19 September 2009

Back Up Programmes In States Can End Shortage Of Silat Exponents

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 (Bernama) - Back up programmes in states can end a shortage of silat exponents and ensure continuity of silat exponents with caliber to represent the country says the Malaysian National Silat Federation (PESAKA).

PESAKA coordinator Osman Nok said three silat exponents from back up programmes had recently displayed superb performances when Malaysia won seven gold medals at the World Silat Open Championships in France early in March.

The three from the back up squad were Ahmad Iqram Rahim, Norfarhana Ismail and Mohammad Faizul while Ahmad Shahril Zailudin, Emi Latip, Fauzi Khalid and Faizal Abdullah from the elite squad won the remaining four.

"This is a tremendous development and an indication that the country's prowess in silat can be revived or maintained by the young exponents and go on to replace the elite exponents one day," he told Bernama.

Osman said there were 14 back up programme centres throughout the country and has about 1,000 young exponents between the ages of 11 and 17, undergoing training.

To ensure such programmes continued to progress, Osman said the National Sports Council (NSC) had agreed to pay allowances for silat coaches in the states.

Osman said to attract youngsters to take up silat, PESAKA had provided a number of guidelines for coaches, including to focus on the combat form of silat (silat olahraga) as compared with the artistic form (silat seni).

"In the past, youngsters regarded silat as a boring activity because its movements were more of a dance form, very artistic, compared with other combat sports like taekwondo or karate. But such perception has changed," he said.

Sourced from http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newssport.php?id=441443

17 September 2009

Pencak Silat Harimau Berantai

A figure stands in the shadows, her hands moving gracefully in slow, smooth dance-like gestures as her light footsteps bring her ever closer to you. Her state of subtle grace hides any trace of danger she might pose to you.

In your mind, you see nothing but beauty in her movements. That is until you realize your eyes are hurting and before you can recover you feel sharp pains all over your body.

You start to lose consciousness, before you could understand what actually caused you to be in the position you are now thrust into.

You will not know that the pain in your eyes was caused by the sand that she kicked in your face as she got closer to you, while you were preoccupied with her "performance". You will never realize that the sharp pain you felt all over your body was caused by the multiple stabs and slashes she rained on you with a weapon you did not and will not see. There was no reason for you to defend yourself, though you were well armed, for you foresaw no danger at all.

This is one likely scenario that could've taken place during the occupation of the Melayu Archipelago (which includes the most part of what is now the South East Asian countries) by either the Portuguese, Dutch, English, Spanish, Japanese or American colonizing forces. The woman in the story could've been from any of the countries amongst the South East Asian countries. The soldier who met with misfortune could've been from any of the aforementioned colonizing forces. However, the art with which the woman so cleverly put to use to defeat her bigger enemy would most likely be none other than Silat.

Though relatively an exotic, if not obscure, art amongst the majority of the Western martial-arts community until just about a decade back, Silat has had the good fortune of being highlighted by the growing interest in the weapon arts of the South East Asian countries. However, the rarity of correct information and instructors outside its countries of origin have been the major setback to the wider spread of the art itself. This article has been written with the sincerest intentions to alleviate, if not remedy, this problem.

Silat is the indigenous martial art of the Melayu people who mainly populate the South East Asian countries of Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapura and the Philippines. In Malaysia, Singapura and Brunei it is known as Seni Silat. In Indonesia it is widely known as Pencak Silat or Pentjak Silat. However, in the Philippines it is more widely recognized as Kali Silat. By any name it may be called, Silat still is renowned not only for its highly practical and incredibly deadly approach and technique but also for its highly stylized and artistic movements, philosophy and spirituality.

The term "Silat" itself has many interpretations as to its origin. One interpretation states that the term "Silat" comes from the Melayu word "Si Kilat" which means "one who is as fast as lightning". Lightning is taken as an example because it signifies power, speed and elusiveness, not to mention brightness (of the mind). The fact that lightning always takes the least resistive path towards its point of destination makes it all the more compatible as an example for silat's combative approach and philosophy. These ideally are the traits of the pendekar (Silat warrior) in combat. The pendekar's (Melayu silat warrior) prowess, especially in the state of running amuk ("amok" in English) is legendary (not to mention, feared) amongst the many colonizing forces that have dared set foot in the Melayu Archipelago.

However, it has to be noted that the state of amuk should not be interpreted as that of "temporary insanity", where all sense of thought and reasoning is non-existent. It is rather a state whereby the warrior has put aside all notions of self-preservation and is ready to give his life for the cause he is fighting for.

Silat, not unlike the other martial-arts of the East, comes in many different and unique styles. From the tiger-mimicking stances of the Harimau Sumatera-style(no relation to Harimau Berantai), the crowd-pleasing Silat Pulut antics (performed at traditional Melayu weddings and ceremonies), the death-defying acrobatic feats of Silat Seni Gayung to the "no-nonsense"-straight-postured approach of Silat Cekak, the varieties of Silat styles, techniques and weaponry is limited only by the limitations of the human imagination, literally.

However, it is Silat's dance-like movements while in combat, the Bunga Silat, that usually catches the attention of the uninitiated observer. In essence, the Bunga Silat is actually a highly sophisticated and "devious", for lack of a better word, method of deceiving the opponent so as to gain the upper hand in combat. The exact details of how this is achieved is a highly guarded secret in Silat that is revealed to the student only when the Guru (teacher) has fully trusted the student with the responsibility of not misusing this knowledge.

Though aesthetically pleasing, to the untrained eye, the Bunga Silat unfortunately creates the illusion that Silat is a "soft"-style martial art. In actuality, unlike other martial- disciplines, Silat is rarely divided into any categories of "hard" or "soft"(or internal and external)-styles as almost all Silat styles profess to practice both "hard" and "soft" techniques within their respective curriculums.

