31 July 2008

Sendeng recognised as a Johor heritage?

I just got some interesting (but unconfirmed) news yesterday from Razali, a fellow pesilat. According to him, Pertubuhan Seni Silat Sendeng Malaysia is being accorded the status of a Heritage of Johor by the Chief Minister of Johor, Dato' Haji Abdul Ghani Othman.

The event is slated to happen on the 22nd August 2008 at Dataran Tangkak, Johor which will see the gathering of 1000 Silat Sendeng Malaysia practitioners. If this is true, then it's an amazing development in the recognition of silat in Malaysia.

Some quarters might call it controversial, since the Sendeng style represented by this particular body is considered by purists as a mixed martial art. However, the late Haji Abdul Hamid Hamzah who founded the style popularised Sendeng to such an extent that his style became the definition for the system, even though it clearly incorporated Kuntau components.

It's a long time coming for Sendeng and I hope other states follow suit soon.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

27 July 2008

The kris: The traditional Malay weapon

In the Malay world, there has not been any other weapon which has been more renowned and revered as the kris. The keris or kris is native to this part of the world — Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia as well as in Southern Thailand and Southern Philippines.

With its wavy razor sharp blade, the kris was the favourite weapon for pancak silat, the Malay art of self defence, for close quarter combat. In fact, the kris was widely used and carried by most Malay men even up to the end of the 19th century.

The kris was an essential part of Malay society, not just for its defensive or destructive mode but widely used as part of the traditional Malay ceremony.

Even today, it is very seldom that a Malay groom has not one tucked on his waist during his wedding ceremony. Many families kept krises for their alleged spiritual and protective prowess. Some are even handed down from generation to generation.

In the Malaysian legend of Hang Tuah, the kris named Taming Sari played a pivotal role. In Brunei, the legend of Bendahara Sakam and his men running amok among the Spaniards during the Castille War (1578), is always drawn with everyone's kris unsheathed. Through the centuries, the kris is the symbol of Malay heroism.

Mystical kris: Above, a kris is neatly tucked at the waist of Al-Marhum Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III, seated next to Her Majesty, during his coronation in 1951. Right, some of the various types of kris available in Brunei. The kris, once a deadly weapon, now plays a more symbolic role in traditional Malay ceremonies. Pictures: Rozan Yunos collection
What is the origin of the kris? No one is sure how the first kris came into being. There has been a number of tales, most of them supernatural.

One story widely told in Brunei is of two brothers who went on a journey. One had a bamboo staff and the other a crude blade. Both weapons were given to them by their father. Both were said to possess supernatural powers and could turn into anything the brothers wished for.

One day, they came across a palace. They saw a beautiful princess weaving a piece of cloth on a loom. The first brother commanded his staff to turn into a bird so that it could fly and spy on her. The second brother commanded his blade to change into a venomous snake that bit the girl who fell into a deep coma.

The King tried everything to revive her but he could not. He grew so despondent that he announced that he would marry off his daughter to the person who successfully revived her.

The second brother was the only one with the antidote, which he obtained from the magical kris, succeeded and the princess subsequently became his wife.

So, the craftsmen from that period drew inspiration from the tale and created a weapon that looked like the story. The kris that was invented is the one with the deadly blade sinuous like a snake, the hilt taking the form of the bird's head and the sheath representing the loom into which the snake slithered.

The kris was also said to be of Javanese origin. In fact the word keris is said to be a Javanese word and is derived from the word ngeris meaning to stab or pierce. Up to now, the kris' true origin is still debated. Indonesia, during the Majapahit rule, laid strong claims to be the origin as most mystic stories about the krises emanated from there.

It is also said that the earlier krises were endowed with mysterious powers by their makers. The powers could be good or bad, depending on who made them.

There are many stories that talked about their krises' ability to make them invisible, or warn them of approaching calamities. Some even talked about their krises having powers that enabled them to fly out at night to seek and destroy their enemies.

Almost all krises have lok or waves. The total of the lok always totaled up to an odd number.

The number of loks on a kris has to be odd, because an even number is considered unlucky. The purpose of these curves is to maximise the extent of the inflicted wound.

Another unique feature of the krises is that it is always widest just below the waist. On one side of this part is usually found a small ornamentation that may take the form of an elephant's trunk, a snake's tongue or other objects.

Making a kris requires great skills that come from years of learning and practise. The knowledge of making this weapon was once hard to come by as it was a closely guarded secret passed on from one generation to another and was taught only to a few selected family members. A person who was an expert in making kris and other weapons was known as Pandai Besi.

There is a village in Brunei's centuries-old Kampong Ayer called Kampong Pandai Besi, where obviously the country's ironsmiths once lived.

Nowadays it is quite often that the blade, hilt and sheath are made by three separate craftsmen. The experts that could fashion all three as in the old days number a mere handful in the Malay world today.

The procedure of making the kris is basically the same as in the past, the only difference being the availability of modern tools. A piece of metal is repeatedly heated and hammered until it is flat. The next steps involve shaping, sharpening, filing and polishing. At some points along the process, the puting kris or shank-pin, onto which the hilt is to be fitted, is drawn out, and traces of impurities are removed from the blade.

It is said that that the famous krises were forged from meteoric iron, a rare and highly prized mineral. Most kris blades, however, are made in layers of different iron ores and nickel. In later periods, krises were made from metals salvaged from vehicles, tools, railway tracks, European cannons and sword blades, and even bicycles. The metal in high quality blades is often folded with precision dozens or hundreds of times to create a balance of strength and sharpness.

The hilt and sheath are usually made of hard fine-grained wood in Brunei — the kulimpapa and hasana trees. In the old days, horn and ivory were seldom used. Lately, as the kris is becoming more of a decorative object, the use of horn or ivory became more common.

