23 October 2002


PENANG, Oct 23 (Bernama) -- Twenty-one countries, including nine Asean nations, have confirmed their participation in the 12th World Silat Championship to be held at the Penang International Sports Arena here on Dec 14-21.

The championship's organising committee chairman, Datuk Azhar Ibrahim, said today that the nine Asean countries were Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Brunei, the Philippines and host Malaysia.

The other confirmed entries were from the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, France, Canada, United States, Germany, Australia, Japan and Korea, he told Bernama here.

The organising committee was still awaiting confirmation from countries like South Africa, Portugal, Suriname and Palestine, he said, adding that the closing date was end of this month.

He said three new categories -- Super Heavyweight for male and female above 95kg and "Jurus Wajib Puteri -- would be added to the existing 22.

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21 October 2002

Taking silat to the Internet

IF someone (me) were to face immediate danger (hostile girlfriend who just found out that I cancelled a date with her because of an emergency - a few dozen laps around the go-kart track with my friends), it would be useful to know some form of self-defence (aside from running away while flailing my arms and screaming like a little girl). Silat is a good option.

For centuries, silat was practised mainly by members of royalty and their warriors. During the reign of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin (1854-1879), a senior officer in the Kedah military was instrumental in helping to defend the State from enemy incursion. This officer was a silat exponent. Many legendary names have become synonymous with this Malay martial art such as Hang Tuah, Mat Kilau and Tok Janggut.

At the turn of the century, more people began to practise silat, usually taught by gurus who had picked up the martial art from other exponents.

Traditionally, the art was spread through physical contact between guru and student.

However, modern technology is threatening to change all that. Silat groups have begun to make their presence felt in cyberspace, and a number of Web sites dedicated to the martial art have sprung up and are attracting a lot of attention. Among them is Silat Cekak Hanafi Malaysia (www. cekakhanafi.com).

But first, a little bit of background. Silat Cekak Hanafi, originally known simply as silat cekak, was first practised in Kedah during the 1800s. It was passed down from generation to generation, right up until 1965 when Hanafi Haji Ahmad became its Guru Utama (Supreme Master). Under his leadership, the martial art was given a breath of fresh air, thus re- inventing itself as Silat Cekak Hanafi.

Today, according to its communications and publicity chief Amrahi Buang, they are the pioneers in bringing silat to the virtual world. Besides helping to promote silat, their Web site also serves as a communications centre for members of Silat Cekak Hanafi Malaysia, which consists of 36,000 members spread over 13 branches throughout the country.

It is through this Web site, which is in Bahasa Melayu, that the members organise themselves and keep in touch with each other. Memos and official announcements are all sent via electronic mail (e-mail) as this, says Amrahi, eliminates the risk of getting things lost in the mail.

The main feature of the site is a bulletin board called Bulletin Lading Online. It contains a schedule of events and happenings in the silat community. The Sejarah section presents a short history of Silat Cekak Hanafi. It is an impressive database of information about the martial art, from its origin to the basic fighting techniques.

Chatroom. Then there is Virtual Office, a section for registered users only. In this section are an official forum for members to hold discussions, a chatroom where members can drop in for a chat, and e-mail facilities.

Averaging 500 hits per day, the efforts of the Silat Cekak Hanafi Web site have not gone unnoticed. It has received several awards, the most notable being the USMA Martial Arts Web site Excellence Award. It has also been selected as the main Web site representing all other local silat groups.

Through the Web site, the Malay martial art of silat has found a new home and a new set of followers.

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05 October 2002

Eight countries participate in Pencak Silat exhibition

Busan, Oct 5 (ANTARA) - As many as 50 pencak silat (traditional Indonesian martial arts) athletes from eight countries participated in an exhibition match held as part of cultural activities during Asian Games 2002 in Busan, South Korea, Saturday.

The athletes came from Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan and South Korea.

The exhibition -- held at the Faculty of International Studies, Busan University -- was organized by the International Federation of Pencak Silat (Persilat) to promote the sport for the next Asian Games in 2006 scheduled to be held in Qatar.

President of Persilat, Eddy M. Nalapraya said, silat exhibition matches are expected to serve as a bridge between the federation and the Olympic Committee Asia (OCA).

"The silat exhibition during the Busan Asian Games is aimed to seek support from OCA, regarding to the plan to include pencak silat in the next Asian Games 2006 in Qatar," Eddy, who is also chairman of the Indonesian Pencak Silat Association (IPSI), said.

Persilat was established in 1980 and groups 40 member countries.

But the Indonesian traditional self-defense sport has only been included as international sport event in the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) 1987 in Jakarta.

Meanwhile, chairman of Asian Games committee, Prof. Kim Soo-il said, the silat exhibition in Busan is expected to open the chance for the event to be competed in Qatar in 2006.

Similarly, a Filipino pencak silat athlete, Angelica Starlight, has expressed hope that silat could be included in the Asian Games.

