30 June 2008

Mana Hebat Orang Melayu?

Mana Hebat Orang Melayu
Jika Tanpa Mulianya Ilmu
Mana Tinggi Nilai Bangsaku
Jika Tanpa Islam Padamu
Langkah Gagah Tetap Terarah
Cara Mara Tampak Kuasa
Itulah Gagah Ilmunya Tuah
Bina Wibawa Bukan Perkasa
Silat Pencak Gayong dan Bunga
Tinggi Tertib Penuh Gemalai
Dalam Ilmu Tinggi Nilainya
Itulah Warisan Lama Dipakai
Bedil Berdentum Menggegar Bumi
Pendekar Gentar Tidak Sekali
Ilmu Kulitnya Silat Yang Murni
Islam Suci Sebagainya Inti
Apa Dicari Hebatnya Diri
Jasad Pasti Luka Dilukai
Tumpu Sebenar Pada Ilahi
Itu Hakikat Kekal Abadi
Setinggi Mana Ilmunya Silat
Niatnya Biar Untuk Syariat
Teguhlah Pada Nafi Dan Isbat
Peluk Erat Kalimah Syahadat
Sunnah Itu Paling Utama
Amal Adalah Segalanya
Silat Itu Tiada Salahnya
Salah Bila Tiada Adabnya
Adat Melayu Ada Perlunya
Adab Islam Penuh Hikmahnya
Warisan Perlu Ada Turunnya
Iman Wajib Ada Saksinya
Inilah Resmi Orang Melayu
Budi Bahasa Tinggi Pekerti
Akhlak Islam Menjadi Laku
Taqwa Taat Sudah Semesti

Ustaz Saiful Muhammad

29 June 2008

Traditionalist Vs Modernist: The End of a Paradox?

The traditional way of Silat is supposed to be flexible and adaptable because it is an art of survival, helping pesilat to survive; and the survival of the knowledge itself. It must be able to be reinterpreted at any time, into any 'language' and for any situation. It is supposed to be versatile and have a broad meaning even the old ancient traditional techniques are already more than a thousand years old.

Being a true traditional Silat master, one must be an old school, evergreen, modern, 'groovie' (can I use that word...?) and open minded person. If he can't adjust himself to evolve thus making the knowledge stuck in time, he is contributing towards the disappearance of a very precious knowledge.

There is nothing wrong with the modernisation of Silat or of any knowledge; even the modernisation of Islam knowledge. Exceptional precious knowledge are supposed to be able to modernised but with proper adab or manners and must also be done with strict guidance from an expert of that particular knowledge.

Many ancient Silat styles claim that their techniques have the beginning but not the end. How can there be an end? It cannot evolve, adapt, modernise and embrace changes otherwise; proper changes not frankensteining. Adaptability not adoption of alien techniques or style.

Being very ancient and traditional, Silat is not supposed to be carved in stone, stuck and frozen in time or having static narrow techniques. It cannot be only words or so called philosophies or concept alone. Ancient Silat has proven its effectiveness and reliability.

Everyone knows how its power of knowledge and wonder of wisdom evolves itself and it's practitioner through time. The only problem is, can we change for the better? Can we evolve? Can we learn from what we acquired? Can we attain the understanding of our own knowledge? Are we willing to be guided and embrace humility?

Why are all of these important? Because these are among the ways ancient Silat survives through time and evolves, showing its wonder. These are also the ways of a true master whilst making sure the continuity of this precious ancient knowledge of survival.

Everyone must work together by merging their wisdoms so that we can gain more from what we already have, both traditionalist and modernist in the Silat world. Where did those modernists get their knowledge? What happens to the traditionalists if they don’t have any modernists as students? We all know very well that most modernists are from new generation that learn from old traditionalist masters.

In the end, everyone needs everybody. We need each other to survive if we must protect ourselves from any harm and we need each other to make sure that this Silat knowledge can survive another many thousand years, InsyaAllah. Be humble like plain water so that one can be flexible, adaptable, precious, fluid and strong.

By Ustaz Saiful Muhammad
Pertubuhan Seni Silat Telapak Nusantara Malaysia

28 June 2008

Silat In Movies

Silat has long been considered an esoteric martial arts form by the few Westerners that have heard of it or seen it. Recently, on History channel, the series Human Weapon, gave silat an international boost by showing two Westerners, one a champion martial artist and the other a footballer turned wrestler, learning and taking on silat fighters in Malaysia.

Though some of the fights were definitely staged, the segment when the two kweilohs 'studied' silat harimau was quite fascinating.

I remember TV once screening a local production that traced the various silat forms in the country - if I'm not mistaken the series was called Mahaguru and was directed by a silat exponent named Jak Othman. Since then, we hardly see any dramas, TV series or documentaries that promotes or demonstrates true or pure silat.

Even the movies have not been forthcoming with silat. Wonder why? Are we too ashamed to show our deadly martial arts to the world? Don't we want to share our beautiful martial arts with the rest of the world?

We filmmakers seem to be too preoccupied with the muay thais (ong bak), the kungfu (any bloody Jet Lee movie), the karate and judo of Japan, the taekwondo of korea and the Jeet Kune Do of Bruce Lee.

There was a time when even silat dramas in the early 90s, produced by HVD, unabashedly promoted Hongkee style martial arts as that of silat.

I know a few film directors who strived to show silat in its original form and this include Uwei Shaari whose Keris Lok Tujuh was one of the best TV dramas that exhibited Silat Melayu exquisitely.

In the early days of Shaw Brothers, the silat shown was basically silat wayang and whilst many said the best silat on show was that in the movie Hang Jebat and/or Hang Tuah, I beg to differ. There have been many other Melayu movies that showed silat in better light than those two over-rated movies.

Many also think the late P. Ramlee was a true silat exponent. Hehehe..he wasn't. If you see one of his later movies like Enam Jahanam, his movements were rather comical and sad at the same time.

Then there was a time when we tried to outdo the Indonesians, whose silat in the movies were also laughable - with fighters flying like superheroes on steroids. Some of the more memorable so-called silat movies from across the straits include Si Gondrong and Si Buta.