What is not known in Brunei is that in many parts of the Malay world, the kris was also the weapon of choice for execution. The executioner's kris was typically long and had a straight, slender blade. One well known kris used for execution was called Kris Sula.

The condemned typically knelt before the executioner, who placed a wad of cotton or cloth on the subject's shoulder. The kris was then thrust through the padding and into the artery and heart. Upon withdrawal, the cloth wiped the blade clean.

As death was nearly instantaneous, this was then considered one of Asia's more humane methods of capital punishment.

Even though the kris is no longer employed either as a weapon or as an executioner's instrument, the kris will continue to be the symbol of Malay culture. In Brunei, kris-making is a course that can be undertaken at the Brunei Arts and Handicrafts Training Centre, thus helping to revive the kris as well as continue Brunei's and the region's legacy.

Sourced from http://www.bt.com.bn/life/2008/07/27/the_kris_the_traditional_malay_weapon

26 July 2008

Another baby comes

Congratulations to my brother in Islam and silat (Silat Melayu Keris Lok 9 and Silat Sendeng), Manzuri Haji Tasuki on the birth of his second daughter Afifah Madihah at 5.55am on the 26th July 2008 in Ipoh.

Silat Melayu: The Blog wishes the happy parents all the best. We will pray for you InsyaAllah.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

17 July 2008

Indonesian Keris added to World Heritage list

Denpasar (ANTARA) - UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has named Indonesia`s "keris", a wavy-bladed ceremonial dagger, as a world heritage, Neka Ubud Museum director Pande Wayan Suteja Neka said here on Thursday.

"The world has acknowledged the existence of Indonesia`s keris since November 25, 2005," Suteja Neka said, adding that similar daggers from countries such as Singapura, Brunei Darussalam and the Philippines were not as well-known world-wide.

He said daggers from Indonesia, especially from Bali, had been recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage and therefore they would be added the collection of the museum he had established 26 years ago.

"I have been collecting such daggers and some 413 paintings and statues since 1970," Suteja Neka said.

He added that so far he had collected 218 daggers which were tightly selected by keris experts Haryono Haryoguritno and Sukoyo Hadi Nagoro.

According to Neka, the daggers had been used as traditional weapons of Indonesian people, especially the Hindu community in Bali, from generation to generation.

"I have collected hundreds of kerises in the museum because of their beauty and artistic design, and not because of their alleged magic powers," Suteja Neka said.

Sourced from http://www.antara.co.id/en/arc/2008/7/17/indonesian-kris-added-to-world-heritage-list/

14 July 2008

Keris at Okinawa Temple

SOMETHING DIFFERENT: A staff member of the Okinawa Prefecture
Archaeological Centre showing the blade of the keris found at the Enkakuji Temple grounds.

OKINAWA: An ancient blade of a keris found recently at the royal Enkakuji Temple grounds near the 15th century Shurijo Castle might unravel the ties the Malay world had with these southwestern islands of Japan.

As the war-ravaged Enkakuji Temple was being restored, construction workers stumbled upon a protruding porcelain pot handle at a spot where offerings were made to the gods.

The ensuing archaeological dig unearthed nine other items, including the wavy blade of a keris, foreign to this part of the world.

Historians believe the keris could be from either Melaka or Jawa as Okinawa and its surrounding islands under the old Kingdom of Ryukyus had diplomatic and trade ties with ancient cities and ports in Asia, including Melaka, before it became a part of Japan in 1879.

The blade measuring 22.1cm from the tip to hilt was found without the handle and sheath, as the wooden parts had been destroyed.

According to the Okinawa Prefecture Archaeological Centre officials the blade was found buried along with other items, including a clay plate with carvings of a dragon shaped boat, a glazed pot, a gold-plated door hinge and a metal door skirting.

The castle restoration work started in 1989 and the Shurijo Park was opened to public in 1992 while restoration work at the temple is still ongoing.

Prof Dr Kurayoshi Takara a historian from the University of The Ryukyus said the discovery had not been publicised much and is unknown to people outside Okinawa and Japan.

He believes the discovery of the blade of a keris would spark international interest among historians and archaeologists to determine its origin.

“I personally believe it could have been from Melaka because the Ryukyus Kingdom had started trading with Melaka in the 15th century,” said Prof Takara, who has been to Malaysia and Melaka to carry out research on the ancient ties the Kingdom of Ryukyus had with Southeast Asian kingdoms.

From historical records, Prof Takara said, the Ryukyus had started trading with Siam (Thailand), between 1425 and 1570, Melaka (1463-1511), Patani (Southern Thailand) (1490-1543) and several other areas in Indonesia (Palembang, Jawa and Sumatra) and Cambodia.

“Records also indicate Ryukyuan junks went to Melaka every year for 49 years and carried out trade with local merchants, Arabs and Indians.

“They would bring gold, silver, copper, tin, and Chinese ceramic from mainland Japan and China and trade them for ivory and wine,” he said, adding that there were also correspondence between the rulers of Melaka and Ryuyukus.

Malacca was also known for its high quality wine (believed to be nipah wine), but later years Ryukyuans started buying it from Thailand when Melaka stopped making it.

By Devid Rajah
Sourced from the Star Online, June 26, 2003

13 July 2008

Extract from the memoirs of Ahmad Boestamam

The late Ahmad Boestamam was considered a freedom fighter by many and a dissident by others. He founded the Parti Rakyat Malaysia which is now part of the Malaysian leading opposition party, Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

To read more about his life, visit Wikipedia here.

