30 March 2006

The Organisation of Silat Part 2

Pertubuhan Silat Seni Gayong Malaysia was famed for its dazzling displays of realistic fighting and breakings, which at the time, was not a common practise amongst the other silat styles. Gayong was probably the first to get silat noticed again by a society that had long regarded it as an archaic danceform.

Oriental martial arts styles were not only making a huge impact in the West at the time, but also gained a following among the younger Melayu because of its 'realistic' techniques. From such opinions, several forward thinking masters of silat decided to play the game. They too formed associations around their silat practises.

No longer just an exercise to be studied or a dance to be performed at cultural occassions, silat craved the recognition it felt it deserved. Also, as non-profit associations, they patterned themselves as vanguards of culture and the Melayu race, fending off external 'negative' cultural influences.

Pertubuhan Seni Silat Lincah Malaysia, Persatuan Seni Silat Cekak Malaysia and Pertubuhan Seni Gayung Fatani Malaysia joined in the fray to find favour among the Melayu, and ground zero was Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. The four of these organisations established KL as either their headquarters or base of operations, which saw many cityfolk, who had only known silat to be soft, flowery undulating (and old-fashioned), rushing to embrace these 'new styles'.

Gayong and Lincah with their brutal performances, Cekak with its no nonsense, no frills method and Gayung Fatani with its traditional core but modern approach to combat swamped the public with alternatives to the foreign imports such as Karate, Judo and Taekwondo.

But competition for students soon became unfriendly. Pesilat were bickering more and more about whose style was better, a result of the competitive lifestyle of the KL city folk. Words were exchanged at meetings and in the media. Insults, accusations and counter accusations became the scandals of the day. The silat community needed unity. But where would they meet? On what grounds? Something had to be done.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

29 March 2006

Promotion of Silat Seni Gayong in France

29 Mar 2006, FRANCE, Paris - The Malaysian art of self-defence, ‘Silat Seni Gayong’ is spreading in France, thanks to a Malaysian student studying in France. Like any other student, most of his time during the week will be spent at the university library in Montluçon, a medieval town of 45,000 inhabitants located in the centre of France. But during his free time Shaiful Hakim Mohammed Noor indulges in teaching and promoting Silat Seni Gayong.

Shaiful Hakim is a final year engineering student specializing in energy and thermodynamic at the Montluçon Institute of Technology. He created the ‘Silat Seni Gayong France’ association in November 2005 due to the overwhelming demand from the French public in learning the art of Silat Seni Gayong. Other than Montluçon, the ‘Silat Seni Gayong France’ has also expanded into Lille, in the northern part of France.

Born in Kota Baru, Kelantan, Shaiful Hakim started learning silat when he was still in secondary school. He trained under several instructors from the Seni Silat Gayong Kelantan. He won the Kelantan ‘Seni Bela Diri’ championship in 2000 when he was still studying at his secondary school in Pasir Putih .

Shaiful Hakim came to France in January 2003 to study the French language at Colmar, in eastern France. His first Silat Seni Gayong demonstration in France took place in October 2004 during an Open Day event held at the Technology Institute of Colmar, where he was a second year student. Students and visitors were impressed with his Silat Seni Gayong demonstration as the martial art was unknown to them. They found the spiritual and the cultural aspects of Silat Seni Gayong so fascinating that many came to Shaiful Hakim to learn the art.

The French Association of Pencak Silat (AFPS) spotted Shaiful Hakim’s talent and invited him to demonstrate the Malaysian Silat Seni Gayong at its recent ‘Premier best of the best of Pencak Silat’ event held in Paris on 18 March 2006. The event was attended by about 3,000 spectators including H.E. Dato’ Hamidah Mohd Yusoff, Ambassador of Malaysia to France and YM Tengku Azamiah Tengku Majid, Counsellor of the Embassy of Malaysia in Paris. Also present was H.E. Ambassador Arizal Effendi, the Indonesian Ambassador to France. During the demonstration Shaiful Hakim performed the Pukulan, Kunci Maut, Gerakan Anak Harimau, Pentas Pisau, Keris and Parang. The French Pencak Silat association, a member of the International Federation of Pencak Silat (PERSILAT) was created in 1994 with the objective to promote and develop the Pencak Silat in France.

