31 August 2009

Silat quest

National Geographic Channel’s newest Malaysian documentary delves into the traditional martial art form of silat by tracing one man’s desire to be a fight master.

Navy serviceman Joel Champ can put many Malaysians to shame. While many locals opt to learn foreign martial arts such as Korea’s tae kwon do or Japan’s karate, the 31-year-old American has gone beyond his borders to learn the Melayu traditional art form silat.

The Chicago-lad, who is also an exponent of kick boxing, kempo and has military training, had his heart set on learning silat because of its deadly and mystical qualities.

“My father runs a martial arts school in Chicago, so I was exposed to martial arts from a young age. I was 17 years old when I was first introduced to Malaysian silat guru Sheikh Shamsuddin Sheikh Muhammad Salim (a.k.a. Cikgu Sam). I fell in love after watching his silat demonstration.”

According to Champ, who is featured in National Geographic Channel’s (NGC) Fight Masters: Silat which premieres tonight, silat focuses on strikes, joint manipulation and animal-inspired movements.

“Despite being a little unorthodox, silat seemed to blend a bit of other martial arts forms I had learnt before,” said Champ, 33, in an e-mail interview.

Champ has studied under Cikgu Sam’s tutelage for 15 years now and appreciates the fact that silat has taught him elements of humility and determination.

There are at least 150 known silat forms including Silat Seni Gayong (SSG), Silat Cekak and Silat Melayu Keris Lok 9. In the United States, Cikgu Sam heads the US Silat Seni Gayong Federation and carries the title ketua khalifah (chief of caliph).

Cikgu Sam, who has been residing in Chicago for 25 years, admitted being initially sceptical upon taking Champ under his wing. His concerns were teaching SSG to a foreigner and dealing with cultural differences.

He said in an e-mail interview: “Teaching SSG to someone who is not of Melayu origin is quite challenging, but not impossible.

There are cultural differences that need to be addressed such as adat (culture) and adab (norm). Proper behaviour in Melayu silat is different compared to Japanese or Korean martial arts. For example, silat practitioners do not bow to the instructor, although it is understood when one bows to you – it is nothing more than just a gesture of respect.”

“It is indeed quite complex and tricky to coach someone from a different ethnic background. People from different countries and ethnic backgrounds have diverse cultures and ways of thinking. When they come to class, they bring with them their life experiences, different levels of knowledge and expectations. As an instructor, I have to be open-minded and attempt to comprehend who and what these people are and why they desire to learn silat.”

Master and student: Chicago-based US Navy serviceman Joel Champ with
Malaysian guru Sheikh Shamsuddin Sheikh Muhammad Salim.

After teaching Champ, Cikgu Sam is confident anyone who is capable and disciplined can learn SSG.

“Some say that you cannot learn silat unless you are a Muslim. Martial arts and religion are two separate entities. Blending these makes you more conscious outwardly and inwardly. As for the spiritual aspect, one can be guided. It is up to the individual to find the right path,” said Cikgu Sam, author of The Malay Art Of Self-Defense: Silat Seni Gayong, who learnt SSG in 1973. Sam is also trained in Korean and Japanese martial arts hapkido and aikido respectively. During the day he works as a computer network systems administrator.

Thus far, Champ has secured a second degree back belt in silat – the highest any American has attained. In order to get a third degree black belt, Champ – together with Sam – travelled to Kuala Lumpur to test his strength and endurance. Champ’s journey is featured in the hour-long documentary which will be shown tonight as part of the Merdeka Specials programming on the NGC. This is the first of two new made-in-Malaysia full high definition documentaries in partnership with Finas, and third NGC production after Becoming A King (2007) and Smart Tunnel (2008).

Fight Masters: Silat’s director/producer Justin Ong, 30, said the documentary tracks SSG’s origins as well as Champ’s journey learning the new moves from silat fighters.

“There will be new strategies Joel (Champ) has to master, deadly tackles he has to fend against, killer weapons that his American training has never prepared him for. He also has to undergo a series of endurance tests like immersing his hands in a vat of boiling oil. Upon completing these tests, Joel has to battle against a national silat champion to prove he is up to the mark,” said Ong, who admitted to initially having misconceptions about silat, thinking it was a docile martial arts form. He only discovered how intense it was during recording.

“Most Malaysians know what silat is but have a misconception of the art form, thinking its movements are often performed as a dance during festivities such as weddings. While working on the programme, I saw silat in a different light and learnt that it is one of the deadliest art forms. Although it doesn’t place emphasis on elaborate flying kicks, silat is lethal. For a better understanding, the documentary uses motion capture and computer-generated imagery to deconstruct the science behind silat’s powerful moves,” he said.