I was not surprised to discover that not only was Ahmad Boestamam a freedom fighter, but a true blue pesilat in the tradition of old. He writes on the spirit of the warrior in his memoirs which reflects the relevance of the traditional to the current. I have translated his writing as best as I can. I invite readers to contribute improvements in meaning and context via the comments form or by emailing me at webmaster[at]silatmelayu.com.

"Mengisi Pengeras dengan Berlari Anak (ms 85)"
"Kalau belajar ilmu dunia-pengasih atau pemanis-setelah tamat ia perlu 'memutus kaji' dengan 'mengisi pengeras' yang ditentukan oleh pak gurunya sendiri. Yang penting dalam pengisian pengeras ini adalah kerelaan dan keizinan guru bagi si murid mengamalkan apa yang dipelajari...

"Belajar ilmu kependekaran atau silat pun begitu juga, pemutus kajinya berupa penghayatan empat perkara: gerak, garit, pandang dan tilik. Gerak adalah langkah yang jelas dan nyata; seperti tangan diayun untuk menumbuk...

"Gerak boleh dipastikan dengan mata kasar. Garit hanya terbayang dalam niat. Belum ada gerak, tapi sudah ada tandanya. Tarik hembus nafas sudah boleh membayangkan garit. Demikian juga kelipan mata. Garit dilihat dengan mata batin yang disebut tilik atau 'pandangan dengan makrifat'.

"'Pemati langkah' dalam silat perlu untuk menyambut serangan lawan. Tumbuk lawan harus ditepiskan, tetapi , tepisan perlu bersifat 'sentuhan' yang mematikan. Soalnya, bagaimana mematikan serangan lawan?

"Kalau lawan datang dari depan, kita dapat pastikan geraknya dengan pandangan mata kasar. Tetapi bagaimana kalau musuh 'mencida' atau memukul curi dari belakang? Serangan lawan begini perlu 'dijawab' dengan sambutan makrifat dan seterusnya dimatikan dengan sentuhan makrifatnya."

Sourced from http://themalaypress.blogspot.com/2008/07/sedutan-memoir-boestamam.html

"Mengisi Pengeras dengan Berlari Anak (page 85)"
"When we consider the studies of worldly knowledge, such as love potions or charms, upon completion, one must conclude their learning by fulfillling the conditions of study, as specified by one's teacher. An important aspect of this is the teacher's permission for the student to practice what he has studied...

"Studying the warrior arts or silat is similar, the conclusion of learning is the embracing of four elements: gerak, garit, pandang and tilik. Gerak is the sureness of movement; like a swinging arm to punch...

"Gerak can be divined with the naked eye. Garit, however, is hidden within intention. There is no movement, but there are signs of such. The rise and fall of breathing can indicate garit. So too can the blinking of the eye. Garit is seen with the hidden eye. This is called tilik or viewing with maarifat (gnosis).

"In silat, the immobilisation of movement is a must in facing the incursion of an opponent. The opponent's strike must be deflected, but the deflection must be a 'touch' that immobilises. The question is, how do we immobilise an opponent's attack?

"If the enemy strikes as you face him, we can clearly see his gerak. But, what of the enemy who steals an attack from behind? Such attacks requires a maarifat response followed by an immobilising touch of one's maarifat."

True words.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

12 July 2008


In conjunction with the upcoming Independence Day celebrations on 31st August 2008, Silat Melayu: The Blog would like to salute our freedom fighters of the past who have contributed to our history.

Running up to the celebrations, Silat Melayu: The Blog will try to highlight these personalities, now long gone with relevant articles into their lives.

They bled, they cried and they sweated their lives away to keep us safe. Silat Melayu: The Blog salutes all of you. If only we had more of you today.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

11 July 2008

Datukship conferred upon Pak Andak Majid

Aside from the fantastic news that Nicol David, our national women's squash player, currently world numero uno is receiving a Datukship, I was also elated to learn that a long-time Gayong master would also be rightly honoured.

Congratulations to guru utama Pak Andak Majid, or Abdul Majid Mat Isa of Pertubuhan Silat Seni Pusaka Gayong Malaysia upon his nomination for the Darjah Setia Pangkuan Negeri (DSPN) which carries the title "Datuk". May many more silat masters be given due honour.

He and Nicol are among 28 others to be conferred the title in conjunction with the 70th birthday of the Penang Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas tomorrow (12th July 2008).

A total of 497 recipients will be conferred various honours which also carry the titles of Datuk Seri Utama, Datuk Seri and Datuk.

Read here for the other nominees

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

10 July 2008

Pentjak Silat's Nine Deadliest Weapons: Indonesia's Savage Swords, Daggers and Spears

Kujang(Photos courtesy of Eddie Jafri)

Suryadi “Eddie” Jafri is one of the best-known instructors of the Indonesian martial art pentjak silat (also spelled pencak silat). Pentjak refers to the fighting movements, while silat means a “spiritual way.” Jafri’s style of pentjak silat, pera taki sendo, is a close-combat system using empty-hand techniques as well as traditional weapons. His system has combined some elements of Philippine arnis styles, as well as several classical styles of Javanese, Sumatran and Borneo silat.

The Indonesian archipelago is made up of 13,677 islands, the best known of which are Java, Sumatra, South Borneo, West Irian (New Guinea) and Bali. While Bali has a unique Hindu-Buddhist culture, the rest of the islands are Muslim, a result of proselytism and military incursions between A.D. 1275 and 1520, Islam having first been introduced by merchants from India and Persia.

The two major kingdoms prior to the Muslim takeover were the Sriwijaya Empire, beginning in the fifth century with its capital in Jambi (South Sumatra), and the Majapahit Empire, which began in the 13th century with its capital in Java. The Majapahit Empire extended all the way to the southern Philippines, where an interchange of martial arts occurred as the Filipinos adopted the keris (Indonesian dagger) and Melayu-style fighting arts before integrating the rapier and dagger techniques of Spanish conquerors.