In Silat, the mind, body and spirit are seen as being in a state of togetherness (which many would not argue otherwise), thus the training is directed towards the cultivation of the "person" as a "whole" and not just towards perfecting his or her fighting ability.

Now, this author will humbly try to introduce one of those many Silat styles, one which for all intents and purposes should and would never claim itself to be the best amongst the rest. One which has at its roots the ultimate goal of martial practitioners the world over, that is the preservation of life in the face of injustice. One which professes the ideals of reason and mercy, yet the firm and swift execution of justice when absolutely necessary. And, one which is realistic and honest enough for the Guru to tell his students, "I can show you hundreds of ways to kill a man, but I cannot even show you one way to bring him back to life!". This is the Silat style known as Harimau Berantai.

Literally, Harimau Berantai Pencak Silat is translated as "the Chained Tiger" Pencak Silat and it has a history that spans generations. Originating from the island of Java, it has a rather unique and interesting birth. It got its title from one of the many pendekars (Silat warriors) of its clan, a pious man named Kiyai Haji Asraf. In its traditions it is said that this style was taught to the founder by a woman in his dreams, the Puteri Mayang Mengurai. Together with the other members of his clan, he would go into battle against the Dutch who were colonizing Java at that period of time. His ferocity in battle so astounded and frightened his enemies that they bestowed upon him the infamous title of "the Tiger".

However, the title was quickly replaced by the Javanese people with "the Chained Tiger", whereby the "chain" signified the degree of self-control and religious faith Kiyai Haji Asraf had in himself owing to his piousness. Ever since then, Kiyai Haji Asraf's whole clan has been called the Harimau Berantai and subsequently, the Silat that they practiced was known by the same title. It has to be noted that until today, a high degree of self-control is still the main prerequisite for all those wishing to study this system of silat, even more so than athletic or fitness abilities (as deficiencies in these areas are more easily rectified).

An interesting quality of Harimau Berantai Pencak Silat is the role in which women have played in it. In the olden days, the women, dubbed Srikandi, actually went to war together with their male counterparts. As a matter of fact, the current Grandmaster of the art is Mak Guru Ramentan Sameon ("Mak Guru" being her title), a lady who is now in her sixties. Not surprisingly, the main weapons of the art such as the pisau belati (knife), kerambit (a small crooked knife popularly known as the "tiger claw") and ekor pari (whip) are essentially light and easily concealed (the whip being wrapped around the waist under the garment or sarong), perfect for use by both women and men.

This brings us to the main subject that this article wishes to address, that of Harimau Berantai Pencak Silat weaponry. We will begin with a general introduction of the major weapons followed by a more in-depth look at the applications, concepts and techniques used for those weapons in combat. As can be grasped from the information so far, this system was originally an art of war, hence the varied weapons employed in combat.

In preparation for battle that could occur at a moment's notice, the Harimau Berantai pendekar had to be able to fight using all manner of weapons that were commonly used in that time period. Weapons such as the keris (traditional Melayu dagger), knife, sword, spear and cane were part of the arsenal of all the pendekars (and not just those from the Harimau Berantai clan). However, there are a few weapons that are focused on in Harimau Berantai Pencak Silat . The first and foremost would be the pisau belati, which is none other than the knife.

The pisau belati (literally, Belati Knife) is an ancient weapon of the Melayu and as such has a glorious history of it's own as far as Silat is concerned. Interestingly enough, the belati (as it is more comonly called) was not a specifically designed weapon of war but was just the everyday common utility knife that was used for everything from cutting vegetables to cutting rope to slaughtering animals and of course, when needed to, protecting one's life. This made it seem the most logical weapon as it was readily available and in the right hands, downright deadly.

This thin bladed weapon was infamous during the Ducth occupation for it's deadly sharpness and "venom" (which will be elaborated on later) especially in the hands of the Srikandi (women warriors) of Java. According to Mak Guru Ramentan (or Mak Intan, as she is affectionately known), the current grandmaster of Harimau Berantai Pencak Silat, the belati was one of the weapons that claimed the most number of Dutch lives when they were forced to fight at close range. With a few simple moves, the belati-fighter would stop the Dutch dead in his tracks, literally.

It is the belati-fighting applications, concepts and techniques that has become the very foundation of Harimau Berantai Pencak Silat's art to this very day. Its influence is so wide-reaching that its applications, concepts and techniques are used even for the empty-hand fighting aspect of the art. Just to touch on that, the empty-hand fighting in Harimau Berantai Pencak Silat is also directly influenced by all the other major weapon's concepts, applications and techniques in its arsenal. So, in order to get properly acquainted with Harimau Berantai Pencak Silat, you would have to befamiliar with the belati as well as the other traditional weapons of the art. As such, the belati-fighting art deserves an in-depth study in its own right.

Firstly, we need to be familiar with the physical characteristics of the belati itself. In general, the length of the belati's blade is between 10 to 20 centimeters depending on the size of its user's hands. The belati, like any single-edged knife, can basically perform two basic techniques, slashing and stabbing (a well-made belati is said to be able to slash all the way to the enemies' bones!).

The belati is forged from at least three different metals, so as to insure that the strength of the thin blade is sufficient when it has to endure the extreme rigors of combat. A weak blade might break on contact with the enemy's bone (or article of clothing such as a belt-buckle). According to the Grandmaster, Mak Intan, the belati owned by Puteri Mayang Mengurai (who taught the founder of the art, Haji Asraf) was made from 27 different types of metals.

