01 March 2008


Once upon a time, a silat master was interviewed over the telephone by a researcher in the United States. The researcher was a martial artist with many years' experience in various arts. For his doctorate, he decided to do a comparative look between different martial arts around the globe and how much time each master dedicates to their training per day.

When he called the Silat master in Kuala Lumpur, he asked several background questions to set up the main research, and finally asked the golden query: "How many hours a day do you train?" to which the master answered "24".

The researcher, unable to properly quantify, or even make sense of this answer, struck the master's name off his list of interviewees.

When the Silat master related the story to me, and explained the reasoning behind his answer, he set me on a road to understanding silat, a road which I have not stopped travelling on. On this road, I have met many kindred spirits who have developed their skills to amazing extents.

One thing connects them all. They all train 24-7, but nobody actually sees them doing it.

1 comment:

jeff davidson said...

First mistake was telephoning a Melayu Silat master whom he didn't know and asking questions.

It reminds me of the day I met my first native Malaysian silat practitioner. We were sitting in a school cafeteria and I struck up a conversation. Eventually, he mentioned that he was a pesilat (I had only a vague notion of silat at the time). I asked him where/when he practiced and he replied "I am practicing now" gesturing to the Quran in his hand that he had been reading.

Now, almost 20 years later I understand. Better late than never!