Fight Masters: Silat premieres on National Geographic Channel (Astro channel 553) tonight (9pm) with repeats on Sept 11 and 15 (9pm).

Sourced from http://www.star-ecentral.com/news/story.asp?file=/2009/8/31/tvnradio/4560525&sec=tvnradio

27 August 2009

Silat’s biggest secrets finally revealed

Word on the street has it that the silat tradition of mandi minyak or 'hot-oil bath' practised by silat exponents is a scam.

Underneath the layer of oil, as the story has it, is water. Water and oil don’t mix and each has a different boiling temperature. So, when you heat up a water and oil concoction in a big wok, the water, which boils first, gives the illusion that the oil is a bubbling hot liquid that would scald.

“That's what we thought!” said Khairun Lamb. “But Justin (Ong) and I, we were at the site of the ceremony since beginning, and it was all oil, all the way, and it was really, really scalding hot! That’s just one of the things that surprised us when we were making the documentary.”

Khairun is the director of photography and co producer for a team commissioned by National Geographic Channel to do a documentary on the traditional Malaysian martial art of silat. The result is Fight Masters: Silat, set to be premiered this Merdeka Day on the National Geographic Channel.

The documentary follows American silat exponent Joel Champ who has been studying martial arts since he was seven, as he gets his next stripe in his belt — stripe being a level in silat.

The 32-year-old US Navy dry land sailor and master-at-arms fell in love with silat some 15 odd-years ago.

“In silat, it is said that the student doesn't search for the master. The master will seek the student, only when he is ready,” said producer and director Justin Ong.

“Joel was approached by Cikgu Sam — Tan Sri SM Salim's son - in the States and he never looked back, discarding all other forms of martial arts in favour of silat. Joel is in fact the highest-graded silat exponent in the western world.

“However, his training was a bit soft,” said Khairun. “He was practicing in air-conditioned gyms, and had paddings on the floor.

“He wanted to experience what it was like in the birthplace of silat, so we didn't spare him anything. It would have cheated him if we did.”

Then, Khairun added, with a mischievous grin on his face, “And this look he had when it was revealed that traditional silat practice only has sand to fall onto, and training is done outdoors, in the sweltering heat and torturous humidity.”

The project began when silat was chosen as one of the martial arts to be featured on Fight Masters.

“We went on a pitching process to National Geographic and the production company commissioned by them,” said Ong. “Then, a three-month research and two weeks of shooting, and then six to eight months of post- production. We made changes after changes when we discovered new things about silat. Overall, it took a year. And it wasn't easy. Every single line had to be verified by at least two sources.”

That's how stringent the standards are for National Geographic documentaries. And yet, it was a golden opportunity for Ong and for Khairun who even though has done numerous work for international networks such as NHK, Discovery Channel, ABC News, Al-Jazeera, Channel News Asia, has yet to do something about Malaysia.

“I wanted to do this because I have done so many things for other countries,” said Khairun. “I thought it was time I got involved with something for Malaysia.

“Doing this documentary basically taught us a lot about silat,” said Ong. “It was a martial arts that was developed for its practical uses, so we don't see any flying kicks or stylish moves. Everything has its use. Everything is effective. Even spitting at someone's face is a move that could determine the outcome of a fight.

“We also inserted a lot of CGI to show the scientific effects of some silat moves and the force of the blow. We were very lucky as Cikgu Sam convinced the masters in Malaysia to reveal some of their closely-guarded secrets and the moves they rarely show outsiders. We then put some experts to the task of taking a medical and physical explanation why it works that way. It's the science behind the art,” said Khairun.

“It's silat as you've never seen before!” interjected Ong.

However, the team does concede that the sheer scope of the documentary was narrowed down somewhat as the story of silat could not be encapsulated in just one documentary.

“We only have 47 minutes, and it’s jam-packed with as much information as we can,” said Khairun. “So it’s more of an introduction to silat. We covered Silat Gayung as it is the most established, and there are many other schools and styles out there.”

All the more reason, then, to give these guys another chance to cover silat again. This time, perhaps a whole series?

• Fight Masters: Silat will be shown on National Geographic Channel at 9pm on Merdeka Day, Aug 31 (premiere), Sept 11 and Sept 15.

By Amir Hafizi
Sourced from

26 August 2009

Silat Champ

He may be from suburban Chicago, Illinois, but 32-year-old American Navy Master at Arms Joel Champ is a master at silat, a form of martial arts that hails from the Melayu Archipelago.

After 12 years of training, Champ is now ready to move from second degree black belt to third degree black belt. And this can only be done in silat’s spiritual home – Malaysia.