Back in the olden days, the blacksmith responsible for the forging of the belati would fast for a day before starting the process. The blacksmith whose responsibility it was to forge the belati of Puteri Mayang Mengurai was said to have fasted for 90 days before beginning the task. After having done so, he forged the legendary weapon using nothing but his bare hands!

The blacksmith (in Melayu, "pandai besi", literally meaning "iron-intelligent'!) is believed to possess the skill to infuse the weapons he forges with certain "venoms". It is believed that there are two types of venom that can be infused into the belati by the experienced blacksmith. First, the venom or poison derived from organic sources such as plants and animals (much like those used on poisoned darts or arrows although less potent). The second, believed to be a more potent venom, comes from charms that the blacksmith "infuses" by way of spells and incantations all throughout the forging process.

As mentioned, the belati is suitable for both slashing and stabbing but would prove less efficient if put to use as a chopping instrument due to the thinness and lightness of its blade. Anyhow, that in no way takes the edge off (excuse the pun) this ` excellent weapon as its thin and light blade is its strength, so to speak, as these features makes the belati extremely easy to carry, deploy and then conceal. The thinness of its blade coupled with the skill of weapon-concealment of the Pendekar makes the belati virtually invisible in the eyes of the enemy. This by the way, is of the utmost importance as the element of surprise makes a huge difference in an all-out fight for survival. Also, due to this nature of the weapon (its light weight), it can be incorporated into the trapping and grappling range to augment techniques such as joint locks and manipulations.

As a general guideline, slashing can be done with both the point or the edge of the belati. The targets when doing so are the major muscle groups and arteries. However, slashing with the point of the belati can rarely be done all the way to the way to the bones, as can be done when using its edge, just to the skin and the outer layers of muscle.

The internal organs, major target themselves, are more accessible through stabbing techniques as opposed to slashing because stabbing provides more depth of penetration as the length of the belati is greater than its width.

The blunt side of the blade (opposite the edge), the handle and even the wooden sheath of the belati is used for hitting or knocking the enemy as a set up for other techniques. These parts of the belati are also invaluable when performing trapping or joint-locking techniques as they present the belati-fighter with several (less damaging) alternative options other than the above mentioned slashing and stabbing techniques. These options further optimize the use of the whole of the belati as a weapon. Although seemingly violent, these techniques were designed with the aim of immobilizing the enemy as fast as possible. As such, the techniques rely on simple, quick, yet effective movements aimed at the vulnerable areas of the body. Anyhow, the Pendekar must always exercise the proper degree of physical and mental control based on reason, mercy and also the gravity of the situation so as not to cross "the point of no return", if you may (unless of course, there are no other options).

Belati Fighting Concepts Attack As can be expected of any discipline of the martial arts, especially one which is in essence an art of war, there are philosophies and concepts that are held as the foundations of the art. This is true in relation to Harimau Berantai Pencak Silat as well. For the purpose of this article however, we will examine briefly a couple of the belati knife-fighting concepts as there are, in reality, too many concepts that would necessitate the writing of not one but a few volumes of books to satisfy the complete explanation of each of them.

The first concept we will examine is that of attacking. Despite the prevalent attitude of many in the martial arts circle who hold true to the concept of defense and defense alone, Harimau Berantai Pencak Silat, while not opposing the merit of defensive techniques (we practice many such techniques ourselves), believes that in offense (attacking) there is also an advantage to be gained. Technically speaking, the person who attacks is in actual fact controlling the tempo of the fight. This does not necessarily mean that the attacker would prevail in that conflict, just that the ensuing actions taken in that conflict will result directly from the attacker's initial attack. What does determine the outcome of the conflict however, amongst other things, is the skill level of both parties in the conflict (the attacker and the defender). Provided that the attacker has a higher degree of skill and understanding of knife-fighting, the fact that the attacker has taken the initiative (by attacking) will actually put the defender in the position of having to respond with an appropriate defensive (or counter-attacking) technique.

In the case of knife-fighting, where a simple touch or flick of the knife could prove to be fatal, the defender's response has to be exact as the margin of error in a knife-fight is next to nil. This type of response by the defender can only be made if he or she is trained in knife-fighting because it takes the proper instincts to react to a knife attack by a knife-fighter who is attacking with not one but a combination of stabs and slashes at blinding speed. Instinct, not thought, is the most important attribute because there practically is no time to think when someone is coming at you with a knife and all it takes for him (or her) to seriously injure you is just for one of those many slashes and stabs to touch you.

Even more importantly, the mental conditioning that it takes to stay perfectly calm during a knife fight, let alone facing a knife attack, can only be achieved through constant and correct training on the part of the knife-fighter. Even then, there are no guarantees that the trained man will win or even survive a knife-fight as there are too many variables in a knife-fight that are completely out of the knife-fighter's control (such as the skill level of the enemy). However, the complete absence of proper knife-fighting training is a sure-fire guarantee of defeat in a knife-fight, which practically translates into serious bodily injury or even death.

That, unfortunately, is the reality. So, it stands to reason that a belati-fighter, being the more experienced with the knife (both mentally and physically), has an incredibly higher chance of scoring when attacking as he only needs to touch his enemy in order to end the fight.

One issue that needs to be addressed is the fact that attacking is not against the code of honour of the pendekar as the attack is made when the "state-of-battle" has already commenced, when such "diplomatic" solutions as fleeing or backing down is no longer valid (e.g. when one is protecting one's child from being kidnapped ). In the final analysis, attacking is a valid protection strategy as it sets the psychological-precedence or mind-set that the belati-fighter is no longer the "victim" but rather the "aggressor" and goes a long way when you're in a knife-fight, fighting for your life! To summarize, in a nutshell, the attacking-strategy of the Harimau Berantai Pencak Silat Pendekar can best be summed up by the famous saying "Sometimes the best defense is a good offense".