In the 15th century, European colonial powers turned their eyes to the “East Indies,” which they saw as the “Spice Islands” because of their natural supplies of clove and nutmeg. In 1596 the Dutch, under the command of Cornelis de Houtman, solidified their hold on the islands, forcing out Portugal and the other European colonialist traders. Eventually the Dutch monopolized the spice trade, setting up the East Indian Company, Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie.

Indonesian patriots fought the company as best they could, using silat’s traditional weapons against Dutch firepower. Needless to say, firearms ownership was forbidden to native Indonesians, and even metal, from which edged weapons could be made, was restricted. The arts themselves had to be taught in secret.

The original system of pentjak silat dates back 4,000 years, and the first moves copied the strikes of animals such as monkeys, tigers and snakes. It provided defense against wild animals, bandits, madmen and foreign invaders. Its principal weapons were the staff and various bladed tools.

Badik (Photos courtesy of Eddie Jafri)

By the time of the Dutch conquest, Indonesian martial arts had already developed into complete systems. Except for primitive decapitating moves practiced with mandau jungle knives by the Dayak tribes of Borneo, virtually all Indonesian styles had developed defensive and offensive techniques for various weapons. The blade was emphasized over the empty hand or blunt instruments. Even today, there are more knife and sword designs in Indonesia than any other place in the world.

The traditional styles were adapted to modern combat first against the Dutch and later the Japanese. The objective was to infiltrate so close to the enemy that he could not use his rifle. During the early days of the Dutch conquest, this meant working against a single-shot musket, the objective being to avoid the first shot and then the bayonet.

The Acehnese of Sumatra developed a kicking style whereby the unique rencong knife was held between the toes to compensate for the superior length of the rifle’s bayonet. The bayonet could be parried with either a golok or another field knife, then the rencong was kicked into the groin. Such frontal combat could be suicidal against the Japanese in World War II, who were armed with modern repeating weapons, so Indonesians later emphasized subterfuge and assassination techniques.

The night attack, stalking of sentries and stragglers, and poisoning of officials became tactics of choice. Even today, poisoning is taught at the higher levels of silat for use against one’s most dangerous enemies.

Jafri teaches Philippine stick techniques to his students because Indonesian arts do not give the stick special emphasis. Police officers and those who need nonlethal self-defense methods can use the techniques to good effect. Jafri also teaches silat empty-hand techniques, although most of his students are not expected to strike banana trees with punches and kicks as he had to in his early training in Sumatra. Currently, most of his teaching is devoted to the Indonesian blade, the core of the old styles. The following are the silat weapons that he considers the nine deadliest.

Keris (Photos courtesy of Eddie Jafri)

The keris (also spelled keris) is the national weapon of Indonesia and the oldest distinctive weapon in that culture. It is found throughout the archipelago, as well as in Malaysia and the Philippines. It was the tool of ancient heroes and kings, becoming a symbol of both courage and beauty. Sultans had elaborate versions of the kris made for them by famous bladesmiths. Keris blades are hammer-welded of special iron, even meteoric iron.

According to legend, Empu Ramadi around A.D. 230 made the first keris. Early kerises were leaf-shaped and were called pasopati, paso or pisau, meaning knife, and pati, meaning deadly. Antique kerises are kept as heirlooms or votive objects, and some are said to possess magic power. The curved blade appeared around A.D. 329. The number of curves is always odd, and the correct number for a particular owner is based on a thumb-beside-thumb measuring ritual accompanied by “lucky” incantations.

The wavy blade or sarpa lumaku (walking serpent) was perfected and began to decline in the 15th century, the last period of “magic” kerises. The pamor (Damascus) blade-welding technique also began to die out after the Majapahit era. Hammer-welding three metal bars containing nickel iron and meteoric iron created the distinctive patterns. This allowed varying degrees of hardness in the blade, combining sharpness with shatter resistance. Rust and even poison were sometimes added to make the blade deadlier.

Each part of the keris blade has a name, as do the handle and sheath. The blade is attached to the handle by a short tang, which is not much of a disadvantage in a weapon used primarily for thrusting.

According to tradition, the kujang, with its curved blade, was the weapon of West Javanese kings. It is said to take its shape from the antler of a deer. Many Indonesians believe it has mystical power and can bring good luck.

Rencong (Photos courtesy of Eddie Jafri)

The L-shaped rencong has a 3-to-10 inch blade made of white iron or yellow metal, with a sheath of buffalo horn, ivory or exotic wood. The pistol-like grip allows powerful one- or two-handed blows as well as the kick-thrust. Because Acehnese are usually barefoot, developing the necessary foot strength and suppleness for kick-thrusts was not as difficult as it sounds. Boys would practice walking or running with sticks held in their toes until they could easily maneuver the rencong.

The blade was carried upward between the first two toes, and the handle curled under the others. Some rencongs were not even sharpened because they were designed for stabbing. Sometimes it was left impaled in the victim’s belly or groin, held by the barbs at the base of the blade. When used with two hands for a rib strike, the handle could be turned like a coffee grinder to produce a more destructive wound.

All Indonesian silat masters use the golok, especially in West Java. The blade length of this bolo-style weapon is usually between 12 and 24 inches. They are sometimes coated with scorpion or cobra venom to increase lethality.

Golok practitioners begin training by strengthening their wrists and hands. They do this by swinging sand-filled bottles between the thumb and forefinger. When they move on to the golok, they first practice techniques against banana trees or bamboo stalks.

As a jungle knife, the golok is unequaled. Even the British military issues its own version of the golok since its commando operations in Malaya (1948-60) and Borneo (1965-66).

