From the oral traditions of our elders, the progenitor of this style was Tuan Sheikh Ali, an Islamic scholar and master of Islamic studies who visited the Sumatran Islands long before its foreign occupation.
During this time, Islam had just arrived to that region of Indonesia. Aside from teaching the locals of the truth of Islam, he also taught them a martial art form, which he developed, derived from experience and inspiration.
Such inspiration repeatedly came to him whenever the need to defend himself arose, and thus the art developed further. There were 7 distinct stages of development in this style, which currently makes up the 7 levels of proficiency. Each level imparts different methods, techniques, and philosophies.
The final development in this style is the level named Silat Bongsu, which is the most simplified and versatile form. Silat Bongsu is the core of the total understanding of all Silat styles founded by Tuan Sheikh Ali. Because of this, Silat Bongsu is also known as the ‘Ibu Silat’ or ‘mother’ of our Silat styles.
After Tuan Sheikh Ali, several masters succeeded him. They are, in chronological order:
1. Guru Qodim
2. Katik Pasok
3. Muhammad Soleh
4. Malim Siroh
5. Pendekar Rohim (Pendekar Lima)
6. Atuk Haji Husin
There are also higher levels that are more expansive and require a deeper understanding to learn. These advanced Silat styles function as the expansion and refinement of Silat Bongsu. Among the masters of these levels are:
1. Bapak Buyong
2. Tuan Haji Deris
3. Ustaz Ramli
4. Che Mail Kedah
5. Pak Haji Harun
6. Haji Nong Bugis
7. Tuan Haji Shahrom
There are many more masters not listed here. Most of them have passed on, and a few others no longer teach.
Nowadays, pesilat learn and master only a glimpse of the Tuan Sheikh Ali Silat style due to the changes and demands of the modern lifestyle. To master all of the levels of this style, it takes at least 7 full years of consecutive daily studying. To be a good pesilat or gain the basic knowledge of a warrior, one must master at least the first 3 levels.
Long ago, this style of Silat spread far and wide, though always fragmented or under the influence of separate ‘perguruan’ (school), and never taught in its original complete format. Now, this priceless heritage has once again re-emerged in its original form and is being studied, strengthened and fused systematically within our organization.
Although each style or development within Silat Sheikh Ali comes from the same source, they are still unique and have their own identities. Each development contributed to the diversification of techniques, group identity, or even style identity, within our Silat school. Some styles previously had no name but were given them by the masters of each particular style. Among the unique names known are:
1. Silat Bongsu
2. Seni Silat Natar
3. Silek Natar Tuo
4. Seni Silat Sheikh Ali
5. Seni Silat Telapak Natar
6. Gayong Mendahiling
7. Silat Minang Sheikh Ali
8. Silek Tuo Sheikh Ali
9. Seni Silat Nuntoro
10. Seni Silat Sobok
11. Seni Silat Melayu Sheikh Ali
As previously mentioned, Seni Silat Bongsu is the name of the final version or development of Sheikh Ali's Silat style and has now become the first level in our instruction. It is appropriate in terms of the technique, application, and philosophy of this unique style. Our organization now strives to find and systematically merge all Tuan Sheikh Ali Silat styles, whilst at the same time preserving the authenticity of each one. No techniques from other styles of any kind, form or formless can be implemented in perfecting our styles. This action will not be tolerated, especially if the techniques are being practiced without permission.
In the quest to achieve the highest level of skill and understanding, a strict set of rules and regulations must be obeyed. All weaknesses and strengths must be accepted, utilized fully, and - if necessary - perfected in their own way. An open mind with a kind heart must be demonstrated at all times towards the whole of humanity. By accepting one's weakness, one has already achieved the basics in achieving greater perfection. That is the ultimate goal, unachievable as it may seem to some.
This article was sourced from http://senisilat.net