11 December 2007

Wali Jantan: The Hidden Weapon of Silat Cekak Hanafi

The Wali is a traditional wood carving knife used by Melayu woodcarvers in Peninsular Malaysia. It is a favourite amongst carvers because it produces finer shapes than a chisel does. This is the primary difference between Malaysian carvings and those from Indonesia or Thailand which employ the chisel to remove wood chips.

The Wali is also used as a stripping knife to create long bamboo strips for weaving or even as a fillet-like tool to strip fat and meat from cattle skin which will be used to make the Wayang Kulit shadow puppets.

A Pantun Melayu mentions the knife as part of its opening stanza:
Pisau wali buat peraut,
Camca jatuh patah berdengung,
Gila latah ikan di laut,
Melihat umpan di kaki gugung.

Stripping with the Pisau Wali,
A falling spoon hums as it breaks,
Excited are the fish in the sea,
To see the bait at the water’s edge.

Wali Jantan
The Wali Jantan is a single bladed knife-like weapon that acts as a companion to the Lading, Silat Cekak's official weapon. It shares only its name with the Wali but is obviously of a different design. When drawn from the sheath and held in a forward grip, the sharpened edge actually points upwards, thus negating its use as a slashing instrument. It becomes immediately clear that this weapon was designed to stab.

According to a statement made by guru utama Md Radzi Haji Hanafi of Silat Cekak Hanafi, the name Wali means Ahli, which could be translated as Expert or Specialist. Jantan means Manliness.

The weapon, which can be held in both forward and reverse grip, is used by selected members of Silat Cekak Hanafi. It is conferred by the guru utama to anyone he wishes. Currently, it has been reported that only 10 people have been awarded a Wali Jantan.

Proof of existence?
The uniqueness of this weapon, like the Lading Cekak, which doesn't exist in the arsenal of any other silat lineage makes its origins and history difficult to trace. The Wali Jantan was introduced publicly by guru utama Md Radzi in 2000. Because of this, it is hard to corroborate the claim that it was used by the Panglimas of Kedah in the last century. The weapon was previously kept secret.

However, I have personally seen a Wali Jantan owned by Haji Amruddin Buang, a senior Cekak master who claimed to have received it from Allahyarham Ustaz Hanafi himself.

Aside from this, the website Memori Kedah (http://memori-kedah.net/) records photographs of a Wali Jantan in its museum with a similar design. It states that the hilt is made from buffalo horn and the cap at the end of the sheath is made of ivory. There are carvings on the sheath and the cap. The length of the blade from hilt to tip is approximatel 26.5cm and the length of the sheath is approximately 21cm.

The measurements of the Wali Jantan are kept secret by the guru utama. Those who receive the weapon will be taught how to use it. It is said to be an effective weapon when fighting in pitch darkness. It is used for both attack and countering.

When attacking, the user employs a unique method that allows them to unsheath the blade with one hand in a split second. The handle and sheath design also facilitate this function. As part of its smithing custom, the process has to begin and end on the same day of the week.

Wali Betina
In his book Silat Melayu: The Malay Art of Attack and Defence, Ku Ahmad Ku Mustaffa mentions that the Wali comes in two varieties, the Wali Jantan and the Wali Betina. However, he makes no distinction between nor description of them and only relates how the Wali is similar to a golok and is used in the fields.

The Memori Kedah website also documents the existence of the Wali Betina and states that both hilt and sheath are made of wood while the cap on the end of the sheath is either made of horn or ivory. The blade's length from hilt to tip is approximately 26cm and the length of the sheath is approximately 23cm.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab


Anonymous said...

eyh..i thought we had abg mat showing some of the moves in prev SB (the 1 with him on the front cover).
Neway, after seeing those i would like to speculate that the use of wali jantan is harmony with the moves of silat cekak itself.
Im not sho if it's only sharp at the point or also sharp along the edge. But in case the blade is made sharp, the wielder who stands in a neutral cekak stance and holding the wali jantan with his right hand can simply add cutting edge (literally) to his cekak moves. If we take from the basic syllabus buah pertama to luncur, most will include sort of upward slice but also can be a stabbing movement esp those with similar 'pemakan' like kilas hadapan. Just an opinion tho. Cheers ;-)

Mohd Nadzrin Wahab said...