Champ’s journey to learn from reclusive practitioners of silat in Malaysia is captured in the National Geographic documentary, Fight Masters – Silat: The Deadly Art, which premieres Aug 31 on the National Geographic Channel (Astro channel 553) at 9pm.

The American picked up the finer points of this art form from Shiekh Shamsuddin Salim (or Cikgu Sam), the founder of The Silat Seni Gayong Federation of the United States. Cikgu Sam holds the rank of Harimau Pelangi Cula Sakti (black belt) in the Gayong Malaysia hierarchy and carries the title Ketua Kalifah (Chief Caliph).

He studied under the late Datuk Meor Abdul Rahman, the legendary mahaguru of silat who established the Malaysian Silat Art of Seni Gayong, the first officially recognised silat system by the Malaysian government.

A computer analyst by profession, Cikgu Sam has been living in Chicago since 1984 and conducts silat classes in his spare time.

He was introduced to Champ’s father at his martial arts school in Lisle, a suburb of Chicago.

"When my father found out about his silat background, he asked Cikgu Sam to come teach at his school," said Champ in an email interview. "Cikgu Sam is one of the greatest teachers and an amazing pesilat. I feel he embodies all the qualities of a true modern-day silat warrior. He is a man of honour and is very humble and true to his word.

"He is a family man and a great friend. He has always openly shared his culture and vast knowledge of Silat Seni Gayong with me and because of him, many doors have been opened for me. I’m in his debt."

Champ and his older brother were exposed to martial arts at a young age at his father’s martial arts school. The boys would watch their father teach hapkido and they, eventually, took it up.

"That was the old school of hard knocks, losing teeth and bleeding in training. When I met Cikgu Sam at my dad’s school and watched him teach silat, I was very impressed by what I saw. It was deadly and unorthodox from other things I have been exposed to and it seemed to blend a bit of everything I had done in the past."

At 1.8m tall, Champ experienced some difficulties perfecting certain moves. "I’m taller than most practitioners of silat or pesilat. It was only an issue when the techniques involve very low stances – you try and match the person you are training with and that can pose an issue when your height is an issue and you’re taller than the rest."

In Champ’s opinion, silat isn’t that different from other forms of martial arts. "Different arts may emphasise on certain aspects more than others (such as grappling, kicking, weapons, etc). [But] all are physically so close to each other [that] it is best to recognise similarities.

"I would say that silat has an attitude about it and an approach to self-preservation that stands out, but I feel that [it] is because of years of [fighting] invading forces from various nations ....

"When a people is colonised, or when others attempt to colonise them, they will naturally develop an art form that is deadly with elements of stealth and hidden trickery. They will also incorporate elements of their environment and spiritual aspects to help them in their defence.

"That being said, I also will physically compare [silat] to a blend of Thai boxing, jiu-jitsu, escrima and kung fu. That is my style of silat – Silat Seni Gayong."

This is not the first time Champ has been to Malaysia. "I have always been treated more like family than like a guest. Cikgu Sam’s family has always been so kind and PSSGM (Persatuan Silat Seni Gayong Malaysia) welcomes us with smiles, food, and excellent training every time we come to Malaysia.

"I would like to go out and see more of the silat scene in Malaysia. I only have been exposed to Silat Seni Gayong and Silat Melayu Keris Lok 9."

Champ personally believes that it is good that people are taking up martial arts. "I do think though that the Melayu people and Melayu youth should take a vested interest in silat.

"There is such a beautiful and powerful treasure in silat and it must be preserved! I would like to see it preserved by the people where the art has its origins and roots."

By S. Indra Sathiabalan
Sourced from

25 August 2009

Brunei’s Master of Silat Suffian Bela Diri

Guru Maul Mornie is from the nation of Brunei, located on Malaysia’s island of Borneo. He imparts the martial arts techniques of Silat Suffian Bela Diri. But it’s not your typical martial art. This self defense system was created by his family four generations back, as a matter of survival in hostile times.

Today in Melbourne, he’s teaching core aspects of the system.

Guru Maul said, "Basically what I'm teaching everybody is to teach knife defense, knife awareness, and a little bit of cultural side of martial arts".

The knife defense techniques of Silat Suffian Bela Diri have attracted world wide interest since being made public in 2007. Maul welcomes the martial arts academies and law enforcement agencies seeking his personal teachings. But says certain other groups need not apply.

"I'm not looking for violent people or thugs, because what I teach is self defense, not how to fight," he stressed.

That’s not to say his teaching methods lack impact. Or that the term ‘knife awareness’ is just a mental concept.

