Pendita guru utama Anuar Wahab, founder of Pertubuhan Seni Gayung Fatani Malaysia, has passed away today at 4.15pm at the Kajang Hospital. I have only personally met Pendita Anuar once in my lifetime, which was at the Kuala Lumpur Silat Tournament several years ago when he sat on the Dewan Pendekar.
My introduction to him was facilitated by Pak Guru Sani Zainol Abidin, guru utama of Silat Kuntau Tekpi, one of his admittedly best friends. I was privileged to listen to them chat and joke with one another. I was star struck.
The only other time I got to speak to him was a two-hour phone call when I was translating the Seni Gayung Fatani episode of GELANGGANG (a local martial arts documentary) into English. Not having studied Gayung Fatani, I found it difficult to catch several of the terms he used, much less understand what they meant.
Those two hours, when a true master of silat elucidated on the totality of silat to a total stranger (he barely remembered me from the tournament) was precious to say the least. In those 120 minutes, I understood more about silat than I had in the last four years of my sweating and bleeding on the grass. I only wish I had taken the opportunity to go further with him.
His contributions to the silat world will never be forgotten. When Malaysia needed a national silat body to represent it to the world, Seni Gayung Fatani under his then-young leadership (compared to the older masters he fraternised with) helped form the steering committee for the Malaysian National Silat Federation (PESAKA).
He also helped to induct Malaysia to the newly Indonesian-created sport, Silat Olahraga by studying their methods and finding ways to adapt Malaysian silat to the ring. When others sought to distance themselves from the sport, he found ways to incorporate silat around the strict rules that almost killed the art.
From this, he contributed two underappreciated tomes from his research: 'Silat Olahraga' published both in Bahasa Melayu and English and 'Teknik Dalam Seni Silat Melayu' (Techniques in Seni Silat Melayu) which sought to document the unique methods and techniques within silat.
His writings appeared throughout Malaysian martial arts magazines and he remained, to this day, one of the few silat masters with a Masters degree and had the ability to conduct academically qualified hoplological and anthroplogical research into silat. Because of these stark achievements, guru Azlan Ghanie of Silat Melayu Keris Lok 9, through SENI BELADIRI magazine, saw it fit to anoint him 'Pendita' (high scholar) of silat. And trust me when I say, guru Azlan does not shower such praise lightly.
Pendita Anuar also created a standardised silat syllabus which he planned to teach at schools across Malaysia under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, which he called Silat Malaysia. Unfortunately, dissenting voices from within PESAKA and elsewhere summarily put a stop to that, leaving his dream unrealised.
Through his students, he also recently set up the Pakar Silat Melayu Sebenar ('True Silat Melayu Expert' - not a boast, according to guru Azlan) website hosted at http://silatmelayu.com.mymelayu.com.my/ which distributes his ebooks and reading material. Unfortunately, man plans but Allah disposes. He was due to launch his latest book when he passed away. It is unknown if the book will continue to go on sale as scheduled.
I have no doubt, thousands, if not millions of Malaysians will weep if they ever knew what wisdosm Pendita Anuar brought to his grave. Al Fatihah.