A former sports journalist turned silat exponent is now promoting `Senaman Tua' for developing mental and physical prowess, to both local and foreign students. FAZLI IBRAHIM has the story.
A REVOLUTION HAS BEEN sweeping through some martial arts gyms in Kuala Lumpur of late.
These days, the students in their black getup are not just there to learn the basics of silat - rather they're here to exercise, thanks to a system formulated by former sports journalist Azlan Ghanie.
An exponent of Silat Lok Sembilan, a style of the Malay martial arts he inherited from his father, Azlan has taught students as far afield as the Netherlands and edits Seni Beladiri, a monthly dedicated to the Malaysian martial arts scene.
He developed an exercise system called Senaman Tua based on the movements found in Silat Lok Sembilan aimed at developing mental and physical fitness.
Each movement is based on a petua or old maxim, which can be developed into any number of variations, which in turn opens the door to endless possibilities.
"There are 1001 petua and each petua can be broken into 1001 movements." Many find it unusual since it is an exercise rooted firmly in Malay culture, just as Yoga is to Indians and Qigong to the Chinese.
In Senaman Tua, there is a lot of emphasis on regulating breathing, as well as correcting the body's posture.
The movements vary from slow and deliberate stances to faster hand and leg movements.
Someone with a grounding in the martial arts can easily turn these simple exercise movements to effective defence techniques.
More importantly, Azlan believes that through the exercises, students are able to absorb innate martial arts skills, as well as to inculcate alertness, which helps you to sense danger and ward off unnecessary confrontation.
While Senaman Tua can be studied on its own, it is also as much about preparing the body with the strength, suppleness and agility needed in Silat training sessions as well as to drill silat students in important movements.
The movements have evocative Malay names such as susun sirih or arranging betel leaves, tari piring, or saucer dance and selak dahan or parting the branches.
"If we understand the body, seronok, it is a lot of fun," he says, outlining one of Senaman Tua's purposes.
Each session is an hour long and usually precedes a Lok Sembilan training slot.
He claims that with frequent sessions, the exercises can help alleviate the symptoms of asthma, gout and even heart disease.
"Someone with a history of heart disease approached me and I told him to try it out. After two months of Senaman Tua sessions, he went for a checkup at the National Heart Institute. The doctor says his heart is now stronger," says Azlan.
The popularity if this exercise has been steadily increasing over the years, with training centres opening all over the Klang valley. An indication of its popularity is the adoption of Senaman Tua as one of the activities of the Malaysia Airlines Silat Club, based in Subang Jaya.
These days, Azlan personally instructs several Senaman Tua classes around the Klang valley, especially in Setapak, Sungai Buloh and Ampang.
He's even recorded a VCD copy of a Senaman Tua workshop and seminar and is planning a book detailing this exercise with the help of a friend.
"I hope people everywhere will one day adopt and derive benefits from Senaman Tua and see it as a contribution of Malay heritage to the world," he concludes.
Written by FAZLI IBRAHIM
Sourced from http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-18209222_ITM