Stuart Holdsworth, of Six Harmonies Kung Fu Academy explained, “If someone pulls a knife out and goes to attack you straight away, if you hadn’t done anything, you might not know how to react. So it could help you in that respect.”

The event’s organizer, John Schieven, first learnt about Maul Mornie, when searching the Internet for instruction in knife self defense.

John, as the Australian SSBD host said, “Not only general people, but also highly regarded martial artists around the world, see his material and just love what he does, the way he does it, just the ease, the practicality, and that’s why he’s so popular.”

An easygoing nature might have something to do with his popularity as well.

Davie Allen, Construction Sales Rep. said of guru Maul, “He’s a funny guy, he’s a top bloke, yeah he’s alright.”

Roy Harding, Company Director quipped, “I don’t know when he rests to be honest, he sort of flies in, takes two days, or gives two days, and then flies out.”

And it’s a good thing he sleeps well in flight, since his schedule for this year, includes 47 international weekend seminars.

By Robert Apicella, NTD, Melbourne
Sourced from

19 August 2009

Finas & National Geographic Produce Documentary On Silat

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 18 (Bernama) -- A documentary on Malay martial arts Silat Seni Gayong produced by National Geographic Channels in colloboration with the National Film Development Corporation will be aired on Aug 31 on National Geographic Channel Asia on pay TV station Astro's channel 553.

Finas director-general Mohd Mahyidin Mustakim said the documentary, titled "Fight Masters: Silat", would be aired at 9pm with repeats on Sept 11 and 15, at the same time.

"The airing of this documentary follows in the footsteps of the Becoming A King and Smart Tunnel documentaries aired last year," he said at the launching of "Fight Masters: Silat" by Finas chairman Datuk Wong Kam Hoong, here Tuesday night.

Mohd Mahyidin added that the smart partnership between Finas and National Geographic helped to bring Malaysian culture and arts to the whole world.

The documentary, which took a year to complete, tells the story of United States Navy serviceman Joel Champ who spent 14 years studying the martial arts to obtain the Third Degree Black Belt in it.

Sourced from http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsindex.php?id=434022

16 August 2009

Dataran Budaya Can Put Forth 1Malaysia Concept Widely: Rais

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 15 -- The Ministry of Information Communication and Culture hopes that the launch of Dataran Merdeka as Dataran Budaya (Cultural Square) Kuala Lumpur can bring together various aspects of the arts and become a social corner capable of putting forth widely the concept of 1Malaysia.

Its minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said the activities at Dataran Budaya, put together from a combination of various aspects of art from foods to heritage arts like handicarfts, textiles, music and vocal art, can be a seen as unity and cooperation of all races to gather at one place in harmony and therefore reflect culture united in diversity that is the pillar for the country's development.

He said the Dataran Budaya, in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad building, can accommodate stalls for food, textiles, music material, artefacts, handicrafts and renowned books and would operate every Saturday from 10am till 10pm.

"The introduction of Dataran Budaya is a continuing struggle to instill national spirit and direction which can be indulged in by all levels of society and represents a combination of various aspects of culture to reflect the cultural values of Malaysian society.

"In the effort to bringing together various aspects of art from food to vocal art the ministry has asked for an allocation for the purpose of setting up an area to have cultural activities that can be participated in by all races and this can show the unity of races to come together in a harmonious atmosphere in the concept of 1Malaysia practised by the government," Rais told reporters after the launch of Dataran Budaya Kuala Lumpur 2009 and the 1Malaysia Self-Defence Arts Gathering at Dataran Merdeka here Saturday.

Some 2,140 adults and 1,140 children from various self-defence organisations, like Silat Gayong, Silat Cekak, Persatuan Okina-wan Shorin-Ryu Seibukan, KarateDo, Taekwondo and Silambam, took part.

He said the programme would be continued until the first evaluation was made by the ministry in August next year to see if it needed to be continued or if its form and approach needed to be changed.

Rais said the stalls at Dataran Budaya were open to all and those interested would only be imposed conditions and a minimum fee as the programme was to promote Malaysia and not to make profits.

Beside that Rais also said the programme at Dataran Budaya would be able to reduce the culture of 'lepak' (hanging-out) and the 'mat rempit' (illegal racers) as they took would be given the opportunity to participate in a healthy manner.

He said these groups had to be given space to express their feelings in their own way and to them motorcycles and music was an important element in their lifestyle and they must be given space so that they did not feel sidelined.

Sourced from http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsindex.php?id=433210

15 August 2009

Launch of Dataran Budaya Kuala Lumpur

The Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture today launched the Dataran Budaya (Cultural Square) at Dataran Merdeka Kuala Lumpur. The Dataran Budaya programme is expected to take place on Saturday a month on the street in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building.

