I began to live on Bali ten days after the great tsunami in 2004. Bali “happened” to me as it did many on this island that seems to pick its foreign tenants like an old haunted house. Not everyone can withstand this place, it is special, and the ones that survive it know it conveys a unique message.

My work as an editor, photographer and writer for various magazines on that very distinctive island exposed me to the most curious of experiences. One of them has inspired me to paint onto my photographic imagery, it being a rather unusual ceremony. I try to re-ignite the feeling of mystery and excitement that I felt during the performance. It isn’t always evident that this “spirit” pronounces itself in photography.

Mepantigan is a form of Balinese martial arts. It draws upon Balinese drama, contemporary dance, and gamelan music, fusing fighting with the performing arts to create an entirely new cultural phenomenon. Participants wear traditional Balinese clothing, and can compete on the beach, in the mud of rice fields, or in any open space.

“Practitioners of Mepantigan gain physical fitness, release stress, and learn valuable lessons in camaraderie and sportsmanship. In addition to physical skills, strength, and agility, both emotional and spiritual intelligences are utilised.

Wherever proper martial arts develop, evil will diminish and a respect for others will grow. This is particularly true for those who practice Mepantigan, which is a celebration of the spirit” says Putu Witsen, Founder of Bali Mepantigan Arts.