Sifu Chris Derbaum was intrigued with combat martial arts since childhood. He was born and raised in Aliquippa in Western Pennsylvania, an area rich in the Chinese-Indonesian martial arts. The first great masters of these arts in the United States, Grandmaster Willem Reeders of Kuntao Silat and Pendekar Willy Wetzel of Poekoelan Penjak Silat, had settled there in the 1960’s and martial artists from many disciplines came to study with them.
In 1990 Chris relocated to Fort Myers, Florida and soon afterward began training in Kuntao Silat in the William Reeders lineage. His main mentors in these arts were the late Sifu Lennie Howie, Master Guy Savelli, Master Scott Young and Grandmaster Bob Servidio.
Chris began working full-time in law enforcement in 1991. His experiences as a Sheriff’s Deputy and Corrections Officer in the Florida State Prison greatly shaped the practicality of his Kuntao. The frequent violence that he faced taught him quickly what would be effective in an actual situation. Through years of real-world experience, he honed his Kuntao into a brutally efficient fighting system that was direct, explosive and designed to finish an encounter in seconds. Like the original deadly art of Kuntao that was created to survive the jungles of Indonesia, Chris Derbaum’s art was meant to survive real-world violence. It has been nicknamed “Prison Kuntao.”
Chris currently teaches Kuntao Silat in Fort Myers and has group and private classes for adults. He is married to Karla Derbaum and his two boys Brandon and Ryan are actively involved in Kuntao Combat Arts.
Since 2011 Chris has promoted his Kuntao lineage through numerous seminars throughout the United States and abroad, including Singapore, France and Belgium. Through his diligent efforts Kuntao Combat Arts has rapidly grown and there are now study groups in the United States and internationally. Chris always continues to learn from masters of Kuntao and Silat in Asia and Europe to further his own knowledge and refine his art. His goal is to spread Kuntao Combat Arts and pass it on to future generations.
He is the author of the book Fighting Patterns of Kuntao and Silat which covers the important footwork concepts of his art. He has also designed a knife with custom knife maker Gordon Romeis specifically for the movements of Kuntao Combat Arts.