26 September 2008

100 days to masterhood

Silat in Malaysia is a hodge podge of methods, lineages and styles. You'll even find some Oriental and Japanese styles masquerading as silat, simply because of the very open definition we have for it here.

Generally, traditional Silat Melayu styles which map very closely to Sumateran styles take far longer because it's often deemed to be a comprehensive human development system which includes physical (as in phys ed), combat (as in war), philosophical (as in introspection), spiritual (as in relationship with Allah) and social(as in relationship to man).

There are two main traditional methods, the live in uchi-desi-like method, where students study for 100 days straight to graduation in a system (3 months and 10 days, actually only 88 days, because Thursdays are reserved for religious studies) day and night.

They then leave as a qualified master of the system and are expected to travel to improve their skills and develop their own style (not as in founding a style to teach others, but finding their own applications and expressions that work best for them).

This means that the student's knowledge will have a different starting point than a student who studied later in a common master's life, who by then would have further developed his skills, understanding and method of teaching.

The second method is the full-time live in student cum adopted son. He studies the same way, but after his 100 days are up, continues to explore his skills with his master, his skills just barely behind the old man as he progresses. This provides daily training for the student and an opportunity to the master to constantly improve himself as well.

Buah-based systems in Malaysia are fairly new and catches on faster than traditional systems because of their simplicity. This has caused the majority view that buah-based systems are the norm in silat, which is not the case. They just have a higher profile.

Their syllabi are also noticeably shorter more focused on combat and don't have fully developed whole-person development systems in place. Thus, many of them only provide hints or directions for the students to improve themselves. Students are forced to look elsewhere to add on to their skills.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

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