Salam hormat,
Yes, this was the October 2000 issue (vol. 1, no. 35).

I have personally handled a Wali Jantan and I can attest that the tip AND the blade is sharpened.

I believe the Wali Jantan is not very useful as a slashing or cutting weapon, since both movements require the blade to face downwards. Slashing upwards would be 'kekok'.

The only option for slashing that I can see will be to hold the Wali Jantan in a reverse grip, then all the Kaedah B and C follow throughs make bloody sense.

Hope you enjoyed it.

Salam persilatan,

Anonymous said...

i think i messed up kilas hadapan & kilas belakang eventho the pemakan for kilas hadapan is similar. Actually i was referring to pemakan of kilas belakang. So other buah like ali patah sudah pecahan pertama, ali patah atas, luncur etc goin to be the same 'gerak masuk' with a thrust to the neck.
+ in my mind, i was thinking something like swinging the faced-up blade instead of bending at the elbow then thrust for the "upward slice". with empty hand, it may be a thrust to the side of the neck (hope u get what i mean coz my anatomy sucks), but in case the same stabbing/thrusting hand is 'attached' with the faced-up blade, one may find that it cuts the throat in the same motion of the thrusting technique.
Anyway, that's just my theory based on some lil experiments with common knife held upwards. Im not sho if it s gona work with the real wali jantan. heHeh..hope u can continue this experiment using the real subject. ;-)

neway, thx..really like the article.

Mohd Nadzrin Wahab said...

Salam hormat,

Ouch... real subject? Well... The biggest argument against stabbing weapons like the Keris and Wali Jantan is because muscles have the sickening ability to trap a blade once you stab into them.

I still remember during my reserve army training, when stabbing with the bayonet attached to the M-16, the initial movements were stab, stab, stab.

This was followed by a head swipe with the rifle butt and a reverse with the butt again.

The last two were the strangest. It was stab, press bayonet down to the ground, stomp! and pull the M-16 upwards.

I asked my seargant, what the heck was that stomp for? He said, it's to keep the bayonet from sticking to the body when you try to pull it out.

This is why most arts target low muscle regions like the jugular, ribs and armpits. Thus, most arts prefer slashing movements. They don't require too much skill or accuracy and are far more difficult to avoid.

Economically though, a straight stab is the most efficient attack and targeting those low muscle regions ensure you get your blade back.

I have an idea how to reversed edge helps with this, but I'll write about it when I actually have something solid to say.

Salam persilatan,

Anonymous said...

some even cut their ear during rusuk senjata..yoink!! =P

Mohd Nadzrin Wahab said...

Ouch! I felt that!!!

djambu puadovich said...

bro nadzrin, can u please be kind n tell us if the wali jantan has any wali betina?
seriously i am not asking for humor coz i [as a noob] think dat if there is a jantan, a betina is alwiz there...

Mohd Nadzrin Wahab said...

Salam hormat Djambu,

I promise, I did not laugh when I read your comment (not that hard anyway... sorry).

I have personally never heard of the Wali Betina. It could very well exist, but we'd just be making guesses.

If we look at the weapon use from a philosophical perspective, if the Wali Jantan is used for attacking, then the female complement would be the Lading, used for defence.

Howeverm if there's any news of a Wali Betina, you'll be the first to know.

Salam persilatan,

Anonymous said...

ahah. actually i came across wali betina somewhere, from a book. But cant recall what is it all about or the book title. Sorry.
but for a start, it can be the book is dodgy or wali betina does exist.

yea..if we take the rationale, when there's jantan, there should also be betina.

PhiXX said...

Well, i wud be surprise if there's a wali betina..what wud d measurement be? hrmm..noewatimean?

Mohd Nadzrin Wahab said...

Salam hormat,

Yes, I know what you mean.

Be nice!

Salam persilatan,

djambu puadovich said...

aha! thanx for letting me be the first to know...how a noble man kept his promise! what a good example he has set :) a good pendekar, he is, a good master he will be [do i sound like master yoda?]

Mohd Nadzrin Wahab said...

Salam hormat everyone,

I have updated the Wali Jantan article with new information and pictures from the Memori Kedah website.

Salam persilatan,