Shaiful Hakim has travelled around France to promote Silat Seni Gayong. In October 2005 members of the ‘Silat Seni Gayong France’ led by Shaiful Hakim participated for the first time in the “Interstyle Pencak Silat Meet’ and met with members of other French Pencak Silat clubs in Ile d’Oléron (west coast of France).

Shaiful Hakim’s Silat Seni Gayong instructors also came and toured France during its ‘Silat Seni Gayong French Tour’ program last December. The tour program included giving demonstrations and courses in Silat Seni Gayong at Lille, Paris, Montluçon in France and also in Belgium. The members of the ‘Seni Silat Gayong France’ was invited again to Belgium in February this year where they demonstrated the Tari Bunga Tanjung, Kombat Keris and Kombat Tongka to the Belgians.

Given the interest shown in Seni Silat Gayong, it won’t be surprising if in time, Seni Silat Gayong becomes as popular as Taekwondo, among the French public.

Sourced from http://www.maf.online.fr/2006/press_release/silat_gayong.html

21 March 2006

The Organisation of Silat Part 1

Many non-Malaysians wonder just how is silat administrated in Malaysia? They are used to seeing schools, academies, clubs and the such in their own countries, but most of these are for-profit ventures, where the teaching master teaches full-time.

In Malaysia, this is hardly the case. In the 1950s, silat was taught in villages as a pastime, as legal as hopscotch, but far more dangerous. At a time when television and MTV had yet to take over our world, silat was the equivalent of physical education.

When the Melayu were still studying in vernacular schools and especially boarding school-type 'pondok' (religious institutions akin to the pesantren of Indonesia), silat became the evening physical activity to complement the daylight spiritual and academic teachings. These silat styles were usually generic and were not stylecentric as in the modern world.

Other styles however, existed on their own and were taught as nightly activities to the youth as acculturation and social entertainment. Young girls and children would watch their men dance to the beat of the drum as the flame of the 'jamong' (torch) glistened across their bodies.

But the 1950s also saw silat reinventing itself under the guidance of Allahyarham Meor Abdul Rahman Uda Hashim, the founder and Mahaguru of Silat Seni Gayong. He was the first person to teach silat under the auspices of a registered organisation, Pertubuhan Silat Seni Gayong Malaysia.

It set a trend that was to be followed by many other silat styles in the future.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

18 March 2006

Silat.TV

I got a long distance call yesterday from an old friend and mentor, guro Omar Hakim. He's currently the USA representative for Silat Kuntau Tekpi, a Malaysian silat style that hails from Kedah Darul Aman.

He bore good news for all silat enthusiasts: Soon, they'll be able to read about silat in English, sourced from books previously published in Malaysia in the Malay language. Formerly inaccessible material can now be obtained without having to travel here.

There will also be a range of DVDs on silat appearing soon on the various silat styles in Malaysia, most of which are as yet unknown in the West. Who is in charge of translating all of these? Wouldn't you like to know :)

Omar will publish these products via his company Tactical Response Systems LLC. For progress updates, do visit http://www.silat.tv

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

17 March 2006

Silat Kuntau Tekpi: A typical grading day

It is early morning and you wake up groggy, wondering where everyone has gone, suddenly realising you're the only one still under a blanket (which bore pretty much no protection anyway).

Cikgu Sani walks in and announces to everyone that you're awake, casually ordering you to take a bath. And irrespective of what anyone says, village bath water is no less cold in the morning than it is in the middle of the night.

After getting dressed, you notice that you're not the only one being graded today, even though your instructor made it seem that way. (Maybe it's because you're the only one from Kuala Lumpur while everyone else is either from the Port Dickson or Baling branch).

You mingle with the other students, all of whom are warming up and stretching. You, on the other hand have still yet to wake up and are trying to warm up your cold feet. The sudden shrieks and hollers, images of bodies being flung to the ground and the sound of popping joints fill you with fear. Then, you cringe even further when you realise that those kids were just practising!

They huddle together on the uneven cement floor of Pak Guru Zainol Abidin's house porch, which faces cikgu Sani's. Both porches are separated from each other by a small tract of earth, on which is parked cikgu Azhar's and cikgu Izat's cars. On Pak Guru's porch, the students shiver as one by one, they are called behind a tarp curtain surrounding the gelanggang. No one who hasn't sat for the test may enter.