I even remember a rumor about the famous silat-trained actor Dicky Zulkarnaen (who has a gorgeous daughter mind you) who was said to have had a secret duel with Bruce Lee. According to the myth, Dicky executed his famous death punch on Bruce Lee that would only have an effect on Bruce sometime later.

So it happens, the so-called secret duel was said to have been held a few weeks before Bruce Lee's death.

Of course this is nonsense, we know Bruce Lee died because of the infamous curse of the dragon and that angry kungfu masters poisoned him for revealing Chinese kungfu secrets to the West. Hehehe.

But to tell you the truth, I have seen Dicky and his silat boys perform and they were very deadly and scary. They can break metal bars in half with their fingers and heads!

Okay, okay, coming back to the topic at hand, we filmmakers should be taken to task for not promoting silat properly. I mean, do we want to show the world that Silat Melayu is the one you see in Saw Teong Hin's Puteri Gunung Ledang? Puhleezzz.

When I did Tuah with Jamal Abdillah (who wouldn't really know what silat is even if it slaps him in the face), I needed a good silat choreographer. Luckily, I found one - Pak Engku, who had also choreographed the silat scenes in Rahim Razali's Matinya Seorang Patriot.

Pak Engku was great. He knew what I wanted and he helped make Jamal look good on camera.

Nevertheless, I wished I had casted someone else (but I wasn't the producer) but I ended up with Jamal. So I really had to make do with him. Below is an excerpt of the fight scene in my movie version of Tuah.

I have also found various silat scenes from Melayu movies including the ridiculous silat scene from the movie Putri Gunung Ledang for you to watch and compare. Enjoy.

If an obese and untalented actor like Steven Seagal can popularise Aikido, I don't see why we cannot find someone to promote silat as the deadliest martial arts in the world. Unless of course you saw Ong Bak and feel Tomoi is deadlier.

This article was sourced from the Malaysian movie director, Anwardi Jamil's blog at http://sayaanakwayang.blogspot.com/2008/06/silat-in-movies.html

27 June 2008

Silat Melayu Wallpaper

The above wallpaper was designed by a regular reader of Silat Melayu: The Blog, Mohd Fairuzuddin Faizan b. Mohd Yusoff the President of the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak chapter of Pertubuhan Silat Seni Gayong Malaysia.

The wallpaper depicts a Silat Seni Gayong grappling technique and includes a pantun from Poknik, also a regular visitor here. His pantun has appeared in this blog here. We thank Fairuzuddin for sharing this cool piece of work with us and hope to hear more from him. Thanks!

(click on the picture above to download the full-sized wallpaper).

Visit his blog Pok Deng's Philosopy here.
See how happy he is to have his wallpaper on pesilat's computers around the world here

26 June 2008

Tradition vs Change: The Paradox of Silat?

Malaysia is home to a multitude of Silat styles both traditional and modern. The scale on which these two broad categories sit is, of course relative and difficult to define.

Those arts deemed to be modern and modernists are often seen to be diametrically opposed to the traditional and traditionalists. That there exists a paradox within each art is equally assumed.

Whenever a style professes a change, either in their techniques, training methodology or pedagogy, there will often be heard a voice or two claiming that style as no longer traditional. The addition of a punching bag in the training area, the absorption of a karate-like punch, or the use of English terminology within the syllabus can get blood raging.

However, I believe that this is a problem with understanding the essence of Silat itself. Today, without having any background in Silat or understanding Melayu culture, our youth are being fed an alien definition of the martial arts, that the way the Western world understands it.

We believe that overt techniques make up Silat, that Buah 1 until Buah 65 is the totality of so-and-so Silat style, when in fact, there is something far deeper than this that defines Silat.

I believe that the very words 'tradition' and 'change' lock in an understanding that what is traditional has to be carved in stone forever. Instead of saying tradition vs change, my meaning would be closer to tradition equals change.

Silat is an expression of the Melayu thoughts and external culture within a combative framework. As fluid as these thoughts and culture are, so too is the expression. Much as snowflakes then, ultimately no two pesilat are alike, thus no two silat are alike.

These combative norms exist in many forms and are held as cultural maxims that are passed along from generation to generation. For many of the masters I've met, they call it Petua. Even though these masters studied from the same source, but they experienced different pressures.

Some met different foreign styles that were far superior in certain aspects and were forced to reinterpret these Petua to counter against them. This is different from the cobbling together of foreign techniques onto a core that was never built for them in the first place, creating an interspecies frankenstein.

When these styles of a common root get together after such a long absence, they immediately recognise the inherent petua within each other, and are enriched by the sharing of experiences and innovative ways of applying parts of their style that had never occured to them before.
The only obstacles to this is are hard headed teacher/s who insist that their styles are already/ far more complete than the next one and needs no improvement.

Otherwise, this idea of developing tradition has been going on for hundreds, if not thousands of years, before names, silsilah, uniforms and sport. Silat stemmed from survival, and in order to survive, you had to change, but you always changed from what you had, not abandon it and adopt another.

Adoption is to import wholesale without making changes, while adaptation depends strongly upon the present skill and inclination of the practitioner.

For me, adoption means being tied to the premises of a particular style. It's taking the blocks from karate, and entering from kali and locks from silat and 'stringing' it together. It's seeing them as components.

Whereas adaptation looks at the objective of the method, it has a clear beginning and a clear end. When seen from this angle, 'stealing' techniques become easier, but they will never work the same as it originally did, because instead of modification, it is reinterpretation.

These are the instances when they look at silat and say, "Hey, that looks like Shanghai Brown Bear Kung Fu's Double Barrel Twist Roll, but not really".

I don't doubt that there are intelligent martial artists who understand it this way but most often I see people studying variously different arts and frankensteining them together to make 'new' techniques.

And this is where they look at silat and say, "Hey! That's exactly the same!". These are the irresponsible adoptions I speak of.

A progressive modernist is one who might not realise the value of things old and may be a generation or a context removed from the masters before him. Seeing more value in things he can grasp easier, he 'adopts' instead of adapts.

Ironically, it is the progressive modernist that causes the creation of the traditionalist as an aggressive response to defend what he sees as a cultural right to exist. His mistake? Freezing everything in place in order to define it as different from his enemy's idea of silat.

None of these two have a place in my heart.

