04 September 2006

Ustaz Hanafi Haji Ahmad: The man behind Silat Cekak

To all practitioners of Silat Cekak Hanafi, the late Ustaz Haji Hanafi Haji Ahmad is a supreme leader in the realm of Silat Melayu. This title is given to commend his efforts in giving new life and meaning to a Melayu martial heritage.

This was proven on the 5th of Ramadhan 1385 Hijriah coinciding with the 28th of December 1965 AD, when after much effort on his part, Ustaz Hanafi learned this art from Yahya Said.

Served posthumously, this title also credits his innovative teaching system and silat method whereby its benefits and martial qualities could be scientifically and logically valued as a method of self-defence by the public. He was also the first silat teacher to succeed in placing Silat Melayu on par with a modern professionally-managed organization.

Ustaz Hanafi Haji Ahmad hailed from Kedah; born in Kampung Sungai Baru, Mukim Gunung, Alor Setar in 1923. Following the norm of the day, he received his early education in a Melayu-vernacular school in Kampung Gunung, Alor Setar, Kedah and continued his religious studies at a few Religious Schools with a few Islamic scholars in Kedah.

Searching for true understanding towards Allah and following the Holy Prophet’s example, Ustaz Hanafi Haji Ahmad decided to sacrifice his youth to deepen his religious knowledge with a few famous scholars throughout the country, going as far as Singapore. The learning process to become a true servant of Allah, required him to support himself by selling pastries, traditional medicine and travelling throughout Malaysia to find a true teacher.

As a result of his patience and perseverance, it was Allah’s Will that Ustaz Hanafi met with Pak Haji Zain Abdul Rahman, who succeeded in explaining and summarizing for him the reality of divinity towards Allah using the book Al-Hikam written by Ibni Ataillah Al-Iskandari as a guide.

The struggle for independence of British rule struck a chord in the nationalistic soul of Ustaz Hanafi Haji Ahmad to fight for the rights of the Melayu people. The field most suited to him as a true Melayu was Silat Melayu. Ustaz Hanafi was sure that the Melayu people had a combat form that was no less powerful than the martial arts of other cultures.

A detailed research into many Melayu martial arts was carried out. The process of searching for one silat that could truly be effective for self-defence once again required that Ustaz Hanafi travel, becoming a servant to teachers, learning many different silat, and selling traditional medicine all around Malaysia. Finally, with the Will of Allah, he met Yahya Said.

Yahya Said practiced Silat Cekak and for 40 years, had sought a replacement worthy of the art itself. With his impressive knowledge of the Malay language, Ustaz Hanafi encapsulated Silat Cekak in simple but accurate verses, now immortalized in the Silat Cekak poems and philosophy.

He was also the man responsible to breathe new hope and faith to Silat Melayu as an art worthy of study by the Malay people. He revived the respect of the masses towards an art tarnished by ignorance and superstition; an art that has withstood the riot of rain and the sear of shine. As a dynamic pioneer in organizational management, he provided a new image to Silat Melayu in a silat organization.

It is clear that a huge part of the success of Silat Cekak’s popularity among the Malay masses today is the result of the vision of Ustaz Hanafi; the supreme leader of Silat Cekak. Now, Silat Cekak Hanafi is available to be learnt at most learning institutions. Friend or foe, respectful or disrespectful students, acknowledge and appreciate him as a Principal with caliber, courage and perseverance.

Ustaz Hanafi Haji Ahmad passed away on the 13th of August 1986 at Kuala Lumpur at the age of 63 years leaving behind a widow Maimunah Haji Othman and six children. His vision continues to this day as led by his fourth son, Md. Radzi Haji Hanafi.

"His speech and actions were always in concert. In all things, he practiced it first before teaching it. His speech and opinions were easy to understand and in line with the purpose of life. He was also a master of many situations. There were times, he would be a teacher, times he would be a father and others he would be a friend.” -The opinion of the Silat Cekak Hanafi Principal, Md. Radzi Haji Hanafi, of Silat Cekak’s supreme leader, the late Ustaz Hanafi Haji Ahmad.

1929 - Received early schooling at Sekolah Melayu Gunung, Alor Setar, Kedah.
1933 - Enrolled in a religious school at Kampung Alor Gonchar, Mukim Gunung, Alor Setar, Kedah under the supervision of Haji Osman bin Lebai Zain.
1936 - Enrolled in the Guar Chempedak Religious School, Gurun Kedah. Religious education was led by Haji. Abdul Majid and Arabic language was taught by Yahya bin Jonid.

Independently sought learning from the following teachers:

  • Haji Bukhari Hassan of Batu 4 1/4, Kampung Pinang, Mukim Pengkalan Kundur, Alor Setar, Kedah.
  • Hj. Hanafiah – His own uncle from Anak Bukit, Alor Setar, Kedah.
  • Haji Lah from Chegar, Pantai Johor, Kedah.
  • Studied with Pak Ngah Shariff, known to be a powerful man in Kedah at the time. In order to study, he had to serve his teacher beforehand, doing heavy work such as chopping wood, gardening and fieldwork. It was during times of leisure that Pak Ngah Shariff would teach self-defence and spiritual knowledge.

Gained experience through travel, involved in discourses with:

  • Che Salleh bin Haji Abdul Rahman Limbong in Terengganu.
  • Kiyai Muhammad Fadlullah Suhaimi from Singapura whom he met in Pahang.
  • Sheikh Osman Cincin from Perak who was reportedly famous for his knowledge of invulnerability.
  • Abdullah Salleh – known as Che Lah Keramat; famous for his traditional medicine in Terengganu.
  • Met a teacher named Pak Haji Zain Abdul Rahman. The teacher who managed to summarise his knowledge of the Divine Unity (Ilmu Tauhid). Pak Haji Zain guided his education using the book Al-Hikam written by Ibni Ataillah.


  • Sold medicine throughout the country.
  • Active in politics in the 1940s. Joined the Parti Seberkas and Parti Negara led by the late Dato' Onn Jaafar.
  • Zakat Director in 1963 at the Kedah State Religious Office.
  • Sold apam balik in Yala, Thailand and Pekan Rabu, Alor Setar, Kedah.
  • Led Seni Silat Cekak from 1965 to August 1986.

Translated from Cekak Hanafi Dunia Digital http://cekakhanafi.com/

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