Pisau Belati
The pisau belati is the universal kitchen utility knife in Indonesia. With a blade length of 7 inches or less, it is legally sold in any open-air market. It is carried everywhere by street vendors, fruit sellers, meat cutters, etc. It is the knife most likely to be available when a fight breaks out.

Because of its ubiquity, most silat masters use it as one of the training knives.

Mandau (Photos courtesy of Eddie Jafri)

The mandau comes from South Borneo, the land of the Dayaks. The mandau is a jungle knife as well as the traditional headhunting sword. The handle is usually decorated with goat hair or human hair. The mandau may be used in combination with a shield, and the blade may be coated with poison for special occasions. While headhunting is supposedly no longer part of the Dayaks’ animistic religion, there is no doubt that the mandau is still capable of deadly battle.

The badik comes from Sulawesi and is a weapon for infighting. Its blade is usually 5 to 7 inches in length. The Bugis people of South Sulawesi are most noted for using it. The Bugis fighting style emphasizes quick and fatal strikes to the heart, stomach or kidneys. They practice by tying a sash around the waists of two fighters so that each must sidestep to avoid the stomach thrust of the other. In combat, the badik blade is sometimes poisoned.

Celurit (Photos courtesy of Eddie Jafri)

The Madura celurit is shaped like a question mark. The Madurese use it as a sickle to cut grass for their cattle but also employ it in self-defense as part of a martial style called pamur silat. The celurit is difficult to evade because of its flexibility and hard to disarm because of its multiple directions of attack. It is sharp enough to cleave skulls or decapitate heads. The celurit has killed often enough to be notorious. The Indonesian government now punishes without pardon individuals who carry one in public.

The tombak (spear) is used in most silat styles. In the old days, it was used from horseback or for long-distance fighting on foot. Most traditional spears today are kept at home as decorations, but as late as 1945, they were used in combat against the Japanese. Even sharpened bamboo spears were pressed into the fight against Japanese and Dutch oppressors. Sharpened bamboo makes for a slow death, and most enemy soldiers would have preferred to be shot or stabbed with a sword. The spear could also be used effectively against a bayonet. They were not meant for throwing, like a Roman pitumm, but for stabbing, like the Zulu assegai.

About the Author: David E. Steele is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and martial artist whose specialty is weapons articles.

By David E. Steele
Sourced from http://www.blackbeltmag.com/pentjaks_silats_nine_deadliest_weapons_indonesias_savage_swords_daggers_and_spears/archives/584

This article first appeared in Black Belt Magazine, April 1990.

09 July 2008

Sam & Joel: Famous again

If I was Cikgu Sam (Sheikh Shamsudin Salim) of the United States Gayong Federation and his student Joel Champ, I'd be sore because I wasn't invited to attend the martial arts performance which had my face on its marketing material.

I found this advert in Harian Metro a few days ago, which only goes to show, that pose is amazingly famous by now. I've seen it on websites, powerpoint presentations and now, an advert. The demonstration, which is part of a larger event took place (did it actually? I don't know) at Plaza Larkin in Johor Bahru.

I was actually tempted to call Mr Shahariel (phone number listed in ad) and get him to send me pics of the event. Not so much now, though. In any case, congratulations Cikgu Sam. You've proved that a well-planned shot can take you places :)

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

08 July 2008

Hidden articles

Well, they're not really hidden. I've been wondering what to do with my collection of silat-related articles, which were originally put up at SilatMelayu.Com. Since that site is now on hold, I've decided to post them here.

Some of them are past news or feature articles, and others are excerpts from books or other websites. But since I've always wanted this blog to be seen to be updated daily, I'll be posting these articles in those day 'gaps' that exist within the blog.

It also helps that many of these articles are posted with the exact dates they were originally published in the newspapers. The first one to be posted is titled "The Keris Master" and is post dated 30 July 2006 (its publishing date).

I can already hear groans from readers, but isn't it exciting? Now you can go treasure hunting, wondering what articles you haven't read yet! Apologies for those who're starting to hate me right about now.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

07 July 2008

The Azure Keris: The Ride Home (4)

Pensive. That’s how Pak Din described me in the drive home from Ulu Tiram. I moved back to my kampung only a few days ago and already I get three surprises, none of them pleasant.

I discovered that the only man closest to me other than my father has kept a scandalous secret. The man who almost killed me when I was a child is now hale and healthy and married to Azizah, the very woman whose wedding he crashed. Surprise number one.

I discovered that Kak Azizah was Pak Din’s training partner in the mysterious silat style known as Silat Tapak Sendeng in 1969. She was 14 years old at the time while he was 24. They were the only two students accepted to study the art, or so they say. Surprise number two.

I discovered that Pak Rashid and Kak Azizah had been married for almost 20 years but never had any children, even though doctors agreed there was nothing wrong with them. They were now too old to conceive, but the third and biggest surprise is what Pak Din said about it to me.

“Rashid had always wanted to apologise to you, come and find you in Kuala Lumpur, but he was too afraid of your father. Rashid heard about what your father swore after he was put away. That’s why he never came back to the kampung. He knew that your father would make him pay for what he almost did to you,” Pak Din explained.

“But most importantly, Rashid believed that their childlessness was his fault, that your family, your father, had cursed him and his lineage. Azizah never knew he felt this way, only that he was remorseful,” he continued.

“What? That’s rubbish,” I cried. “My father isn’t a… wasn’t a… bomoh or something. I mean… what kind of…,” I stopped and looked at Pak Din.

“It’s not true, right? All this mumbo-jumbo is just fantasy, right?” I asked for reassurance.

Pak Din looked sympathetic. Maybe he felt that he had just burdened me with the responsibility of the couple’s unhappiness.