I have met people who, at first glance, could be labelled 'traditionalist' but launch into an infectious discussion on the merits of a loaded revolver and a spanner in a silat fight.If anybody can reconcile the two brothers above, it would be them.

There are some quarters that recommend documentation to solve this problem of ill-definition. Unfortunately, irrespective of how much documentation silat undergoes in Malaysia, there is a dearth of technical records.

Most books, magazines or random articles only describe the surrounding culture, the masters's biography, the history of the styles but very rarely the technical aspects of it. This is a sad but logical approach.

For those modernised silat with clear techniques and defined vocabularies, documentation is easy. Unfortunately, traditional silat in Malaysia is more often bereft of static techniques and wealthy with concepts and philosophies which guide adaptation better.

Once you try to crystallise one aspect of these silat, it locks the definition of that style to exclude other aspects, when in fact, silat is physically inclusive, not exclusive.

Documentation in Malaysia is for reference, not preservation and started very late. When we speak of authenticity, we run into another problem, self-documentation. Many styles now have younger professionals in their fold and they are the information gatekeepers to the world (via print or internet).

When both Silat Cekak and Silat Kalimah have books and websites claiming to be THE cultural inheritor of Mahaguru Yahya Said or Silat Seni Pusaka Gayong claiming that Mahaguru Datuk Meor Rahman approved of their denomination before he died whence Silat Seni Gayong Malaysia claims to have no knowledge of it (etc), the best you can do sometimes is just to document the disputes.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

25 June 2008

Think & You Will Know

In a scene from the P. Ramlee movie, "Pendekar Bujang Lapok", Aziz Sattar chases away gangsters from his silat master's doorstep. As they leave, a gangster throws a rock at his head

Aziz: "Adoi! Pakcik! Dia orang lempar batu, pakcik!" (They threw a stone at me!)

Wak Mustar: "Kenapa kau tak elak?" (Why didn't you avoid it?)

Aziz: "Macam mana saya nak elak, silat elak batu pakcik belum ajar!” (How could I? You haven't taught us that yet!)

24 June 2008

Belajar Dari Ilmu

Langkah Diri Berjalan Betul
Tangan Kaki Lenggang Sekata
Silat Itu Antara Unggul
Akal Pandu Ilmu Didada
Tangan Kaki Lenggang Sekata
Pencak Indah Kelok Menyusur
Akal Pandu Ilmu Didada
Putus Medan Dapat Diatur
Pencak Indah Kelok Menyusur
Susun Tapak Pendekar Melayu
Putus Medan Dapat Diatur
Bantuan Allah Mohon Selalu
Ustaz Saiful Muhammad

23 June 2008

Training children

Teaching silat to children can be a chore, as many martial arts instructors already know. Their lack of acceptance of certain norms makes an adult instructor's life hell. One good thing though, is that children lack the mental barriers that adults have inadvertently placed on themselves.

Silat is about freedom of action, and children are the freest souls on the planet. A mental barrier such as: "I'm not sure I can do this" or "This looks difficult" tends to cripple the zest and energy of adults, but strangely, kids have no such qualms, which can be dangerous in many respects.

But, if we can learn to harness this curousity, energy and flexibility very early on, they will grow into much better pesilat than their older counterparts. The only difference between them, is experience.

A child has absoulely no past experience to speak of, thus, they have very little opportunity to have a Eureka moment the way most adults do. A wise man's words are often understood by the wise, and this takes years to develop within a pesilat. So, how do we go about passing on this knowledge to kids if we have nothing to draw upon? Maybe all we have to do is look to ourselves.

I remember being that kid studying silat when I was in school, and I remember the kinds of problems I gave my instructor (he's a guru utama of his own style now). I also remember why it was so boring to learn and what about studying silat made me so interested. It was the discovery, or lack of it.

As a child, discovery is important. I read somewhere that the foundation of happiness is discovery, of learning something that puts you in awe. The thing I most remember about studying silat as a child was discovering that my instructor could walk on thorns on the field and do backflips with ease. THAT was silat for me, not the jurus which pained me to repeat.

Children sometimes like to spar as a way to test themselves, prove that they have what it takes. More often, it's to emulate the 'martial arts' they see on television. One way of getting them to focus is to turn their learning into a contest, to see who can perform the jurus better, cleaner, prettier and pay attention to those who lag behind.

Get one of them to lead the class and rotate, so they understand what it feels like when their fellow students don't follow their orders. Sooner or later, they will all understand your frustration and toe the line.

Kids today are thinkers. They want to know WHY. Prove to them that by doing it the correct way, they can gain more leverage, or more balance, or more... etc and they will be more motivated to practice. Training children is a balancing act, for sure, but it's better to allow a child to learn the way they're used to, by playing.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

22 June 2008

Silat Melayu: The Tree of Discipline

Silat Melayu has been, for many hundreds of years, the traditional martial art practised by the Malays. Its uniqueness has been preserved by successive generations as sacred trust and a cultural burden. It integrates soft, aesthetic movements with self-defence techniques that are both hard and deadly.

It transcends the physical defence aspect to encompass the spiritual, medicinal and religious practises of the Malays. Without these three aspects, silat could be compared to a dish without the seasoning.

A pesilat will never feel its pure essence if he familiarises himself only with the multitude of physical techniques. Silat Melayu has been infused with the essences of the extraordinary, of mysticism and of godliness. In it one can rediscover the origins of man and the greatness of God.

Silat Melayu has tread through a long and glorious history. The annals of Malaysia have proven that before the advent of guns and cannons, the ancient Malay kingdoms of the Archipelago were well-defended against incursions from foreign empires, especially the Europeans and East Asians. During that era, the Malays were known amongst the foreign traders not only from their appearance, but from their fighting prowess, customs and speech.

Although techniques varied between one style and another, the cultural reality remained, that the applications of the body such as the fist, feet, knees, elbows and traditional weaponplay were similar if not identical. A particular style could be identified from their salutations and wardances.

Outside factors that influenced the growth of Silat Melayu in Malaysia includes those from the islands of Sumatera and Jawa. Aspects of this can be seen in the clothing fashions, terminology of the movements, spiritual practises and the music that accompanies the wardances. In spite of this, the traditional concept of Silat Melayu remains unique and preserved.

