30 August 2008

Silat Melayu Videos now online

After scouring the internet for my favourites Silat videos, I've decided to share those that I felt were of good quality and provide accurate and good depictions of silat. I've compiled them together into a blog at Silat Melayu Videos.

I will update the blog with videos that I find interesting and necessary. I'll also post latest updates here everytime there's a new video.

29 August 2008

Selamat tinggal USA

This is a shout out to the Silat Kuntau Tekpi students of Jeff Davidson and Seni Gayong students of Cikgu Shamsudin SM Salim. I apologise from the bottom of my heart for not being able to meet you during my recent stay in St Charles, Illinois.

For those not in the know, I have been in the US of A for the last two weeks on business and planned to meet up with some silat groups, chiefly my long lost brother in Islam and silat, Jeff Davidson and his students. Unfortunately, the timing of my business wouldn't allow me to fit in a visit, much less a class.

I had, prior to leaving Malaysia, gained approval from guru Azlan Ghanie to conduct a Senaman Tua session here, either as a single class or a seminar, but that wasn't meant to be. However, I truly do hope to be able to come back to the USA some day soon. St Charles is a beautiful town and I can see why many would decide to stay. I'm leaving for Malaysia today and have already felt tugs at my heartstrings. I shall certainly miss this country.

And to Mike, quit bragging to your class. You ain't seen nothing yet :)

Salam persilatan and goodbye.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

28 August 2008

The true power of Achievement

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) mentioned during his lifetime that the best people would be his Companions, followed by the next generation and then the 3rd generation of Muslims. Many scholars claim that this statement indicates an inevitable regression of the faith of the Muslim Ummah, that we who came later are undoubtedly of lesser faith than those before us. My personal belief is that, if the Prophet said this, then it must be true.

However, what I do dispute is a similar statement that many in the silat world make, that those pesilat in the current generation are undoubtedly of lesser quality than those that came before. Because if it is true, then it really means that our previous masters weren't any good in passing along their knowledge.

Yet, we hear of the mesmerising abilities of pendekars long-gone and we firmly shake our head, thinking, we will never be as good as them. Granted, a modicum of humility is virtuous, but not when it totally deprives a pesilat from moving ahead in improving himself.

I speak not of others, but of myself, of my own doubt that exists inside of me, telling me that I can't be as good as others, and I wonder, why should this be true? I am constantly amazed by the unnerring accuracy of sharpshooters, the unswerving focus of fencers, the unwavering speed of swimmers and the unabated stamina of runners and I marvel at the world records that are broken almost every single day.

These events serve to prove that humanity can challenge, and can overcome, can improve over what their forefathers had done before them.


I refuse to believe that silat will end up as nothing more than a memory. A memory that says, "We can't possibly live up to those dreams". I want to believe and I will believe that I can be better than what I am, and we can take silat to a higher place.

To all the athletes who have risked their lives, poured their sweat, blood and tears to get where they are, let no one say to you that all you did was for nought, that you play foolish games with one another with no end in mind.

However, remember that you now represent the pinnacle of human achievement, as living proof that a focused mind can mimic magic, that drugs, lies and evil dan never cloud a vision as clear as yours. Your power is now in your abilities to influence millions of children to mimic your spirit, if not your sport. Take care of that responsibility.

I do not represent the silat world when I say this, but I am sure many will echo my sentiments. I wish we all had your wills, your courage and your dedication. Because if becoming pendekars is what we strive for, we will certainly need that the most.

I salute your efforts, and salute your dedication. Congratulations on a job well done.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

27 August 2008

Silat Telapak Nusantara: The Modern Revival of an Ancient Silat

Upon entering the website of SeniSilat.net, one is instantly met with the hauntingly melodic recitation of ‘Salawatun Nabi’ (a traditional Arabic prayer of blessing). This is the official website of Pertubuhan Seni Silat Telapak Nusantara Malaysia, an organisation that was established to revive and propagate the ancient form of Seni Silat Tuan Shaykh Ali.

It is said, the style originated as far back as 1,200 years ago on the island of Sumatera, during the wanderings of a Muslim Mystic named Tuan Shaykh Ali. Shaykh Ali originally arrived in Sumatera from either Iran or Yemen, and in his efforts to spread the fledgling Muslim faith in South-East Asia was often called on to defend himself against thieves, thugs, etc. throughout his travels.

Prior to this, Shaykh Ali had received absolutely no training in martial arts; consequently, his martial art revealed itself as the occasion called for it, unfolding slowly through ilham (divine inspiration) rather than extensive martial theory. This can be viewed as a testament to the authenticity of his style. Eventually these ilham came together to form the complete martial art of Seni Silat Tuan Shaykh Ali.

