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

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