“I’m not a bomoh, nor am I a doctor. All I do know is that, he carried around a mountain of guilt for two decades, and for me, that can mess up a man’s brain and his biology. When I married Mak Jah, my business wasn’t doing too well, and we could never seem to conceive. But a couple of years later, when the business picked up, then we got Aminah, and then Amran. Less stress, I suppose,” he said, trying to calm me.

“Anyway, it’s a moot point now. Thanks to you, Rashid is now a happy man. Just be content in the fact that just by standing there, you gave a man his life back”.

I sighed and just drove the rest of the way home in silence.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

06 July 2008

The fulfilment of a dream - Mohammad Din Mohammad

An artist’s long-held wish comes true after his death. An art lover celebrates the occasion by remembering his life.
My earliest visual recollection of the late Mohammad Din Mohammad is a photograph of the two of us taken at the opening of an exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, in the early years of my decade-long formal involvement in visual art in this country.
In the photograph, he is immaculate in his suit, with his trademark curly hair touching his shoulders, and his instantly recognisable impish grin on his face. That grin was always there, even when he was being all earnest and serious.
I cannot recall exactly when I first met Mohammad Din, but I think it might have been at a dinner party in Singapore, many years ago. It was a gathering of people involved in art and culture, so he would have been on the guest list because he was active in the Singapore art scene. Very active: he was practising many facets of artistic endeavour, making visual art, acting, and (as and I later found out), offering the art of traditional healing to those in need.
Mohammad Din, who died last year at 52, was born in Kampung Gangsa, Durian Tunggal, Malacca, in 1955. At the age of two, he was taken to live in Singapore, which was still part of newly independent Malaya then.
This modest space in Malacca is a dream realised, albeit too late, as Mohammad Din died before it was completed. But with its recent opening, the arts community can celebrate the life and works of a passionate soul.
He received his formal art education at the highly respected Nanyang Academy of Fine Art in Singapore. However, the reality was that Mohammad Din had been studying various forms of art from a very early age, from his first experiment in ceramics at the age of five, in fact, when he collected clay and fashioned cups.
As was the norm for many young men at the time, his formal education was augmented with the study of traditional art forms: the Melayu martial art of silat was one discipline he studied to the level of mastery, when he was able to teach others.
And, as was also quite common among people who study traditional Melayu art forms, Mohammad Din was also gifted with the knowledge of the art of traditional healing.
Fitted in among his studies was travel in the pursuit of knowledge and experience that would help shape his visual art. And shape it they did.
Much has been made of Mohammad Din’s mystical leanings in his art, but is that really surprising given this sort of nurturing and conditioning?

This modest space in Malacca is a dream realised, albeit too late,
as Mohammad Din died before it was completed.
But with its recent opening,
the arts community can celebrate the life and works of a passionate soul.

In addition to an upbringing rich with experiences with and exposure to the many Melayu art forms, there was that Western-style formal art education. There were also sojourns in several other parts of the world: he studied the mystical world of the Sufis in France (of all places!), he painted in the streets of Vietnam, he painted in solitude of his home studio for international art exhibitions ... Mohammad Din seemed to have done it all.

The thread that ran through all his experiences, all his works, was Mohammad Din’s thoughts and feelings about the meaning of life. Through his art, he continuously engaged with the voice within him – the inner voice that urged him to question his very existence and all that it represented.

Mohammad Din painted with a strength and energy that at times seemed unusual. Hampered by the inadequacy of the brush to convey his sense of the Divine Benevolence, the Divine Greatness he perceived around him all the time, he resorted at times to using his palms and fingers to transfer his spiritual energy onto canvas.

The result is a collection of calligraphic and abstract paintings that are laden with ideas and questions about man’s reason for being, and man’s relationship with the Creator.

Several years ago, at the opening of one of his solo exhibitions, Mohammad Din told me of his dream to build a gallery. The profusion of art galleries in rural Bali that he discovered during his visit there added another dimension to his dream. He dreamt of a wide open space in which to make his art. He dreamt of having artists from both Malaysia and Singapore making art in his rural gallery.

He told me that he had found the perfect location for it.

Last year, his wife Hamidah called one evening out of the blue to say that Mohammad Din had died. It was exactly a week after his 52nd birthday.

Last week, I drove to Kampung Gangsa, Durian Tunggal, Malacca, for the official opening of the gallery Mohammad Din had spoken about. He had started construction three years ago; his family continued the project after his death.

An idyllic kampung setting, adjacent to a tributary of Sungai Melaka, buffalos grazing in the open fields around, the blue sky bright and cheerful ... it was a perfect day.

The opening was a celebration of a lifetime of work and the achievement of a dream. Other than a slight pause and a wobble in Hamidah’s voice as she gave her welcome speech and thanked everyone who helped make her husband’s dream a reality, the mood was joyful, and at times reflective.

The gallery currently displays Mohammad Din’s paintings and sculptures. There are plans for exhibitions by other artists.

There are also plans to run residency programmes to enable artists (who tend to be, on the whole, urban creatures) to make art in a rural environment. And, no doubt, to develop their own interpretation of the meaning of life, just as Mohammad Din tried to convey through his art.

By Mas Zetti Atan

Galeri Mohammad Din Mohammad is in Kampung Gangsa, Durian Tunggal, Malacca. Visits are by appointment only; call 06-553 1726, 012-246 2769, or 017-614 1842. The gallery is closed on Fridays.

Mas Zetti Atan studied Political Science and Kesenian Melayu (Malay art) at university where an encounter with a painting by a local artist ignited a passion for modern Malaysian art. She has been involved in organising art exhibitions for almost a decade.

