21 December 2007

Senaman Tua

Silat Kuntau Tekpi students in Michigan Prepare for Training

Eid Mubarak and warm Salaams to all.

In the past 10 years, a system of exercise known as Pilates has taken the United States by storm. An interesting fact about Pilates is that it was developed as a way of rehabilitating injured soldiers. It is touted as a low-impact strengthening programme, that will give you functional strength instead of the bulky musculature that comes from lifting weights.
Although this seems to be a very novel concept here in the west, many of us - new to Silat Melayu - are surprised to find an equally effective method from Malaysia: Senaman Tua.

In the three years that I have been practicing and teaching Silat Kuntau Tekpi, I find Senaman Tua to be a challenging, necessary, and overly rewarding aspect of training. In my opinion, western students of Silat Melayu, have great difficulty being on the receiving end of buah kuncian.
We just aren’t used to being put into these locks, and with our broad (stiff) shoulders, well...let’s just say that we’re especially prone to injury. Learning to relax and go with the flow is difficult, more so with a beginning student applying the lock, who may tend to go a bit too hard and fast in the first place.

I have always told my students that Senaman Tua is like a ‘yoga’ to preserve and strengthen the joints. After three years, I have at least 50% greater range of motion in my wrists, shoulders and elbows. I have also been able to rehabilitate an old knee injury almost completely.
In fact, I have several students that have come with chronic joint issues that are able to fully participate in the physical training after a month of Senaman Tua.

So, if we are seeing such dramatic results in cases where the person already has an injury, how much more important is this as a protective measure for those who are not injured? Another interesting example is a student of mine who competes in long-distance marathons. He is fit, limber, eats right, and is generally the very picture of good health. Last year I took him through a Senaman Tua session for about 45 minutes.
By his own account, he needed to rest for 3 days afterwards - during which time his body expelled a copious amount of toxins (mostly in the form of mucous). He reported that unlike the feeling of being ‘winded’ from running, Senaman Tua left him feeling as though his internal organs had been exercised!

Following is an excerpt from one of my first conversations with Brother Nadzrin, after I had asked him to elaborate on the meaning of the terms:

SENAMAN TUA literally means Old Exercise but to do it justice, I prefer to translate it as Sagely Exercise. The word TUA in Malay commonly means old in English. However, the difference between our cultures mis-communicates the term.

TUA comes from the Archaic Melayu/ Sanskrit word TUHA which means Prime. From this word comes TUHAN (God), TUA (Old), colours like BIRU TUA (Dark Blue), KETUA
(Leader), PENGETUA (Principal) and many others.
In the Melayu culture, the old are revered for their wisdom and surpassive knowledge. Therefore, SENAMAN TUA means the knowledge of human exercises that have arisen out of hundreds of years of research and development, experimentation and testing. Each of them bear a deep amount of wisdom within them.

However, another interpretation of SENAMAN TUA as explained by its founder guru Azlan Ghanie is that it is a shortening of PETUA which comes from the Arabic word Fatwa. A fatwa is a conclusive decision or result of detailed research and development by a master in a particular field. For example, e=mc2 is a fatwa of Einstein who reduced the relationship of energy and matter into five symbols.

Therefore, the SENAMAN TUA is bound by a minimum of four PETUA, Nafas Melayu, Lam Alif, Mata Angin and Jantan Betina. There are more but are merely extrapolations.



Salam Brother Nadzrin

As usual, you never fail to impress me and I'm impressed indeed with the dissertation on PETUA 'epistemology'.

Anyway I share the same view Guru Azlan Ghanie that 'Petua' is actually derived from 'Fatwa' while still wondering on the other 'school of thought' (may also be similar to yours) which goes something like this :

"Petua is PEdoman orang-orang TUA" (some say it's "PEtunjuk orang-orang TUA) - to mean as some sort of 'ancient guide'.

It's logic enough when Petua is a GUIDE and not GOSPEL but of course if this school of thought is correct, then GUIDE will always be the opposite of FATWA (GOSPEL)?



Pok Nik

Mohd Nadzrin Wahab said...

Salam hormat Poknik,

The original name for Senaman Tua is Senaman dan Petua, but shortened to its current form, thus the name itself carries both meanings.

The word Petua is epistemologically proven to come from Fatwa (according to Kamus Dewan). Fatwa in Arabic means opinion, but the connotation in Melayu is the essence, conclusion or encapsulation of something.

A Fatwa is delivered by a learned Mufti who distills his knowledge into a useable package of knowledge for use by the community.

The community, although lacking in the advanced knowledge possessed by the Mufti, can apply the isued Fatwa just as effectively.

Thus, in Silat and Senaman Tua, the Petua refer to encapsulations of old knowledge into useable axioms or maxims that, when applied by a student, creates the same effect as if a master himself did it.

The higher form of Petua is the Perdu, while the useable form is the Perkakas.

This is going to be a long discussion on its own, and actually encroaches onto the definition of Silat articles I'm in the process of writing.


Salam persilatan,


Ok..I get the picture.. :-)

djambu puadovich said...

mak aii...gone dizzi olredy..ngeh3 :P