Every pesilat nurtures a similar ambition, to one day become a Pendekar. A Pendekar is not simply an expert in the combat arts of silat, but is also able to master its spiritual and medicinal aspects. The mind of a Pendekar is like the wind. Its presence can be detected, but cannot be directly observed. His wisdom creates situations that makes his opponents lose their focus, thus incapable of anticipating his actions,

A pendekar is like a teacher. He is qualified to teach his students and may authorise any loyal disciples in the various branches of knowledge that he had acquired during his lifetime.

However, to achieve the status of the Pendekar requires perseverance. Without years of immense courage and incalculable effort, all his works could be for naught. Alternatively, this could also depend on their talents of mastery. Last to master means last to succeed.

As with any other skill, silat requires disciples who would dedicate their lives to unearthing its secrets. This is where silat is akin to a tree of discipline. The further we climb among its branches, the more we discover the meaning of brotherhood, patience and the revelations of its mystical secrets. Confidence is a pesilat's closest companion when faced with a multitude of physical and mental challenges that will surely block his climb to success.

Curiously, Silat Melayu was once regarded as giving undue emphasis to the softer movements of the human body. This could be the opinions of those who have yet to pluck the fruits at the highest branches of the tree. It cannot be denied that such an opinion arose from the archaic tendency to close off silat from the outside world. Thus it has been lowly regarded as unable to adequately defend against hard, violent incursions.

However, the 1980s saw drastic reversal of this opinion, never to return. Due thanks are owed to those vanguard Nusantara masters who spread silat to the world, resulting in the continued acquaintance of the European and West Asian communities with the greatness of this art. Now, the possibility of silat schools taking root overseas is increasing every day.

Perhaps the attractiveness also comes from the fact that silat's physical training provides an alternative that is no less effective on the human body. The soft, undulating motions of the art invite the functions of the body towards the development of a more active mind and spirit. A sharp mind will flow only within an active body.

In silat exist storehouses of knowledge that can never be recorded nor revised on paper. The meaning of silat is found between its branches, its leaves, its flowers and its fruits. Only someone who can master that meaning can realise just how valuable a life of silat, within silat really is.

In closing, let us ponder upon the theme of the 1987 Kuala Lumpur International Silat Championship, "SILAT FOR ALL", a truly apt acknowledgement of silat's seeds being sown across the continents.

By Basir Haji Ghani
Sourced and translated from PENDEKAR vol.7

21 June 2008

Five do Malaysia proud at symposium

A total of five members of the Pertubuhan Seni Silat Ikatan Kalam Utama Malaysia (PIKUM) had participated in the 16th Martial Arts Annual International Symposium at San Antonio, Texas, USA, recently.

The event was organised by the World head of Family Sokeship Council (WFHSC), an international body representing grand masters in all martial arts disciplines worldwide that is based in Florida, USA.

The symposium was an international event attended by martial arts practitioners in all disciplines such as San Jitsu, Ju Jitsu, Seicho Jutsu, Aiki Tora Ryu, Jeet Kume Do, Gati Chi, American Sambo and Seni Silat Kalam. More than 1,000 participants took part.

PIKUM delegates representing Malaysia received awards for their contributions in the martial arts world. They were Grandmaster Prof Dr Zahalan Man who was awarded Historical Member Award and Datuk Shahul Hamid M.A. Bakar (National Leadership Award).

The other three were Sheikh Shahawal 'Ali Sheikh Kamaruddin (National Convention Leadership Award), MR Mohan Ratha (International Convention Leadership Award) and Dr Farukh Abdullah (Peace Leadership Award).

The organiser also awarded Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman and Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob with the International Leadership Award as a tribute to their leadership.

The Malaysia delegation had participated in all main components mainly exhibition, workshop and seminar, competition and demonstrations, gala night dinner and handing over of the WFHSC highest award.

PIKUM is organising an exhibition to promote the 18th World Peace Congress event and 1st International Martial Arts Festival 2008 to be held at Sunway Resort Hotel and Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre from Oct 29 to 31. It is aimed at promoting Malaysia among martial arts practitioners.

Sourced from http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2008/6/21/central/21546401&sec=central

20 June 2008

Silat routines rehearsal for Brunei Sultan's birthday celebration

Around 100 exponents showed their silat routines to the committee members of "His Majesty With the People" event last Wednesday night, one of many activities that will take place on July 20 when the ruler is expected to receive greetings from the population of Brunei Muara District at the Taman Hj Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien in the capital.

Held at the multipurpose hall of Fire & Rescue Department headquarters in Berakas, the rehearsal was also witnessed by the Brunei Muara District Officer, Dato Paduka Awg Hj Md Yussop Bakar; his assistant, Hj Haris Othman; the event's Director of Field Performances, Awg Majid Alias; his deputy Awg Hanafiah Zaini; Head of Activity Coordination, Awg Hj Suhaili; and other committee members.

An integrated rehearsal will take place sometime in July at the event's venue, which will include other field performers.

By Rosli Abidin Yahya
Sourced from

19 June 2008

Silat In Malaysian Print

There is a definite dearth of Silat and Silat-related books on the market, be it locally or internationally. Many people are surprised to learn that Malaysia, the 'Mecca of Martial Arts' (quote from sifu Nigel Sutton in his SENI BELADIRI column 'Under The Palm Trees'), has less than ten books on Silat on the market, most of them either out of print or simply forgotten.

Fortunately, silat has a media to call its own in SENI BELADIRI, Malaysia's premier martial arts magazine that began its run in August 1997 and has to this day more than 90 issues under its belt.

Owned, operated and published by Azlan Ghanie, the magazine is bilingual in content with most of its articles in the Malay language. Azlan, who is also the founder and Primary Trustee of Silat Melayu Keris Lok 9 has interviewed several hundred masters in silat and non-silat styles, making him one of the most knowledgable martial artist in Malaysia when it comes to arts other than his own.

In 2001, a radical effort saw fruition when SILAT WARRIOR was published. The only all-English martial arts magazine in Malaysia, it was exported to the West but didn't take off. It ran for three issues.

In fact, this was not his first effort at publishing a martial arts magazine. In 1989, the first issue of PENDEKAR hit the stands with the final interview with the late, great Datuk Meor Rahman of Silat Seni Gayong fame to ever appear in the pages or any martial arts magazine.

