30 April 2008

The Art of Dumog

While we are waiting for the esteemed owner of this informative blog to return to his post, I thought I might share with my Malaysian friends a bit of what I practice martial arts-wise...

I began training in Indonesian, Filipino, and African martial arts in 1987. My introduction to the world of Silat Melayu came only a few short years ago under the auspices of Cikgu Omar Hakim in Silat Kuntau Tekpi. My brother Nadzrin has also been guiding me (very carefully) in the teachings of Silat Abjad. My other brother- Ustaz al Muhammad of Silat Telapak Nusantara- is another powerful guiding influence for me in Silat and inner knowledge.

I have studied the Pekiti-Tirsia system of Kali (Filipino Martial Arts) under Grandmaster Leo T. Gaje Jr. since about 1999. While Pekiti-Tirsia is primarily a weapons-based system, it contains an empty-hand method of indigenous grappling techniques popularly known as Dumog. Below is an article describing certain elements of Dumog from the writings of Grandmaster Gaje. I welcome your comments and/or questions. Enjoy!

From Grandmaster Gaje:

"The training methods of the Pangamut (hand-to-hand combat) concentrates on the toughening of the fingernails and the palm. At the initial stage, the Dumoguero prepares a ganta of (Katumbal) red-hot pepper, all ripened and are placed in a bucket. Both open hands are dip inside the bucket were the hot pepper are to be squeezed until all the juices are separated. Then both hands are transferred into another bucket filled with sand.

Once the hands are dip into the sand, the arm must sink up to the elbow level. The process of dipping is to thrust the hand into the bucket hitting the fined sand so vigorously that for continuous thrust the hands are toughened and toughened. After few minutes, the same hands are dipped into the bucket filled with pepper juices until the hands are numbed not to feel any pain. The pepper juice sinks into the tip of the fingernails and to the skin of the forearms. This is done every other day up to 49 days. The philosophy of this training is for the hand to have protection against poison.

The poisons are taken from the venom of a walo-walo water snake, Poison from Atipalo, poison from Ewi-ewi, poison from Lagot-not (a poisonous tree). The Dumuguero boils the coconut oil, and once the coconut oil is cooked it is transferred into a small bucket to be mixed with the poison. This is mixed while the oil is still hot. After few minutes the hands are dip into the bucket of oil and poison. Then the Dumoguero remove his hands from the bucket and air dry his hands ready to be used for combat.

During the fight the Dumoguero concentrates his attacks by thrusting his fingers into the mouth or eyes of the opponent. Once the fingers touches the mouth or the eyes, then there will be a change of the opponent movements, that means that the poison is working. Then after couple of minutes the enemy will feel dizzy complaining for headaches. From then the opponent cannot continue the fight and he is being brought to a place where he can rest. Then after few hours, or few days, there is news that the man dies caused by heart attack or some illness caused by some spirits.

The other method is to apply the poison by inserting the Atipalo’s teeth in between the fingers. Once contact is made, the Dumoguero use the teeth of the Atipalo to scratch the opponent’s hand or skin and immediately the opponent will have a tremendous pain and feverish causing paralysis of the spinal column more than enough for a victim to die either instantly or couple of hours.

The Dumoguero is a very tricky fighter. A open hand slap of the Dumoguero into any parts of the body will cause sudden chill and dizziness that causes serious vomiting and diarrhea if no herbal medicine that will be applied from a special medicinal tree, the victim will die. The hands of the Dumogueros are filled with poison.

The Dumoguero also performs a certain traditional ritual to re-enforce his power and strength. Doing the advanced rituals, the spiritual power of the Dumoguero is effective against an enemy during combat. The Dumoguero can weakened the opponent by reducing the strength of the enemy causing him not to stand or walk.

The use of the poison hand is not limited only for Dumog encounter but also being practiced in cases of personal challenges. If someone became a victim of the poison hand he suddenly dies, of an unknown cause but most of the time it is blamed to heart attacks.

The Dumog/Pangamut movements are done in simulation as movement of the snake about to catch the prey. The wavy motion is also a reflection of the wave of the sea. The hands are moved in parallel movements, vertical movements and reverse vertical motions crossing and counter crossing the body. Any grabbing to the body by one hand or two hands immediately it is countered by one hand while the other hand is thrusting the eyes and the mouth of the opponent. A smart Dumoguero is always prepared to counter against thrust to the eyes or to the mouth. To combine the Dumog techniques and the Pangamut using all the dirty tricks, fighting the Dumoguero will always bring death. That is why the presence of the Dumoguero during family trouble or community fight will reduce the possibility of a serious confrontation."

29 April 2008

Host Vietnam reign at regionals

Vietnamese martial artists grabbed 10 gold medals in the Southeast Asian Pencak Silat Championship at HCM City's Tan Binh District Gymnasium over the week-end.

Le Thi Phi Nga opened the golden day last Saturday, dominating Dya Rohana Razala from Brunei in the women's under-50kg class tanding (combat) event before two-time Southeast Asian (SEA) Games champion Huynh Thi Thu Hong took on Emraida Asmad from the Philippines in the under-55kg to take gold.

Former SEA Games winner Nguyen Thi Phuong Thuy, who beat Malaysian Malini Binti Mohamad in the 60kg category last Thursday, edged 2006 World Champion and 2005 SEA Games silver medalist Saiedah Said from Singapore.

Le Thi Kim Thanh gave Vietnam another gold with a 4-1 win over Emy Latip from Malaysia in the 65kg final.

On the men's side, Trinh Hai Vuong and Le Cong Nghiep both secured gold in the under-90kg and 65kg classes, respectively.

After five-years of promoting the sport, HCM City had their own gold medals when Nguyen Minh Khoi and Tran Huynh Thanh Quoc won Saturday's finals.

World bronze medalist Truong Van Mao beat Malaysian Mohd Neezam in the men's under-80kg final, while Le Sy Kien dominated Singapore's Muhammad Razif in the under-85kg.

Two-time Southeast Asian (SEA) Games champion Dinh Cong Son defeated Fauzi bin Khalid from Malaysia 3-2 in the men's under-70kg class.

The regional championship, which brought in 200 fighters competing for 16 medal sets in tanding (combat) and six in seni (performance), closes today.

Pencak silat has become one of Vietnam's strongest events at recent SEA Games, and together with wushu, taekwondo and shooting.

Sourced from http://english.vietnamnet.vn/sports/2008/04/780504/

28 April 2008

Silat channels geek therapy for local practitioner

If you are a martial arts fan, you might be familiar with the blog www.silat-melayu.blogspot.com. Run by Malaysian silat afficinado Mohd Nadzrin Abdul Wahab, the blog has attracted a good number of visitors with its extensive archive of articles and discussions on martial arts, specifically silat.

Although most hits come from Malaysia, the blog does get regular visitors from the United Kingdom, United States and Australia. It woos an average of 150 to 200 visitors daily, which should be good enough to fulfil its purpose of reaching silat practitioners worldwide.

“I don’t know what silat background my readers are from, but I generally write about silat styles that I have studied and understand, aside from those I am familiar with,” Mohd Nadzrin says.

What fuels his passion? “Knowing that I’m correcting misconceptions about Malaysian silat keeps me going. The feedback that I get from readers tells me I’m on the right track,” he shares.

Mohd Nadzrin has been writing about silat long before blogs existed.

“I studied Silat Burung Rajawali from age nine, but that didn’t last long. From age nine to 17, I basically became a copycat martial artist, learning from movies and books. Being a timid introvert, it was an empowering way of building my confidence, even if none of the stuff I did was practical from a combative point of view.

“Aside from impractical martial arts, I love to write as a form of geek therapy, a passion sparked by one of my teachers,” he recalls.

Mohd Nadzrin now practises several forms of silat such as Keris Lok 9, Silat Cekak Hanafi and Silat Kuntau Tekpi. He took up Silat Cekak Hanafi and later Keris Lok 9 while studying communications at the International Islamic University Malaysia in 1995. This was when blogging caught on for him.

“When the Internet suddenly happened, there were silat forums everywhere. I participated in them, but there was nothing much about Malaysian silat. It was all about Indonesian silat and worse, because of some books that were published in the West many years ago, the rest of the world viewed Malaysian silat as being highly impractical,” he says.

