of life. Mang Eem, while Muslim, also practices elements of local Animism. The surrounding me in smoke and stamping of his foot on the ground three times related to aspects of protection against ‘forces.’ He believes the spirits of the ancestors can help guide and protect during times of trouble. Connected to this idea was sipping twelve different forms of drinks – from tea, coffee, and fruit juices. In doing this, I was essentially communing with the ancestors. I must say that during this time, I felt a strong presence in Mang’s small living room. As though I was plugging into forces beyond this world.