Silat (as with Melayu culture itself) had been a family/community-based martial art and pesilat (practitioners of silat) would protect its secrecy as one would any valuable family ‘heirloom’. Given this background, Shaykh Ali’s silat was unique in that people of all tribes or clans were welcomed to study under him, creating one of the first ‘intertribal’ systems of silat.

This however soon changed, as within a short period of the demise of Shaykh Ali, students seemingly began to revert to the previous cultural traditions that existed, and would later only teach their techniques to their own people, hiding them even from other pesilat of the same aliran (style of silat).

The style remained thus hidden, and almost lost, until Pertubuhan Seni Silat Telapak Nusantara Malaysia began their efforts to once again collect all the known styles of this martial art and recompile them into the exciting art of Seni Silat Tuan Shaykh Ali.

Through hard work, many styles were tracked down, with many variations and derivations of Shaykh Ali’s style rigorously studied, in the effort to revive the original art. Some of these styles seemed so different that, to the untrained eye, one would believe that they could not possibly be from the same original style of martial art; however, a common link existed throughout by virtue of basic techniques and philosophical outlook.

These various arts were then combined into the seven styles that now comprise the Seni Silat Tuan Shaykh Ali syllabus, culminating in the art of Silat Bongsu. Unlike other systems, in this aliran the final style, Silat Bongsu, is the first taught to the aspiring novice.

This is based on the fact that not only is it the easiest system to memorize but it is also the basis upon which all other techniques emanate, and has earned it the second name of “Ibu Silat” (literally meaning “Mother of Silat”, or Mother Style). It is speculated that, on average, the techniques of this style of silat can be memorized in as little as 1-3 weeks.

However, the practice of Shaykh Ali’s style is not confined to just one level of understanding, as one must first learn the technique, and then try to master it, before finally being able to feel the technique. This is the ultimate aim of the pesilat’s practice. The original style may sometimes take only 7 days to memorize, but to become fully competent in the complete system (in all 7 levels of the art) a period of 7 years continuous study has been suggested.

For the first time in a millennium, the passion of the elders of this art and their desire that it should never again be hidden away, has resulted in Seni Silat Tuan Shaykh Ali once again being opened up to all, as it had originally been intended. The art’s recent revival under the current Guru Besar Utama has protected it from the dilution or dilapidation of integrity that frequently occur with time within martial arts, and thus those fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study under him can be assured of the authenticity in history and tradition of their style.

A rare opportunity now exists for the martial arts enthusiast of the 21st century, as a genuine link to one of the ancient alirans of silat and its founder has been re-established through the efforts and teachings of its present day Guru Besar Utama.

By Abu Hurayra Irlandi
Sourced from http://silatmelayu.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=125

26 August 2008

Parliament gets another silat man

Congratulations to The Honourable Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on his return to Parliament following his victory at the Permatang Pauh (Pulau Pinang) by-elections today. This marks his formal return to politics after a ten-year hiatus, during which he was jailed on charges of sodomy and corruption, the former of which was overturned several years later.

Datuk Seri Anwar is determined to force a switch in government by the 16th of September 2008, the anniversary of the day that Malaysia came into being. He effectively promises to become the next Malaysian Prime Minister by that date.

Thus, it is especially significant to Silat Melayu: The Blog that Datuk Seri Anwar is a former Silat Cekak student who studied from the late Ustaz Hanafi Haji Ahmad in the 1970s and was recently anointed as Ketua Imam Khalifah Besar of Silat Seni Pusaka Gayong Malaysia.

If he does become the Prime Minister, we at Silat Melayu: The Blog expect to see positive changes in the local silat world, including a refocus on the more positive aspects of the art. Of all the Malaysian Prime Ministers, only Tun Abdul Razak and Tun Hussein Onn were openly regarded as pesilat and were staunch supporters of Silat Seni Gayong from its inception.

May Allah bless his journey if it is His Will.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

25 August 2008

Tribumi: A Journal of Malay Martial Arts & Life!

Please visit my new friend, Amir's blog Tribumi, which will showcase his knowledge, experiences and opinions on Silat from three of the lands that make up the Melayu Archipelago: Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia.

24 August 2008

Competitions and Positive Values through Martial Arts

Penang is a small island off the north-west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and is home to a mixture of the races which make up the population of Malaysia. While the Chinese are in the majority, Indians, Malays and expatriates from all over the world add to the mix.