So, Mohd Nadzrin started to become active in certain silat forums to correct such misconceptions and explain what Malaysian silat is all about. He served as the conduit between the knowledgeable here and the interested in the rest of the world.

In 2006, his blog came about, originally at blog.com and then blogger.com a year later. Mohd Nadzrin mainly blogs from home.

Interestingly, his blog has a fair share of contributing editors, including silat masters, to ensure the authenticity of information on silat.

Mohd Nadzrin also allows readers to discuss or dispute whatever he has put up on his blog. “It’s all been done with impeccable manners, so at least I know that those reading are of quality befitting silat people,” he says, adding that one of the most challenging parts in keeping the blog is to describe something that can only be felt, not explained.

The blog has brought Mohd Nadzrin some recognition. He has managed to contribute information for at least seven people to study silat in Malaysia as well as an invite to co-write an entry for the Encyclopaedia of Malaysia titled Seni Silat.

“Most importantly, I have made dozens of new friends online, most of whom I haven’t even met. They feed me with questions and this forces me to gain a deeper understanding of what I have studied. Their questions and suggestions prod me to constantly refer to my masters for the answers they seek. The good news is, I get my answers as well,” he says.

Written by Hazimin Sulaiman
Sourced from http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/techNu/Monday/Blogger/20080428091042/Article/index_html

Thank you very much to Hazimin for helping to publicise the blog.

25 April 2008

The Azure Keris: The Sparring Partner (3)

Pak Din sipped his tea as daintily as any Englishwoman would. I never understood that. He was as Melayu as the next Tuah, Din and Harun, but his mannerisms and sense of humour sometimes seem hardly local.

He loved his tea and biscuits, but often complained of the difficulty in finding crumpets and scones in the kampung. Other than that, he never actually talked to us, making Pak Din a mysterious silat-teaching figure who loved English culture.

“How’s the tea? You haven’t touched it,” Pak Din inquired, his right index finger and thumb pinching the handle of the teacup, while his three other fingers extended outwards. His left hand carried the edge of a saucer.

“Never fostered a liking for tea,” I whispered.

“Your loss, then.”

I sat on my hands, not knowing what to do. Pak Din had just today revealed to me a secret that he had kept for the last, what, 20 years? As we made small talk there, waiting for our hosts to prepare lunch, I wondered what it was I felt.

Shock? Surprise? Horror? Something inside of me cringed, not at the fact that Pak Din kept the secret, and not even at the discovery that Azizah’s whereabouts was known to Pak Din, but by the vision of the amuk that was Rashid, Pak Rashid Hamzah, extending his hand to greet me just several minutes ago.

I was speechless as Pak Rashid and his wife, Kak Azizah ushered Pak Din and I into the house and sat us down to tea and biscuits. They took our leave to the kitchen for a few minutes and left me to stew in my own santan, wondering what in the world we were doing there?

“What in the world are we doing here?” I whispered, concerned, to Pak Din.

“To make things right,” he replied.

As I was about to continue my line of questioning, Pak Rashid walked out of the kitchen, with a tray full of food and set it down on the dining table. He smiled at us and looked set to invite us to lunch, when Pak Din piped up.

“Rashid, before we eat, I think we had better get the purpose of our visit out of the way,” he said in a formal tone.

Pak Rashid nodded solemnly. He wiped his hands on a pink cloth and indicated to his wife that us boys wanted to be left alone. I was struck dumbfounded. It’s obvious Pak Din has been here many times before. He didn’t need me to drive him, unless he wanted to save on bus fare. The purpose of this visit had my inclusion a big part of it.

Pak Rashid sat down on the rattan settee opposite us and clasped his hands together, his head bowed slightly. Pak Din brushed off the biscuit crumbs from his hands and began.

Bismillahirrahmanirrahim. Rashid, thank you for having us here, and Saiful, thank you for coming. I apologise to the both of you for not telling you why I brought you together. But, I think the moment you saw each other, you had some idea what I had in mind”.

We kept silent.

“Rashid, twenty-three years ago, you did something that you weren’t proud of, and you’ve paid the price for that mistake. However, there is still one matter that you need to resolve. I’ve brought Saiful here to help you rectify that matter,” Pak Din indicated by turning to me.

“From the time I met him, Saiful has never talked about you. But his mother has told me several times that the incident never left him, that he often had nightmares about you. You owe him something, and I want you to repay that now,” Pak Din said in a chastising tone.

Pak Rashid kept his head bowed, but I could hear him sniffing. He was on the edge of tears. What Pak Din said struck a chord. I wondered, why would Pak Rashid care so much? I doubt he even remembered me, him being in an amuk state at the time. After what seemed to be an eternity of silence, the old man suddenly raised his face, and looked me straight in the eye.

“Yes. I was wrong. It’s been so long. I… I don’t know what to say now,” he stuttered.

“Say what you feel,” Pak Din said blankly.

A deep regret seemed to well up from within him. His shoulders shuddered and his tears flowed. It’s obvious, he was searching for the right words, but sometimes no amount nor choice of words can truly make the message. As he was about to burst, he let out a most emotional, “I’m sorry”.

Suddenly, my eyes started tearing. A surge of emotion came over me, from somewhere. All the spite, the hate, the fear, I felt for him just washed away. It was at that exact moment, I noticed Pak Din. He was reciting something, but I couldn’t hear what it was. He caught me looking in his direction, stopped immediately, and smiled at me. The moment passed.

It was an amazing feeling. The past seemed to be recoloured in a brighter hue. Over lunch, we joked over how the locals reacted when Pak Rashid decided to play madman. Apparently, Kak Azizah’s husband peed in his pants. He called off the reception and pronounced talaq (divorce) upon her, a moot point since she went missing immediately after.

What I didn’t know was that Pak Rashid was never sent to prison, but was interred at the Bahagia psychiatric hospital in Tanjung Rambutan, Perak for two years. It was less embarrassing to tell the kampung folk that he was in prison. Being gila (crazy) carried a very negative stigma back then, as it still does now among the Melayu.

After Pak Rashid was discharged, it was none other than Pak Din who fetched him from the hospital and brought him to the Johor Fisheries Department to set him up with work, which he did well enough to establish his own fisheries training centre.

But the coup de grace came when Kak Azizah revealed that it was Pak Din who, through his many contacts, traced her whereabouts to Kuala Lumpur and persuaded her to come back to meet Datin Mariesa, her mother, to seek forgiveness. It took several months, but finally, with Pak Din’s silver-tongue and the help of Kak Azizah’s own grandmother, the old woman’s heart softened.

However, her mother insisted Azizah marry, even if it be Pak Rashid, who unknown to her and the rest of the kampung, was already a successful man living in Ulu Tiram. When Rashid, with Pak Din’s help, came to ask for Azizah’s hand in marriage, Datin Mariesa found herself trapped by her own words and decided to forgive them.

There were smiles all around at the table and something seemed to have come full circle for Pak Rashid and Kak Azizah. Once again, thanks to Pak Din.

“Din, for old times’ sake? See if I can still get the better of you?” Pak Rashid suddenly challenged. Pak Din washed his hand in the bowl of water on the table and ceremoniously stood up, his face smirking cheekily. Pak Rashid smiled and got up, leaving Kak Azizah sighing, knowing she would have to clean up alone.

She saw that I felt uncomfortable, stuck between helping her clean up and actually watching what the two old boys were up to. She shooed me with her hand, literally telling me to get lost and not bother her. I nodded and thanked her, running off outside to join Pak Rashid and Pak Din.

When I got there, they were already standing facing each other, hands meeting at their chests to salute the other. A beat-up cassette player sat in the corner of the yard playing a strain from the collection of the late Pak Din Lambung, a champion gendang silat player from the last few decades. Lack of a live band didn’t stop this duo from playing pulut with one another.

Pak Din launched into an interpretive bunga which never looks the same every time I watch it. Pak Rashid on the other hand, did something familiar, the standard sembah salam Pak Din taught me when I was very young. They stepped gracefully around an invisible circle in the very small yard and once they had completed 360 degrees and returned to their original starting point, they approached each other in the middle of the circle.

Both of them in a crouch, their hands crossed but didn’t meet, as they waited for who would make a move first. Pak Din didn’t have to wait long. Pak Rashid slowly parried his hand and sent a left fist towards his ribs.

