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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Introduction of Silat

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Doubtless the earliest men, as prehistoric immigrants to the islands now known as Malaysia and Indonesia, had methods of self-defense. Perhaps at first these primitive peoples were primarily concerned with self-defense against wild animals. Later, as their wanderings took them into different areas, they came into unavoidable contact with other peoples-some unfriendlyand defense against humans became necessary.

    Art objects and artifacts show that, by about the eighth century A.D., specific systems of combative measures had been evolved and were operative in the Riouw Archipelago, which lies between Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula. Such systems, however crude, were greatly influenced by various continental Asian cultures, and spread as fighting arts into Malaysia and Indonesia. The Menangkabau people of Sumatra took these early fighting arts and developed them into a particular Indonesian style. One of the earliest powerful kingdoms, that of Srivijaja in Sumatra, from the seventh to the fourteenth centuries, was able to extend its rule by means of the efficiency of its fighting skills. The civilizations of eleventh century Java developed a wider range of weapons and fighting arts that reached technical perfection under the Majapahit kings of the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries. Originally these fighting arts were the exclusive property of Indonesia's noble ruling class, which kept them a closely guarded secret. But gradually members of the peasantry acquired the skills and were responsible for developing them to a high degree of efficiency. These orthodox systems came in time to be known collectively as pentjak-silat.

 The consensus of expert opinion is that the expression "pentjak-silat" literally infers "to fight artfully." But this is not complete enough, nor is it descriptive enough to convey the full meaning of this art. It is essential to understand that pentjak-silat is based on the meaning of its two components. One, pentjak, is a training method for self-defense: it consists of a wide range of controlled body movements directed to that purpose. Silat, the second component, is the application of the training method-the actual fight. There can be no
q-il-at.- w.i thout ~ent iak.O n the other hand, pentjak without . - silat skills as its objective is purposeless.
Indonesian pentjak-silat is little known in the West. Those who see i.t for the first time may perhaps make a rough comparison with the better known Japanese (or Okinawani karate-do, Korean taekwon-&, or even the Chinese ch'uan-fa methods. But such comparisons are inaccurate with regard to the techniques.Through a careful study of this book some of the technical differences which mark pentjak-silat apart from other fighting forms will become apparent. For the moment, it is enough to realize that pentjak-silat was developed exclusively by Indonesians, who regard it as an intrinsic part of their cultural heritage. It therefore deserves to be described in its own terms and judged by its own standards. The primary purpose of pentjak-silat is always selfdefense. No conscious effort is made to make orthodox pentjak-silat a system of physical education or a sport. Pentjak-silat's technical fundamentals deal with the use of weapons; no combatant is ever required to enter combat relying only on his empty hands. Therefore weapons of all kinds are studied and applied to combat situations. These weapons may be anatomical, as in karate-dfi (fist, elbow, knee, foot), or they may be implements (sword, stick, staff, club, knife, and others). Pentjak-silat has an additional
peculiarity in that virtually all movements performed empty handed may be performed equally fluently and safely when the combatant is armed. This is not true of present-day Japanese karate-do, though it may be found in many earlier orthodox forms of combat on the Asian continent and in Okinawa.

 All pentjak-silat is traditionally evasive. Its characteristic responses to an attack are light, fast, deceptive movements; it seeks to avoid bone-crushing contact with the assailant's charge. Customarily it does not oppose the force of the assailant but rather blends with it and directs it along specific channels where it may then be controlled, allowing the assailant to be eventually subdued. Thus, by long tradition, it is usually defensive in application: the pentjak-silat exponent prefers to await the attacker's moves before taking
action. However, this is not an absolute condition by any means.

 Almost all pentjak-silat technique operates as a "soft" or "elastic" style of fighting-alert, responsive and adaptive, ready to neutralize whatever aggression it encounters. It has an easily recognized, peculiar, pulsating tempo. In fact, although it is not essential to the proper performance of pentjak movements, percussion music frequently accompanies training exercises. This is done primarily for much the same reason that the musician makes use of a metronome, but with pentjak-silat the music has the further effect of heightening the emotional atmosphere of the training, rather as war drums affect tribal warriors. Almost all pentjak-silat movements are based on characteristic movements of animals or people. Thus, it is not uncommon to find that the action of a particular style bears some such title as pendeta ("priest"), or garuda ("eagle"), or madju kakikiri harimau ("taking a tigerlike stance"). A couple of other delightfully descriptive titles are lompat sikap naga ("jumping in dragon style") and lompatputri bersidia ("jumping like a princess and standing near"). The suggested femininity in the latter title is misleading; counterattacks delivered by this method can be astonishingly fierce.

 As has already been suggested, pentjak-silat, being a true fighting art, makes no use of warming-up or preparatory exercises, for it recognizes that under fighting conditions a man will have neither time nor opportunity to warm up. As actions preliminary to more energetic drills, pentjak-silat uses directly related and instantly convertible movements that are of silat value. Isolated actions or exercises of the calisthenic type are considered meaningless and unnecessary.

 In fact, an exponent of pentjak-silat is trained to be ready to ward off an attack at any time; his body must be flexible enough to make an instantaneous response. Crouching
stances and smooth movements into and out of low postures require the exponent to be both extremely strong and flexible in his legs and hips-qualities that can be developed to their fullest only when pentjak-silat is accepted as a way of life. Indonesians make daily use of the full squat posture, a posture that, as anyone knows who has tried it, requires well-developed and flexible leg muscles. Some of the stances and postures of pentjak-silat make greater physical demands than those of Japanese karate-do: they will thus be found to
offer an interesting and useful challenge to advocates of karate-do.

Although pentjak-silat is practiced today by all classes of Malaysian and Indonesian society, the people of the kampong ("village") take to it most readily. It may be seen in the remotest jungle or mountain village and on the most inaccessible island; hardly a schoolboy (or girl, for that matter) is without some ability to demonstrate the particular style practiced in the region they live in.


     In Malaysia, silat is a Malay word which means martial arts. Malay silat is a generic term for many Malaysian martial arts. There are at least 150 known Malay silats in Malaysia. Most popular ones are Silat Gayong (pronounced Guy Yoog), Silat Cekak, Silat Sendeng, Silat Keris Lok 9 and Silat Gayong Fatani. There is also another silat style called silat Melayu. This silat is considered as the oldest Malay silat. 

 The Malay silat during training and exhibition must normally be accompanied by the silat music, and the musical instruments comprise the drum, the gong and the flute. This is the real silat, with accompaniment of music, without which not. In the old days, the music played are varied. During a battle or war, music which encourages bravery and to uplift the spirits are played. During training, a different tune is played for different dance movements.

great malay martial arts silat  by yon

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