Azlan conceived and edited the magazine before being taken ill a few years later. PENDEKAR ran until 1995 without Azlan at the helm.

During SENI BELADIRI's run, two other publishers tried to follow in its footsteps. Unfortunately, neither of them garnered the kind of popularity among the local martial arts com-munity the way SB did. The mystical martial art magazine TANGKAS saw print in 2002 but ran for a few issues before being put out of its misery.

Meantime, SENI SILAT WARISAN BANGSA (no relation to my website SILAT SENI WARISAN BANGSA hosting at http://silat.8m.com) put up a valiant fight, eventually making it past the ten issue mark, even though it was forced to publish bi-monthly instead of monthly.

There were also several attempts at one offs such as SILAT, MEGAT and TERAWIS, all by Megat Ainuddin Megat Mohd Nordin, the head of Silat Penjurit Kepetangan and GEMPITA, by Ustaz Azam Zulkifli of Silat Gayong Maarifat.

Bear in mind however, that the print run and circulations hardly touch anything Western World magazines such as BLACK BELT and COMBAT have achieved. With a reported 3.5 million pesilat within Malaysia, it is unfortunate that the circulations skim only about 0.1% and below of this potential. Therefore, where magazines barely dare to tread, would books survive extinction easily in Malaysia?

In my quest to build a library made up of silat-related books, it turns out that you just have to know where to look. My search took me to Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka, the national vanguard of language and literature.

It seems that their main objective is to publish as many books in Bahasa Melayu as possible and leave them to rot with no marketing push behind them. Most silat books in Malaysia are published by this body.

From them I managed to glean gems like TEKNIK DALAM SENI SILAT MELAYU (Techniques In Malay Silat) by Anuar Wahab, SENI SILAT MELAYU DENGAN TUMPUAN KEPADA SENI SILAT SEKEBUN (Malay Silat With Special Attention Given To Seni Silat Sekebun) by Tuan Ismail Tuan Soh and SILAT OLAHRAGA (in Malay and English versions) by Anuar Wahab.

Out of print are SILAT TERLAK NATA by Hamzah Ahmad and KERIS DAN SENJATA-SENJATA PENDEK (The Keris and Other Short Bladed Weapons) by Shahrom Yub, the docu-novel PANGLIMA SALLEH SELEMPANG MERAH (Panglima Salleh Of The Red Sash) by Zaharah Nawawi and the period novelisation retelling of Hang Tuah's legendary childhood, SAKSILA LEKIR by Dr Mohd Nasir Zainal Abidin.

Happily though, most of the books I mentioned above will soon be available in their English versions online. One of them, Silat Olahraga is already offered online at http://silat.tv. Check it out for yourself.

Recently, Malaysians were blessed with the publication of the first real book on Silat exercises in SENAMAN SILAT JIWA SIHAT UNTUK SEMUA (Silat Exercises And Self Health For All) by Megat Ainuddin Megat Mohd Nordin and Assoc Prof Nor Anita Megat Mohd Nordin. It is an interesting addition to anyone's silat library.

Other than these, there are several books self published by respective Silat perguruan for internal consumption. Most of them go out of print almost immediately due to the specific audience targeting.

Although similar in that sense, many of them serve different purposes; com-memoration, official text book, promotion, etc. I have some of them, others, I have only had fleeting glimpses of.

Silat Cekak Malaysia has two books, a commemorative coffee table book, SENI SILAT CEKAK MALAYSIA DALAM SUKU ABAD (Quarter Century) and BUDAYA CEKAK, a collection of 21 seminar papers on the art.

Silat Cekak Hanafi has one self-titled official text book while Silat Kalam provided detailed explanation into its philosophy and thinking in WADAH KE ARAH WAJA DIRI SEJATI (The Means Towards True Self Empowerment). Kegayungan Acheh Helang Putih also self published two books on practical self-defence, one of them simply titled SILAT.

I also know of one combat training manual published by Silat Seni Pusaka Gayong and a book by Silat Seni Gayong Malaysia but have yet to acquire either of them.

The Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society also collected 12 pieces on the Malay weapons and published it under the title THE KERIS AND OTHER MALAY WEAPONS (not to be confused with the Shahrom Yub publication).

The last locally published book is a thin full coloured almost brochure-like SENI DALAM SENJATA MELAYU (The Aesthetics of Malay Weaponry) by Malaysian Handicrafts.

From Malaysia, we step out slightly next door to Indonesia where all of the above books stand in awe of the masterpiece that left the keyboard of O'ong Maryono, which is PENCAK SILAT MERENTANG WAKTU (it has an English translation titled Pencak Silat In The Indonesian Archipelago), 414 pages of pure intimacy with Indonesian pencak silat.

Finally, we have THE KRIS: MYSTIC WEAPON OF THE MALAY WORLD by Edward Frey. The book was published as part of an Images of Asia series by Oxford University Press in Singapore. These are the books I have come in contact with of which I have most.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

17 June 2008

The Taming Sari

Standing in front of the legendary Taming Sari, one felt a sense of awe; all around, the air positively crackled with reverence. It was a rare chance to get a glimpse of this 500-year-old keris which was displayed at Galeri Sultan Azlan Shah in April in conjunction with the Sultan of Perak's 77th birthday.

Legend had it that the mystical Taming Sari could fly and seek out the enemy, just like modern missiles. Not only that but it would even rattle in its sheath to warn its owner of potential danger. In view of this, perhaps the glass showcase made good sense - for the protection of curious viewers, rather than the other way around!

Politics were pretty nasty even in 15th Century. When he wanted to ask for the hand in marriage of Majapahit princess Raden Galoh Chandra Kirana, Sultan Mansur Shah travelled to Java with his royal bodyguard Hang Tuah.

Unfortunately, Hang Tuah, instead of the Sultan, became the centre of attention there. This was the opportunity that Pateh Gajah Mada had been waiting for to oust Hang Tuah permanently from the Sultan's favourites list.

The envious palace official engaged a Javanese warrior, Taming Sari, to kill Hang Tuah but the tables turned and Hang Tuah won the fight as well as Taming Sari's keris (also named Taming Sari). Thus began the legendary saga of Malaysia's most celebrated dagger.

