16 May 2007

Nation’s first non-Melayu to get silat title

In action: Silat lincah members putting up a demonstration for the guests.

Inspired by old Malay movies of Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat, K. Ganesan took up silat as a young boy and is now an exponent of the martial art.

On Saturday, the Penang businessman was conferred the title of silat lincah chief instructor, making him the first non-Melayu in the country to receive it at the national-level silat lincah assembly and award ceremony in Kepala Batas.

Silat, a martial art mostly known in the Melayu archipelago, is usually practised by Melayu.

“My interest in silat started when I was schooling. I used to watch warrior movies set in the Melaka Sultanate period,” said Ganesan who has been involved in silat lincah for more than 10 years.

Not contented with mastering the skills, Ganesan also opened a silat court to teach students. The court is housed in a building in Paya Terubong and he currently has 30 Melayu and Indian students learning silat lincah.

“One of my business ventures is a dance studio which teaches modern and classical dances. I’ve encouraged my students there to take up silat lincah because it teaches values like discipline and self-control. Silat is more or less a form of dance,” he explained.

Famous silver screen actress Datuk Sarimah Ahmad received the Highest Honorary Sash and dashing screen legend Senator Datuk Dr Jins Shamsuddin received the Honorary Sash.

Sarimah, 65, who started practising silat lincah in the early 1970s, said her ancestors were silat practitioners.

“I have 30 grandchildren - 16 girls and 14 boys - and most of them practise silat lincah,” she said, adding that she still had the semangat (force) in her despite her age.

Jins, 72, said silat was one acting skill that actors must acquire in the 1960s.

“I had to go to Singapore to learn silat. Those days, many Melayu movies involved silat and I have acted in more than 10 such movies.

“You have to know your silat , otherwise you will look very stiff in the movie. I learnt silat gayung, silat harimau and many more. An actor was required to be versatile and we fought with real keris, pedang (sword) and lembing (spear),” reminisced this veteran actor whose famous role as daredevil spy Jefri Zain earned him the distinction as Malaysia’s James Bond.

He described silat as an art and a part of the country’s heritage.

“We should understand our culture and heritage. Artistes today should pick up silat to understand the real meaning of art. It trains us to be better people, have self control and not do things against our religion,” he said.

Yang diPertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas and Pertubuhan Seni Silat Lincah Malaysia leader and founder Datuk Omardin Mauju presented the awards.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and state exco member Datuk Jahara Hamid were both awarded the Highest Honorary Sash while Putera Umno chief Datuk Azeez Abdul Rahim received the Honorary Sash.

By Yeng Ai Chun
Sourced from http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2007/5/16/north/17716879&sec=north