Slowly but surely, Pak Din turned on the balls of his feet clockwise and pressed down on Pak Rashid’s right wrist, simultaneously parrying and moving out of range. He followed this up with a backfist to the stomach. He let out a faint laugh.

Pak Rashid was in a pinch, but not for long. With a wink, he pulled his right foot back and swept Pak Din’s right wrist with his left while his right hand parried the backfist. They were now facing square, with both arms spread wide.

This friendly pulut play went on for several minutes, with either of them getting the better of the other but quickly recountering. Sometimes, they played selangkah, where they avoided stepping but only used gelek to parry, lock or punch. However, when pressed, like in Pak Rashid’s case, they were forced to use an extra step to create leverage. They even rose and descended along the vertical whenever they needed to open a lock or unpin themselves.

It was a wonderfully entertaining sight to watch, something I myself hadn’t trained in in a long time. I almost wished I had a partner, but I had put silat behind me a long time ago. I appreciated Pak Din’s effort these last few days to persuade me to train again, but I wonder if I would truly ever fall in love with it like I did before.

“Go very far?” Kak Azizah asked. I was startled and a little embarrassed, not because I failed to notice her sitting next to me, but that she caught me in a slightly reminiscent mood. At that instant, a stark ‘Aduh!’ came from the men.

Pak Rashid had Pak Din in a particularly painful lock and Pak Din had cried out. I was surprised and a little disappointed. I knew that lock well, because Pak Din had taught me many a time to release myself from it. To watch him now immobilised by the same made me wonder if the release was even effective.

Pak Din indicated defeat and Pak Rashid gamely let go. The pair stood up, saluted one another and hugged as tennis players who congratulate each other do after a good game. They were drenched in their own perspiration and decided to walk around the neighbourhood for a smoke. Kak Azizah told them not to be too long for the tea was almost ready. They just waved at us as they left.

As she was about to go inside, Kak Azizah saw the look on my face. She quickly discerned the cause.

“He didn’t lose, you know,” she quipped.

“What?” I asked, surprised.

“Din. He didn’t lose the game. He just made it seem that way,” she explained. I looked at her, astonished.

“Rashid and Din have been playing like that for years. And Rashid always lost. He’s never been a good silat player anyway. I mean, Din’s been doing this all his life. Rashid only just picked up silat a few years ago.

“But Din noticed Rashid’s dejection every time that happened, so every once in a while, Din would throw the game. He was good, I suppose, Rashid never noticed. That way, Din could help Rashid save face, and potentially still be his friend every time he came around here,” she laughed.

“How do you know this?”, I asked.

“I studied Silat Tapak Sendeng when I was a young girl. Saving face during pulut was a big part of what I learnt. It’s exactly what Din did for Rashid.”

“Hey, that’s the same style that Pak Din studied,” I cried, only now realizing the significance.

“Yes, that’s where I met Din. He was my sparring partner,” she revealed, as she disappeared into the house.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

24 April 2008

Nearly 200 artists to participate in SEA Pencak Silat Champs

The first Southeast Asian Pencak Silat Championships is opening at 7pm today, April 24, at the Tan Binh Sports Centre in HCM City.

Nearly 200 artists from five Southeast Asian countries, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and host Vietnam, will compete in the contest for 16 sets of medals for Tanding (one v.s one) and 6 sets of medals for Seni (performance).

Vietnam hopes to take the lead at this competition because it has selected its best artists for the event.

Sourced from http://english.vietnamnet.vn/sports/2008/04/780048/

23 April 2008

SilatMelayu.Com hacked

Our sister site, SilatMelayu.Com (SMC) was ceremoniously hacked today, which has left the webmaster and administrator slightly bored, since now we'll have to put everything back again. At least, we know now we were worth hacking.

It's just our fault, I suppose. We'd put off upgrading SMC for so long, that it's started to grow weeds. As they say, sometimes you need a clean break to start anew. I wonder if this is one of those moments...

Many thanks to Jen Para of the United States Gayong Federation for the heads up. We're just grinning and bearing it.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

22 April 2008

The Azure Keris: First Contact (2)

“Remind me again. We’re driving all this way to Johor to meet who?” I asked.

“It’s my old sparring partner. We trained in Silat Tapak Sendeng together in the 60’s,” replied Pak Din, as he fixed his songkok.

“I thought you said you studied that style alone. You never mentioned a training partner,” I huffed.

“That’s because I couldn’t trust any of you kids. You’d have got me into trouble,” he said, referring to the first batch of 20-odd students he had when I was younger, one of whom was me.

Trust us? What secret lay so great in the knowledge of a training partner that would get him in hot soup? Now I was curious. Pak Din was never very talkative when I was a child, but maybe that’s because we had nothing to talk to him about. Twenty-four years ago, we were just snot-nosed kampung kids whose parents sent us to study silat to keep us out of trouble.

I still remember that first day I saw Pak Din. It was 1984. My mother had taken me to Datin Mariesa’s house to attend her daughter’s wedding; my first ever. It was held in a grand compound in her late husband’s home. Back then, it was an impressive sight; the only house in the village made fully of bricks. It was a single-storey, bright blue building with a dark red roof and cream-coloured grills on the main door and windows.

The midday sun bounced off the white tents in the yard, which shadowed long tables laid out with crockery and cutlery for the lunch guests. The yard was filled with adults and children in multi-coloured baju melayu or baju kurung; chattering away, greeting one another, or just running around.

The kugiran (music band) were oblivious of the crowd, and just spent the time tuning their guitars and violins, while the accordion player found activity in gossip. The female elders were seated inside the house around the pelamin (wedding dais) where the raja sehari (king and queen for the day) would sit on decorated chairs resembling thrones.

The owner of the house, the late Datuk Rahman, was the Kampung Tanah Budi headman before he passed away just six months before. It was his dream to see his daughter married, but she always turned down any potential suitors her father introduced, most of them obscenely wealthy. She became known as a bringer of bad luck, of being accursed.

A man of high standing, her father was ashamed that he had a 30-year old virgin in the house and decided to take matters into his own hands. He found a man of comparable status to marry her. But cancer took him before he could complete his work.

I was seven, but even I could see that the bride found it a less than perfect situation for herself. She sat on the dais next to the empty throne her husband would sit in after his entourage arrived. She wore a beautiful form-fitting white kebaya dress, with beading and sequins shimmering all the way down. Sparkling earrings hung elegantly, giving her neck length, while a golden necklace made of various-sized brooches adorned her bosom.

Her hair was braided and coiled and upon that, the mak andam (traditional beautician) added a bun wig with various cucuk sanggul arranged fan-like, forming a metal halo around her head. Her fingertips were dyed in henna and her hands were placed daintily on a small embroidered pillow. The colour of her dress matched the platinum dais and the lace that covered the curtains behind her.

She looked every bit the queen, if not for the mascara running down her cheeks.

“Is she crying, mak?”

“Shhhh… She’s just happy,” my mother chided. I knew she didn’t like doing that, because she often encouraged her children to be real. I was being real. I just stated the obvious, something no one else in the party seemed to be acknowledging. But my mother also understood social politics and saving face, something she had to assimilate quickly after marrying my father and moving away from the city.

Then, I heard it. A low roar that wafted over the trees, eventually increasing in volume; the sound of kompangs beating to the singing of salutations to the Prophet. The rhythm was mesmerising. I had never heard it so powerful before; so powerful that I ran from my mother’s side to join the other children who had rushed forward to see.

The entourage was huge, even by city standards. At that age, I still couldn’t count well, but I remember the feeling of being overwhelmed by the sheer number of kompang players that led it; forty in all. Behind them, the party was headed by a white satin umbrella, under which walked the groom and the best man. I wasn’t sure if I was sure, but I could have sworn the groom looked too much like my grandfather.

He walked with a cane, and seemed to be afflicted with a backache while the best man kept dabbing his perspiring forehead with a handkerchief. The rest of the 200-strong throng seemed to stunt their step, to keep down with the old man’s pace, which, to children awaiting an entourage, is a grueling one.

Eventually, the group reached the porch of the house, where the mak andam and gang were already waiting. This was what everyone was waiting for, the pantun exchange.