Taming Sari, classified as keris kuasa or bawar, is made of an alloy of 20 metal composites, some said to come from bolts holding Mecca's Holy Kaabah gates. A keris kuasa is said to possess supernatural powers and has to be "cleansed" in the melimau ceremony periodically to retain its potency.

When he could not persuade Puteri Gunung Ledang to marry Sultan Mahmud, Hang Tuah threw the Taming Sari into Sungai Duyong out of frustration. Tun Mamat did history a favour when he recovered it for the Sultan's safekeeping.

In 1511, the Portuguese conquered Malacca and Sultan Mahmud fled to ]ohor-Riau and later to Kampar in Sumatera. Taming Sari finally found a permanent home in Perak as part of its state regalia when Sultan Mahmud's son, Sultan Muzaffar Shah I, was installed as the first Sultan of Perak and the keris was passed on to his successors till present day.

The keris is a weapon peculiar to the Malay Archipelago which encompasses Thailand's Pattani region, Malaysia, Indonesia, The Philippines' Mindanao region and certain parts of Cambodia. Historians believe the first keris was developed in the 9th Century and perfected by the 14th Century. In Aceh, the keris is called rencong and Sulawesi, badik.

The keris is surrounded by mystery and there are tales of deaths being caused by simply thrusting the keris into a victim's footprints. Sculptures of keris, dating back more than 400 years have been found in Central Java's Chandi Borobudur where it is known as kujang.

Another keris frequently mentioned in Malay folklore is Keris Mahsuri though no one really knows where it is today. It was said to be the keris used to kill Mahsuri who was wrongly accused of adultery.

By Casey Ng
Sourced from New Straits Times (Travel Times) 24 May 2005

16 June 2008

Music for the fight, movements for the soul

Pak Haji Uho performing

Haji Uho Holidin is a 72 year old performer who lives in Bandung, West Java. He is a senior teacher in Pencak Silat Panglipur Pamager Sari, a club that teaches and performs pencak silat seni.
This is a movement art based on the fighting techniques of pencak silat, the authentic martial art of the Indo-Malayan archipelago. Pencak silat practitioners consider it to be a sport, an art, a form of combat training and a tool for mental and spiritual development. Panglipur Pamager Sari is a prestigious school that attracts a large number of local students of all ages, both male and female.
Despite his advanced age, Haji Uho still actively surveys and monitors the progress of students. Training usually takes place after Isha prayer on Tuesday nights at a performance space near his home. Devoted students also schedule their own training sessions in their respective suburbs.
At training, Haji Uho teaches movements and explains their functions, urging students to understand the intent of each movement so that their performances are both meaningful and attractive. Younger students model their performances on Haji Uho’s moves, which are still graceful and powerful despite his age.
Pencak silat as cultural art
While pencak silat is traditionally regarded as a sport for men, the artistic component of pencak silat seni offers women an attractive way to learn fighting skills. The beauty of the music and the choreographed movement allow practitioners to enjoy the art without the pain and struggle of combat practice.
Dian Nur Dini, a 22 year old female performer who has toured Korea and Malaysia with Panglipur Pamager Sari, said ‘Women must know how to defend themselves. Inside the beautiful music and movement of pencak silat seni, there are effective combat techniques.' Pencak silat practitioners consider it to be a sport, an art, a form of combat training and a tool for mental and spiritual development.
For dedicated practitioners like Dian, pencak silat seni offers opportunities to travel to other countries. But it is certainly no way to earn a good living. Even a well known and respected pencak silat teacher like Haji Uho has to run his own business. Haji Uho does not request payment for teaching pencak silat. To make money, he makes clothes for pencak silat performers.
As a sign of appreciation and respect, his students and his students’ students buy their silat costumes from him. He employs a small number of young tailors to sew the clothes which he sells to schools in Bandung as well as to some affiliated training centres in Europe. At night, if Haji Uho is not training students in the front room of his house, he will often be found in his workroom (which is also his kitchen) cutting material and preparing silat clothes.
For Haji Uho, it is a business of love. He believes that the art form fulfils a human need for beauty, and he gets great pleasure from creating pencak silat costumes that add to the beauty of the performances.
Music for the fight
In West Java, pencak silat seni is accompanied by a variety of local instruments. The most important of these instruments are the kendang (a double-sided barrel drum), the tarompet (a double-reed woodwind instrument) and the gong. The drums are used to accompany and illustrate the performers’ movements.