Ironically, it is precisely because of the majority status of the Chinese that the Melayu art of silat is so predominant on the island with a concentration of Masters and styles which is believed to be greater than in any other part of Malaysia. This is due to the fact that during racial tension in the late nineteen sixties, fearful that the minority Melayu group might suffer at the hands of the majority Chinese, teachers and experts in silat moved to the island to train their people so that they might better be able to defend themselves.

With the establishment of harmonious and peaceful relations between the different racial communities, the martial arts world in Penang now reaps the benefit of this concentration of masters. Not only are the major styles such as Gayong, Cekak and Lincah represented but lesser known arts such as the secretive Siku Duabelas, Silat Embo and the traditional Silat Tua are also flourishing here.

Knowing this I was excited to hear that there was to be a major team competition to be held at the Penang Silat Complex and I duly turned up at the stated time to watch Silat exponents representing, State, Style and even national teams, in the form of the Singapura silat team. The strongest teams were those from the Malaysian military and Singapore, with the team from Silat Lincah also firm favourites.

As is common with martial arts events the world over, the audience consisted mainly of family members of the participants and a few enthusiastic supporters. The atmosphere in the large wooden hall, however, was charged with anticipation and a barely repressed excitement. The sides of the hall, as is common with such buildings in Malaysia, were open to the elements and here, too a few spectators gathered, several of whom I recognized from the group I train with.

Silat competition takes two major forms. One is a demonstration routine performed by two exponents. This pre-rehearsed routine commences with empty hand then proceeds on to the use of weapons. These include the keris, the parang ( a machete) and sticks and staffs of various lengths.

The other competitive format is sparring which is full-contact but with restricted target areas. Kicks and punches are allowed to the body and competitors wear a specially-designed chest protector. Sweeps and takedowns are also permitted but there is no contact to the head.

In addition fighters are expected to perform the dance movements, known as silat tari, prior to engaging their opponent. Failure to do so results in warning and penalties. This is designed to ensure that the unique flavour of silat is maintained.

As so often happens here in Malaysia when the organizers saw that there were foreigners watching, we were quickly invited to join the VIPs in the raised seating area at one end of the hall. That this happened reflects the pride that Melayu take in the fact that outsiders are interested in their culture and arts.

We stayed for several hours watching the team sparring event. Each team consisted of three men and two women in different weight categories. The sparring was fast and furious and we later found out that many of the competitors had met in competition just a few weeks before to decide who was to represent Malaysia in the next silat world championships.

The flamboyant sweeps and throws which are the signature moves of silat were indeed spectacular to watch and the way in which the fighters rolled and dived to avoid these attacks made for an exciting exhibition. What impressed me, however, was the superb etiquette and, for want of a better term, “martial sportsmanship”, displayed by all of the competitors.

If one of them inadvertently committed a foul, he or she would bow humbly to the referee and could be seen asking for forgiveness. When one competitor downed an opponents/he would quickly move to help them up and often both would be smiling in appreciation of a good technique.

This was all the more surprising in the light of the fact that these techniques were executed with full speed and power and undoubtedly caused some degree of pain. Even in the midst of a furious flurry of techniques opponents could be seen smiling and there was a real feeling of fun and enjoyment about the whole event.

What there wasn’t was boorish displays of anger or aggression, derogatory comments being hurled at competitors from the crowd and blatant disrespect and displays of emotion directed at the referee or other officials.

As I watched I reflected that their behaviour demonstrated some of the positive benefits of martial arts training, namely self-discipline, self-control, humility, respect for others and politeness. Were more martial artists in the West to demonstrate such qualities it might be easier to convince people that these arts were truly more than just methods to train “deadly” fighting techniques and produce thugs and hooligans.

It must be stated that I am fully aware that most, if not all, of the positive attributes described above are very much aspects of Melayu culture and not unique to the martial arts. What is unique, however, is that these cultural values are still embodied in the art. It is important, now that silat is becoming more popular throughout the world, that these values continue to be both treasured and preserved, for they represent some, if not all, of the positive benefits of training in the martial arts.

Finals and Sharp Blades
The finals of this competition were held the next night at the Penang Exhibition Site which is known to the locals simply as Pesta. This large fairground and exhibition complex hosts events from all over the world and at weekend evenings is packed with locals and foreigners alike.

The competitors and spectators were gathered in the large display area right at the centre of the exhibition site and we took our place in the small crowd. This time the competition was to start with the finals of the two-person pre-arranged routines event.