“A pair of cenderawasih adorn the skies,
With songs of paradise they do sing,
If a flower blooms not before it dies,
Would a beetle sacrifice its wing?”
inquired the mak andam to the male representative.

To which the master rhymer deftly replied:
“Songs of paradise they do sing,
Bringing calm to the realm thus wide,
Would a beetle sacrifice its wing?
Verily, body and soul we’d gladly provide”

The mak andam smiled and gestured to the groom to pass.

The old man and his best man parted from the entourage, which promptly scoured the tents to search for seats. The two men walked toward the front of the house, where the bride had already been ushered out; to meet her husband.

Her bridesmaid shielded her face with an embroidered cloth fan, both as a sign of chastity, and to hide the mascara scars she had self-inflicted. Both of them sat down on two chairs in the yard, almost as finely decorated as the thrones inside the house.

And, at that very instant, a man, probably in his forties, stepped forward. The chattering crowd went silent. He was dressed in a black baju melayu, and a black samping with gleaming gold threading, while his tengkolok, also of the same material, was tied in a fluid lang menyusur angin knot. A brush of well-groomed jet-black mustache covered his upper lip. He looked every bit the warrior. He had no keris by his side, but his eyes were piercing.

The warrior took several measured, polite steps towards the couple and raised his hands, palms together, to salute the groom, which he returned graciously, if lazily. The warrior took two steps back and folded his arms across his body, akin to the position in Muslim prayer. And he waited.

The sudden screech of a serunai broke the calm and the eerie strain of the tune seemed to inspire the warrior. His face turned from calm to concern. He closed his eyes, and when the percussion of the gendang ibu and gendang anak drums began, his fingers started to move. There was an energy that started from his fingers and seemed to radiate visibly through the elbows, the shoulders, the neck, the face.

He slapped his thigh and stepped back, while his hands made wondrous circular movements in the air. He seemed to be putting on a show for himself, as he watched his hands dance. He gestured to the left, to the right, up and down; all the time his hands mimicking birds on the wing, playing with each other.

Then, the strain of the serunai became harder, more violent, more inducive and the drums, from a lazy rhythm, jumped to a marching bang-bang-bang, like machine-gun fire, which startled the children. The warrior worked himself into frenzy, launching punches and parries, as if he was fighting an invisible foe.

I was wide-eyed. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. At one point during the mock fight, the warrior seemed to be pinned down by his foe, and the children gasped. Was it a phantom? A ghost? A little girl I’d never met clung to my arm, which was disconcerting, because I was about to jump in the ring to help. The drum crescendo kept us on the edge.

Then, he lunged from the pin and jumped up, did a mid-air spin before landing on the sand, with one hand on the enemy’s throat. He crushed his windpipe, and it was over. We cheered, much to the surprise of the adults.

The warrior stood up, as if nothing had happened, saluted the groom again, and took several steps back. But, as he turned to walk away, I spotted a shoeless man walk past him. He wore a pair of scruffy jeans, which matched the scruff on his face. His once-white t-shirt told me that he had only a few of them to his name, and nothing more.

I would have paid him no more attention, but for his arm. His arm! Beneath the telling rust of a carelessly-used implement, I saw the gleam of a sharp parang hidden in a reverse-grip behind his forearm. His eyes had a wild look to them, and I followed his gaze to discover, he was looking at the bride. Her mascara-smudged eyes widened in horror and she tried to scream, but no voice came.

“I waited for you! You promised it would be me!” the wild man screamed, as he revealed the judge that he had brought along. The household seemed to be frozen. The men stood up, but everyone wondered who would make the first move, weaponless, against an amuk.

He spat obscenities at her husband, most of which I didn’t understand. All the men could do was shout ‘Hoi!’ or ‘Woi!’ or ‘Run!’ to their families, which didn’t help the bride at all. I felt a gentle but firm grip tear me away from the scene. It was my hero, mak.

“Come away!” she shouted. I couldn’t disobey, but the man in me wanted to do something. It’s what my father would do. As she pulled me away, I picked up a fist-sized rock and launched it overhand. I didn’t see where it landed, but just as I picked up another, I heard a loud crunch, and the crowd went silent.

Blood ran down the amuk’s hair and the crimson stain on his shirt grew. He turned his face and saw me. His eyes narrowed and he started to lunge towards me. I looked at the rock in my hand, and I looked at him. A growth seemed to fill my throat. I couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t run. My legs melted beneath me as my mother dragged me across the yard, which ripped across my skin. I was bleeding into the sand.

In the haste, my mother’s grip loosened and I fell to the ground on my back, just as I smelled the stench of the wild man’s breath envelop me. My mother screamed something, but I was in a soundless void. The amuk raised the parang above my head and I saw it cleave the sky. I closed my eyes, waiting for the inevitable.

Then, from a distance, I heard something rip through the wind, and a loud snap, like a breaking branch. I dared to open my eyes and found the parang embedded in the earth, barely three inches away from my right shoulder. The wild man’s knee had fallen dangerously between my legs. I could still smell his breath, but something was wrong. He wasn’t looking at me.

His head was turned over his shoulder, and I saw what caught his evil stare. Standing there in a half crouch, was the warrior, still in full dress. He was holding one end of a taut sarung in his hands, while the other end was wrapped around the amuk’s weapon arm. It was so tight, it tied his hand to the blade.

If he was angry before, now the amuk was insane.

“You! Not you, too! She promised! You’ll die with them!” he cried as he got up and tried to rush the warrior with his sarung-wrapped parang, accidentally kicking my ribs along the way. My eyes welled up with tears, but it hurt too much to move. My mother was screaming hysterically as she was held back by several women who tried to keep her out of the melee.

The amuk shot past the warrior and in the process, the sarung fell away from his arm. The parang was free again. The warrior, who evaded his lunge, had repositioned himself to face him. As the amuk turned around, the warrior gracefully skated across the sand and threw his hand across the wild man’s face, violently slapping his cheek with the sarung.

But as he fell, the parang continued its downward arc towards the warrior’s skull. Without even stepping, he shifted his hips and slammed a left tiger fist into the amuk’s armpit, which forced the weapon free. As it fell, the blade bounced off the warrior’s right thigh, and made a bloody gash; nearly slicing my ear off. The warrior grimaced for a split second, but just as suddenly regained his calm.

A look of resolve came over his visage. He stepped behind the amuk and swung the sarung across his jugular. The amuk suddenly realised the precarious situation he was in; he struggled feverishly and tried to stab his elbows into the warrior. But it was too late. He felt the sarung tighten, as the warrior screwed it from behind. A foot placed squarely on his tailbone ensured that his hips were firmly pinned to the ground.

The amuk’s eyes went wide as he choked on his own saliva. His head was now on the ground and as his gasps became quieter, he looked at me contemptuously and mouthed: “Wait for me…”

As the crowd cheered wildly and my mother scooped me up in her arms, no one noticed that the bride was no longer where she sat. In the commotion, her husband had failed to see her slip away. People rushed forward to congratulate the warrior, but he was busy tying up the amuk with some weaved rope. What for, I thought. Isn’t he dead?

I saw the warrior turn the man over and place his thumbs on either side of his jugular. He massaged rhythmically for several seconds and almost immediately, the man started growling. The shocked crowd backed away a little, but came back when they saw that he was immobilised. The warrior turned him over to several village committee members, who probably found courage in numbers.

My mother turned to me, checked the scratches on my legs, dusted me off and fretted the whole time with tears streaming down her face. I couldn’t hear what she was saying, because I was staring. Staring at the warrior who stood there, looking at me. My mother noticed my swayed attention, and she got up and walked us over to him.

“Thank you very much. You saved my son’s life,” she offered, sniffing.

“It’s all right. Just get his wound cleaned quickly. And give him some water to drink. He’s had quite a shock. He still looks shocked,” the warrior remarked. My mother nodded, and turned us to leave, when I spoke.

“I’m not shocked”.

Both of them, surprised, looked at me, waiting to see if I would say anything else. It was a few seconds before I finally decided on my choice of words.

“I want to be like you,” I said. “I want to be a warrior”.

A smile crept onto his face.

“What’s your name, young man?” he asked.

“My name is Saiful, sir,” I replied.

“My name is Haji Mokhtaruddin, but you can call me Pak Din”.