The second day of the exhibition on Sunday will feature competitions in nine categories, including four duelling and five artistic pencak silat numbers.

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01 October 2002

Pencak Silat: A step away from becoming an official sport

An exhibition sport will not mean more gold, silver or bronze medals to pursue in the 14th Asian Games in Busan, South Korea, but nevertheless Pencak Silat will make an ambitious move toward international recognition.

There will be a fantastic opportunity to show the public, especially the Asian community, that there is a different technique of self defense, known locally and in the Southeast Asia region as Pencak Silat, which deserves international, or at least regional, recognition.

Many, mainly in the Pencak Silat community, have praised its success in managing to get accepted to Asia's biggest sporting event, following Karate and Judo from Japan, Tae Kwon Do from Korea and Wushu from China. "Although, it (Pencak Silat) will only be an exhibition sport in the Busan Asian Games, it's a great stride toward receiving more international recognition," said Indonesian Pencak Silat Federation (IPSI) President and President of the International Pencak Silat Federation (Persilat) Eddie Nalapraya of Indonesia, on the sidelines of a recent function celebrating the inclusion of Pencak Silat in the 2002 Asian Games.

Similar feelings were shared by Abdullah Syafei, President of Singapore Pencak Silat Federation, who expressed his joy at the inclusion of Pencak Silat in the Asiad.

Meanwhile, President of Malaysia's Pencak Silat Federation Tan Sri H. Mohammad Thaib said: "It's a golden milestone for Pencak Silat in its attempt to receive official international recognition."

Pencak Silat combines the skill of various traditional ethnic of self defense techniques inherited by the people within the Southeast Asia from their ancestors centuries ago.

Nowadays, Pencak Silat has been globally promoted and developed in the five continents under the flag of Persilat (International Pencak Silat Federation, Persekutuan Pencak Silat Antar Bangsa). The umbrella organization was co-founded by Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam in 1980. Since then, the organization has spread to 40 countries.

The long and winding road toward reaching international recognition began in 1987, when Pencak Silat was included as an official event in the 14th Southeast Asia (SEA) Games in Jakarta, involving nine participating countries.

Meanwhile, in the global arena, a Pencak Silat World Championship is held every two years.

At home, Pencak Silat managed to enter the country's local official multi-sport event, the National Games (PON), in 1973, long after Indonesia had its Pencak Silat Federation (IPSI) established in Solo (Surakarta, Central Java) in 1948.

And the long wait to enter a larger international stage has borne fruit as Pencak silat was finally allowed as an exhibition sport at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, (the city formerly known as Pusan) South Korea before a probable official inclusion of it in Qatar, the site of the 2006 Asian Games.

The Busan Asian Games Organizing Committee has allowed Pencak Silat athletes to participate but will treat them differently from the official contingents, in that the pencak silat contingent will have to arrange its contest at its own cost during the competition.

The Busan games will run from Sept. 29 to Oct. 14 and pencak silat will take place for two days on Oct. 5 and 6. Athletes from 15 countries, including host South Korea, are expected to compete in the exhibition.

It would not be too much of a distant dream to have Pencak Silat eventually make it all the way to the Olympic Games, as its competition and scoring systems share similarities with martial arts from other countries, such as Karate, Judo, Tae Kwon Do and Wushu.

For competition purposes, Pencak Silat is divided into four categories -- match, solo, doubles and team.

The match category involves a competition that involves two athletes from different teams using the elements of Pencak Silat's self defense and attack techniques with the goal of achieving a higher score.

Solo is when an athlete performs the Pencak Silat Single Compulsory Steps with accuracy and precision, both empty-handed and with weapons.

The double involves two pesilat of the same team who perform their skills and Pencak Silat's defense and attack techniques.

The team category involve three pesilats of the same team who perform their skills empty-handed in the Team Compulsory Steps accurately.

The four categories are divided into male and female events.

Apart from the successful continuing lobbying endeavors of Persilat officials to include Pencak Silat in international multi-event sports tournaments, the questions will be on how people of the countries of origin of Pencak Silat, especially Indonesia, could maintain their supremacy in every tournament in the future.

Or will they be willing to see themselves as spectators only, while other countries excel and dominate every Pencak Silat tournament?

A good, but threatening example should be the 2000 Pencak Silat World Championship in Jakarta when Indonesia managed to top the overall medal tally with 14 golds but relative newcomer Vietnam came second with five golds. However, the latest world championship had shown us that four of the Vietnamese gold medalists were women, in contrast to Indonesia's mens' achievement.

Vietnam's increasing threat had begun in the 20th SEA Games in Brunei Darussalam when its team outclassed Indonesia with seven golds, while Indonesia came second with five golds.

An honest, but bitter statement from Eddie Nalapraya is that "Pencak Silat is no longer Indonesia's property". This should be a real lesson to those involved here.

Written by IMANUDDIN
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