It is an effort to bring together a variety of the arts and cultural products of Malaysia in one venue for the public to enjoy, appreciate and experience. Activities include exhibition of fine art, demonstrations, fashion shows, film screenings and multicultural arts of self defence. Of course, the programme also offers shopping opportunities!

If you would like to be a part of the fair, please contact Encik Zuriyadi Mohd Sarpin or Encik Faeez Abdul Aziz at 03 - 4026 7000 for more information. terms and conditions apply but participants are generally given a place in a tent with a table and chair.

Sourced from Badan Warisan Malaysia Email News

14 August 2009

Pre-Asian Indoor Pencak Silat tourney opens in Hai Duong City

The Pre-Asian Indoor Games Pencak Silat tournament opens today at Hai Duong City’s Gymnasium with the participation of more than 10 countries and territories in Asia.

Male and female competitors will take part in Seni (performance) and Tanding (combat) events.

The tournament is also an occasion for Hai Duong City’s sports officials to make preparations to organise the pencak silat event at the Asian Indoor Games 3, which the city will host in November.

In the first Asian Martial Arts Games in Bangkok, Vietnamese martial arts contestants won four gold medals, contributing to Viet Nam’s overall fourth place.

Viet Nam pencak silat is looking to win first place in the AIG 3.

Sourced from http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/showarticle.php?num=01NAT140809

Silat Seni Gayong on National Geographic

10 August 2009

UBD's Silat Club Aims To Preserve Cultural Heritage, Marks New Semester

Bandar Seri Begawan - The Kelab Silat Varsiti Greak 41 UBD (KSV G41), a branch of the Perguruan Seni Pencak Silat Gerak 41 (PSPS Gerak 41) and one of the most established clubs at Universiti Brunei Darussalarn, has started its new training session and activities for Semester 1, 2009/2010.

More than 20 martial artists from KSV G41 recently came to participate in the Majlis Pembuka Gelanggan. The function is a tradition for KSV G41 members to begin their new training session every new semester.

On the day, the event began with a recital of the surah al-fatihah led by Raieham Salleh and the 'pembukaan gelanggang' led by Hadi Salalu.

KSV G41 President Himahazman Barahim then made a welcoming speech for the club's new and old members. One of the PSPS G41 trainers, Nurfairuz Nazri Salleh, was also present to give proper instructions and guidance during the training.

He is the President of the UBD Student Council (MPP) as well as the Head of Secretary for PSPS Gerak 41. UBD's undergraduate or postgraduate students who are interested to know more can come to the training ground at UBD Taman Rakis on Tuesday or Wednesday between 4.30pm and 6pm.

Last semester, KSV G41 worked together with PSPS Gerak 41 and organised a friendship visit by the Silat Gayung Fatani Malaysia to Brunei.

The visit by the Malaysian delegates was to strengthen the relationship between two countries (Brunei and Malaysia), as well as to introduce the beauty of the Sultanate and its cultural heritage to the outside world. The PSPS Gerak 41 is now planning to repay a visit to Malaysia.

For this semester, KSV G41, as one of the PSPS Gerak 41 branches, is already planning to hold various activities successful in terms of national standards, such as Silathon and Silat Festival.

Their purpose would be to explain and inform the public in detail about Silat. At the same time, they will also be done to preserve the Malay cultural heritage. With this plan, it is hoped that the cultural heritage could be preserved from generation to generation.

Sourced from http://www.brudirect.com/index.php/200908104567/Local-News/ubds-silat-club-aims-to-preserve-cultural-heritage-marks-new-semester.html

09 August 2009

Brunei Silat Exponent Wins Silver Medal

Bandar Seri Begawan - Awang Amirul bin Ahat, a young pencak silt exponent bagged Brunei's only silver medal at the lit Asian Martia Art Games in Thailand on Friday. His silver medal came in the final of the Pencak Sila Men's Class 'A' event when he was defeated by Niphor Jantaro of Thailand 5-0 in the final.

Altogether Brunei Darussalam obtained one silver and two bronze medals. The bronze medals came from Khuzaiman bin Ahmad (Men's Class ‘D') and Pg Khairul Bahri bin Pg Ali Omar (Men's Class 'F').

Meanwhile, Mohamad Fadillah bin Haji Sanif was eliminated in the second round of the Karatedo Men's 67kg event to a Macau karateka with a slim 1-0 loss. In the first round, Mohamad Fadillah easily beat his opponent from Laos 6-0. -- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Sourced from http://www.brudirect.com/index.php/200908084455/Sports-News/brunei-silat-exponent-wins-silver-medal.html

08 August 2009

VIetnam strike more gold at Asian Martial Arts Games

Vietnamese pencak silat artists bagged four more golds in Bangkok on August 7 to help Vietnam rank fourth on the Asian Martial Arts Games’ medal tally with seven golds, nine silver and 17 bronze medals.

