Saturday, March 21, 2015
Saturday, January 24, 2015
The Spread Of Islam To Southeast Asia
The spread of Islam to various parts of coastal India set the stage for
its further expansion to island Southeast Asia. As we have seen, Arab traders
and sailors regularly visited the ports of Southeast Asia long before they
converted to Islam. Initially the region was little more than a middle ground,
where the Chinese segment of the great Euroasian trading complex met the
Indian Ocean trading zone to the west. At ports on the coast of the Malayan
peninsula, east Sumatra, and somewhat later north Java, goods from China were
transferred from East Asian vessels to Arab or Indian ships, and products from
as far west as Rome were loaded into the emptied Chinese ships to be carried
to East Asia. By the 7th and 8th centuries A.D., sailors and ships from areas
within Southeast Asia - particularly Sumatra and Malaya - had become active in
the seaborne trade of the region. Southeast Asian products, especially luxury
items, such as aromatic woods from the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra, and
spices, such as cloves, nutmeg, and mace from the far end of the Indonesian
archipelago, had also become important exports to both China in the east and
India and the Mediterranean area in the west. These trading links were to
prove even more critical to the expansion of Islam in Southeast Asia than they
had earlier been to the spread of Buddhism and Hinduism.
As the coastal trade and shipping of India came to be controlled (from
the 8th century onward) increasingly by Muslims from such regions as Gujarat
and various parts of south India, elements of Islamic culture began to filter
into island Southeast Asia. But only in the 13th century after the collapse of
the far-flung trading empire of Shrivijaya, which was centered on the Straits
of Malacca between Malaya and the north tip of Sumatra, was the way open for
the widespread proselytization of Islam. With its great war fleets, Shrivijaya
controlled trade in much of the area and was at times so powerful that it
could launch attacks on rival empires in south India. Indian traders, Muslim
or otherwise, were welcome to trade in the chain of ports controlled by
Shrivijaya. Since the rulers and officials of Shrivijaya were devout
Buddhists, however, there was little incentive for the traders and sailors of
Southeast Asian ports to convert to Islam, the religion of growing numbers of
the merchants and sailors from India. With the fall of Shrivijaya, the way was
open for the establishment of Muslim trading centers and efforts to preach the
faith to the coastal peoples. Muslim conquests in areas such as Gujarat and
Bengal, which separated Southeast Asia from Buddhist centers in India from the
11th century onward, also played a role in opening the way for Muslim
The Pattern Of Conversion
As was the case in most of the areas to which Islam spread, peaceful and
voluntary conversion was far more important than conquest and force in
spreading the faith in Southeast Asia. Almost everywhere in the islands of the
region, trading contacts paved the way for conversion. Muslim merchants and
sailors introduced local peoples to the ideas and rituals of the new faith and
impressed on them how much of the known world had already been converted.
Muslim ships also carried Sufis to various parts of Southeast Asia, where they
were destined to play as vital a role in conversion as they had in India. The
first areas to be won to Islam in the last decades of the 13th century were
several small port centers on the northern coast of Sumatra. From these ports,
the religion spread in the following centuries across the Strait of Malacca to
On the mainland the key to widespread conversion was the powerful trading
city of Malacca, whose smaller trading empire had replaced the fallen
Shrivijaya. From the capital at Malacca, Islam spread down the east coast of
Sumatra, up the east and west coasts of Malaya, to the island of Borneo, and
to the trading center of Demak on the north coast of Java. From Demak, the
most powerful of the trading states on north Java, the Muslim faith was
disseminated to other Javanese ports and, after a long struggle with a
Hindu-Buddhist kingdom in the interior, to the rest of the island. From Demak,
Islam was also carried to the Celebes, tha spice islands in the eastern
archipelago, and from there to Mindanao in the southern Philippines.
This progress of Islamic conversion shows that port cities in coastal
areas were particularly receptive to the new faith. Here the trading links
were critical. Once one of the key cities in a trading cluster converted, it
was in the best interest of others to follow suit in order to enhance personal
ties and provide a common basis in Muslim law to regulate business deals.