Another facet of Harimau Berantai Pencak Silat training that is directly related to its attacking-strategy is the study of the vulnerable parts of the human anatomy especially those directly related to the applications of the belati. Contrary to popular belief, the head, neck and torso are not the only parts of the human anatomy that are the targets in a knife-fight. Actually, these are secondary targets as the priority in a knife-fight is to neutralize the main threat which is the weapon-arm of the enemy (even when the belati-fighter is the one attacking). As a matter of fact, there are at least 8 different targets on the arm that if cut and left untreated, would make the enemy succumb in 15 to 30 seconds (which is still too long a time in a knife-fight). The same goes for the legs as well, and the effect takes place even faster in a highly fit person compared to a person with a low level of fitness, paradoxically.

This type of knowledge is essential in the proper study of the belati and as such is given priority. However, the emphasis here is not so much on the damage that can be done as much as the repair that can be salvaged once an injury has occurred, whether it be on the enemy or one's self. This is due to the fact that in Harimau Berantai Pencak Silat philosophy, a life is something sacred and once taken, no one can bring it back. The fact that violent circumstances have to be neutralized (by the same means, sometimes) in order to protect the innocent does not justify the taking of a life if it could be avoided.

So in order for the Pendekar to be in complete control of his situation, he has to be able to administer quick and precise first aid measures as well as justice. Both traditional and contemporary techniques are given emphasis in the administration of first first aid in this respect. Only after a practitioner of Harimau Berantai Pencak Silat is able to effectively master both the "killing" and the "healing" aspects of the art is he or she a true practitioner.

In the end, it boils down to a question of responsibility, both on the part of the art and the practitioner. For the art would be a highly irresponsible one if it did not at the very least provide some alternatives to its potentially "killing" techniques. At the same time, that would be of no use whatsoever if the practitioner does not have the control and restraint it takes to be able to keep a balance between the administration of justice, the coldness of brutality and the virtue of mercy. After all, it is the preservation of life that is of the utmost concern when neutralizing a potential threat, and at the highest levels of Harimau Berantai Pencak Silat (or any other martial art), that includes the enemy's.

By JAK OTHMAN Originally published in Silat Warrior magazine Sourced from http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/silatindonesia/message/162

16 September 2009

Lightning fast, bone crushing Malay art of war!

Silat is often misunderstood as the Indonesian Martial Art. Maybe this is because most styles of Silat that reached the foreign shores are from Indonesia. We have the old styles like Harimau Minangkabau from Sumatra , Cimande from Java. American-based Silat bodies or styles like Serak from the De Thouars family and Mande Muda by the late Guru Herman Suwanda who had taken elements from more then 20 Indonesian Silat styles into his system. We have Maphilindo Silat by Guru Dan Inosanto combining Madjapahit, Indonesia and Philippines Silat styles into his system. The styles mentioned above are among the famous ones outside the countries of origin for Silat.

Looking at the countries of origin for Silat in South East Asia, Indonesia has more than 400 styles of Silat registered with the Indonesian Silat Federation (Ikatan Pencak Silat Indonesia), more than 250 styles likewise in Malaysia (Persekutuan Silat Kebangsaan Malaysia), 20 styles in Brunei (Persekutuan Silat Brunei) and 25 styles in Singapore (Persekutuan Silat Singapura). There are also Silat governing body in Mindanao, Philippines and Patani , Southern Thailand which can also be categorised as countries of origin.

The four National Silat Federation from the countries of origin formed the International Silat Federation (Persekutuan Silat Antarabangsa) or PERSILAT for short. Now Silat bodies from more than 25 countries around the World are affiliated to PERSILAT. Silat is not only Indonesian, but also belong to the Melayu in South East Asia. As a matter of fact, Silat is the art of war of the ancient Melayu empires.

The first Melayu empire was Kedah which was situated north on the west coast of the Melayu Peninsula (West Malaysia). The downfall of this first great Melayu empire saw the rise of the Sri Vijaya in Sumatera. Next was the Madjapahit empire in Jawa. After Madjapahit was Melaka which was also situated on the west coast of the Melayu Peninsula. Madjapahit and Melaka empires were so strong that the ancient nations of Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines and southern Thailand were under them.

Being the main centre of trade for the old India and China route has made the ancient Melayu empires the melting pots of Asian cultures. We have Indian , Chinese, Persians, Okinawans, Japanese and all South East Asian traders coming to the main cities of our ancient empires to trade their goods.

Being popular and rich also made the Melayu empires constant targets to foreign forces attacks. Melaka fought the Portuguese, Dutch and English for more than 150 years. The Indonesian faced the Dutch until the day of independence. The Southern Philippines fought the Spaniards and Americans in some great wars. These foreign forces were well equipped with sophisticated weapons and vehicles of war.

Despite of all these advantages, they had their biggest nightmares when they faced the pendekar (Malay warriors) .The pendekar fought the invaders using the ancient Malay art of war called SILAT!

The deadliest martial art?
Silat is often related to words like deadly , devastating or even savage by some people. But if you refer to history of the ancient Melayu empires which were under constant attack by the foreign forces, you will be able to understand why Silat were described using these extreme words!

When foreign forces attack your country, I am sure you will fight all out to defend your family and country honour! And this mean the fight to the death ! AMUK ! (The American army had to use bigger guns in the Philippines !)

