01 October 2002

Pencak Silat: A step away from becoming an official sport

An exhibition sport will not mean more gold, silver or bronze medals to pursue in the 14th Asian Games in Busan, South Korea, but nevertheless Pencak Silat will make an ambitious move toward international recognition.

There will be a fantastic opportunity to show the public, especially the Asian community, that there is a different technique of self defense, known locally and in the Southeast Asia region as Pencak Silat, which deserves international, or at least regional, recognition.

Many, mainly in the Pencak Silat community, have praised its success in managing to get accepted to Asia's biggest sporting event, following Karate and Judo from Japan, Tae Kwon Do from Korea and Wushu from China. "Although, it (Pencak Silat) will only be an exhibition sport in the Busan Asian Games, it's a great stride toward receiving more international recognition," said Indonesian Pencak Silat Federation (IPSI) President and President of the International Pencak Silat Federation (Persilat) Eddie Nalapraya of Indonesia, on the sidelines of a recent function celebrating the inclusion of Pencak Silat in the 2002 Asian Games.

Similar feelings were shared by Abdullah Syafei, President of Singapore Pencak Silat Federation, who expressed his joy at the inclusion of Pencak Silat in the Asiad.

Meanwhile, President of Malaysia's Pencak Silat Federation Tan Sri H. Mohammad Thaib said: "It's a golden milestone for Pencak Silat in its attempt to receive official international recognition."

Pencak Silat combines the skill of various traditional ethnic of self defense techniques inherited by the people within the Southeast Asia from their ancestors centuries ago.

Nowadays, Pencak Silat has been globally promoted and developed in the five continents under the flag of Persilat (International Pencak Silat Federation, Persekutuan Pencak Silat Antar Bangsa). The umbrella organization was co-founded by Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam in 1980. Since then, the organization has spread to 40 countries.

The long and winding road toward reaching international recognition began in 1987, when Pencak Silat was included as an official event in the 14th Southeast Asia (SEA) Games in Jakarta, involving nine participating countries.

Meanwhile, in the global arena, a Pencak Silat World Championship is held every two years.

At home, Pencak Silat managed to enter the country's local official multi-sport event, the National Games (PON), in 1973, long after Indonesia had its Pencak Silat Federation (IPSI) established in Solo (Surakarta, Central Java) in 1948.

And the long wait to enter a larger international stage has borne fruit as Pencak silat was finally allowed as an exhibition sport at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, (the city formerly known as Pusan) South Korea before a probable official inclusion of it in Qatar, the site of the 2006 Asian Games.

The Busan Asian Games Organizing Committee has allowed Pencak Silat athletes to participate but will treat them differently from the official contingents, in that the pencak silat contingent will have to arrange its contest at its own cost during the competition.

The Busan games will run from Sept. 29 to Oct. 14 and pencak silat will take place for two days on Oct. 5 and 6. Athletes from 15 countries, including host South Korea, are expected to compete in the exhibition.

It would not be too much of a distant dream to have Pencak Silat eventually make it all the way to the Olympic Games, as its competition and scoring systems share similarities with martial arts from other countries, such as Karate, Judo, Tae Kwon Do and Wushu.

For competition purposes, Pencak Silat is divided into four categories -- match, solo, doubles and team.

The match category involves a competition that involves two athletes from different teams using the elements of Pencak Silat's self defense and attack techniques with the goal of achieving a higher score.

Solo is when an athlete performs the Pencak Silat Single Compulsory Steps with accuracy and precision, both empty-handed and with weapons.

The double involves two pesilat of the same team who perform their skills and Pencak Silat's defense and attack techniques.

The team category involve three pesilats of the same team who perform their skills empty-handed in the Team Compulsory Steps accurately.

The four categories are divided into male and female events.

Apart from the successful continuing lobbying endeavors of Persilat officials to include Pencak Silat in international multi-event sports tournaments, the questions will be on how people of the countries of origin of Pencak Silat, especially Indonesia, could maintain their supremacy in every tournament in the future.

Or will they be willing to see themselves as spectators only, while other countries excel and dominate every Pencak Silat tournament?

A good, but threatening example should be the 2000 Pencak Silat World Championship in Jakarta when Indonesia managed to top the overall medal tally with 14 golds but relative newcomer Vietnam came second with five golds. However, the latest world championship had shown us that four of the Vietnamese gold medalists were women, in contrast to Indonesia's mens' achievement.

Vietnam's increasing threat had begun in the 20th SEA Games in Brunei Darussalam when its team outclassed Indonesia with seven golds, while Indonesia came second with five golds.

An honest, but bitter statement from Eddie Nalapraya is that "Pencak Silat is no longer Indonesia's property". This should be a real lesson to those involved here.

Written by IMANUDDIN
Sourced from http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-26129171_ITM

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