A sudden police road block brought our reminisces to an abrupt halt. Pak Din quickly put out his self-rolled cigarette and stuffed it into his pouch. I chuckled to myself.

“I’m the one driving. You don’t have to do that,” I said.

“It’s a sign of respect. They’re doing their job, day in day out in the sun to protect us. They deserve our respect,” he retorted.

“Yeah, like they respect us when they ask us for money,” I grumbled.

“Nobody likes to lower themselves to ask for bribes. It’s not in human nature. They always do it out of necessity or weakness. We have to accept that. But one thing is for sure. Everyone deserves respect, even those who would kill us. If we are able to stop our enemies, why go all the way and kill them?”

The amuk, I thought. Pak Din let him live. True, he was sent to jail, but after he left, he moved to Johor and lived a fruitful life. He opened up a youth training centre for the State Fisheries Department. If Pak Din had dealt the killing blow back then, hundreds of young men would have nowhere to go.

“You know, because of you, I had to try and recall what my masters taught me? I think I forgot more than I remembered. You started a freak trend in the kampung, calling all the local kids to come study silat at my house. Mak Jah was furious. She never got a quiet night since. Neither have I,” he laughed.

“But after your batch left, the younger ones didn’t seem to have the same drive,” he half-sighed, then caught himself. Sighing is taboo in Melayu culture. It indicates a sense of giving up. It was clear, however, that Pak Din was disappointed. And most of it had to do with me.

“Do you remember the bride on that day? The one who ran away?” he asked suddenly.

“Yes. Azizah, I think. They never found her. I heard later that she was in love with Rashid, the amuk, but he was too poor to ask for her hand in marriage. It didn’t help that her father’s dying wish was for her to marry a decrepit old man,” I said, then laughed, remembering Pak Din’s crack about decrepit chain-smoking old men.

“We’re here,” he quipped, as we stopped in front of a cream-coloured terraced house with a brown roof. A woman was in the fenced-in garden watering her plants. Pak Din got out of the car and said, “Assalamualaikum”.

The woman stopped her gardening and walked to the fence while an old man came out of the house. She smiled at both of us, but when she looked at me, she smiled even wider and said, “Hello Saiful, you’re a grown man now. Long time no see.”

My brow furrowed for a couple of seconds, until the face became familiar. The old man came into view, and suddenly, I froze.

“Azizah? Rashid?”

Pak Din turned to me and smiled cheekily.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

21 April 2008

Pencak Silat Stamps Commemorating the 2005 SEA Games

I was browsing online for silat-related stuff and found this stamp commemorating Pencak Silat for the 2005 SEA Games held in the Philippines.
I've heard of bird-inspired silat, but this brought a smile to my face. Nice.

20 April 2008

History of Brunei Warrior Arts

Historical findings suggest that the Brunei kingdom began more than 1,500 years ago, pre-dating Islam. Founded by Pateh (or Patih) Berbai and a group of 90 warriors from the Sakai Tribe.

It existed side by side during the reign of the Srivijaya Empire of Sumatra in the 9th centrury, the Madjapahit Empire in Java in the 13th century and Parameswara in Malacca in the 15th century. Its earliest existence was believed to be a tributary province of the Srivijayan then the Majapahit Empire.

The word 'Borneo' has only recently been used as pronounced by Europeans based on the statement by John H. Moor in 1871.

In another writing in 1812 by J.Hunt, he says "Borneo was the name only of a city, the capital of the three distinct kingdoms in the island,... The natives pronounce Borneo as Bruni and say its derived from the word "Brani" (Bruneian dialect for "Berani" in Bahasa Melayu) meaning courageous..."

The early kings of Brunei were called "Sang Aji", or "Reverend Monarch", a title of Sanskrit origin. The Brunei ruling dynasty changed in 1371 when Awang Alak Betatar, a heroic warrior King from a powerful kingdom in western Borneo, married a princess from a neighbouring kingdom and ascended the Brunei throne after gaining freedom from the Madjapahit Empire, took charge of their own territorial responsibility . He became the first Brunei ruler and the present ruler is his descendant.
Awang Alak Betatar was the first Brunei Raja to accept Islam, changing his title and name to Sultan Muhammad Shah (1371-1402) in honour of the Prophet Muhammad.
Brunei’s sovereignty peaked in the 15th and 16th centuries, when it controlled the whole of Borneo and parts of the Philippines. The kingdom’s vast wealth, derived from international commerce, created a strong impression on early European explorers. They returned to Europe with stories of gold, regalia and majestic ceremonies.
As the first Islamic kingdom in the area Brunei was the base for the Islamisation of the southern Philippines and surrounding areas, frequently coming into conflict with Catholic Spain after the Spanish conquest of Luzon, the central island of the Philippines.
In 1578 in the conflict known as the Castille War (Perang Kastila) Spain attacked part of the Brunei Kingdom but was defeated by 100 fierce warriors, together with other locals who were loyal to the Sultan, lead by warriors of royal blood, Pengiran Bendahara Sakam with Orang Kaya Harimau Padang. Spain continued to try to conquer the Islamic Sultanate of Sulu in the southern Philippine islands, finally succeeding in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

Bruneian martial arts culture was used effectively within the major history of Brunei, seen perfectly preserved to present day in the Royal Regalia of Brunei's ancient rulers even before the 7th century, to the Castille War (Perang kastila) where the Spanish was defeated in 1578, to the World War against the Japanese.

18 April 2008

Martial Arts=Crime Prevention?

There was a programme on national TV a few weeks ago that featured a junior martial arts tournament. I watch with dismay as some parents were interviewed and they mentioned how they feel confident to “let go” of their children now that their children can protect themselves. It was even more alarming when some of the kids interviewed were confident that they can kick their way out of trouble should someone try to attack or abduct them.

As someone who have been participating actively in the martial arts and fitness field since the 1970s and an instructor in several of them, the attitude shown by these parents and their children are precisely what I’m afraid of when people take up the martial arts with the purpose of self defence.

Many people think that all you need is to learn the martial arts then you will be able to kick and punch your way out of a crime situation. But it is not as simple as that and several previous cases support my contention. Around 2 years ago, for example, there was the case of a young girl found raped and murdered in the field close to the hotel where she worked. Apparently she took a short cut across the dark field the previous night on her way to work.

Her father, in a press interview, stated that her daughter must have been attacked by several people because she had studied a martial art in school, attaining red belt (just 1 rank below black belt), and could have fought her way out of trouble if her attacker was alone. In this context, this incident raises several issues.

Firstly, any good crime prevention advocate can tell you that the number one enemy to crime prevention is being complacent e.g. it cannot happen to me because I’m trained in the martial arts, or I don’t bother other people etc. Could it be that her confidence in her previous martial art training made the girl overlook other safety and prevention aspects, confident that she could fight her way out of trouble? In other words, she became complacent. Might it not be the same attitude that the parents and their children mentioned above?

Secondly, as in the case mentioned above, we cannot guarantee that we will be attacked by one person. No matter how well trained we are in the martial arts, it is very, very difficult to fight more than one attacker out there in the real world. It is hard enough to fight off 1 attacker, especially if it’s a surprise attack!

Thirdly, in relation to the above, the degree of difficulty may be greatly increased if our attacker or attackers are high on drugs which may make their bodies “immune” to punches and strikes.

Fourthly, you have to be really, really good to be able to use the martial arts effectively in a fight. For example, in most martial arts training, early on you are taught stances, forms and techniques which are actually dangerous if applied in a real fight. So if you learn a martial art for only a few months and then quit thinking that you know enough to defend yourself, or even if you achieve black belt status in secondary school and then quit training after that, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise.

Fifthly, in relation to the above, you need to be fit and strong for your techniques to be effective in taking out your attacker. This is especially so if you use “tournament-related” techniques. I have a friend who was a national athlete in silat olahraga relating his street fighting experience, where he delivered a perfectly good tournament-style sidekick to one of his assailants who sprawled to the ground, but much to his surprise got up and continue the fight.

So if we think our 9-12 year olds can generate enough power to punch and kick their way out of trouble against an adult attacker, please think again. If they can, can they generate enough power to kick and punch to take out several attackers? If they can, can they generate enough power to kick and punch to take out attackers high on drugs?