Conversion to Islam also linked these centers, culturally as well as
economically, to the merchants and ports of India, the Middle East, and the
Mediterranean. Islam made slow progress in areas such as central Java, where
Hindu-Buddhist dynasties contested its spread. But the fact that the earlier
conversion to these Indian religions had been confined mainly to the ruling
elites in Java and other island areas left openings for mass conversions to
Islam that the Sufis eventually exploited. The island of Bali, where Hinduism
had taken deep root at the popular level, remained largely impervious to the
spread of Islam. The same was true of most of mainland Southeast Asia, where
centuries before the coming of Islam, Theravada Buddhism had spread from India
and Ceylon and won the fervent adherence of both the ruling elites and the
Sufi Mystics And The Nature Of Southeast Asian Islam
The fact that Islam came to Southeast Asia primarily from India and that
it was spread in many areas by Sufis had much to do with the mystical quality
of the religion and its tolerance for coexistence with earlier animist, Hindu,
and Buddhist beliefs and rituals. Just as they had in the Middle East and
India, the Sufis who spread Islam in Southeast Asia varied widely in
personality and approach. Most were believed by those who followed them to
have magical powers, and virtually all Sufis established mosque and school
centers from which they traveled in neighboring regions to preach the faith.
In winning converts, the Sufis were willing to allow the inhabitants of
island Southeast Asia to retain pre-Islamic beliefs and practices that
orthodox scholars would clearly have found contrary to Islamic doctrine.
Pre-Islamic customary law remained important in regulating social interaction,
while Islamic law was confined to specific sorts of agreements and exchanges.
Women retained a much stronger position, both within the family and in
society, than they had in the Middle East and India. Local and regional
markets, for example, continued to be dominated by the trading of small-scale
female buyers and sellers. In such areas as western Sumatra, lineage and
inheritance continued to be traced through the female line after the coming of
Islam, despite its tendency to promote male dominance and descent through the
male line. Perhaps most tellingly, pre-Muslim religious beliefs and rituals
were incorporated into Muslim ceremonies. Indigenous cultural staples, such as
the brilliant Javanese shadow plays that were based on the Indian epics of the
Brahmanic age, were refined, and they became even more central to popular and
elite belief and practice than they had been in the pre-Muslim era.
Posted by Master at 4:25 AM
Saturday, January 4, 2014
It is not uncommon for people to take martial arts lessons for years and still not be able to use their arts in real situations outside the training hall.
Why is that?
I think before we discuss this topic it is first necessary to answer the question of
"WHAT DOES FIGHTING REALLY MEAN?"
Fighting is a word that is being thrown around quite often in the martial arts media. A lot of “Martial” Arts have become mere forms of fitness (e.g. boxercise, tae bo) while others are used for artistic and character development. Another major trend is to turn martial arts into sporting events/competitions (UFC, Pride, K1).
It would be wise for students to realize that there’s a difference between sport competition such as UFC and real fighting.
One is based on ego/winning and public entertainment, while the other is based on necessity and survival.
Here are some things that set the difference between sport competition vs. a real fight:
1. In sport competition there is consent, real fights are based on surprise tactics (i.e. posturing, insults, asking senseless questions etc. in order to set you up for a sucker punch)
2. In sport competition, the distance is wide (usually 15 feet or more) while more street fights happen from 4 feet or less - making most countering tactics very difficult to pull off due to the limitations of human reaction time from such a close distance.
3. In sport competition there is a probing phase prior to any real engagement such as circling around to “feel it out” with feints, jabs etc.
On the street, in real fights, criminals are not dumb enough to warn you like that nor do you have the time to pace a few rounds. You have 10 seconds before more bad guys shows up.
4. In sport competition, taking the contest to the ground is a good tactic; in real street fights the tactic would be suicidal due to the reality of multiple opponents. People who pick fights are cowards and therefore, most travel in packs.
5. In sport competition there are weight classes, obviously in real fights there aren’t.
6. In sport competition there’s a chance to study footage of your opponent and that gives you a chance to adapt and devise a strategy against him.
In a real fight, you have no idea what the guy can do and therefore you cannot apply specific strategies, but rather you have to operate out of universal principles.
7. In sport competition, you do not have to worry about weapons and multiple opponents.
I hope the above list will give you an idea of what a fight is compared to a sport. Perhaps that is why more than one MMA great fighters have talked about this difference when they taught self-defense. Ironically, it seems the only people that ignore the difference are their fans.
Now that we have a better idea about the differences between a street fight and a sport competition, let’s talk about the difference between learning how to fight vs. learning a true martial ART.