There are a variety of different rhythms which all have different origins, like the rhythm known as Paleredan, from the village of Palered, and Tepak Dua, from Cimande. The drummers follow the movements of the performer with their playing, and develop great sensitivity to the choreographed movements of the art form.
Pak Darman Santikahidayat is one of several blind musicians who accompany pencak silat performances and competitions throughout Bandung. He accompanies pencak silat on the double-reed tarompet, matching the rhythm and tempo of the performances.
Although he cannot communicate through gestures or observation, Pak Darman can nevertheless respond immediately to changes in rhythm, speed and excitement. As he can play both woodwind and string instruments, he receives many invitations to perform at local events.
Being a musician enables Pak Darman to earn money and avoid the hardships often faced by people with disabilities in Indonesia. When not playing music, Pak Darman works as a masseur, an occupation not uncommon for blind people in Indonesia. Most of Darman’s patients arrive in the late afternoon or evening. During the morning to early afternoon, Pak Darman sometimes gives music lessons. However, music lessons, massage patients and music performances arrive sporadically, so a steady income is never a certainty.
From improvisation to choreography
Maenpo is a form of pencak silat from from Cikalong, Cianjur (West Java). It differs in two ways from contemporary pencak silat seni. Pencak silat seni is largely a choreographed art form in which the movements are illustrated by the music.
By contrast, maenpo is based on improvisation. The music is also different. Maenpo performers are accompanied by the zither and bamboo flute, a pairing that creates a soothing, melancholic atmosphere. To this music, they practice mostly soft and slow movements, punctuated with fast and lethal attacks and blocks.
The word maenpo is an abbreviation of ‘maen poho’ which means to play with your partner’s forgetfulness. The idea is to remember all your moves and to capitalise on the forgetfulness of your adversary. If a practitioner forgets to keep guard then the opponent can take advantage of the opportunity and win. If, however, the opponent forgets to take advantage of an opportunity, then it is he who loses the game. The soft lulling music ensures that this contest does not develop into a fight.
Maenpo has few followers in contemporary West Java. The popularity of the improvisation-based forms of pencak silat like maenpo have declined as the choreographed forms of pencak silat seni have become more popular.
According to Haji Uho, pencak silat has undergone many changes since Indonesian independence in 1945, especially since the establishment of organisations that have systematised and standardised pencak silat. This has created a trend away from spontaneous improvisation such as maenpo to rehearsed choreography.
Sundanese audiences become very involved in the performance. The music is loud, and the audiences love to add to the atmosphere by shouting in time with the music and crying out their support for the performers.
The modern, choreographed form of pencak silat in West Java is performed at weddings and circumcision ceremonies. Clubs come together at contests and festivals to demonstrate and sometimes test their skills with one another. Sundanese audiences become very involved in the performances.
The music is loud, and the audiences love to add to the atmosphere by shouting in time with the music and crying out their support for the performers. The double reed tarompet player contributes to the festive vibe by playing songs that match the tone of the performance and the audience’s reaction.
Using the movements of the improvised art-form as building blocks, the choreography has developed to allow the expression of a certain kind of cultural memory that gives important meaning to the music and movement.
Haji Uho has been a key figure in developing many new choreographies based on the material taught to him by his teacher, Abah Aleh (who is said to have lived from 1856 to 1980). These choreographies are much loved by the West Javanese and are a source of cultural pride.
Dian Nur Dini states, ‘Apart from being a hobby and a great way to keep fit, pencak silat is part of being Indonesian. It is a way for me to preserve my culture.’ As Dian Nur Dini suggests, pencak silat is part of Indonesia’s rich cultural heritage. From the young practitioners to the handicapped and elderly, it empowers communities and adds beauty to the lives of those who encounter it.
Paul H. Mason (paul.mason@scmp.mq.edu.au ) is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at Macquarie University in Sydney. He is researching practices of fight-dancing in Indonesia and Brazil.

11 June 2008

Brunei Weaponry On Display

In a bid to showcase and reintroduce the culture and traditional items of the Brunei heritage, Orchid Garden Hotel (OGH) in cooperation with Kandarzari Krafts International yesterday launched the Brunei Traditional Weaponry exhibition at the OGH Lobby.

Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports cum guest of honour Pg Hj Bahrom bin Pg Hj Bahar officially launched the opening of the exhibition.

The day opened with a welcoming speech delivered by Shamsul Bahrin bin Pehin Dato Dr Hj Ahmad, who said, "Cultural tourism is fast gaining popularity in the Asian region. In Brunei, this is also evident in the government's efforts to enhance its products.

"Work on the Cultural Centre located in Kg Ayer has already commenced and we at Orchid Garden Hotel are also continuously working on finding ways to enhance and promote what Brunei has to offer.

"This exhibition is the second part of our Bruneian Exhibition for 2008 and is themed 'The Showcase of Weaponry.' There are a total of 20 historical items on display, related to past Brunei weaponry," he said.

"We are grateful for the support of the Brunei government, especially the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources and Ministry of Home Affairs for supporting our effort in this exhibition.

"We will continue to bring two more exhibitions for the second half of 2008 with different themes. The purpose of these series of exhibitions throughout the year is not just to showcase Brunei's heritage to tourists, but also for locals and residents of Brunei to learn more about Brunei's legacy."

"We hope that our exhibitions will be a learning experience for everyone, especially the younger generation," he added.

Also speaking at the ceremony was Johan Suhaimi, owner of Kandarzari Krafts International, who encouraged the public and researchers to come and share the cultural information available at the exhibition.

Following the launching, the guest of honour was taken on a tour of the exhibition by the General Manager of OGH and owner of Kandarzari Krafts International, who enlightened him on the displayed items.

The exhibition is an effort by OGH to contribute to the community; diversify its standing in the community; present a platform to uphold culture, tradition, science and history; as well as support the KNK (Kenali Negara Kitani) movement.

The exhibition aims to expose and exhibit traditional items to the younger folks and the public, demonstrating the hotel's commitment in supporting the local cultures.

The guest exhibitor for the event, Kandarzari Krafts International, is presenting an exhibition of weaponry that dates back to 1700 AD and features various 'keris,' daggers, swords, vanity weaponry, shields, spears and a special item - the Impaling Iron or 'Kayu Sula,' which was used for execution purposes.

The exhibition is open to the public until August 10 and admission is free.

Sourced from http://www.brunei-online.com/bb/wed/jun11h28.htm

10 June 2008

Silat Cekak Hanafi Wajadiri Tournament 2008 Pictures & Results

The Persatuan Seni Silat Cekak Ustaz Hanafi Malaysia National Wajadiri Tournament was held on 8th June 2008 at the Kolej Universiti Islam Selangor (KUIS), Bangi, Selangor. The event was officiated by The Honourable Datuk Ir. Hj Idris Bin Haron, Deputy Minister, Malaysian Ministry of Higher Learning.

Click below to view the album pictures.

Album 1
Album 2

Click here for the full tournament results.

08 June 2008

Terengganu, Pahang Rule Silat

KUALA TERENGGANU, June 8 (Bernama) -- The last day of pencak silat at the 12th Sukma edition saw host Terengganu winning four gold medals at the Silat Complex in Gong Badak here Sunday.

Siti Rahmah Mohd Nasir set the ball rolling by clinching the women's Class D 60kg-65kg gold after beating Pahang's Mazatul Haniza Zakaria while Mohd Hafiz Mahari added the second from the men's Class A 45kg-50kg category by beating Mohd Faizul Nasir from Selangor.

Salahuddin Shafie later gave the host their third gold medal of the day, edging Mat Nazri Mat Khalil from Perak in the men's Class H 80kg-85kg category before Mohd Ariff Sukir swept aside the challenges of Pahang's Samiruddin Shaari to bag the fourth gold in the men's Class I 85kg-90kg category.

Terengganu exponents who made it to five finals however failed to produce a 100 per cent record when Zul Effendi Yusoff lost to Mat Sabar Nordin of Penang in the men's Class E 65kg-70kg event.