In finals, Le Thi Phi Nga beat Simbar Penki, from Indonesia, 4-1 in women’s A (45-50kg), Le Thi Hong Ngoan dominated another Indonesian, Fitriani Puspa, in E (65-70kg) and Huynh Thi Thu Hong cruised over Malaysian Noor Farahan Ismail in B (50-55kg).

Truong Van Mao took the men’s F (70-75kg) gold from Singapore’s Mohamad Elyasak.

Kick boxer Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai added another gold when she beat Tahi Pungtha Wanlaya in the women’s 56kg full contact final.

Karate exponent Nguyen Ngoc Thanh was beaten by Japan’s Nakaki Shinji in the men’s 67kg final.

Muay Thai artists grabbed silvers through Nguyen Thi Mai Ngan (women’s pin weight, 42-45kg), Tran Thi Huong (light weight, 54-57kg), and Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat (men’s feather weight, 54-57kg).

Other silvers went to Nguyen Thi Huong (women’s U-63kg) kurash and Nguyen Thi Lan (women’s U-57kg).

Hosts Thailand top the medals count with 18 golds, 13 silver and 15 bronze medals ahead of Kazakhstan and the Republic of Korea.

The games end in Bangkok on August 9.

Sourced from http://english.vovnews.vn/Home/Pencak-silat-artists-strike-more-gold-at-Asian-Martial-Arts-Games/20098/106653.vov

07 August 2009

Martial Arts Odyssey: Guru Azlan Ghanie - Silat Melayu Keris Lok 9

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo heads to Malaysia to explore the martial arts of this fascinating peninsula. The population of Malaysia is composed largely of Chinese, Tamil, and Melayu people, all of whom have their own distinct brands of martial art.

Silat is the Melayu art, but each guru teaches his or her own, unique brand of the arts. Some focused on grappling, some on knife fighting, some on meditation, others on striking.

In Kuala Lumpur, Guru Azlan Ghanie teaches an internal style of Silat which stresses acomplete exercise program, similar to Tai Chi, which works all parts of the body, the joints and muscles, and includes breathing exercises.

At higher levels, students work with the curved Malaysian blade, the Keris. Azlan also teaches simple, effective self-defense techniques which require little or no energy. The art is extremely good for women and older people, but the health benefits are invaluable for anyone and everyone.

Antonio Graceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living in Asia. He is the author of the book, “The Monk from Brooklyn” and the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.

Join Antonio Graceffo on facebook.com

See all of Antonio’s videos on his youtube channel, brooklynmonk1, send him a friend request or subscribe.


His books are available on amazon.com

Contact him: Antonio@speakingadventure.com

His website is www.speakingadventure.com

This episode was edited by Antonio Graceffo and features the official Martial Arts Odyssey intro and outro by Andy To.

06 August 2009

Joel Champ: Taking Gayong to the US Navy

Standing guard over the Academy, he maintains justice with his vigilant watch. Mastering the art of Silat Seni Gayong, a Malaysian martial art, and according to him, he is the highest ranked fighter in the western hemisphere. While this could possibly sound like the plot for the next big action movie, it’s a reality for a local Annapolis Sailor.

Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Joel Champ, assigned to Naval Support Activity Annapolis, visited Malaysia over the winter while on leave for two weeks to meet and train and fight with the highest ranking members of his discipline, Silat Seni Gayong. His journey was also the subject of a documentary airing on the National Geographic channel in early September.

‘‘It’s kind of funny, in the pictures I stood out like a sore thumb,” said Champ. ‘‘They have a lot of national pride seeing a foreigner go through this whole ceremonial thing.”

Training in the birthplace of his art, Champ got to see the conventional use of the discipline, as well as how it is used non-lethally with the Malaysian military police. His entire journey was capped with an exhibition match between Champ and the current national champion.

‘‘He’s ten years younger than me, I’m 33, he’s 23, and he was a Navy diver for the Malaysian Navy,” said Champ, who has been practicing Silat Seni Gayong since 1996. ‘‘He kicked like a mule.”

Arriving to the country after a 26-hour flight, it was only a matter of time before he was out in the jungle, training with the masters. He performed several tests of confidence, testing his strength as well as his endurance.