The ancient Kedah empire were under constant attack from Siam (Thai). We fought them for more than 200 years. The arrivals of the Chinese and Indian traders brought along their martial arts together with the trading goods. Of course we had a fair amount of combat with these foreigners those days. We might have borrowed some of their fighting elements from them and vice versa.

Some Chinese arts were modified with Silat elements to be come South East Asian Arts and today are well known as Kuntau or Kuntaw. There are also claims that the Kuntaw is deadlier than Kung Fu!

In Malaysia Kuntaw is usually kown as SILAT KUNTAU. Popular Malaysian Kuntau styles are Kuntau Jawa, Kuntau tekpi and Kuntau Sendeng Silat.

The ancient Melaka empire fought the Portuguese, Dutch and English Armadas. The Dutch had bad times with the pendekars of Indonesia. Next came the Japanese in 1940's. We fought them in World War II together with the army of the Great British Empire. Unfortunately, fighting is the only way to solve problem does days and the Pendekars had a lot of practise throughout the centuries.

In modern times , we had genuine martial artists like the late Shihan Donn F. Draeger who travelled around the world to do research and write books on Asian martial arts. He came to Indonesia and Malaysia to meet and trained under several Silat Guru. With an impressive records of achievements in Japanese martial arts under his belt, Shihan Draeger considered Silat as one of world's deadliest fighting arts. We also have world famous martial artist like Guru Dan Inosanto making positive comments about Silat. Many are impressed with the nature of combat of this ancient Melayu art.

As a practitioner, I believe Silat is one of the world's most complete fighting art. It may not be the most effective martial art for all, but it is best for me. (I am short , fat and slow). It is a complete art. It is flexible, like air or water. Silat will fit into all combat environments and situations. Silat combat strategies and techniques are all about adaptations. Adapting to the surrounding environment and fight the opponents using concepts and techniques which is unusual or alien (if possible) to him.

Using the floor, the walls and whatever existing things around or with you to your opponent's disadvantage. When this happens, it is like having a live shark struggling to breath on land fighting you armed with one of the best weapons ever created by man!

Pentjak, Pencak, Seni or kali Silat?
The late Bruce Lee once said, "It is just a name. Don't fuss over it!" Don't get mixed up or confused with the four terms used before the word Silat. The word Pentjak and Pencak is the same. Pentjak is the spelling written by Shihan Draeger in his books. The Dutch Indonesian Silat practitioners also used this spelling for writing the name of their styles. Pencak is the actual spelling used by the Melayu language in Indonesia, Malaysia and the rest of the Silat world today.

Sometimes you can also find spelling like Penchak in old texts. Pencak, Penchak or Pentjak are the same. I don't blame the shihan at all for his spelling. He was foreigner trying his best to explore the art. I always give him credits for his effort. Pencak can be referred as combat strategies, philosophies , methods or even special tips to do Silat. It could be classified as the way or the art of.

Seni is the art of. Seni Silat is the art of Silat , which carries the same meaning as Pencak Silat. Seni is used by many practitioners in Malaysia, Singapura and Brunei to describe their versions of Silat. Pencak Silat is actually Indonesian. However, Pencak and seni reflects the same thing.

Kali is referred to as the Filipino version of Silat from the island of Mindanao, Philippines by American Martial arts experts. I do not know the meaning of Kali in Filipino language, but in the Melayu language Kali means river (flowing like a river). This is a unique concept of fighting! To flow like a river when you fight. Remember as mention earlier Silat is like air or water. It will adapt or take shape into whatever container or environment at that particular time and situation.

During my last visit to Mindanao, I found out that the native martial arts is called Silat , not Kali silat. When I mentioned Arnis or Eskrima, they know it. Unfortunately, when I mentioned Kali nobody knows! They call their martial arts Silat . However , it was a very short visit for any quality research.

Another term used by several martial arts writers is Bersilat for Malaysian Silat. Sorry , I must highlight that this is a mini mistake. Bersilat is to do Silat . It can also be used as Berseni silat or berpencak Silat which can roughly be translated as to do the art of Silat! Please stop using Bersilat to describe Malaysian Silat.

Silat is the combative characteristics of fighting (Melayu version of course). There are many theories about the origin of this word. However, I find one most popular among the old gurus which I have been with. Silat is short for SIKILAT or THE LIGHTNING! The Silat practitioner must be bright (smart). Beautiful and graceful movements like the lightning in the sky. His moves must be fast , deadly and elusive like the lightning! You can feel it's presence, but you do not know where it comes from.

Lightning is so fast and once struck an object it destroys. Since majority Silat style are taught by Muslim Gurus, the lightning is believe to be the angels weapon to punish the Satan. So Silat is against evil!

Jak, Silat, UK & Ireland
Silat has been in the UK for more than 15 years . I am sure there are more Gurus before me teaching in this country behind close doors. A good example will be the Guru of Nottingham's journalist/ silat practitioner Chris Parker. During the 80's , I was promoting a style of Silat from Kedah origin called Pancasila Gayong Harimau Silat. The art of war of the pendekar from the ancient Kedah empire was used for more than 200 years to fight Siam (Thailand). This Keris (Melayu dagger) based art has my qualified representatives / instructors in England and Ireland. Jurulatih (Instructor) Clive Larnder, Richard Lloyd and Alex Tarling are qualified instructors in England. Jurulatih Liam MacDonald is the man in Ireland.

I am now promoting my family system called Harimau Berantai Pencak Silat throughout the country. By March 2002, United Kingdom and Ireland will have it's own representatives of this Jawa Silat style.

