22 December 2007

Senaman Tua: An Excerpt

The following is an excerpt from the bilingual Senaman Tua Melayu book recently published by AGM Sdn Bhd and written by guru Azlan Ghanie, founder of Silat Melayu Keris Lok 9 and Senaman Tua (ST). This, then would be considered the official view of its founder.

Senaman Tua ("petua" the advice of the elders/tip, while "Tua" means old) is founded by guru Azlan Ghanie. The word 'Senaman' is interpreted as a physical movement or exercise whereas 'Tua' is translated as ancient since it is inherited from the people of the past.

Senaman Tua was inspired by the teachings of guru Azlan's father, Abdul Ghanie bin Abu Bakar, who originated from the royal Melayu family of Merpati Jepang from Sarawak. His family is also connected to the silat family of his mother's Bugis ancestors (Rogayah binti Jaafar, Jaafar bin Endut).

Incidentally, Endut was the person who unified all Pahang silat gurus from Pahang and had also revived silat at Gong Kapas in Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, during the 1930s and 1940s. His son, Jaafar, taught silat to the royal Melayu family in Kampung Gajah, Perak and Johor in the 1940s.

The exercises begin with the raising of one's spiritual and physical well being. This is why Senaman Tua begins with an upright standing posture and a smile before practising proper breathing (using the Nafas Melayu technique), and the physical exercises begin from the soles of the feet.

The concept of 'beginning from your feet' in Senaman Tua comes from the advice of his mother's friends who often stoppd by his home in Pekan, Pahang. According to Melayu culture, one has to pour cold water on one's feet first before proceeding to bathe the other parts of the body. With that, the first Senaman Tua exercise begins with the soles of your feet.

Joints and Senaman Tua Basics
Senaman Tua originates from the basics of standing, in particular, how the Melayu stand, sit, lies down and move. All of these movements tell a story like that of a complete and well-dressed warrior.

In the sitting exercise, they start with the cross-legged sitting position on the floor. from this position, one can extrapolate various different leg exercises such as folding, tiptoeing, squatting, stretching, etc.

In the concept of self-defense, sitting cross-legged will also train preparedness in defending against attacks from the 4 compass directions (front, rear, left, and right) with minimum movement.

The sitting exercise is followed by prone exercises (lying on your back).

After the prone session, Senaman Tua enthusiasts can do the hand exercises while standing. Focus is given to the joints and the strength comes from practising the 'petua'.

To the warrior, the palms are regarded as the 'fruit' or the 'furthest fruit'. The elbow is the 'inner fruit' and when the hand is straightened it is regarded as the 'branch'. The shoulder is the base of the branch.

Speed and Strength
This Melayu exercise system specialises in building speed and strength. More precisely, the exercises focus on joint strength via its various extrapolations.

One of the hand exercises strengthens the shoulders and, among is foundation for locking and takedown techniques in Silat Melayu by pushing the enemy's shoulders to the ground and livens up the body's movement in self-defense acts. It also heals injury in the shoulders, nape and waist if done correctly under the guru's supervision.

One of the hand dances can develop into strikes, traps, locks, counterlocks and other techniques. The knowledgeable martial artist will be able to unlock various locks with a minimum effort or strength.

Senaman Tua has an objective and to pursue this journey, it begins from an origin. Breathing too has an origin, i.e. concentration is focused in the navel. The same thing applies in performing Senaman eTua exercises when sitting, lying down, hand dances, standing and striding; there is a clear objective when it starts from the base.

In these gentle Melayu exercises, besides those done upon waking from sleep and the imitation of animal body movements, exercises like bathing, washingclothes by the river, boat rowing and various other movements have been adopted. the 'stretching out' movement culminates in the waist area whether the torso is raised or remains upright (focusses on the navel and waist).

In sports science this technique is called stretching and is also known in Senaman Tua as 'body relaxation', where one has to stretch out to acquire this stimulating feeling.

The ancient Melayu believed that the body will not be at ease either due to an improper diet or because of lack of exercise. It is believed that the body contains 'wind'. In sports, if you cannot perform well, it is said you are 'winded'. When you go for a massage you will definitely burp (so will the masseur) when you are releasing 'wind'.

Silat Melayu Core
The moves in Senaman Tua come from Silat Melayu where it was practiced in the ancient palace households. It was used in countering attacks from their enemies. In their fights, speed, strength and accuracy were their priorities (they still are). Quick thinking, speed in dodging, strength in attacking and accuracy to the targeted points on the enemy's body had been and still are the major requirements.

