13 September 2008

Back in the black

It's been awhile since I posted anything insightful about silat on this blog. Work and family commitments have been keeping me away from writing. Add that to the fact that I haven't really been thinking much about silat in the last couple of months and there you have it, writer's block.

That doesn't mean that interesting things haven't been happening. I got a phone call last Thursday from Editions Didier Millet, publisher of the Encyclopedia of Malaysia. They are currently publishing a book about the traditional health systems of the Melayu, Chinese and Indian ethnicities.

For the Melayu section, they needed pictures of Silat Seni Gayong practitioners training next to a river. I immediately had them get in touch with Cikgu Jazwan Kahar of the Silat Seni Gayong Malaysia Taman Nirwana Wajadiri training centre. I await the published results with anticipation.

The very next day, a representative of the Museum Volunteers Malaysia group called to request that I deliver a short session on the Keris Melayu. My relationship with them began when they called several months ago for the very same reason.

Feeling hardly qualified, I recommended my good friend, Fazli Ibrahim, a keris collector and former New Straits Times journalist who wrote several articles on the keris. That resulted in two successful talks. However, the participants also wanted to know the combat applications of the keris and the design rationale, which the group requested I do. If all goes well, my session will happen somewhere in the next few months.

Still on the topic of the keris, I received an email recently from a keris collector in the USA. He believes that he owns a keris that was made circa 5th and 7th century intends to sell it to an interested buyer. He claims that the keris is currently being carbon dated by a local university and has since sent me photos of the blade. It certainly looks old, and I'll put these pictures up as soon as I get more information, including the results of the carbon dating.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see a two page spread in Harian Metro about Pak Guru Sani Zainol Abidin, the Guru Utama of Silat Kuntau Tekpi. Several days later, another article appeared where the writer recommended that Pak Guru Sani be appreciated with a medal for his contributions to the country. I intend to translate those articles and post them here as soon as possible.

Another piece of good news is that the master I referred to in this article has decided to stay with silat and continue his good work. Some people would of course know that I was talking of guru Azlan Ghanie, of Silat Melayu Keris Lok 9. I called him while I was in Illinois and he assured me that he has no desire to return to political journalism. Welcome back from all of us, and we hope you stay. For our sake. Speaking of appreciation, if anyone deserves it, he definitely does.

Also, my reluctance to comment on the recent Silat Cekak Hanafi leadership crisis seems to have ruffled some feathers. Let me make this clear. The people who need to know what I think of this already know and everyone knows what happened the last time the issue was made public. This blog does not belong to one perguruan and its crises. Therefore, unless I decide to create a personal blog, I intend to keep this one free of such matters. My opinion will not change hearts, and I certainly don't intend to.

However, I did make a few new friends online. One is Salzian, a self-confessed martial artist, whom I have had long interesting online chats with about silat. Another is Amir Talib, a Bruneian who is an advocate for Silat Chakak, the national silat style of Brunei. His website, Tribumi, was posted on this blog several weeks back. Thank you both for your friendship.

Well, back to the grindstone. Until I have something new for you all, keep safe. Salam persilatan,

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

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