‘‘There are all these tests of strength, faith, and endurance,” said Champ. ‘‘They love seeing a foreigner go through it. They hold it as a sacred treasure; this is the most exposure they’ve had for hundreds of years, and they wanted to show that it’s made its way over to America.”

Going into the training with the knowledge that it would be difficult, Champ was glad he had his military training behind him.

‘‘Honestly, the military gives you this mentality,” said Champ. “Even with all of the years of martial arts training, I think being in the military enabled me to do way better than I ever would have in the past because it instills in you this certain attitude.”

After his training and demonstrations were complete, he moved on to Pusat Latihan Polis (PULAPOL), the Malaysian Police Training Center, to see how it has adjusted to a non-lethal, tournament setting.

‘‘It was pretty awesome,” said Champ.

During his entire visit in Malaysia, Champ was followed by the cameras, the spotlight on him and his experience.

‘‘We filmed up until the evening before I left. There is not a bit of film without me unfortunately,” joked Champ.

Over the course of his two weeks in Malaysia, Champ learned a lot and developed himself mentally, physically, and spiritually. Champ felt that his experience developed him as a Sailor as well.

‘‘Honestly a lot of the core value things that the Navy teaches go hand in hand with Silat Seni Gayong,” said Champ.

After getting back, his life returned to normal, standing guard at his post at the Academy. Champ said that the experience was definitely one of the highlights of his career and his life thus far, and he’s glad he did it.

‘‘Even if people forget about it the day after it airs, I’m glad I made a mark in history. I think it’s cool to know that the Navy is attached to it as well,” said Champ. ‘‘Especially during a time of war, and with all of the negative connotations in the media, I’m glad I can shed some positive light on the military.”

Sourced from http://www.dcmilitary.com/stories/071609/trident_28201.shtml

05 August 2009

Weapons of silat destruction

PETRINA JO FERNANDEZ learns how weapons form the core of silat, the Malay martial arts that is the subject of an award-winning documentary.

THE documentary Inside Silat — Weapons of Destruction, a documentary by silat gurus Jak Othman and Ed Chard, created quite a buzz in the local film industry.

One of the most talked-about entries at the recent 2009 Malaysian Documentary Awards Festival, the hour-long documentary captures the spirit of the martial arts world, taking viewers on a roller coaster ride of amazing feats.

The first such festival, held last week in Kuala Lumpur, saw some 100 documentaries competing for 10 awards, including four major and five minor categories.

Silat practitioners undergoing training.

The major award winners took home RM5,000 in prize money and a trophy each, while the minor awards winners each received RM3,000 and a trophy.

Now the four winners of the major awards are in the running for the Best Documentary award at the upcoming 22nd Malaysian Film Festival to be held in Kota Kinabalu from today until Saturday.

Directed and produced by Jak, said to be a world authority on martial arts, Inside Silat was nominated for six of the nine categories and took home two awards — the Best Editing and Best Arts and Culture awards.

It was one of only two documentaries to secure more than one award at the festival; Bumi Peribumi bagged the Best Director and the Best Environment and Tourism Documentary awards.

Life and Times speaks with Jak about his recent wins and the producing of Inside Silat.

About Inside Silat
Choosing a storyline to demonstrate the inside world of silat was easy — we just looked at the history of the art and found our story.

In ancient times, when a senior student was ready, his teacher sent him away from the gelanggang to study other styles of silat.

This journey, known as the “path of the pendekar”, helped enhance the student’s understanding of the skills he had mastered.

I play the teacher Guru Jak Othman, and Guru Ed Chard, who helped me put together this documentary, plays my student. (Chard also hosts the programme).

In the story, Ed who has been a student of mine for 23 years, gets sent on the “path” across Malaysia.

It is a journey that involves weapons training, including using the keris, kerambit, sarong (yes, the sarong!) and tekpi, and a series of tests.

On the importance of the documentary

The documentary addressed the local and Western perspectives on silat. Chard (right) is seen here with Jak.

It takes a look at what silat is all about.

There are two perspectives of silat, a local one and a Western view.

Young Malaysian martial arts practitioners sometimes reject this fighting system, labelling it “rural”, “outdated” and “old school”. And yet these very characteristics are why the art is so revered by the West.

Westerners feel that the art’s kampung roots reflect how it evolved as a matter of life and death.

It’s not a competition; there are no medals or points to score. In a fight, it’s your life or his. And this is the philosophy that lies at the very heart of silat: it’s kill or be killed. That’s why weapons are the core focus of this documentary.

In making the documentary, I tried to address both the local and Western takes on silat.

It shows Malaysians that there is far more to the art than just a ceremonial display while educating an international audience on the art’s fighting styles.