I am a bit concern about an article by Mr. Glenn Lobo's student in Fighters January 2001. The writer claimed that his Guru (Mr Lobo) is teaching knife fighting techniques from Seni Silat Gayong as taught by me. Actually, I never thought Mr. Lobo Seni Silat Gayong, but Pancasila Gayong Harimau Silat. Seni Gayong is another famous silat style from Malaysia. Mr. Lobo was one of my Pancasila Gayong Harimau Silat students , but not a qualified representative or instructor. He is a qualified instructor of another famous Malaysian Silat style called Seni Silat Lincah. Guru Lobo is now heading the Seni Silat Lincah for UK and Europe for the Mahaguru (grandmaster) in Malaysia.

We also have Ajar ajar (Guru) Megat Ainuddin teaching his family system called Silat Penjurit in Manchester. Sifu Steve Powell of Jeet Kune Do and Sifu Karl Tanswell of Defence Unlimited are among experts who helped promote this style of silat during the late 80's. This is the style practised by one of most respected pendekar of the past Pendekar Megat Terawis.

Pendekar Richard De Bordes of Palero Beringin Sakti Pencak Silat has his own organisation in the UK and Ireland. Pendekar William Saunders of Pukulan Cimande Pusaka Pencak Silat from the USA has a representative in Ireland. Guru Liam Mac Donald is his representative in Ireland and Europe.

Another Malaysian silat master, Guru Yeop Ariffin is in London teaching Silat Haqq Melayu. We have the British Silat organisation and Silat Association of United Kingdom with several silat styles in it. The most recent introductorion of silat into the UK was by Sifu Nigel Sutton of Zhong Ding traditional Chinese Martial Arts Association who is now a qualified instructor in Lian Padukan Silat and Silat Melayu Keris Lok 9 from Malaysia.

And of course we have the Jeet Kune Do groups in the UK and Ireland which practise Silat styles like Serak, Bukti Negara, Mande Muda, Buka Jalan and Maphilindo Silat direct from the USA.

If I missed out some names, no hard feelings please. Anyway, you readers can browse the internet for more information on silat styles and Gurus in the UK and Ireland. You can visit me at www.jakothmansilat.com.

For those who has been working so hard to promote Silat in the UK and Ireland, I salute them. Lets drop the politics, cut the crap and be a true silat practitioners. Brotherhood is most important in Silat.

For those who came to my seminars this July 2001, I wish everyone good luck and enjoy exploring Silat. For those taking up the apprentice instructor's course work hard because you must be up to standard to qualify in March 2002. For those who missed the seminar, we had a great time working on Pukulan (striking arts) and Kuncian (grappling arts) of Harimau Berantai Pencak Silat. Knife fighting and sarong tie up and manipulations were also introduced in these seminars.

The next seminar tour will be more exciting, I look forward to see more British and Irish people in October 2001. I shall be promoting Silat in Cardif , Wales for the first time this October. Other confirmed locations will be Manchester, Nottingham, Southampton, Essex, Dublin and Glasgow.

By Jak Othman
Sourced from

09 September 2009

Fight Masters: Silat - A Completely Biased Review

I watched the National Geographic Television HD Show- Fight Masters: Silat today. Below is my totally biased review on the show. I am biased, I am an American student of Silat Seni Gayong for 8 years under Cikgu Sam and traveled with him and Joel Champ to Malaysia for the filming of this show. I was fortunate to see the process and things that got left on the cutting room floor and how hard everyone worked to bring this show to light. That having been said below is my review as a Gayong practitioner, American, and witness to the process of the making of the show:

The show starts out with a great shot of Cikgu Jazwan. His movements illustrate the precision of Gayong striking. The empty hand techniques, Sanga Maut (a locking technique) and Seligi (nerve striking) illustrate the varied movements in Gayong. The techniques are varied and encompass different things for different outcomes. The locking is for breaking bones, while the Seligi moves are for nerve damage and "softer" tissue damage. The selection of these two varied techniques gives the viewer a good glimpse at the variety in Silat.

Next they moved on to weapons. Though many were filmed, the ones that made the cut were kerambit, keris, and cindai. The kerambit showed more of the "sneaky" aspect of Gayong. This weapon is hidden and deadly. It shows that you should never underestimate your opponent, because you never know. The keris is great to see! It is the weapon of Malaysia. It has a rich heritage steeped in Malay tradition. This segment in particular showed that a "common" weapon of great heritage has a deadly purpose. It is used to inflict maximum damage. The cindai is a flexible weapon, here shown using a sarong. These techniques illustrate how Gayong grew from using everyday items that people had near then, into a Martial Art used for protection. The cindai is again, a sneaky weapon that makes you re-think the people and items around you.

The Mandi Minyak ceremony was truly inspiring! All the teachers that were able to be there and participate, even those not on film made the experience unforgettable. This program shows the boiling oil, it gets you close enough to hear the boiling oil bubble break the liquid's surface. The sound, the heat, the smells are all part of your test of faith. Can you really do this? Can you take perfectly good and useful hands and really dip them into this angry looking liquid? Fight Masters takes you on the journey with Joel, you feel his nerves kick in at the moment of truth.

The final part was showing Silat Olahraga. One thing I wish had been explained better was the fact that Silat Olahraga is a totally separate art. It is not part of Silat Seni Gayong. Olahraga is a sport version of Silat. Like Tae Kwan Do and Karate, Silat as a whole has moved into sport fighting with rules and boundaries. In this new and different art Joel had to fight a SEA Games Champion. Joel trained for a few hours over the course of a couple days and then was put in the ring. Joel took a beating and held his own. This is where the story becomes full circle about Joel's journey. Joel's heart, his determination is what pulls him through this fight. Even though Joel loses this particular battle overall he wins the war. He is successful and at the end is awarded his third degree black belt.

Cikgu Sam's and Joel's own words at the end of the program show you how much Silat Seni Gayong means.

