Silat Cekak Hanafi and Silat Melayu Keris Lok 9 are both well-known silat styles in Malaysia. Although Cekak Hanafi has the numbers due to its strong grassroots support from the government, local schools and higher learning institutions, Lok 9 has become increasingly popular through SENI BELADIRI magazine, both of whom share a founder, guru Azlan Ghanie.
When I first studied Silat Cekak Hanafi, I found it a very systematic and an energy-economical style. It can generally be classified as a buah-based system which trains direct applications through set techniques. It was quite a shock then when I took up Silat Melayu Keris Lok 9, a very traditional, very amiable style that was more principle-based than buah-focused.
Setting aside the principle that all martial arts are fundamentally the same, Cekak stands apart (sometimes purposely) from the majority of Silat Melayu because its combat principles and ethics are different.
Lok 9 allows for Tipu Helah (trickery) while Cekak employs none of it. Cekak subscribes to a Tapak 2 footwork while Lok 9 employs all Tapaks 2, 3, 4 and 5.
Cekak ready stances are always high and square to the opponent, but Lok 9 stances vary according to the situation and relative position of the opponent.
Cekak is essentially buah-based, which means they start off with preset multipurpose and modular techniques during the Buah Asas, Buah Jatuh and Buah Potong stages. These are drilled into students to guide them into decompiling the techniques into smaller modules that can be reassembled during combat. The stage where they find this freedom is called Buah Umum.
Lok 9 on the other hand starts with physical reeducation of the body to train fluid responses, originally through Tari and Kembangan, but in recent years, through Senaman Tua instead, which was derived from the aforesaid Tari and traditional dynamic and static exercises.
Students come away understanding how to generate kinetic energy and transfer that into limbs for various purposes: kuncian, pukulan, buangan, langkahan, etc.
Once the body has this vocabulary, then they move into the forms called Loks which build upon one another in terms of difficulty. The Loks are progressively expanded derivatives of the Sembah Perguruan, a Kembangan taught at the very beginning of their studies, thus the claim that the whole art is already taught in the beginning.
They are then partnered into two-man kembangan akin to full body Chi Sao to train sensitivity. This gets progressively faster and from simply indicated strikes, lead into connecting ones.
This will lead into technique interpretation, where the teacher spars with a student and when a technique is born of the interaction, everyone else in the class has to imitate it, then extrapolate it into their own application depending on variations in size, speed and angle of attack of their partners.
For practicality sake and due to the short attention span of modern man, all three of the above phases are done sequentially in every session, which builds skill and allows weaker students to train with higher skilled ones in random pair ups.
Cekak never trains in the use of weapons as a principle (being prepared for the worst situation, no weapons available) while Lok 9 trains in the Keris and all weaponwork: kerambit, badik, tumbuk lada, sundang, pedang, etc are simply extrapolations of the Keris work.