Sourced from http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2008/7/6/lifearts/1506024&sec=lifearts

04 July 2008

Art of the Keris

He is a third generation keris maker and he may be the last as none of Pak Mazin's sons shows an interest in learning the craft, writes WILLIAM THADDAEUS.

Pak Mazin forging seven types of metals to make the blade.

Rising above the banks of the Sungai Perak is a village called Padang Changkat near Kuala Kangsar. Here lives a diminutive little man plying an art that has been passed down three generations — the art of keris-making. Mazin Abdul Jamil, in his early 50s, is one of the few masters in this traditional art.

The keris was a weapon used by warriors in the old days, but it gradually became a symbol of royalty or nobility and a part of the royal costume.Nowadays, anyone can buy a keris but be prepared to dig deep into your pocket because they don’t come cheap. That’s because the making of a keris takes at least a month, depending on the design, size and type of materials used. Sometimes, it requires the work of several artisans to put together a keris.

For instance, if you require silver or gold inlays, then a gold or silversmith would work on this. Prices range from RM500 to RM3,500 depending again on materials, size and design. The most expensive types of keris are those with a handle and casing carved out of ivory.

Family Tradition
Mazin comes from a long line of keris makers. His grandfather, Pandak Mamat, arrived in Kuala Kangsar from Sumatra in the later part of 19th Century. The family has Javanese roots and his grandfather was said to be a royal swordmaker in Sumatra. When he died, his son, Pandak Mat Yunus, continued his craft.

Pandak Mat Yunus has many sons, but Mazin is the only one who has carried on with the family tradition till today. Fondly called Pak Mazin, he started learning to make keris at the tender age of 12. A few years later, he was already making miniatures under the watchful eye of his father.

By the time he was 25, he had acquired all the skills needed to not only make keris but also other types of weapons like lembing (spears) and golok (machetes), the specialty being the ceremonial “golok Perak”.

In the 1980s, when Sultan Azlan Shah was appointed Sultan of Perak, Pak Mazin and his father were commissioned by royal intermediaries to produce 16 pieces of keris. He was also requested to display 45 of his keris at the Pasir Salak Museum.

Pak Mazin has also made the keris for other royal families but today, his business comes mainly from avid collectors who acquire them not only for the beauty of the art but also to maintain and upgrade their collections. His customers come from all over the country and include foreigners, especially Europeans and Americans.

Between 1973 and 1980, he was invited by the National Museum, University of Malaya and Genting Highlands to give demonstrations of his skills and to showcase his products. Sadly, none of his children is keen to follow in his footsteps. However, that does not stop him from teaching the art to others. In fact, there is a steady stream of students from various universities and other learning institutions who come to learn under his tutelage.

Painstaking Process
According to Pak Mazin, making a keris is a very compartmentalised operation, starting with acquiring hardwoods from the jungle for the sarong (casing) and ulu (handles). Kemuning, sena, petai belalang and surian are some of his favourite woods. Then begins the process of carving and polishing them, but probably the most difficult part of the whole process is the making of the bilah (blade). For this, he has to forge seven types of metals over a hot fire in his workshop and to hammer the blade into the required shape.

Pak Mazin lives in the village with some of his 12 children. In recognition of his skills, the government has, recently, helped finance the building of a small showroom next to his house where visitors can view his works or make a purchase.So the next time you visit Kuala Kangsar, make a detour to Padang Changkat to visit the master keris maker.

Text and Pictures by William Thaddaeus
Sourced from http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/TravelTimes/article/HeritageCulture/20080428151018/Article/index_html

03 July 2008

Silat: The Deadly Art of Indonesia and Malaysia

You are minding your own business, buying a newspaper at your local convenience store, when a belligerent drunk decides to take a punch at you simply because you met his stare for a second too long.

What the drunk doesn’t know is that you are trained in the Indonesian martial art silat, and you are therefore able to move easily into close range where your big guns—the knees, elbows and head—can be brought into play. This range is referred to as the “battleground” by Indonesians.

Now that you’ve entered the battleground and are literally in the drunk’s face, you can begin the “tranquilizing process”—a vicious combination of elbows, knees, finger jabs, head butts and kicks to his groin, shins, thighs, eyes or any other vulnerable target. If he is still a threat after your initial salvo of blows, your combinations must continue. Can you sweep him to the ground? Can you elbow his spine? Can you stomp on one of his feet and force him off-balance? These are just a few of the possibilities available to an accomplished silat stylist.

What Is Silat?
Roughly speaking, silat means “skill for fighting.” There are hundreds of different styles of silat, most of which are found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, southern Thailand and the southern Philippines. Common to all of these styles is a combat-oriented ideology and the use of weaponry.

In Indonesia, there exist hundreds of styles of pentjak silat, as well as many systems of kuntao, a form of Chinese boxing that bears many similarities to silat and is found primarily within the Chinese communities in Indonesia. There are also many systems that blend pentjak silat and kuntao.

“Chinese fighting tactics have had positive influences on the development of pentjak silat,” says noted martial arts historian and author Donn Draeger. Malaysia is home to a style known as silat, which can be divided into two forms: pulut, a dancelike series of movements intended for public display, and buah, a realistic combat method never publicly displayed.

Silat is also found in the southern Philippines, as well as langkah silat, kuntao silat and kali silat. Silat techniques vary greatly, from the low ground-fighting postures of harimau (tiger) silat to the high-flying throws of madi silat. One particularly vicious madi throw involves controlling your opponent’s head, leaping through the air, and using your body weight to yank him off his feet as your knee slams into his spinal column.

A typical harimau takedown involves coming in low against an opponent’s punch, capturing his foot with your foot, and forcing his knee outward with a strike or grab to the inside knee to effect the takedown.