I will strongly advise anybody to learn the martial arts, because it offers good health and fitness benefits. But for self defence and crime prevention, it must be seen in the context of a holistic prevention “strategy” which includes having the correct attitude, making yourself a harder target and minimising the opportunity for crime to be committed. Your martial art skill is only one part of this strategy and should really be your LAST LINE of defence in case all other preventive efforts have failed.

Therefore I urged all parents to inculcate the correct attitude in ourselves and our children so we don’t fall into the over-confidence trap of complacency with the so-called martial arts skills. Prevention is definitely still much better than “cure”.For those of us whom are not inclined towards a lifetime of practicing the martial arts, the best alternative may be to seek training in self defence skills per se.

Yes, there is a difference between martial arts and self defence skills. You may not get to wear a black belt or win trophies in tournaments but at least it can give you a chance of running away from the “kill zone” safely. And that should be your main purpose: to get away from danger, not to beat up your attacker(s).

Written by Zulkipli Ismail
Sourced from http://fitnesssafetyandfamily.blogspot.com/2008/04/martial-arts-crime-prevention.html

17 April 2008

Al Fatihah - Condolences to Cikgu Md Saad Ismail

We at SilatMelayu.Com and Silat Melayu: The Blog would like to express our condolences to Cikgu Md. Saad Ismail of Silat Kalimah on the passing of his loving wife, Allahyarhamah Normi Ibrahim. She passed on in Ampang, Selangor at 10.05am on the 17th of April 2008.

May Allah bless her soul and reunite them on the Day of Judgement. Al Fatihah.

16 April 2008

The Azure Keris: Coming Home (1)

I had arrived later than I said I would. Pak Din, as always, accepted my apology as soon as I gave it. I sat down next to him on the pangkin (raised platform) after we exchanged greetings. It was a long drive, but I didn't mind it. It was time for me to finally visit him.

"How is your wife?," Pak Din asked.

"Alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah), she's recovering well. She was initially worried about the birth, but I guess the baby makes up for all the suffering," I told him.

"You know, when I was younger, all babies born in this kampung were natural births. And the midwives never had to make any incisions on the mother," he proclaimed proudly.

"I know. Mak (Mother) told me that too. But I asked a doctor friend. He says, that's because back then the babies born were much smaller. The food they ate was different, less nutrition," I replied.

"Hmmmm...," he shot a cynical glance from the corner of his eye. "Still the same, you are. Always have something to say. If I remember right, Mak Jah named you the student from hell".

I laughed, remembering how I first got that name. I professed innocence, and I still do. It was the other students who convinced me that one of the shows of skill of a pendekar was how many chickens you could pluck while chasing it. And I plucked them all. All of them belonging to Mak Jah, my teacher's wife.

"You know that..." I began.

"I know, I know. It wasn't your fault. You've said that already," he cut me off.

"Besides, I paid for them in full, didn't I?"

"That, you did," he said while reminiscing the time I helped out with Mak Jah - and her lady friends after school - to weave mengkuang leaves into mats to sell at the weekend markets. I swear, by the time I had finished my two month job placement with those gossip mongers, I knew everyone who was doing who, or who wanted to do whom in the whole kampung. I was never the same again.

"Still practicing?" Pak Din suddenly asked.

Oh dear, I thought. I was afraid this would come up.

"It's been awhile, Pak Din. I've been terribly busy with work, the wedding and now the baby. You know how it is," I managed feebly.

"You can do better than that! You used to have such vibrant excuses everytime I ask you to train. This is what you've come to?" he smiled thinly.

"I'm sorry. I know I've disappointed you. But, silat just hasn't been that big a part of my life for awhile now. Kuala Lumpur is a dangerous place, but it's not like I have a big 'Rob Me!' sign on my back. I have no one to train with, and I can hardly use it either."

SLAPPPPPPPP!!!!! A tight one finds its way across my cheek. Reflexively, my hand comes up too late to parry but catches his wrist just as Pak Din's palm leaves my face. Then I realise the mistake I made. I feel my wrist buckle, and I try to order my fingers to let go, but it was too late. He had started his rotation and the rest of my body got caught in the spin. It was going to snap.

Whattodowhattodowhattodo??? A thought occured to me. My college roommate, Zakaria, once taught me a flip he learned in a Japanese martial art. Can't even remember the name. Maybe I can do that! No! Pak Din already has his knee out. I'd snap my back on if I land on that.

Another thought! Shoulder? Shoulder! Suddenly I see the flow. I follow Pak Din's rotation and force myself past his grip. There's slack! I rotate my shoulder and the energy snakes across my biceps, through the elbow into the wrist. I have leverage! I have control!

Then, as soon as the feeling came, it left, as I heard the word "Impressive!" blow pass Pak Din's lips. He reversed his motion into my flow, slid his whole weight into my hip and I lose traction. I saw the night sky and I saw my foot pointing at the moon. A split second later, my spine met the earth, with a thud.

I stared up at the old man.

"As long as irate slap-happy women and decrepit, chain smoking old men don't attack you, I guess you're safe, then," he said as he stood over me, fixing his kain pelekat (sarong), which was dangerously ready to come undone.

"Yeah," was all I could manage.

"But you still have it. A little bit," he backhanded. I got up and dusted myself off before manually searching for broken bones. I sat next to him again, but this time, slightly out of reach of the old tiger.

We sat together on the pangkin and just stared at the gelanggang. No one was left to train. All the kids grew up and moved out of the kampung. Like I did. The new generation had their PlayStations (albeit pirated copies) and Wiis. The Pak Dins of the world had their pangkins to sit on.

After what seemed like an eternity of silence, Pak Din asks, "So, what's this visit for?"

"I'm moving back here," I declared quietly.

His eyes widened, his mustache stiffened and suddenly the thin lips became a wide smile. I know that smile. It's one of purpose. And that purpose has probably got something to do with me. I sigh resignedly, and he laughs heartily, knowing that I know.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

15 April 2008

Pencak Silat: The art of self-defense

Pencak Silat is a set of martial arts first appearing in Indonesia in approximately the sixth century A.D. and quickly spreading to Malaysia and Singapore. Both of the words “pencak” and “silat” mean self-defense, but they are used in different regions of Indonesia.

The two words were combined in 1948 to describe the hundreds of regional self-defense styles.Throughout the archipelago’s history, this martial art has been used in Indonesia to defend the islands or help expand its territory via trained warriors. Although it went underground during the period of Dutch colonization, Pencak Silat played a large role in Indonesia’s 19th century war of independence.

Pencak Silat is based on combining physical and psychological processes, with the physical side focusing on animal-like movements essential to defending oneself, such as kicking, grappling and hitting. Unlike many other types of martial arts, Pencak Silat trains its fighters to use weapons alongside the various elements of hand-to-hand combat.

The psychological aspect derives from Indonesian ideologies about mental control and critical thinking. Some forms of this martial art focus completely on spirituality and mysticism, rather than battle combat or self-defense.

With its two sides, physical and mental, play functions under four principal values: moral, technical, art and sport. These dimensions are passed down over time from master to student through oral recounting and demonstration.

Some Pencak Silat styles, which are more artistic rather than brutal, involve dance-like motions and intricate hand and footwork. Other styles include movements dating back to medieval times, while other movements developed only half a century ago.

Following a protocol it signed with Indonesia, Yemen was the first Arab country to import Pencak Silat in 2003, the same year Yemen’s Pencak Silat Federation was formed.

Eddie Napalaraya, director of the International Pencak Silat Federation, visited Yemen in July 2004, during which he appointed Mohammed Al-Faqih, who is advisor to the Youth and Sports Ministry, as president of the Pencak Silat Arab Federation, which is located in Sana’a.

The federation immediately began its activities in 2003 by sending coaches to Indonesia to receive proper training and establishing Pencak Silat branches in 10 Yemeni governorates, including Sana’a, Ibb, Dhamar, Sayoun, Hodeidah, Aden, Taiz, Mukalla and Abyan.

According to Al-Faqih, there are more than 300 Pencak Silat students in Yemen, with Taiz topping the 10 governorates for the number of students due to support from the private sector, particularly Hayel Sa’eed Anam Group.In 2004, Yemen participated in the international Pencak Silat championship in Singapore, placing fifth among the 12 participating nations.

