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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Mastering Pencak Silat

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Silat is a very big art in that there is a lot to be learned and there is no way that you can practice all of it or even a large part of it every day. So how should you train? In learning any martial arts, we can break the art into four pieces – mechanics, partner dynamics, real combat and internal aspects. 

Mechanics - Do you have your foot, your hand and your body in all of the right places and do you understand how they should be coordinated together. During this phase you should listen and watch in class for subtle movements and positions that your instructor makes. If you only have the books or the videos then look for every detail. Play the video in slow motion many times and watch where everything goes. Next head out to your garage or wherever you train and practice slowly in front of the mirror. Ask yourself if you look like the video or not? The answer for a while will be no, but keep tuning and fixing until you look good. Also do the techniques both slowly and at full speed. During this phase repetition is the key, but not mindless repetition. Don’t treat your training like reps on the weight machine.

Partner Dynamics - In this phase try the technique slowly with a partner. In your initial attempts the technique will seem “dirty”. Your partners arms and legs will seem to keep getting in the way and it all seems so messy. This is place you are learning to detect motion in your partner, learning about angles and you are learning that constant minor adjustments must be made. If the technique does not work like you think that it should then you need to ask if it is a question of mechanics, something you missed before, or is the problem in the dynamics. During this phase don’t kid yourself into believing that now you are super warrior and ready the take on the jungle. You made the technique work when both you and your partner knew exactly what was supposed to happen and your partner punched or kicked in the correct manner.

Real Combat - In this phase you need to begin slowly with your partner. This time you must maneuver yourself into the proper positions and adjust to the randomness of your partner. Care must be made to prevent injuries. This is not a contest to see who is the winner or loser. Gradually pick up the speed and eventually when you feel ready wear some protective gear and go at near full pace. Some techniques can’t be done at combat pace because they would cause serious injury, but do your best approximation. In this phase also evaluate your success or failure and ask is it due to mechanics, dynamics, fear or maybe you don’t have enough endurance or strength.

Internal Aspects - In this phase you want to integrate whatever animal spirit goes with that technique. Are you integrating the tenaga dalam with what you are trying to do? Have you been doing your tenaga dalam breathing exercises? Watch videos about the real animals, go to the zoo and see the real animals and attempt animal possession. In conclusion keep your training fun. If due to family or work you just can’t get with a partner very often at least try to get together once a week. Balance the other days with work on mechanics, tenaga dalam, endurance or strength. There is a lot to be learned and it should keep you busy a lifetime.

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