When seeking combative knowledge, the warrior's highest priority is delving into his inner self. Such knowledge imparts thus: To be missed when stabbed at and to counter when evading. It means that, when facing his enemy, he is ready to evade, deceive and attack - all simultaneously. When attacked, he evades and deceives, and he attacks without the enemy being able to counter.

Silat is also acknowledged as a study in movements which deliver attacks and counter-attacks with speed, strength and accuracy. The breathing technique of Nafas Melayu enlivens or brings alive the movements in Silat, further enhancing these unique movements.

Nafas Melayu becomes the starting from which all movements are born. This method is thought to have been acquired from the reflex actions of frightened children. It is well known in the Melayu community as 'contraction of the stomach', where frightened children ran so fast that they literally jumped over wide ditches and climbed tall trees.

This method produces unique strength. In combat, the enemy attacks from different angles and one has to evade and step out of attacks or step in to deliver attacks. It becomes the basis of speed and liquid movement. After the Nafas Melayu routine, the body is ready to move like the wind.

The sole exercise is the beginning of the physical exercise to complete the body's movement in combat or Silat with the soles coming coming alive to step, to wiggle the waist, dodge or evade and to deceive with the flower hand dance.

That's the philosophy of Melayu self-defense in Silat. As proclaimed - where there's spirit, there's soul. The spirit means living, whereas the soul is the strength in the moves. Each exercise in Senaman Tua has its own story. The story is to stride or retreat and therefore your ankle joints need to be strong. The ankles are the key instrument in carrying the body's weight.

You can build such strength to carry the body by practicing the tiptoe exercise. Concentration then is on the knee joints because the knees need to bear the body's weight and to maintain balance. Concentration is then centred towards the waist before proceeding to the hand exercises such as the wrists, elbows and shoulders.

The Melayu warriors do not increase their muscles in size for strength. Strength is obtained from strengthening of the joints in exercise.



Salams to all & Brother Nadzrin

It's me again..with my infamous 'esoteric' theory.

No. 4 and No. 9 have always been subjects of interest to me.

(I'm the 9th in the family...kinda big family huh?)

I'll talk about No. 4 later (although this forthcoming interpretation of No. 4 may seemingly opposes those who loves feng shui - in fact it won't..I promise you)

But before I proceed, I would like to warn all readers NOT to deem the following statements as something 'astrological' (otherwise this subject will be blown out of proportion of mysticisms, metaphysical and beliefs)

Consider it a matter of discussions about deductive logic.

No. 9, why no. 9? I'm sure you all must have heard of the following paradox yet most popular equation:

9 X 1 = 9
9 X 2 = 18 (1+8=9)
9 X 3 = 27 (2+7=9)
9 X 4 = 36 (3+6=9)
9 X 5 = 45 (4+5=9)

and so on and so forth.

9 is the ONLY number that appear to be manifesting itself back to its original state via the abovementioned basic calculations.

According to 'Mr. Geek Maths', (My personification of imaginary Mathematical friend), 9 is a composite number with proper divisors being 1 & 3. It is 3 times 3 and hence the third square number.

Thus back to Silat Melayu Keris Lok 9. I'm curious, what's so special about No. 9 - in this context?

(ok..you could say that I'm 'fishing' for free information - don't worry I'm sure Guru Azlan Ghanie won't mind sharing some 'bits' and 'pieces')


Mohd Nadzrin Wahab said...

Salam hormat Poknik,

I am a casual fan of numerology myself. From Carl Jung's theory of coincidence to the Prophet Idris' rumoured knowledge of numbers, I truly believe that Allah did not make anything for naught.

The problem lies in how to view their importance, impact and usage in our lives. For example, eclipses do not occur because of terrestrial events, like the death of Ibrahim bin Muhammad. But, they DO occur, and understanding how they occur gives us knowledge.

In many cultures, even in mathematics, the number 9 is considered a magic or perfect number because it is the highest numeral in the decimal numbering system (as compared to the binary, which uses only 1 and 0).

This is intuited even in the Melayu culture where 3 loks on a keris are reserved for common folk, 5 loks for hulubalang, 7 loks for pendekar and 9 loks and above for royalty.

For practicality purposes, I suppose, longer kerises for royalty can't remain 9 loks, thus the common man limit remains under 9.

Silat Melayu Keris Lok 9 is named after guru Azlan's late father's (Almarhum Abdul Ghanie Abu Bakar) keris, which has 9 loks.

There are many things he told me regarding the numeral, most of which I am unable to publish due to a trust of secrecy.

(I believe at least 20 years in silat and a rough internet search will get you these secrets anyway).

One thing which he often tells his students and guests is the fact that every normal human being's height equals 9 of their own jengkal.

Salam persilatan,


Acknowledged and Understood