With the four collected today, the host hauled in six gold medals from silat, the same number won by Pahang, considered a powerhouse in pencak silat competitions.Pahang who won two gold medals on June 3 and June 4, added four today with Mohd Hazwan Mahamad Hemdan leading the charge in the men's Class J 90kg-95kg gold after beating Selangor's Azrul Abdullah.

Muhamad Saiful Shafiq (men's Class G 75kg-80kg), Amir Ikram Abdul Rahim (men's Class D 60kg-65kg) and Amir Ikram Rahim (men's Class D 60kg-65kg) were the other contributors for Pahang.

Kedah were also big winners today with five gold medals, Penang picked up two while Sarawak, Perak, Kelantan and Negeri Sembilan won one each when the curtains came down on silat events today.

Sourced from http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/state_news/news.php?id=338115&cat=et

04 June 2008

Fight Club

Born to fight, Jimmy Smith and Doug Anderson travel across the globe to discover new methods and styles of hand-to-hand combat.
Heard about the two crazy American guys who went toe to toe with Shaolin’s famed fighting monks; the same two guys who also took painful beatings from Latin American fight experts as part of their “training” and closer to home, fought some of the toughest silat masters in Indonesia and lived to tell the tale?
In Discovery Channel’s brand new series Fight Quest, which premiers tonight, viewers are invited to meet and follow two brave and resilient individuals – seasoned mixed martial arts fighter Jimmy Smith and rookie pugilist Doug Anderson – on an amazing journey around the globe as they take the idea of cultural immersion to dangerous new heights.
The hosts of Discovery Channel's Fight Quest Jimmy Smith and Doug Anderson, say they put their bodies and souls on the line in a bid to deliver an absorbing show. From dojos to street fights; from the cosmopolitan but tough port of Marseilles to the chaotic streets of inner Manila, Smith and Anderson are on a (painful) mission to rediscover some of the world’s oldest martial arts.
On Fight Quest, this pretty much involves the plucky duo soaking in the local culture of each location they visit – be it Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro or Bandung – and training with local masters.
After several days of intense, sometimes hazardous instruction (“basically a five day torture session” according to Anderson), the two guys will then endeavour to take on a local expert.
“It’s a show that is very vicious and very brutal,” offered Anderson during a recent press conference for the show held in Kuala Lumpur. “It’s very exciting to watch intense fights where people get hurt – us most of the time – but at the same time, there’s a very good balance as people also get to enjoy an in-depth look into the history and culture of a fighting style as well as the country in which it originated.”
Among the martial arts that the two hosts explore on Fight Quest are Asian fighting styles like wushu from China, kali from the Philippines, Kyokushin karate from Japan and pencak silat from Indonesia. During the course of the series, the guys also try their hand at mastering Brazilian jujitsu and Mexican boxing as well.
In between training and getting beaten up by their senseis, the guys also find time to do the regular travel host thing, taking to the streets and immersing themselves in the sights, foods and smells of the local scene. Occasionally, they come across some exotic local cuisine that incites more fear in them than a large armed man who’s about to attack.
“A big part of the show for us was to get out of the gym as much as possible,” explained Smith.
“It was every important to everyone involved that it not just be about fighting but also the country where the fighting style originated from. With the format of the show, where one of us goes out to a more natural location to train while the other stays in the city – and always with different masters – we hope to give people a broader picture of the country we are in as well the style we were training in.
“You’ll definitely see a lot of the spiritual and cultural aspects of the country we are in on every episode. It’s not just us being manhandled and beating people up. It’s very unique,” Smith added.
Hopping from country to country learning about various forms of hand-to-hand combat – sometimes an ancient art, other times brutal street fighting – and then facing off against an experienced local in a no-holds barred test of skill at the end of each episode, Anderson and Smith are basically putting their bodies and souls on the line in a bid to deliver an absorbing show that strives to entertain with its unflinching (controlled) violence.
Make no mistake, ladies and gentleman: this is one tough, reality TV documentary that pulls no punches. The blood, bruises and battered bones on the show are most definitely real.
“I’ve personally had five or six hospital visits on account of this show,” shared Anderson. “I’ve broken couple of bones, suffered a few concussions and even temporary blindness at one point.”
As hosts of Fight Quest, Anderson and Smith are two tough but personable individuals with very different personalities but both are studious fighters with serious attitudes.
In person, both guys turned out to be quite the opposite of what tough guys are perceived to be – polite, accommodating and friendly to the max with a tendency to smile easily.
Despite never having met until Fight Quest, both Anderson and Smith have a chemistry that is easy to warm up to. With their different sizes and attitudes, the two guys compliment each other well.
“We instantly got along great,” reckoned Smith about his Fight Quest partner.
“I fought him the very first day we met and I told the producer that ‘I think this guy is trying to make me break his arm’ because he was just enthusiastic and wouldn’t back down. One thing that struck me about Doug and one of the reasons why I like him so much is because he has no ego at all.
“You can put Doug in a washing machine and he would enjoy it for some reason.”
At 25, Anderson is the younger of two and a self-confessed former “angry guy who has calmed down a lot” who got the gig on Fight Quest after answering a casting call notice at his gym.
Born of a restless soul and an indomitable fighting spirit, Anderson became interested in martial arts during his time in the US military.
Leaving the army in 2005, Anderson – who has a blue belt in jujitsu and is a passionate Muay Thai kick boxing fan – continues to pursue his training.
With a record of six wins and one loss, Smith is one of mixed martial arts’ rising stars.
A former maths teacher, the 31-year-old UCLA history major was born with fighting in his blood, with both his grandfather and father having been boxers.
After graduating, Smith continued his martial arts studies and fought his first pro fight in 2001.
Currently based in LA, Smith continues to fight professionally when not kicking butt on Fight Quest.
Even after all the pain and battering that they have gone through on Fight Quest, both guys are still waiting eagerly for their next assignment for the show.
“To get a chance to do another series would be awesome,” smiled Anderson winding down the interview. “After all, there is still so much for us to see and learn.
“As long as we are still able to train and fight, we will always want to do this. It’s a dream job, really.”
Fight Quest premieres today on Discovery Channel (Astro Channel 551) and airs every Tuesday at 10pm.
By Zack Yusof