29 April 2017

Silat Mind|Body Training Philosophy

In many martial arts, including silat, there are aggregated forms intended to provide a structure to the movements of the human body, to add physical and psychological limits to the person.

But the body already has a structure and its own limits. There are the bones, the joints, the muscles that connect them and their ranges of motion. Thus, what these forms really do is just add an artificial structure with artifical limits onto the practitioner. Which is why silat is well-known for its formlessless before form. Exploration and expression rather than recession and repetition.

The body should be allowed to move through all its possible articulations and record its own sureties of each limit and potential it possesses. Not only the body, but also the mind and the soul.

Guru Idris bin Alimuda of Silat Firasah often stresses the education of the mind before the body. It is considered normal in traditional styles for the master to reorient the thinking of the student, to remove misconceptions and prepare them for a more holistic view of reality.

To do the opposite (i.e. train the body first), would result in a useless outcome. The limits of the physical structure is further limited by what exists in the mind. Thus, the mind has to be reformed first before imparting physical techniques.

Without this prerequisite, physical training but be fruitless. The only products you get are robots.

Traditional Silat Melayu, or what they now term Silat Kampung (sometimes Silat Bunga/ Pulut), was a holistic personal development tool that took much longer and depended on closer master-student relationship.

It took the students' current abilities and familiar movements (fishing, farming, weaving, wood carving, etc) and built on and adapted from those already present neurological pathways to have the student 'create' their own silat style. This was exemplified in the Karate Kid wax-on, wax-off scenes.

So, what is meant by training the mind, doesn't bypass the body, but that it goes in via the body to create an awareness which then regains control of the body.

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