Rikeson silat focuses primarily on nerve strikes, while cipecut silat makes extensive use of the practitioner’s sarong for throwing and controlling the opponent. A rikeson silat stylist might take an opponent down with a finger-thrust attack to the nerves situated in the crease between the upper leg and torso.

Cipecut practitioners will deflect an attack with their sarong, then wrap it around the opponent's head, utilizing the significantly improved leverage to yank him to the ground.

Bukti negara pentjak silat, as developed by Paul de Thouars, relies on a sophisticated leverage system to achieve almost effortless throws.

In this self-defense sequence, silat stylist Terry H. Gibson (left) scoops (1) his opponent’s jab and simultaneously traps (2) his foe’s other hand in place. Gibson is now free to deliver (3) an elbow to his opponent’s face. Gibson then grabs (4) his adversary’s hair with both hands and pulls (5) his head into a knee smash. (Photos courtesy of Terry H. Gibson)

In Philippine silat, it is common to trap your opponent’s foot with your own foot while controlling his head and arm, then spin him in a circle. The opponent’s body rotates 360 degrees, but his knee and foot remain in place, causing severe injury.

The sheer number of silat styles allows practitioners a tremendous amount of variety, as well as a certain amount of freedom and self-expression. By researching a number of silat systems, you can add tremendous diversity to your combat arsenal.

Virtually all silat styles, particularly Philippine silat, emphasize weapons training. In the areas where silat originated, carrying a weapon, usually one of the bladed variety, was for generations a fact of life for the general male populace. A silat practitioner will normally be skilled with a knife, stick, sword, staff, spear, rope, chain, whip, projectile weapons or a combination thereof.

The keris, with its wavy blade, is one of the most common weapons in Indonesia and Malaysia. Another wicked weapon found in Indonesia is the kerambit (tiger’s claw), a short, curved blade used to hook into an opponent’s vital points. According to Draeger, the kerambit is used in an upward, ripping manner to tear into the bowels of the victim.

Most silat systems emphasize low, quick kicks, primarily because of the likelihood the practitioner will be confronting an opponent armed with a bladed weapon. A good rule of thumb is to never try a kick against a knife-wielding opponent, unless the kick is delivered at close range and is used as a support technique.

When facing an opponent who attempts (1) a roundhouse kick, silat stylist Terry H. Gibson uses his knee to jam the kick at the shin, then counters (2) with a hard kick to his opponent’s knee joint.(Photos courtesy of Terry H. Gibson)

Silat Components
What comprises a good silat system?

The following are some of the key components:

• Efficient entry system.
The style must have techniques that allow you to move quickly and efficiently into close range of your opponent. It must also include training methods that will hone your timing, precision and accuracy when employing those techniques.

• Effective follow-up techniques.
The system must have effective punching and kicking techniques. Heavy-duty techniques such as head butts, knee smashes and elbow strikes must be highly developed. “Finishing” techniques are more effective if your opponent is properly “tranquilized.”

• Devastating finishing techniques. After you have entered into close range and applied a “tranquilizing” technique to your opponent, the next step is to apply a “finishing” technique, such as a throw, sweep, takedown, lock or choke, to end the confrontation. Locking maneuvers will break or render ineffective an opponent’s joint. Choking techniques will produce unconsciousness. Takedowns, throws or sweeps will slam the opponent into the ground or other objects with enough force to end a confrontation.

• Reatistic weapons training.
Most silat systems emphasize weapons training at some point. This training will include realistic contact-oriented drills rather than forms practice and will greatly improve your reflexes, timing, accuracy, rhythm and precision. It’s amazing how quickly practitioners improve when facing a bladed weapon traveling at a high rate of speed.

Silat theory, then, is simple: Enter into close range of the opponent, apply a “tranquilizing” technique such as a punch or kick, and then “finish” the opponent off with a heavy-duty technique such as a lock, sweep, choke or throw.

Silat in the United States
Suryadi (Eddie) Jafri was one of the first to teach pencak silat in the United States, conducting seminars throughout the country in the 1970s and ’80s before returning to Indonesia several years ago.

The well-respected de Thouars teaches silat publicly at his Academy of Bukti Negara in Arcadia, California, and also conducts seminars across the United States each year.

Defending against an opponent’s left jab, silat stylist Terry H. Gibson (left) parries (1) the blow and simultaneously strikes the biceps. Gibson blocks a right cross, countering (2) with an elbow to the biceps. Gibson then applies (3) an armbar maneuver, finishing (4) with an elbow smash to the spine.(Photos courtesy of Terry H. Gibson)

Another fine instructor is Mande Muda pencak silat stylist Herman Suwanda, who divides his time between Los Angeles and his home in Indonesia. Mande Muda is a composite of 18 different silat systems. Dan Inosanto of Los Angeles uses his weekly seminars as a forum to spread silat, as well as other martial arts. Inosanto has studied with de Thouars, Jafri and Suwanda in Indonesian pentjak silat.

He has also worked with John LaCoste, who taught Inosanto kuntao silat, silat, kali and langkah silat of the southern Philippines. Inosanto also trained under Nik Mustapha in Malaysian bersilat. There are actually only a few qualified silat instructors in the United States, and most of them are not easy to find.

If, however, you have the good fortune to undertake the study of silat under a competent instructor, prepare yourself because you are in for an exciting, invigorating exploration into one of the world’s richest and most effective martial disciplines.

By Terry H. Gibson
Sourced from http://www.blackbeltmag.com/archives/585

About the author: Terry H. Gibson is a Tutsa, Oklahoma-based martiat arts instructor who teaches various styles of silat, muay Thai and jeet kune do.

This article first appeared in Black Belt Magazine, 1993.