STUDENT Hairulhasanah Shahbudin, who was recently in Pyongyang, North Korea to participate in the First International Martial Arts Games, tells SUZIEANA UDA NAGU about her passion for silat.
IT TOOK Hairulhasanah Shahbudin a while to figure out why her mother Siti Fatimah Ahmad had banned her from taking up silat when she was small.
For years, Hairulhasanah's mother gave her the typical "martial arts are for boys" excuse to keep the international business student at University College of Technology and Management Malaysia (or KUTPM, its Malay acronym) from pursuing it.
"I have been in love with silat since primary school. I love the graceful moves but, at the time, my mother thought it was a rough sport," says 23-year-old Hairulhasanah.
What really concerned Siti Fatimah were the myths surrounding silat, among others, that it involves the practice of ilmu batin (mystical powers) which conflicts with the teachings of Islam. She was worried that her daughter would be influenced.
Today, Siti Fatimah is happy that she gave her daughter a chance to try out silat. In just five years, Hairulhasanah has shown tremendous progress in the sport.
Two months ago, Hairulhasanah and three other members from the Seni Gayung Fatani Society were invited by the Youth and Sports Ministry to perform silat demonstrations at the First International Martial Arts Games in Pyongyang, North Korea. (see accompanying story) It is no surprise that her mother is now Hairulhasanah's No. 1 fan.
Hairulhasanah, a black belt holder, says times have changed and so has silat.
"There may have been silat groups in the past which incorporated `black magic' into their teachings but I assure you that silat today is not what it used to be," she adds.
Two years ago, the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry, the Education Ministry and Pertubuhan Silat Kebangsaan endorsed the Seni Silat Malaysia curriculum, which is considered the most comprehensive and up-to-date syllabus.
One masters silat by completing seven-level modules of training.
The curriculum is based on the one used by the Malaysian Seni Gayung Fatani Society.
Although it is an intensive programme, students are not subjected to unnecessary examinations and tests.
The curriculum has given silat a modern feel without compromising its originality.
For example, the curriculum does not mix silat movements with those from other martial arts. Silat performances are still accompanied by baku music, whether it is practised in Malaysia or in Europe.
"The curriculum has attracted martial arts lovers to come to Malaysia to deepen their knowledge about silat," says Hairulhasanah, who enrolled in her first Gayong Fatani silat class in 1999.
"Despite being a late-starter, I managed to finish six levels and earned my black belt in just four years. It is not that hard if you are committed," beams the Kuala Lumpur-born lass.
Hairulhasanah is currently a certified silat instructor and teaches the sport at KUTPM (where she is currently completing her Bachelor's degree in International Business) and, more recently, at the Malaysian Cultural Office which is next to Malaysian Tourism Centre in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur.
Hairulhasanah feels it is time that Malaysians accepted homegrown martial arts like silat.
Currently, silat is mostly practised by the Malays. "So, before we start claiming that silat is a Malaysian sport, we must make sure that all Malaysians embrace it," she says.
She and fellow members from the Seni Gayung Fatani group plan to teach silat to primary school pupils, particularly those from Chinese and Tamil schools beginning next year. There have been mixed responses from school heads.
"The headmistress of Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina Lai Meng whom we approached welcomed our initiative. She even asked when we can start the class," says Hairulhasanah.
But others question her motives.
"A headmaster of a national school we approached was not keen on having his students learn silat at all. He bombarded us with plenty of questions about our intentions. That was when I realised how badly some people perceive silat and those who practise it," she says.
The incident made Hairulhasanah more determined to prove disbelievers wrong.
For Hairulhasanah, silat has opened many doors for her. It has also taken her to places she never imagined she would visit.
Typical of an all-rounder, Hairulhasanah does not neglect her studies. Indeed, she's a regular on the Dean's list and has even been named her college's Best Student.
Hairulhasanah graduated from Pusat Teknologi dan Pengurusan Lanjutan (PTPL), KUTPM's affiliate college, with a score of a 3.95 cumulative grade point average.
Between studying and coaching, one can imagine how busy Hairulhasanah is.
"If I am not home, I'll be at college or teaching silat. I rarely have time for leisure but I don't regret it one bit," she says.
Written by SUZIEANA UDA NAGU
Sourced from http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-14631247_ITM