Gayong becomes part of you, it isn't just a "hobby" to either man.

This show overall made me very proud. I don't use the word "proud" lightly or in a condescending manner. I say it made me proud because everyone involved, the Gayong teachers, students, crew etc. all worked hard to bring you an authentic look as possible into the world of Silat Seni Gayong. Silat Seni Gayong can be a devastating art. It takes years of training and proving yourself to attain the rank of black belt. It usually takes between 8-10 years of consistent training to reach that level. For a Western brain thinking of "Karte Kid," typically when a Gayong person attains a Red belt level they will start teaching and this level is fairly equivalent to a black belt in most other arts. That having been said, Joel's training to receive his third degree black belt did not all get accomplished over the course of shooting this show. His training to get to third degree had been ongoing for years prior, this show was the catalyst for his getting additional rank. Those that know Gayong, know that this rank is not given out on a whim, it is earned through blood, sweat and tears. Joel has paid his dues over the years and earned his rank the old-fashioned way, it just so happened that this final aspect of his promotion was captured on High Def with a camera in his face shooting a show.

At the end, I sat there, overwhelmed. Silat Seni Gayong was shown in great light by a true artist, the cameraman, Lamb. This show is great! There are other opinions out there, but I hope the general consensus is that this is a positive thing for Gayong. I feel that it is.


07 September 2009

Two Gold Medals In Silat At Laos SEA Games Realistic Target, Says Coordinator

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 (Bernama) -- Malaysia's quest for two gold medals at the Laos SEA Games is realistic, based on the high standard of competition from other participating countries.

Its SEA Games silat coordinator Osman Nok said to aim for two gold medals -- one in artistic silat and the other in silat sports -- would not be a problem to the national athletes, instead it would be a bonus to them, he told a press conference in Bukit Jalil, here, Monday.

Osman said Malaysia would send 10 silat athletes to take part in 12 out of 19 categories at the Laos SEA Games.

"We now have 18 silat athletes undergoing training at the National Sports Council's facility in preparation for the Pre-Asian Indoor Games, in Hanoi, Vietnam in the middle of this month. But the final list for Laos will be announced in October," he said.

Besides silat, the Laos SEA Games from Dec 9 to 12 this year will also feature 25 other games, including athletics, archery, swimming, takraw, badminton, billiard and snooker, boxing, cycling, football, golf, judo, karate, shooting, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, volley ball, wrestling, weight lifting, wushu, muay thai, petanque and shuttlecock balancing.

Sourced from http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newssport.php?id=438769

03 September 2009

Silat Exponents Must Prove Worth In Hanoi

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 2 (Bernama) -- Only silat exponents, who show their prowess at the Hanoi Indoor Championship early next month, will represent Malaysia in the Laos SEA Games.

National silat manager Osman Nok said although three exponents had been identified, the names of 12 athletes would be finalised after the indoor championship.

"All silat exponents have the opportunity to prove their worth. Only the best will be selected," he told Bernama.

Osman, who is Malaysian National Silat Federation (Pesaka) coordinator, said only three seni silat athletes had been nominated and this threw the field for nine more exponents in the athletic silat events now wide open.

The trio are Suzi Sulaiman, who will take part in the Tunggal Puteri event, and Ganda Putra pair Mohd Hafiz Mohd Haris and Mohd Helmi Aziz.

Osman said he believed the national squad to the Laos SEA Games could perform better than the Korat SEA Games squad, which bagged only one silver medal and five bronze medals.

He said due to the fasting month of Ramadan, the silat athletes were put through their paces at night in preparation for the indoor championship.

02 September 2009

Silat in motion

The story behind the making of Fight Masters: Silat goes back to 2007 when various filmmakers were pitching ideas to National Geographic Channel which was looking for a good story to produce in conjunction with Malaysia’s 50th Merdeka celebrations.

Silat did not make the cut then and so videographer Khairun Lamb of Creative Nation Sdn Bhd decided to find a more interesting angle involving this Melayu art of self-defence.

He roped in Justin Ong of GS Productions Sdn Bhd, whom Khairun had worked with previously, to help direct, produce and write the script before approaching National Geographic Channel again.

The new pitch was about American Navy Master at Arms Joel Champ who had studied silat under the guidance of one Cikgu Sam.

"We had this idea of having a foreigner who had studied silat to be flown down to Malaysia," explained Ong. "That’s when we started doing research. We didn’t want some random guy. We needed someone with some recognition in the silat world."

Then, they came to hear of Cikgu Sam (real name Sheikh Shamsuddin Salim) who heads the US branch of the Silat Seni Gayong Federation (the headquarters is located in Ulu Langat, Ampang).

"We found out that his best student was Joel Champ who was in the navy. Joel was interesting because of his long association with martial arts and had been training under Cikgu Sam for over a decade," said Ong.

Khairun, who is an exponent in taekwando and karate, said he had the option of taking up silat when he was young but he could never grasp its bunga movements.

"I like aggressive sport and never viewed silat as aggressive. It looked a lot like dancing around. I still had that perception when pitching the story [to National Geographic Channel]."

He only realised its true deadly nature when shooting started. "Through the view finder, I could feel the pain. If it were me, I would have been screaming. Now, I have a totally different perception of silat and I will not take it lightly," said Khairun.

He is very sure Fight Masters: Silat would be an eye-opener to viewers. "It was definitely an eye-opener for me," he pointed out.

It is understood that silat exponents are generally very private by nature and do not belong to big organisations which actively recruit people. It took some convincing to get local members of the Silat Seni Gayong Federation to allow the production team to shoot Joel’s progress for 14 days.

However, the fact that Cikgu Sam is highly respected opened doors for the team.

The entire shoot took place in December last year at the federation’s premises in Ulu Langat. Champ had taken leave to do the documentary and until the last minute, the production team was not sure he would show up.

Ong described Cikgu Sam as an unassuming man who is a lot shorter than his six-foot-tall student. "It was like looking at Yoda and Luke Skywalker. Cikgu Sam would walk and Joel would walk quietly behind him," joked Ong.

For the first time, motion capture technology and 3D animation were used to analyse how deadly the silat blows were. "This has never been done before and silat itself has never been under scientific scrutiny."

This technology showed how each silat strike could affect the body, and hence, centuries of claims related to the martial art may finally be proven right.

While Fight Masters: Silat was a standalone show aired yesterday on Merdeka Day, it will be shown as part of the Fight Master series abroad.

This is the first of two new made-in-Malaysia full-high-definition documentaries under the Malaysia to the World 2 (MTTW2) partnership with Finas, and the third National Geographic production in Malaysia.

The MTTW2 follows the highly-successful first initiative that witnessed the premiere of two acclaimed National Geographic documentaries – Becoming a King (2007) and Smart Tunnel (2008).

Both documentaries were shot and produced in HD by National Geographic Channel and local filmmakers GS Productions and Creative Nation.

By S. Indra Sathiabalan
Sourced from

01 September 2009

'It was really hot and scary'

They were neither silat practitioners nor were they prepared for the task of dipping their hands into boiling oil, but there they were, inches away from the ’mandi minyak’ wok.

For Justin Ong and Khairun Lamb, their dedication to their documentary, Fight Masters: Silat, meant they were prepared to go the distance, work wise.

But this was quite something else.

The two were commissioned by the National Geographic Channel to produce a documentary about the traditional martial art, and had just filmed the scenes where a group of silat practitioners had finished going through the ritual.

The silat master then asked Ong, the director, and Khairun, the director of photography, whether they had filmed what they needed.

"When we said yes, he then announced that it was our turn to mandi minyak! He looked pretty cheeky about it and everyone was smiling and laughing in anticipation," Khairun said.

Both, as well as their film crew, stepped up to perform ritual, and it was a hot affair.

Ong said: "I thought perhaps the oil had cooled down, but as I got closer I felt the heat. And then I thought, 'Maybe I shouldn't do this'."

All, however, completed the ritual, and said it was as scary as it looked, and felt "just like boiling oil".

It was to cement the camaraderie and goodwill for the filming team and the silat exponents, as the latter believe that the ritual cannot be completed successfully if there are bad intentions around.

The documentary follows American navy serviceman and silat's highest-ranked westerner, Joel Champ, who has practised silat seni gayong for 15 years in the US, on his quest to obtain his final third stripe on the martial art's home ground.

Champ's journey to Malaysia was a subject of curiosity and contention as there were silat practitioners who were doubtful about allowing a foreigner access to the martial art's secrets.

Silat after all, was also a martial art that had not been really documented as it had only been passed down from master to student, Ong said, making this a unique and educational experience.

Held earlier during the intense two-weeks of filming, the mandi minyak ritual also allowed Ong and Khairun to see how their lead character would face the tough challenges he had to go through.

"If it was so scary for us, imagine what it was like for him," Ong said.

The American also had to contend with the heat, as well as the misgivings of other Malaysian silat exponents around him, added Ong.

Champ didn't flinch during the initial tests, and was determined to go through the tests to prove his mettle.

In the course of telling his story, the film team would also learn more about the martial art themselves, and were fascinated by the moves, weapons and traditions of silat.

"It had never been done justice, and even when we told people we wanted to tell the silat story, people would roll their eyes. 'The dancing-dancing one?', they would ask us."

The deadly moves in the documentary would convince disbelievers otherwise, added Ong.

Both wanted to tell the silat story respectfully, and are proud that the documentary, which will premiere on Merdeka Day tomorrow, is 100 per cent Malaysian-made.

There was a National Geographic adviser who turned up during filming to check on the quality, but barring a few suggestions, he was keen to let the two tell their own story.

Khairun and Ong were also thrilled that they found local talents, Young Jump Animation, to create the high-tech motion capture scenes in their documentary, affectionally calling them the 'Cheras CGI guys'.

"Here we had a bunch of young, fresh graduates, who were so passionate, and they were doing work for these Japanese gaming companies.

"Their work was of international standard. We were blown away."

Ong had also made a documentary about the Thaipusam festival at Batu Caves.

The filming of the silat documentary was also a touching experience for the two as they saw Malaysians opening up their hearts to Champ first hand.

Ong said: "They were going, 'Who is this guy?', at first but then they ended up treating him like one of their own. I was touched by this welcoming and acceptance into their family, and the sharing of their knowledge."

Khairun said he was moved when shooting the final and vital match scene where Champ had to fence with top Malaysian martial arts fighters.

The local audience were shouting at the fighters to attack or get Champ at first, he said, but as the rounds went on and the American took a heavy beating, the Malaysian sense of empathy and warmheartedness kicked in.

"They felt for him and rooted for him, and as I was filming I could hear the shouts of 'Come on, Joel!' or 'Go Joel!' all around me."

For Khairun, who has worked as a videographer on international documentaries, the hard work and pressure to finish the production in time for Merdeka Day was worth it.

That their work is also being shown on Aug 31 is a source of pride, and inspirational fuel to make more documentaries about their country.

"This is it. I need to focus on our own people.

"I want to make my own country look good."

By Koh Lay Chin
Sourced from http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/natgeo/news/It_was_really_hot_and_scary_20090901012820/article.html