On winning Best Editor and Best Arts and Culture awards
I am very honoured. I especially would like to thank Finas (Malaysian National Film Devlopment Corporation) for funding Inside Silat.

The documentary is ground-breaking from a martial arts stance. Never before has a documentary revealed so much about martial arts training and its many masters. I hope Inside Silat will become a huge hit with the public and generate a cult following in the martial arts world.

On his interest in film production
I’ve been interested in film ever since I can remember, but even as a child, it was never about being in front of the camera.

Sometimes I think it’s because my creativity is balanced by a more practical side, or the fact that I’m a perfectionist. Being behind the camera gives me more control on how the film turns out.

On the challenges faced by independent filmmakers in Malaysia
The hardest part is breaking into the industry, but the fact that talent and hard work, and not who you know, carries you through makes film a great industry to work in.

International recognition is always the greatest challenge, followed by tight budgets.

No matter how creative you are, limited funds for local filmmakers result in the local version looking cheaper than its international equivalent.

A good example is Human Weapon, the most popular martial arts documentary. The show has very little content but it’s still a great-looking product. That’s thanks to an arsenal of very expensive special effects and CGIs, plus a travel budget that took the crew across the whole of Asia.

On how film festivals open doors for independent producers
As I mentioned earlier, international recognition is a huge obstacle for local producers.

The condition for entering a documentary in the Malaysian Documentary Awards Festival was that it had to be a “Malaysian production”.

This definition allowed internationally-acclaimed executive producers and directors to qualify, which meant the competition was incredibly tough. There were entries from established channels such as National Geographic, Discovery channel and Astro.

Being able to rise to the occasion enabled me to show the quality of my work, so I hope this type of recognition will allow my filmmaking to break into more international markets.

On the late Yasmin Ahmad
I have always loved and enjoyed her work. She was bold and she addressed delicate and sensitive issues that needed to be talked about such as interracial relationships and religion.

On his current works
I’m involved in a number of projects concerning sports, food and martial arts. The one with the biggest potential, which I am most excited about, is a martial arts-meets-game show-project, but it’s still in the works. If I get it off the ground, it’s a real must-see TV show.

Ed Chard says
I first met and started training under Jak at Surrey University in England. Then 15 years ago, I emigrated to Sydney, Australia.

At this stage, Jak had returned to Malaysia. On the way to London to visit my family, I often stopped off in Kuala Lumpur to continue training with Jak.

Then, about two years ago, we started talking about making this documentary. The original plan was for me to fly out from Sydney on holiday for the shoot.

But at the same time Jak was getting close to securing funding from Finas, I was offered a job in KL!

So in October last year, I moved to KL. And six weeks later, I used my weekends to shoot Inside Silat.

Sourced from http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/articles/20090805130215/Article/index_html

03 August 2009

Silat Gayong Malaysia backs call to keep ISA

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - The country's oldest registered silat organisation threw its weight behind the Internal Security Act (ISA) yesterday as "the country is all the better for it".

National Silat Seni Gayong Malaysia Federation acting president Wijaya Abdullah said Malaysia still needed the ISA for the authorities to do what they needed to do to maintain peace and security.

"Other countries have their own form of ISA, worse than what some people claim is happening here," he said.

Though it has thrown its weight behind the ISA, Wijaya said the federation, which was registered in 1963 and had a membership of some 50,000, remained apolitical.

The federation's leadership had agreed to expel any member, regardless of position, found to have taken part in illegal rallies or demonstrations such as Saturday's anti-ISA march.

"It does not matter if a member is for or against an issue. It would be against the law."

Sourced from http://news.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Malaysia/Story/A1Story20090803-158686.html

02 August 2009

Man divorces wife for refusing pledge to ‘silat’ guru

A member of deviationist sect who performed silat (martial art) after prayers divorced his wife for refusing to make a bai’ah (oath of loyalty) to his silat instructor, according to Harian Metro.

The wife, who wanted to be known as Izati, said her ex-husband’s strange act of performing silat for five to ten minutes after prayers has been going on for the past five years.

“He often missed out on the five compulsory prayers and preferred to perform prayers at night. At one point he said that prayers only required expression of niat (intention) and he also jamak (shortened) his prayers although he was not travelling,” said the 29-year-old mother of two.

Izati said she could not accept it when her ex-husband claimed that she and her family would become true Muslims if they took the bai’ah to his silat instructor.

“When I refused to do so, he said he was willing to leave me and my children and choose to be with his instructor,” said Izati who lodged a complaint with the Federal Territory Religious Department.

She said her ex-husband had also been involved in a purification bath at a waterfall along with other men and women at midnight.

Sourced from http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/8/3/nation/4442979&sec=nation