Pencak silat, similar to other martial arts, benefits its practitioners physically, mentally, and spiritually. Spirituality (Mental Spiritual) is a unique and often mysterious aspect of Pencak Silat. Often reserved by the gurus for students who have been exemplary and proven worthy of the high level of knowledge.
The world’s largest archipelago stretches like a huge scimitar from Malaysia to New G uinea comprised of more than 13,000 islands and is home to a deadly fighting art known as “Silat”, or “Pentjak Silat.”
In Malaysia, there are approximately 500 styles. In Indonesia there are perhaps 200 styles with many styles preferring not to be recognized by their respective governments. Accordingly, there may be an incalculable number of styles being practiced today. Archaeological evidence reveals that by the sixth century A.D. formalized combative systems were being practiced in the area of Sumatra and the Malay peninsula. Two kingdoms, the Srivijaya in Sumatra from the 7th to the 14th century and the Majapahit in Java from the 13th to 16th centuries made good use of these fighting skills and were able to extend their rule across much of what is now Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
Four aspects play an important role in Pencak Silat ;
- The "Bela-Diri" (self-defence) aspect:
- The "Seni Budaya" (culture, art) aspect:
Culture and performing the "art" of pencak silat is very important. This combines Pencak Silat with traditional music and costumes.
- The "Olahraga" (sport) aspect:
This means that the physical aspect of pencak silat is important. We try to have a sound mind in a sound body. Competitions are part of this aspect. There are full-contact (Pertandingan=Competition) fights, as well as form demonstrations, for one (Tunggal), two (Ganda) or team (Regu) persons.
- The "Mental-Spiritual" (mental and spiritual) aspect:
Pencak silat builds and develops the personality and noble character of oneself.
Silat does include amulets, prayers, and rituals designed to induce invulnerability and protect students in times of danger. These privately taught rites are unique to each teacher and are never revealed in public. Such traditions serve as a physical reminder of the student’s connection to the cosmos and his belief system. For example, if he is wearing an amulet of tiger’s stone, or the tooth of a tiger, it is a physical reminder that when he uses his Silat, he assumes a tiger’s attitude and incorporates it’s fighting attributes, including tenacity, courage, daring, and ferocity.
All Silat methods include a belief system, often based on the instructor’s religious background, that produces in student’s courage, confidence, and the will to fight in the side of truth and justice. The belief system serves as a philosophical foundation for the student’s fighting techniques. Much of the physical aspect of traditional Silat has mental and spiritual equivalents. This is why the earnest study of Silat leads to the development of a philosophy of life.