15 November 2008

Silat: Getting a kick out of exercise

Heru, 54, an Indonesian national champion of Silat and two other instructors, Bambang and Indra Kusuma are based in Abu Dhabi where they offer lessons in martial arts.

Silat is an umbrella term used to describe the martial art forms practiced throughout the Malay Archipelago. Internationally it is now called Pencak Silat. Silat is a combative art of fighting and survival and it has been evolved in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam civilisations for centuries into social culture and tradition.

"Silat originated in seventh century, based on the principle 'knowledge and bare hand' (in Indonesian language, ITK - Ilmu Tangan Kosong)," explains Kusuma.

"It is a combination of art and sport which gives you physical power. It has three kinds of basic breathing exercises that keep a person's inner body clean," he added.

Many Indonesian families Gulf News interviewed were all praise for Silat, saying that the weekly classes that are offered at their embassy in Abu Dhabi are helping keep them physically fit and happy.

Ita Sarosa, 49, a housewife and her daughter Naadiya, 12, said their interaction in the family and society has been happier, because of practicing Silat.

"I feel fit and young," said Sarosa, who has been practicing it for the past year. "It's good for self defence and at the same time it keeps one fit," she said. Her daughter was able to reduce her weight after regular practice. "It has made me more confident," said Naadiya.

Revin, an 11-year-old boy said the techniques learnt help him deal with a bullies at school.
While going through the moves, at least one of the hands has to be free, which makes the movements attractive, he added. "It shows the importance of art in Silat. The basic movements called 'kata' are also artistic," he says.

Each stage of learning gets you different belts, starting from white. Next stages are yellow, orange, green, blue, brown, black, black with red stripes and red belts, said Kusuma.
Twenty six-year-old Diana Correa Sanchez from Peru who married an Indonesian, said Silat was an introduction to her husband's tradition and culture. "Practicing Silat means energy to me," she said.

"We got married while my husband was working in Peru and I did not know much about Indonesian culture. After coming to Abu Dhabi, the weekly Silat classes gave me a chance to meet more Indonesian families who became my friends," she said.

Oki Loekito, 38, a housewife and her daughter, Yasmin, 9, and son, Daffa, 7 are taking classes for fun and entertainment also.

"It is nice to attend it with children because it has become a family affair," said Loekito. "You feel you are powerful, not only physically, but mentally also," said Yasmin.

The eldest student in the class, Lalan Purnama, 50, says he has been enjoying a stress free life since he started it six months ago with his children. "It involves sport, self defence, art and culture," he said.

Written by Binsal Abdul Kader
Sourced from http://www.gulfnews.com/nation/Leisure/10259732.html

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