As a sport and an art, Pencak Silat was exported to Europe in the 1960s when Indonesians of Dutch descent emigrated, eventually making its way across the ocean to the United States during the ensuing decade.

The sport arrived in the Arab nations in 2003. Besides Yemen, Pencak Silat also is taught in Jordan, the Palestinian territories, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, but through individuals. “Yemen is the only Arab nation with a Pencak Silat branch,” noted Fakhr Al-Deen Jamal, the Indonesian coaches’ translator, adding, “While there are no Pencak Silat federations in other Arab countries, the game has spread through individuals who both learn and then teach it to others.”

Pencak Silat in Yemen suffers a financial shortage from the Youth and Sports Ministry. “The federation receives YR 3 million per year, which is too little, as we need at least YR 20 million annually for proper training and to increase the number of participants,” Al-Faqih explained.

He further revealed that Yemen’s Pencak Silat branches haven’t received their budgets or uniforms since the beginning of 2008, maintaining that their Yemeni coaches receive only YR 10,000 per month.

“With only two Indonesian coaches in Yemen, we still need one, so we were surprised when the ministry issued a resolution canceling an Indonesian coach under the pretext of budget shortages because such a decision is made only by the federation, not the ministry,” Al-Faqih pointed out.

Written by Jamal Al-Najjar For the Yemen Times
Sourced from http://yementimes.com/article.shtml?i=1146&p=lastpage&a=1

13 April 2008

Kegayungan Acheh Helang Putih

The following is an excerpt of an interview with Mark V. Wiley, a respected researcher of Asian Martial Arts, especially Kali. The interview by Alan Orr concerned his experiences training in Asia and meeting amazing masters. In this excerpt, he details his encounter with Raja Aziz Laksamana Hoja Andak of Kegayungan Acheh Helang Putih. The full interview is available here.
"The third encounter concerns Silat Master Raja Aziz. It was during my third research/training trip to Malaysia that I met Raja Aziz, the Pendakar of the White Eagle Silat style. I had studied several silat systems and met many masters over the years, but as a budding anthropologist was increasingly more interested in the spiritual aspects of these arts. Few non-Muslims are allowed to witness such things, especially in Malaysia, but I was determined, even though thus far I was only given demonstrations of the physical art and lectured on its history, philosophy and spiritual aspects.
"It happened by accident that while I was talking with Azlan Ghanie, the publisher of "Seni Beladiri" magazine in Kuala Lumpur, that Raja Aziz came by to pay him a visit. After some introductions, I conducted an extended interview with him. This was followed by picture and video taking of his techniques with empty hand and kris. I then asked for a demonstration of White Eagle Silat’s inner power and spiritual aspects, and Raja Aziz agreed.
"With little fan-fare, he murmured some phrases in Malay, gathered his spirit and his body started shaking. He then crouched into a stance and extended his arms and when he looked up at me he let out a loud yell, like that of an eagle.
"As sure as I am alive, it appeared to me (and Ron Beaubian, my fellow researcher from Japan) as if he actually turned into an eagle before my eyes! His body seemed to grow wings and his face a beak and feathers and he looked as if he was about to soar above the clouds. He continued this for some time and then relaxed back into "human" form. I was shocked and dumbfounded.
"Everybody present laughed, including myself (though nervously). I asked him how he was able to capture the spirit of the eagle and transform himself into it before my very eyes. Raja Aziz said it was the result of a lifetime study and religious practice and belief. His art was that of the white eagle, and only the true pendekar can become one with the bird. I was finally convinced such levels existed outside of fantasy and the stories of zealous students.
"In short, I continue to travel the world in search of great masters, and while many are great technicians and some great fighters, not many can manifest the true levels of what I consider "mastery." Such experiences as the three mentioned here (among others) leave me with the knowledge that only through proper and dedicated training in connection with a clear conscience and centered mind, can such high levels of martial art be attained. Perhaps one day I will be fortunate to reach such levels."

10 April 2008

No sand-in-the-eyes-attack allowed

The Asian Beach Games in Bali, Indonesia are facing a shortage of funds, even though they expect around 6,000 athletes and officials from 45 countries to attend the inaugural edition (What am I talking about? Read this). Here's an interesting follow up to that story, quoted from the Jakarta Post.
Although they are already played at international events, sports like wresting, sepak takraw, soccer, bodybuilding and pencak silat will be played at the beach for the first time.
Some adjustments have to be made.
"For the outdoor wrestling, the wrestlers do not wear shirts but pants," Asep Hanafi, who is helping wrestlers prepare in Bandung, said.
"We have yet to decide what kicks are allowed in beach pencak silat, because we have to take into account the athletes getting sand in their eyes. We will talk about it in Jakarta," Johari Mukti, an official of the International Pencak Silat Federation, said.

09 April 2008

Role of Islam in the larger culture

I found this article written by Zakariya Dehlawi, a columnist at the Daily of the University of Washington. I'm sharing it here as a primer on how Islam affects the cultures it comes in contact with. Plus, there's a line about silat, so how could I resist?

There’s a difference between what Islam’s role in culture should be versus what Islam’s role in culture actually is, or, more relevant, the influence of culture on Islam, which is a challenge faced by American Muslims. Either way, it’s hard to quantify “Islamic Culture.”

This is a big topic, and once again I need to qualify that my own knowledge of the subject is limited. I apologize for any mistakes, all of which are my own, while any benefits you glean are due to God’s grace.

Islamic culture is a misnomer, but a popular one. I find myself using it often when trying to quantify the achievements of Muslims throughout history and geography. In reality, Muslims come from diverse and multi-ethnic backgrounds. This leads to millions of cultural traditions and very little cultural overlap. Silat, the traditional martial arts form practiced in Malaysia and Indonesia, is radically different from horse racing in Morocco. But both fall under the umbrella of Muslim or Islamic culture.

Even things which are considered iconically Muslim, like the headscarf (Which by the way is not unique to Islam), is worn differently depending on cultural context; with different styles, from the colorful patterns in Somalia to plain black in Saudi Arabia.

The reason these traditions persisted and flourished is because of how Islam treats local practices. Islam is there to supplement and guide the existing customs. My teacher, Abdul Hakim Jackson, a professor of Arabic and Islamic studies, put it best when he explained that when Islam came to an area, it tilted the direction of life, not forced it into a 180.

Within fiqh (Islamic law and jurisprudence) there are concessions given to accepted local traditions, provided they’re not harmful and violate Islamic sources. These considerations are called ‘urf.’ Islam is not a fully-fledged replacement culture; Islam is a religion, and is about worshipping God and acting in a manner pleasing to God.

One of the drawbacks of this diversity is that it allows culture to pervade Islam, and local practices become synonymous and justified as Islamic. Pakistani culture becomes Muslim culture, because that’s how people were raised. The problem becomes even more apparent in the United States.

The United States attracts Muslims from all over the world, each bringing their own preconceived notions of Islamic traditions. The difficulty arises when these various notions need to be reconciled – Iraqis, Vietnamese and even Muslims indigenous to the United States, such as African-Americans – in order to function as a community. This development is slowly progressing into an actual Muslim-American culture, which is a synthesis of the environment.

Adding to the complication are the first generation, second generation and beyond, of Muslims who were born and raised in the United States. These people often incorporate what some immigrant Muslims label as “American” or “Western” cultural influence. But this implies that Muslims are somehow out of the American cultural landscape, which is not the case.

Muslims can be found throughout American society in all levels, each contributing to our society in their own ways. Fazlur Khan is notable for being the structural engineer who designed the Sears Tower, and iconic symbol as the tallest building in the United States. Some Muslims overtly show how Islam influences their cultural contribution, such as hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco who incorporated a Muslim prayer in his CD. Others, like Dave Chappelle, don’t blatantly publicize it.

The heritage of the many ethnic groups within Islam will continue to play a role in forming a specific Muslim-American culture. What will be more interesting to see is what facets of these cultures will become incorporated in what we consider our dominant American way.

Reach columnist Zakariya Dehlawi at opinion@thedaily.washington.edu.

Sourced from http://thedaily.washington.edu/2008/4/9/religious-forum-what-role-your-faith-larger-cultur/

08 April 2008

Silat Cekak Hanafi Rakan Muda Rakan Wajadiri Carnival 2008

The Seni Silat Cekak Association, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia chapter is organising the Rakan Muda Rakan Wajadiri Carnival in conjunction with their 21 year celebration.