LEARNING HOW TO FIGHT:
When someone is training with the sole objective of just learning how to fight, they will learn all the tricks of the trade like:
- how to recognize threats
- how to read body language
- how to move in and shut people down with the right timing
- how to deal with blocks /covers
- how to chase and hit openings
(and many others)
Along with fighting skills, there should also be supplementary fitness training to enhance the performance, not only for the quality of the fighting techniques but also to allow the defender to run fast and long if necessary. (i.e. if faced with multiple opponents or weapons etc).
A person that goes through this type of training for a intensive period of their lives will have a strong will and body, refined fighting skills and natural confidence but whether it will improve the quality of their lives, their character or their relationships is highly unlikely. In fact, over-training in fighting can sometimes make a person overly aggressive.
Explosive temper outbursts and uncontrolled anger can manifest itself for no apparent reason due to over-training. This is expected; after all, what do you think will happen if you spend most of your waking hours dealing with and studying real world violence? I guess you become that.
To quote the great martial artist Geoff Thompson “If you are around shit long enough, you start to smell like it.”
LEARNING MARTIAL “ARTS”
Learning Martial ARTS is very different than just learning how to fight. Fighting, real fighting is about survival; Martial ARTS on the other hand goes beyond that.
It is more than a tool for survival. In fact, shouldn’t life be more than just the ability to survive? Martial means war or fighting but ART means a lot more.
It is Martial ARTS - so if one only learns the fighting side without the ART side, it is only half of the equation. It is Martial ART not just martial skill.
The “art” in Martial Art is not just about beauty and decoration. Art is defining quality, creativity and is based on your awareness in relationship with your “opponent”
Looking at training in that context provides you with a tool, a mirror to look at yourself in training. It will give you a chance to get to know yourself in a very
direct, realistic and honest manner.
Approaching martial ARTS in this way will allow your training to be more than just about winning and beating people up.
Awareness in relationship will show you a lot about yourself: your compassion, your anger, your fears, your courage etc. Some will face it, get to know themselves better, evolve and grow.
Others may run away, go into self-denial and say "Hey, stop showing me who I am, I don’t want to know myself better, I don’t want to improve my life, I just want to be able to kick other people’s asses."
But, ironically, no matter how many people you beat up, it will never bring a deep sense of joy unless you have slain all those internal demons.
And ironically, down throughout history, the people who have fought best were the ones who knew themselves the most.
And that’s the difference between learning how to fight vs. learning martial arts.
Learning just how to fight is merely based on fear and survival and while learning Martial “ARTS” is also about fighting it is also about being creative and knowing oneself better and therefore improving one’s life.
Posted by Master at 1:21 AM
Saturday, November 2, 2013
GM Narrie Babao passed away Friday, Oct 11, 2013.
GM Narrie Babao was the First Weapons Sparring Champion in the U.S. and was the father of Arnis de Mano in San Diego, California area. He was also a Villabrille-Largusa Kali Guro, a 10th degree Black Belt Grandmaster in Cacoy Doce Pares Eskrido Eskrima, and was the current patriarch of the Batangas Baston style of Arnis, which he inherited from his father.
His wife posted this to Facebook:
From Zena Sultana Babao:
REST IN PEACE WITH THE LORD, NARRIE BABAO
My heart is heavy, my mind is numb and I am in pain. I am still in shock. My husband, Narrie, passed away this afternoon at the ICU at Balboa Hospital. He was supposed to come home this afternoon but he had a stroke followed by heart attack. The doctors tried hard to save him, but he has moved on to a better life where there is no more sickness and pain.
My deepest condolences to the Babao family, students, friends and assoicates of GM Narrie Babao.
Rest in Peace
Please donate or get the word out to help out. Every little will help. The Fundraiser link below:
Posted by Master at 10:58 PM
Friday, September 6, 2013
The Keris Taming Sari is a legendary kris in Malay culture, said to grant physical invulnerability to its wielder. According to folklore it was originally owned by a pendekar from Majapahit named Taming Sari, from which the weapon derives its name. The Melakan admiral Hang Tuah eventually won it in a duel to the death.