You hear familiar sounds, screaming and popping and cracking and thudding, as if you've made them before, but more intense and frightening. You crack jokes with your newfound friends, making fun of the earlier guy who went in, but they don't go down well with the folks intent on aceing the grading.

Suddenly you realise, not only are you smelling the chickenshit you stepped in earlier, you actually ARE it. Suddenly... well, maybe not suddenly, you of course expected it, but it came as a shock nonetheless, your name is called out from behind the curtain. Nodding honourably to your testmates, you walk towards the curtain, the words wafting from behind you as you pass ... "city boy, gonna get thrashed, this'll be good".

You part the curtain. You try to lift the curtain. You work your way around the heavy tarp only to face your fellow students, their faces either gasping in amazement at your weakness or in horror at the severe beating you're going to receive. Many students have gone before you, and you know that they're grateful to be able to watch you go down. It doesn't help that cikgu Sani is playing the serunai hauntingly, while his youngest daughter plays the gong and his other students man the drums.

The gelanggang is all earth. Not a slab of cement, not a hint of tiles, or even a plank of wood. Those that have gone before you, are sitting in a corner, watching. The senior instructors sit on chairs behind a table with grading checklist sheets. You hope to God you studied everything needed to be studied.

The panel calls your name and you approach the table. They ask you to choose an envelope. Sensing your whole life flash before your eyes, you choose the least threatening one and open it. A slip was inside."Pancang Kerbau" & "Ular Sawa" it said. You nod respectfully and step backwards into position. Cikgu Azhar suddenly gets up. Wasn't he here also for his grading? Yeah, you remember. He's here for his red sash. You're here for your yellow. Since we probably don't want you to get hurt, so, yeah, let's get your own instructor to test you. (A collective "Damn" goes up from the crowd).

You get the signal from the panel and cikgu Azhar winds up. Wait a minute, which buah was th... and your lip splits just as you finish the thought. Wasn't he supposed to be the good cop? After picking themselves up off the floor, the panel allows you to try again. This time, cikgu Azhar let's one rip and you're prepared. Your hands slide effortlessly across his arm and you feel the tension.

You immediately snag backwards, his body now blasting uncontrollably towards you, his elbow bending from the slack. You pivot sharply to your left and bring his wrist up above and behind his head followed by his elbow. His stance now proudly disrupted by your oh-so-clever positioning of the static sweep, you feel him descend to the ground at twice the maximum velocity.

Your pride swells... that is, until you realise that you're going down just as fast. He's grabbed on to you for support! Timber!...Amazing. A perfect lock. And only some wounds to show for it. The next buah came naturally, after a minor dusting off and profuse apology to your instructor. The other guys just purse their lips, their entertainment not as promosing as it was made out to be.

Then, the collated marks are read out, and you made the top 25 (there were 25 testees). Happy but tired, you look forward to the lunch that was to follow the grading. But it was not to be. Now, it was cikgu Azhar's turn to be graded. And guess who has to be his partner?

(The story above contains untruths and polishings. Westerners may believe what they wish. Malaysians can pooh-pooh it and move on).

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

16 March 2006

Kedah, home to Silat galore

A job related day trip took me to Gurun, Kedah last night. It hit me that when my boss mentioned going to Gurun, the first thing that popped in my head wasn't the fact that we had a prominent client there. It was a name. Cikgu Abdul Majid Mat Isa better known as guru Pak Andak Majid, guru utama of Pertubuhan Silat Seni Pusaka Gayong Malaysia, whose headquarters is in Gurun.

During the drive there, we passed by the turning off to Baling, the home cikgu Sani, the Pak Guru of Pertubuhan Seni Silat Kuntau Tekpi Malaysia. Although I've never actually been to Gurun, but I once visited cikgu Sani in his home and witnessed, among others their grading ceremony, village style. Back then, his late father, Pak Guru Zainol Abidin, was still among us. It was a proud moment for me to be able meet him, even for such a short time.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

15 March 2006

Welcome to my blog

Assalamualaikum and Salam hormat to all,

Welcome to my blog on Silat Melayu. As the title states, this blog will take you on a continuous journey in the realm of silat in Malaysia and discuss current issues relating to silat.

Salam persilatan,
Mohd Nadzrin Wahab