A Wajadiri Tournament for school and higher institution clubs will also be held as the anchor program for the carnival on the 26th of July 2008 at Sultan Iskandar Hall, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia in Skudai, Johor.

Organised by the Seni Silat Cekak Association, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, in collaboration with the Rakan Muda Secretariat, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia with the cooperation of the Student Affairs Office of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and the Malaysian Youth and Sports Ministry.

For more information, go to http://schutm.com/wajadiri/

07 April 2008

Silat Cekak Malaysia 42 & 43 Anniversary Celebration

The Malaysian Seni Silat Cekak Association will be organising their 42nd 43rd Anniversary Celebrations on the 7th and 8th of June 2008 at the International Islamic Universiti Malaysia.
For more information on this event, go to http://silatcekak.org/42th/index.html

06 April 2008

Silat is her forte

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)'s Sportswoman of the Year Sakilah Sapar wants to see more women take up silat.

“Although silat is often deemed a man's sport, women can also excel. Women should not be fearful or shy about learning silat. My coach has always advised me that our strength is in our hearts and not in our legs," she said after receiving her award at the annual USM 2007/2008 sports awards presentation at a hotel in Penang on Wednesday night.

Sakilah, 21, from Johor Baru, said she took up pencak silat seriously after winning a national tournament at the age of 14.“I hope to represent Malaysia in the next SEA Games,'' said the second-year Science Mathematics student.Sakilah, who represented Malaysia in the second Singapore International Open (Senior) championship, received RM4,000, trophies, a certificate and a hamper.

Sakilah's twin sister Salihah is also a silat exponent.

Salihah, who is studying at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, won a gold medal at the Sijori Karimum championship held in Indonesia last year.Sakilah received her award from USM’s vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dzulkifli Abdul Razak. There was no winner in the Sportsman of the Year category.

Karate-do exponent Lee Yuen Hoong and USM's swimming team members Ooi Tze Yang and Yeoh Soo Bee were announced winners of the university's Purple Colour Award.

The award is given to the best overall final-year students who excelled in sports while representing USM, the state and the country.Also present were USM’s deputy vice-chancellor (student development) Prof Dr Omar Osman and head of the Sports Unit Muhamad Mohd Hanif.

At the ceremony was also the hockey team who won the Best Team Award (Female Category), while the Best Team Award (Male Category) went to the basketball team.

Written by K. Kasturi Dewi
Sourced from The Star Online

05 April 2008

11th Silat Cekak Hanafi Wajadiri Tournament 2008

The 11th Silat Cekak Hanafi Wajadiri Tournament 2008 will be organised by the Malaysian Seni Silat Cekak Ustaz Hanafi Association in collaboration with the International Selangor Islamic College.

8 June 2008 (Sunday)
Convention Centre,
International Selangor Islamic College (KUIS),
Bandar Sri Putra, 4300,
Bangi, Selangor.

For members at the public school and higher learning institution level who are interested to compete, please contact your class supervisors for more information, or go to http://cekakhanafi.com/.

04 April 2008

The Azure Keris: Prologue

It's been two weeks, and yet, my tears still flow unbidden. It's a strange feeling, to realise that someone who was there for so long, is now no longer. Every morning, I'd wake up and try to remember if it was just a dream and it always comes back to me.

It's real. My father is dead.

The Melayu use the term salin bantal (replacing a pillow cover) to describe what happened to him. He had diabetes for such a long time, but it was always in control. Strangely, his condition suddenly took a turn for the worse and in the end, he succumbed to renal failure, just as he started his COPD treatments. Then, a week after I buried him, my daughter was born.

Generations past consider it an omen. A switch. My daughter's life for my father's. She was in a dangerous breech position and doctors predicted complications in the birth. But when everything pulled through, people started talking. They said, Allah took my father in exchange for my daughter.

My mother said it was nonsense. Mak spent most of her life studying religion and told me matter-of-factly, "Allah takes whom He wills. No exchange, no barter."

"Put your faith in omens, and you put it in the unsure. Allah is always sure. Never forget that," she said, even as she fought back tears.

I nodded, wondering what my and wife daughter were doing now. As part of custom (and necessity), they had gone back to her kampung in Ipoh for her 40-day confinement period. There, her mother would care for her the way no husband can. Which basically left me a bachelor.

But I had issues to work out. So, I guess I could occupy myself with that. I had just rolled off a project in Kuala Lumpur and was deciding what to do next. My firm might allow me to post overseas, but with the baby here, I was now more reluctant to do so.

With my father gone, I now had to oversee the distribution of his property, and more importantly, the repayment of his debts. In Islam, the responsibility of a parent's debt repayment automatically falls to me. It was going to be difficult, since I didn't know who he owed, but I was determined to ensure his life in the hereafter was a peaceful one.

Then, I stumbled upon a project no one wanted to touch, a community development partnership in Kampung Seri Nusantara in Melaka. It was 'cold' because there were no amenities and very possibly mosquito-infested. Maybe so, but it's next door to Kampung Tanah Budi, my kampung, where we came from.

My father still had land and houses there to manage, and I'd have to make sure they were maintained or distributed amongst his employees according to his will. In that, I saw the opportunity to catch some recuperation of my own.

Within 30 minutes, I persuaded my wife of the change, persuaded a bewildered boss to give me leadership of the project, and persuaded my mother to let me do it. It was time to go home.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

03 April 2008

Quote of the day

"...This is like our own silat master hitting us when we are fighting with someone else. It is very bad for Umno and BN"

-Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib on the call by former Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir to Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (current PM) to step down.

02 April 2008

Cikgu Zul finally has a blog

I checked my email today and got a nice surprise. A martial arts mentor of mine has finally decided to publish his own blog.

Those people who know him often have trouble deciding what to call him. He is accredited in Japanese, Chinese and Melayu martial art styles, respectively giving him the titles of sensei, sifu and cikgu. I used to call him sensei, but eventually settled on just cikgu.

Cikgu Zulkipli Ismail is a martial arts practitioner and teacher from Sarawak and has become quite known to readers of SENI BELADIRI magazine for his sharp pen, often seen levelling criticisms while discussing issues in the Malaysian martial arts scene.

He has also written various articles in the magazine dealing with such varied topics as spirituality in silat, progression in silat olahraga, tai chi and traditional exercise, reality-based teaching and much more.

I first got to know Cikgu Zul when he made dedicated trips to Kuala Lumpur to study Senaman Tua from guru Azlan Ghanie several years ago. With a strong base in Tai Chi, Cikgu Zul picked up the traditional Melayu form very quickly. We met again in several other Senaman Tua and Silat seminars.

The one thing that strikes me about Cikgu Zul is his contradictory amiableness. If you meet him in person, the first thing that comes to your mind is terror, because Cikgu Zul is a huge mass of muscle. For those familiar with Cikgu Zul's board posts on the SMC Forums will know of his fondness of the animated character, Shrek. THAT is the body size I'm talking about.

But, amazingly, Cikgu Zul is a soft-spoken (albeit with a booming voice) practitioner who values the arts he studies and guards them well. With background in boxing, aikido, tai chi, pukulan and silat, his thirst for knowledge carries him over hundreds of miles. He is not unique, but he is rare.

Now, with his independent (meaning, in his own publication) appearance in the cyber world, many more martial artists in Malaysia can drink from this valuable resource, once limited to only close friends and acquaintances.

Welcome, Cikgu Zul, and may the luminescence of your writing light all our paths!

Click here to read Cikgu Zul's blog, Sharing Fitness, Safety and Family Development

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

01 April 2008

Our 15 minutes of fame

For those of you who have been reading the comment in the recent posts will notice a New Straits Times reporter asking that I contact him. Lo and behold, he's planning to feature Silat Melayu: The Blog in a column on bloggers somewhere mid-April.

Now, the fact that today is April 1st did dawn on me, but to be fair, he did send the comment before today, so I'll discount that it's someone trying to play a joke on me.

If this happens, then, I regard it as a good opportunity to show Malaysia and the world that Silat Melayu is much more than what they know. It's a small contribution, but at least we can say we had some.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab