02 January 2008

Mystical Abilities of Silat Masters

The mystical abilities of silat masters cannot be defined in any straightforward manner.

In the old days, in Pahang and other states in Malaysia, a real Melayu silat master needs to have profound skills and competency in the self-defence techniques of his silat style and to be at his peak always, as there will bound to be someone who will try to challenge him to a duel.

It is not just to test his ability, but sometimes it is by someone who wants to be his pupil or student, and to learn new techniques to improve his own art of self-defence.

Besides having to strengthen their physical beings, silat masters sometimes need to enhance their spiritual or mystical abilities through methods they were taught.

We know from stories told by their children, close friends and students that some of these silat masters have some kind of mystical abilities and supernatural energies beyond comprehension by the laymen.

It is definitely beyond rational logic and belief, perhaps one step beyond the normal paradigm, closer to the twilight zone.

Below are some of the extraordinary capabilities and mystical abilities of silat masters covering not merely brute physical strength but also extra-physical abilities bordering on spiritual and supernatural powers, from stories told and from my own personal knowledge.

These are special abilities where no bullets, deadly weapons and even poisons cannot kill them. Sometimes their shirt or clothes are completely torn by gunpowder bullets and cannon fire but they are still alive and strong.

Mat Kilau, the great Pahang nationalist who fought against the British in the late 1890s, was said to be invulnerable to bullets. In fact he showed bullet scars in several places of his body during the investigation on the veracity of his identity in 1975. The bullets could not penetrate further than just below the skin.

He is also said to be able to eat a fish whole - bones and all - without being choked.

Hang Tuah, the great Melayu silat exponent during the Sultanate of Melaka, was said to be invincible when in possession of the keris Taming Sari keris.

Localised power and strength
A master may have power and extraordinary strength concentrated secretly in one part of his body, such as a finger in one hand, where he will use its killer potent during actual fights to kill. Just a touch will kill an opponent.

His students will know this when he will close the finger and not use it when teaching silat to his students or during his normal everyday activities, as it is dangerous when touched.

Brute strength
Stories have been told of Tok Gajah (father of Mat Kilau) who can lift a house. Mat Kilau himself had the super ability to lift a cow or cattle single-handedly.

And I know that my silat master (who died about twenty-five years ago), once lifted a Volkswagen Beetle and threw it when a group of disrespectful strangers messed up with him. No need to say what they then did!

Turning a common object into a deadly weapon
The silat master could use ordinary twigs or branches of trees or rattan cane to fight guns and cannons. The item used will turn deadly and if it doesn’t kill immediately, the opponent touched by the object will die sooner or later.

Mat Kilau is said to have used only a piece of sharpened cane in battles with the British who used modern gunfires.

Making weapons search and kill targets from afar
Stories of flying kerises, parang (machete) and other weapons, searching for their targets, are common. These weapons kill or injure the targeted opponent or enemy, whether individually or many.

And understandably this method is really accurate, unlike the modern cruise missiles where the innocents are also killed or maimed, crudely termed as "collateral damage". In contrast, the pre-directed weapon (keris or machete) knows what or who to target and look for.

This usually happens when a master is outnumbered or surrounded, and he will use the ability to turn himself invisible to escape from opponents.

Mock death
Mat Kilau has the ability to make himself looked dead, even when examined. He is in a sort of hibernation mode with no breathing and no pulse - a super-normal ability to stop his heartbeat for several hours when doing this.

Thus Mat Kilau was thought by the British to have died in an ambush by the Siamese in Kelantan in the late 1890s. And after having been examined and certified dead by both the Siamese and then the British, he was later buried.

Apparently his supporters replaced his body with a banana trunk when they pretended to bury him.

Well, he lived to 122 years old and actually died only in 1976!

Making projectiles miss their target
This ability is where bullets or weapons directed at him will miss the target. The master will just stand there and the bullets, spears, arrows or whatever, will never touch him. It is as though those bullets or objects were deflected by something.

This phenomena can sometimes be seen today during performances and demonstrations by certain styles of the Silat Melayu.

Turning into a another creature
Mystical abilities of some silat masters to change their form into a certain animal, such as a cat or bird, are for the purpose of listening to the strategies and tactics of their enemies.

This method is also used to escape from enemies, besides becoming invisible as mentioned above.

Some masters of the silat harimau style are able to change themselves into the cat family ("harimau" is Malay for "tiger") to suit their purpose.

Walking on water
His ability to walk on water is also one of the mystical abilities of a silat master.

Mat Kilau and his friend, Dato’ Bahaman, another famous Pahang nationalist fighter against the British, were known to be able to walk, skim and glide on the rivers of Pahang, not only when escaping, but when going for the attack.

Making an opponent immobile
Making their opponent or enemy unable to move is also one of the mystical abilities of silat masters and such stories are also quite common.

An opponent or enemy sometimes get stuck on his feet, or is unable to stand up when sitting down, or unable to take out his weapon, such as a pistol or sword from its sheath, as it is stuck. The opponent is then at the silat master’s mercy.

Well, I’ve just outlined just some of the unbelievable things that a great Melayu silat master can do.

Super abilities are God-given and are to be used only for good purposes. Otherwise the abilities will never happen.

The cynics will probably laugh at the supposedly mystical abilities of silat masters mentioned above. But as I mentioned somewhere before, never, ever underestimate the real silat masters.
Most Melayu probably know and learn to respect them, especially those silat masters who are humble, who hide and never show off their skills to others.

Be really afraid of such people – they are the real masters. They use their powers only when truly needed.

So next time you learn silat from a great master, in Pahang or elsewhere, observe how the master keeps his secret weapon. It could be anything.

This article was sourced from http://www.pahang-delights.com/mystical-abilities.html. I believe it's a good seed for discussion, especially since it highlights many things that modern media no longer talk about when it comes to silat. For obvious reasons, of course. So, discuss!




(Here's my 2 sens worth)

To many, the following views might be construed as 'sensitive matters'. Thus, as the commenter, I would like to ask the readers to treat the following as 'the thought for the day' or 'something worth thinking' of.

To the Prophets, the supernatural Powers are known as 'Mukjizat' (I think the closest translation would be 'Divine Miracles' - please correct me..) - Objective? - Clear cut - limited for 'facilitation of Dakwah Nubuwwah' in order to strenghten follower's faith in God. (of whether they accept the 'Signs' or not...or deemed such 'Divine Miracles' as 'Magic'/Sihir..that's a different story)

This was proven that once a person decides to follow (the follower) the religion of the Prophets, then it is NOT the 'Mukjizat' that the Prophets would be teaching but 'all you need to know about faith!'

The 'Mukjizat'; in this context; is clearly for 'mini-demonstration' of 'Allah's Power' and can occur only by 'His Exclusive Commands/Will' alone.

Prophet Moses a.s. would not have known how to use his 'tongkat' against the Pharaoh's magicians if not for Allah S.W.T. commanded him - "Jatuhkan tongkatmu" (drop the (your) cane)

Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. would not have come out with the various 'Miracles' if not for his prayers for Allah's Signs to take place - for example : In The Badr War - it was clearly narrated that the Prophet prayed for Allah's Help (NasrunminAllah) and Help came in from 'heavens'.

To the Sufism quarters - the stories about supernatural powers or generally known to Sufism as as 'karomah' or 'maunah'.

It was said (not me saying..ok?)that to the Sufis - 'karomah' and 'maunah' are some forms of supernatural powers manifested by Allah's willing in order to educate and convince 'some' (not all) their students/practitioners on the Greatness and Unlimited Powers of Allah S.W.T.

In another word, it is also closely related to 'Dakwah' (Propagation of Religion)

(Refer to the stories of the Nine Saints - Wali Songo)

The opposite to 'karamah' is 'istidraj' - something that looks/similar to the process of 'karamah' but can simply be 'demonstrated' without any purpose but for 'pride and ego' sake or 'to convince followers to be led 'astrayed' by anyone.

The supernatural powers; however; are defined differently to the Malay Warriors but despite these different approaches, applications, interpretation - the objective remains the same - it's still about 'strenghtening one's faith in Allah S.W.T.

Take for example - 'Invincibility' - to a real learned warrior/guru, they will ask the students/apprentices with this question (this is a typical presumption not the actual case):

"Do you believe that you will be harmed/hurt - by a sharp object; by Allah's Willing; OR by the object's natural characteristics of sharpness?"

If you say "Yes - It's by Allah's Willing", the typical reply would be :

"Then can I 'test' you by stabbing you with the sharp object?"

This is not about ridiculing the students but it's about testing one's faith in Allah S.W.T. - thus it is still related to 'Dakwah'

"If you say "No - it's about the sharpness of such object" the typical reply would be :

"You only believe in what you see (logic) but not what you have professed or claim you have professed"

Thus, like a scientist - test the theory not merely accepting the theory.

Some cases of what appear to look like 'supernatural powers' among the Malay Warriors are surprisingly not really about supernaturality at all.

It's about wit, cunning and believing into something firmly.

Example - Invisibility - some said that this can be done by knowing how to 'manipulate' the 'blind spot' of the eye. (whatever that means)

Example 2 - Camouflaging - much like the Armed Forces using 'greens' (uniform and utilities) to 'fool' the enemy.

Another scenario that interests me is an Illusionist - who can make or rather divert e.g. your attention on his other hand (while he hides the real object that you're supposed to see (card for e.g.) using the other hand) - "sleight of hands"

Or 'use' your ability to see and hear in order to convince you that what you're hearing or seeing is the 'actual' thing - where in reality, the sound that you're hearing comes from elsewhere (but very close to the actual object that you're looking at) or what you are really supposed to see. - e.g. Mirror tricks or tying a box of matches in the magician's long sleeve while shaking the other empty box.

I believe I have spoken once in Nazdrin's Silat Melayu Dot Com about how the concept of Bruce Lee's martial arts skill where he 'trained' himself evolutionarily in order to get used to level of 'physical strength' (Please note that he also practiced the 'self-confidence' within as well)

Example, punching 'sand bag', once you're used to it, you will upgrade the challenge to 'punching bag full of ice-blocks' and once you're used to the latter, you go further by punching 'bag full of stones blocks'. So on and so forth. The same thing applies by the 'jumping' exercise (or first using the trampoline and next using the ground). Higher and higher you go.

I have heard people - practicing the 'one move exercise' - e.g. punching mere air - hundreds of times daily repetitively for years.

When the 'time' comes, if the opponent tried to block his punch, the opponent may break his arm due to the strength and speed of the practitioner majoring ONLY in punching.

During my school days, my favourite best event was sprinting. (even to the MSSM - National Level)

One of my favourite practices (trained by a tomoi master) were :

a) running by the seaside on sand - where you get quickly exhausted...faster and faster I go until I get used to running by on the sand.

a1) running by the seaside with small sand bags tied to both legs. This was even more exhausting than (a)

b) Later 'upgraded' myself by practicing running in the seawater (boy..it was really tough) - not only I have to run in the 'wet soaked sand' but going against/withstanding the 'water pressure' as well,

b1) The BEST part was again running in seawater, wet and soaked sand PLUS tying the sand bag on both of my legs. (So you see what I mean)

Then what happened to me on the actual track itself. I think you all know when I said to you I've won consecutive state champions in short distance but finally was beaten by this one very good sprinter.

I did asked him, how he managed to beat me : Guess what?

He also practiced exactly the same way I've practiced (ironically trained by another tomoi master) - the difference was that, he started 2 years earlier than I did...

Now, despite of what I've said above, of course there is 'genuinity' about the manifestation of supernaturality by reciting incantations, Qur'anic Verses, Allah's Names/Atrributes etc. Just find the right Gurus, you'll find the right 'abilities'.

The one thing (coincidence?) that is undeniable is that most of these Warriors quoted herein were also known as 'very religious Muslims' and have been linked to some Sufi Masters/Orders during their time.

In conclusion,

a) supernatural powers are very real and do exist - there are still things seen but cannot be explained by any kind of logic and even science. Supernatural is NOT a legend or myth.

b) 'Practice also makes perfect'

c) 'Confidence' can make one stronger

Wallahu'alam (Allah knows Better)

p.s. Many more I can talk about this - but let's open it for open discussion.

e.g. "Why would the 'sahabat' got hurt or become martyrs in the 'Jihad' wars - when stabbled with a sword?" and

"Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. broke his teeth in the Uhud war?"

Paradox? I'll continue later..InsyaAllah


Salams...I wish to add one more point :

Ironically, most Silat and Sufi apprentices look for masters :

a) to 'learn' the 'how to manifest 'supernaturality' or perhaps to 'become invincible' or whatsoever,

b) seeking for sufi masters to learn of how to become a 'saint' or 'wali' or at least to possess 'supernatural powers' (karamah/maunah)

Personally, I must object to this common/typical attitude/intentions - it is really not ethical or inaccurate to have such intentions.

Let's say you have to visit or invited by an elderly person to visit him,

My question to all of you :

If the elderly person appears to you NOT having 'anything mystical powers to your interest', so you would not visit him? At least as a sign of respect?


You visit this elderly person upon hearing 'his supernaturality'.

Don't you think this is almost equivalent to 'insincerity"?

If you read carefully of what I've said before this post, you will understand the rationale of 'my objection'.


Nembiak said...

Salams Tuan Nadzrin n Wishing U a Happy n a Fruitful New Year,

Such articles never fail 2 amuse me. Wut point does these writers trying 2 make, I ponder? I recalled those in dis article-
1. Being invincible
2. Localized power
3. Possessing brute strength
4. Turning common objects 2 weapons
5. Remote control laser guided
6. Manimal
7. Weapon deflecting aura
8. Mock death
9. Performing Nabi Isa a.s. like
miracle of walking on water
...in dis 21 st century?!

N 4 wut reason? War? or 2 satisfy our own self esteem n ego yang bangsa kita hebat. Ppl r striving 4ward, ppl r talking about ways n means 2 better our lives n all areas n we still need 2 b reminded of these mystics?

I too noticed such pro-mysticism intonations n SB, expressed n d reporting n d articles.

Y do we need 2 lament 4 d 'greatness' of this master that master n remind our so-called 50yrs Independence minds of mysticism?

Adakah ianya untuk memberi satu kelegaan yang kita perlu bersandar kepada ingatan bahawa selain dari kedaifan dalam menguasai ekonomi, tok guru2 kita masih mempunyai pada masa sekarang, kehebatan dalam ilmu2 kebatinan?

Dan akhirnya, untuk tujuan apa?

Mohd Nadzrin Wahab said...

Assalamualaikum Poknik and Nembiak,

It's exactly because of such views (I hold nothing against the writer of the article. I believe he was sincere in his representations) that many Alim nowadays prefer to bypass the usage of the word Kebatinan and instead use Kerohanian.

Good discussion. Please continue!