According to legend, Hang Tuah gave the kris to Tun Mamat to be returned to Sultan Mahmud Shah when he failed to bring back the princess from Gunung Ledang. Hang Tuah then disappeared and was never seen or heard of again. Another version of the legend has it that Hang Tuah had thrown the keris into the river, saying that he would return when the keris re-appeared.
It is told that that it is made of twenty-one different types of metal. It was said that Taming Sari could do Hang Tuah's fighting for him - if Hang Tuah was menaced or in any danger, the keris would leap out of its sheath, fly through the air and attack the assailant. The whole of the sampir and batang are covered in gold leaf. The keris is classified as a keris gabus or keris terapang.
The kris still exists today and is part of the royal regalia of Sultan Azlan Shah, the Sultan of Perak,Malaysia.
Before the Taming Sari became part of the Perak Royalty's regalia, it is believed to have been a hereditary article of the family of the laksamana (admiral) who for generations, through succession, ruled as the territorial chief of Hilir Perak.
It is believed that the last territorial chief who had the famed keris in his possession was Laksamana Mohd Amin Alang Duakap. In 1876, he was arrested alongside many other rich aristocrats of his time for the alleged involvement in the murder of the first British Resident, James W.W. Birch. Together with Datuk Shahbandar Uda Kediti (the territorial chief of Kerian), Sutan Abdullah (the reigning Perak monarch of the time) and Menteri Paduka Ngah Ibrahim (the famous administrator of tin-rich Larut), Laksamana Mohd Amin was banished to the Seychelles.
Posted by Master at 9:58 PM
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Date March-June 1578
Location Borneo, Mindanao and Sulu
Since the middle of the 16th century, Europeans were eager to gain a foothold in South East Asia because of the spice trade. During that period, all the land routes from the Middle East to South East Asia were controlled by the Arabs and Turks. The Europeans attempted to control the maritime route to South East Asia so they could trade with the Malays. At the time, Brunei Darussalam was an established empire ranging from the Philippines to Borneo Island.
It was during the reign of Sultan Saiful Rijal when the Castille War broke out. He faced two main problems which was that the Spanish wanted to spread Christianity and invade the Philippines.
In 1565, the Spanish captured Cebu in the Philippines. They turned it into a trading post and a center for spreading Christianity and Hispanicization. Because of this, Spain's goals came to clash with those of their main rival, Brunei. Between 1485 and 1521, the Sultanate of Brunei had established the state of Kota Serudong (in modern-day Manila) as a Bruneian satellite state. Islam was further strengthened by the arrival to the Philippines of traders and proselytizers from present-day Malaysia and Indonesia. The multiple states that existed in the Philippines simplified Spanish colonization. In 1571 Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi founded Manila, which was made the capital of the Philippine Islands, also becoming a hub for spreading Christianity.
In 1576, the Spanish Governor in Manila was Francisco de Sande. He sent an official mission to neighbouring Brunei to meet Sultan Saiful Rijal. He explained to the Sultan that they wanted to have good relations with Brunei and also asked for permission to spread Christianity in Brunei. At the same time, he demanded an end to Brunei proselytisim of Islam in the Philippines. Sultan Saiful Rijal would not agree to these terms and also expressed his opposition to the evangelization of the Philippines, which he deemed part of Dar al-Islam. In reality, De Sande regarded Brunei as a threat to the Spanish presence in the region, claiming that "the Moros from Borneo preach the doctrine of Mahoma, converting all the Moros of the islands".
Spain declared war in 1578, attacking and capturing Brunei’s capital at the time, Kota Batu. This was achieved as a result in part of the assistance rendered to them by two noblemen, Pengiran Seri Lela and Pengiran Seri Ratna. The former had travelled to Manila to offer Brunei as a tributary of Spain for help to recover the throne usurped by his brother, Saiful Rijal. The Spanish agreed that if they succeeded in conquering Brunei, Pengiran Seri Lela would indeed become the Sultan, while Pengiran Seri Ratna would be the new Bendahara. In March 1578, the Spanish fleet, led by De Sande himself, acting as Capitán-General, started their journey towards Brunei. The expedition consisted of 400 Spaniards, 1,500 Filipino natives and 300 Borneans.The campaign was one of many, which also included action in Mindanao and Sulu.
The Spanish succeeded in invading the capital on 16 April 1578, with the help of Pengiran Seri Lela and Pengiran Seri Ratna. The Sultan Saiful Rijal and Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan Abdul Kahar were forced to flee to Meragang then to Jerudong. In Jerudong, they made plans to chase the conquering army away from Brunei. The Spanish suffered heavy losses due to a cholera or dysentery outbreak. They were so weakened by the illness that they decided to abandon Brunei to return to Manila on 26 June 1578, after just 72 days. Before doing so, they burned the mosque, a high structure with a five-tier roof.
Pengiran Seri Lela died in August–September 1578, probably from the same illness that had afflicted his Spanish allies, although there was suspicion he could have been poisoned by the ruling Sultan. Seri Lela's daughter left with the Spanish and went on to marry a Christian Tagalog, named Agustín de Legazpi de Tondo.
The local Brunei accounts differ greatly from the generally accepted view of events. The Castilian War entering the national conscience as a heroic episode, with the Spaniards being driven out by Bendahara Sakam, supposedly a brother of the ruling Sultan, and a thousand native warriors. This version, nevertheless, is disputed by most historians and considered a folk-hero recollection, probably created decades or centuries after.
Notwithstanding their retreat from Brunei, Spain managed to keep Brunei from gaining a foothold in Luzon. Aside this, a few years later, they were ready to trade again with the Sultanate, as evidenced by a letter from Don Francisco de Tello de Guzmán, Governor General of Manila, dated 1599 imploring for a return of normal relationship.
^ "Pusat Sejarah Brunei" (in Malay). Government of Brunei Darussalam. Retrieved 04-03-10.
^ Agoncillo 1990, p. 22
^ Nicholl 1975, p. 35
^ Melo Alip 1964, p. 201,317
^ United States War Dept 1903, p. 379
^ McAmis 2002, p. 33
^ "Letter from Francisco de Sande to Felipe II, 1578". Retrieved 2009-10-17.
^ Frankham 2008, p. 278
^ Atiyah 2002, p. 71
^ Saunders 2002, pp. 54–60
^ Saunders 2002, p. 57
^ Saunders 2002, pp. 57–58
^ Oxford Business Group 2009, p. 9
^ "The era of Sultan Muhammad Hassan", The Brunei Times, March 1, 2009
Agoncillo, Teodoro A. (1990), History of the Filipino people, R.P. Garcia, ISBN 978-971-8711-06-4
McAmis, Robert Day (2002), Malay Muslims: the history and challenge of resurgent Islam in Southeast Asia, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, ISBN 978-0-8028-4945-8
Saunders, Graham E. (2002), A history of Brunei, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-7007-1698-2
United States. War Dept (1903), Annual reports, Volume 3, Government Printing Office
Nicholl, Robert (2002), European sources for the history of the Sultanate of Brunei in the Sixteenth Century, Special Publications, no.9. Muzium Brunei
Oxford Business Group (2009), The Report: Brunei Darussalam 2009, Oxford Business Group, ISBN 978-1-907065-09-5
Frankham, Steve (2008), Footprint Borneo, Footprint Guides, ISBN 978-1-906098-14-8
Atiyah, Jeremy (2002), Rough guide to Southeast Asia, Rough Guide, ISBN 978-1-85828-893-2
Posted by Master at 1:38 AM
Saturday, January 19, 2013
The Devastating Art of Pentjak Silat
The world's largest archipelago stretches like a huge scimitar from Malaysia to New Guinea, encompassing more than 13,000 islands and, more importantly for martial arts, more than 700 fighting systems. Among these, Silat, or Pentjak Silat, is perhaps the deadliest.
Archeological evidence reveals that by the 6th Century AD, formalized combat arts were being practiced in Sumatra and the Malay peninsula. Two kingdoms-- the Srivijaya in Sumatra and the Majapahit in Java-- made good use of these fighting skills and were able to extend their rule across much of what is now Indonesia and Singapore. The Dutch arrived in the 17th Century and controlled the spice trade up until the early 20th Century, although both the English and Portuguese attempted, unsuccessfully, to gain a lasting foothold in Indonesia. During this period of Dutch rule, Pentjak Silat was practiced secretly until the country gained its independence in 1949.
Wars, foreign trade and immigration across this region since the 6th Century have left an indelible effect on present-day Pentjak Silat. The system incorporates Hindu, Arabian and Chinese weapons and fighting methods, Indian grappling techniques, Siamese costumes and Nepalese music. Thousands of people across the Malay Peninsula still practice the style and make it part of their daily routines.
'Pentjak' refers to the body movements used in training. 'Silat' is the application of these movements in a fight. There are many types of Pentjak Silat, each with its own curriculum, history and traditions. Silat pulut, for example, is a dance-like method often demonstrated at public ceremonies such as weddings. 'Pulut' means 'glutinous rice', the sticky kind often eaten at Malay parties. Thus, this 'rice cake Silat' is characterized by flashy, aesthetically pleasing moves that have very little to do with real self-defense. Conversely, Silat Buah, a style rarely shown in public, is used entirely for self-defense. Every move, physically or mentally, in Pentjak Silat is consistent with a certain belief system and fighting rationale.
Each style has its own movement patterns, specially designed techniques and tactics. Although all the systems use hand and foot motions, the percentage of each depends on the particular style and the tactics being used. A quite remarkable tactic found in the Harimau system of Sumatra is a movement pattern resembling the antics of a tiger, with heavy emphasis on staying close to the ground in crouching, lying, sitting and squatting positions. The leg strength and flexibility required for such movements is impressive and the Harimau stylist can use his hands like extra feet, or his feet like extra hands. He can start a fight from ground level, or will invite his opponent into a trap, then take him to the ground. On the other hand, many Javanese styles employ tactics that feature more balanced hand and leg work. Some Javanese systems require the practitioner to move in close to the enemy in an upright position, then use both hand and foot maneuvers to take him out.
Pentjak Silat systems are generally named after a geographical area, city, district, person, animal, physical action, or a spiritual or combative principle. For example, Undukayam Silat takes its name from the actions of a hen scratching the ground. The Seitia Hati, 'faithful heart', system gets its name from a spiritual principle. Mustika Kwitang is named after the Kwitang district in Jakarta. Menangkabau Silat derives its name from the Menankebau people.
Traditional Pentjak Silat is highly secretive. Teachers never compete for students and usually keep to themselves. The only way to find instruction is though introduction by a family member or friend of the teacher. The acceptance process is often very difficult and prospective students face a strict probation period. The instructor pays particular attention to a student's character, specifically his temperament, judgment, demeanor, morality and ethics. The probation period enables the teacher to observe the student's behavior and determine his sincerity. The instructor will reject anyone whose attitude or personality is deemed unworthy. Discipline is harsh and violations often result in the student's dismissal. Consequently, the number of people who train is usually very small, but then, Pentjak Silat is not meant for everyone.
Once accepted, students are often required to take an oath to the system. Then the real training begins.
All Pentjak Silat systems pay particular attention to defense against multiple opponents. Students are initially taught to defend themselves against a minimum of three attackers and eventually progress to exercises involving five to seven assailants.
Most Silat defenses are a mix of grappling and hitting techniques. A 'loose' type of grappling is used, the object being to take down, unbalance, sweep and/or tie-up the opponent momentarily.
Pentjak Silat students are also taught the importance of disengaging from one opponent to face another when fighting multiple assailants. The Silat practitioner should not be so committed to one attacker that he cannot make an immediate escape to face a secondary adversary.
Striking techniques are used to 'tenderize' and soften up the assailant prior to initiating Pentjak silat's intricate grappling techniques. The idea is to be flexible and adaptable to the ever-changing nature of combat, no matter what situation is thrust upon you. Practitioners are taught to consider the climate, opponent's clothing, time of day and the terrain upon which they are fighting. Such factors help them determine the proper tactics to employ and the emotional atmosphere of the fight.
Once the Silat stylist has executed takedown and follow-up techniques, he immediately crouches and assumes a ready stance in anticipation of further attacks, either from the opponent he just finished with, or other assailants. Silat practitioners never overlook a fallen opponent; they know he can still be dangerous. Such caution and awareness are typical of South-East Asian self-defense systems, which are often given to overkill. It is not uncommon for a Silat stylist to deliver repeated follow-up strikes after an assailant has been taken down. Experience tells the Silat practitioner that one or two blows seldom finish an opponent.
Because hands and feet alone are not enough to solve all combat situations, classical Pentjak Silat includes the study of traditional weapons such as knives, sticks, staff, swords and rope. The same principles and technical rationale used in silat's hand and foot movements apply to the system's weapons training as well. In this way, practitioners can resort to everyday objects such as pens, combs, drinking receptacles, shoes, belts, eating utensils, etc., to enhance a particular technique. With this unifying, coherent system firmly in mind, the Silat stylist can substitute and transfer the use of weapons to the empty hand techniques he already knows. This is unlike Filipino fighting arts which teach weapons use first and empty hand derivations later.
The unifying principles of Silat are based on physics, allowing practitioners to fight in the most efficient and economical manner possible. Students learn that there are endless variations to the empty hand techniques. Silat practitioners make use of all their body parts for locking, joint-breaking or striking maneuvers. A skilled Silat stylist, for example, can substitute a shoulder for an elbow and effect the same type of joint lock.
At some point in their training, Pentjak Silat students are taught how to exploit the most vulnerable points on their existing techniques and adding knowledge of vital points as a finishing touch. Like a road map, the routes to the target are already in place; the teacher just makes the student aware of a few stops and points of interest along the way. The opponent's pressure points can be struck, pinched or squeezed with virtually equal effect. Such attacks are especially useful against large assailants, putting you on equal terms with them and pressure-point techniques are also beneficial for escaping an opponents hold or lock.
A current movement toward sport Silat in Indonesia has some traditionalists quite concerned. These individuals believe the true essence of the art will be lost if rules are implemented and the system emphasizes competition. The hard-liners point out that traditional Silat is mostly defensive in nature. Rarely will the Silat stylist attack first.
Practitioners instead prefer to wait for the opponents attack before taking action. But once a confrontation has escalated into violence, there is no sense of fair play on the part of the Silat practitioner. His personal safety, maybe even his life, is on the line. He cannot be a good loser. Old fashioned Silat is all about protecting your life at all costs and doing whatever is necessary to survive. Tournament competition, the traditionalists fear, would negate the entire meaning and spirit of Silat, weakening its structure as a self-defense system much like termites, over time, weaken the frame of a house.
No traditional Silat system is complete without strong spiritual training. Known as Kabatinin or Ilmu, this aspect of Silat is considered very important because it prepares students for the violence and consequences of combat. Don't confuse the spiritual training of Silat with the kind of stunts you often see in martial arts; lying on a bed of nails, walking on glass, sticking motorcycle spokes through the skin, etc. True spiritual training involves hard work on your inner self. It is the search for those truths that lead to humility and a reverence for life. It strengthens a practitioner's will and knowledge so he can rely on himself. There is no room for mysterious tricks or mystical illusions in Silat. Emphasis on mystification generally indicates an absence of true knowledge and understanding. As noted Silat instructor Paul de Thouars says," The truth of combat is hard enough to understand. Why mystify and create more obstacles to it?"
Despite this, Silat does include amulets, prayers, and rituals designed to induce invulnerability and protect students in times of danger. These privately taught rites are unique to each teacher and are never revealed in public. Such traditions serve as a physical reminder of the student's connection to the cosmos and his belief system. For example, if he is wearing an amulet of tiger's stone, or the tooth of a tiger, it is a physical reminder that when he uses his Silat, he assumes a tiger's attitude and incorporates it's fighting attributes, including tenacity, courage, daring, and ferocity.
All Silat methods include a belief system, often based on the instructor's religious background, that produces in student's courage, confidence, and the will to fight in the side of truth and justice. The belief system serves as a philosophical foundation for the student's fighting techniques. Much of the physical aspect of traditional Silat has mental and spiritual equivalents. This is why the earnest study of Silat leads to the development of a philosophy of life. Just as the student works hard to refine his physical technique, so too must he attempt to purify his character and improve his relationships with others.
Long-time Silat stylists claim they can tell a lot about a person just by how that individual practices his system. If he hurries through his solo exercises all the time, he is probably going to hurry through his work, leading to sloppiness and mistakes. A Silat student may have a thorough knowledge of the system's curriculum, but only when he begins to think, live, and above all else, feel that which is taught to him, does he actually begin to understand the real content of his lessons. As he progresses, the student reaches within himself and gradually achieves an understanding of this concept.
Learning traditional Silat is never easy. If it was, it wouldn't be worthwhile. Just as in life, you value and appreciate the things you have to work hard for. Things that come easy, on the other hand, are never valued for long.
Posted by Master at 6:46 PM