The first pair on were two young women from the state of Pahang. They were carrying keris, the wavy-bladed Melayu dagger, which serves for the Malays as a potent symbol of their history, culture and traditions. For the first part of their routine they “fought” empty-handed then they respectively rolled and dived to where their weapons were and continued the “fight” with keris

It was obvious from where we were standing, just a few feet away from the action, that the weapons were real as was the effort, speed and power that the two exponents put into every stab and counter, every slash, grab and parry.

After this pair had finished several other pairs came out to perform their routines. The most impressive were those who wielded parangs (Melayu machetes) which they smashed blade to blade with what seemed a real ferocity, and sent showers of sparks into the air around the “fighters”. It was very obvious that one small slip or even a fractional mistake in distance or timing could result in severe injury or even death.

Watching, reminded me of a recent thread on a UK based martial arts forum about whether any instructors used “live” blades in training. The general consensus of opinion seemed to be that this was far too dangerous, contravened health and safety regulations, and would surely invalidate insurance cover.

Here in Malaysia, in silat groups the idea of using rubber knives would be greeted with howls of laughter. Wooden weapons are sometimes used with rank beginners but, as soon as possible live blades are used. Certainly this results in some training injuries, but these are few and far between.

The benefits, however, far outweigh the dangers, as students trained with real weapons have a genuine understanding of distance and timing, tinged with that vital factor, that of fear. This was evident when the Singapore team, whose government does not allow them to use real weapons, performed. Their timing was, if you’ll pardon the pun, not as sharp as the other teams

Unfortunately it is a fact here in Malaysia that criminal elements often use bladed weapons and thus if you seek effective self-defence it is vital that you have an understanding of how such blades are used. This makes realistic training a necessity. There is, however, another element in this usage of live blades and that is the teacher-student relationship in silat groups.

When a student is accepted by a teacher the relationship is something like that between father and child or older brother and younger sibling. With this relationship goes all the responsibility that it entails. A teacher who allows his student to get hurt very soon loses the rest of his student body.

Indeed, among the more traditional teachers of silat, practices are passed down the lineage from teacher to successor designed to make the gelanggang (training area) a place of safety and power. Thus the teacher is believed to have both the physical and also the spiritual power to keep his students safe.

This may sound like so much mumbo jumbo to the western student but it is a firmly held belief and, as with many such beliefs, within its own cultural context, it has power and authority.
The bottom line, however, is that if you were have to face a group of attackers armed with blades would you rather have beside you companions who have trained with live blades or those who have become adept with rubber toys? I know what my answer would be.

Written by Nigel Sutton
Sourced from http://www.living-tradition.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=25

21 August 2008

Silat Cekak Pusaka Hanafi: A beginning

For Malaysians who have been following the grapevine, will know of an internal leadership crisis that has befallen the Silat Cekak Hanafi brand over the last couple of years. I have refrained from commenting on it, even of making a public stand, for one simple reason: it's too close to my heart.

However, I have been following some rumours that indicated a new organisation would be formed by ousted guru Md. Radzi Haji Hanafi, son of Ustaz Hanafi Haji Ahmad, founder of Silat Cekak.

The current organisation, Persatuan Seni Silat Cekak Ustaz Hanafi Malaysia formally terminated guru Md Radzi as President and Principal of the association on 17th September 2006. Since then, both have parted ways effectively splitting the group in unequal proportions.

Today, however, I read here that Persatuan Seni Silat Cekak Pusaka Hanafi Kedah has been formally established and have already conducted their first Annual General Meeting. The next expected step is to establish similar chapters in every state in the country, eventually leading to a national-level organisation. With that announcement, I hope to see an end to the conflict. I can hope, can't I?

This currently brings the number of organisations promoting the Silat Cekak style to 3: Persatuan Seni Silat Cekak Malaysia, Persatuan Seni Silat Cekak Ustaz Hanafi Malaysia and now Persatuan Seni Silat Cekak Pusaka Hanafi (Malaysia).

May Allah bless them all in their efforts.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

01 August 2008

Sad day for silat?

I got a very disturbing phone call this morning. One of my masters, a highly respected campaigner of silat with powerful media and political connections, is considering stepping down from his role for the second time.

This means that the silat world in Malaysia will suffer a great blow (although those who don't favour him will disagree) and might decline once again as it did in the 1990s. He tells me that the current political situation in Malaysia has caused him to reconsider his efforts for the last 10 years, which he claims have not seen much results in changing the landscape of silat (We disagree).

He says his decision will be made soon. I pray that it will be in our favour. I shudder to think what would happen if it isn't.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab