Of course, the classical study of Pentjak Silat demands that the trainee learn to wield the traditional weapons such as the knife, the stick, the staff, the tjabang (branch), the short sword, and the sarong (cloth) or rope.
As Draeger notes, “No Pentjak Silat system is combatively idealistic, so foolish, or so naïve as to require this exclusive use of empty hand tactics for solving all combative situations.” The use of these weapons and objects are based on the same technical rationale as the empty hand curriculum of djurus (hand movement) and Langkahs (footwork).
In this way, objects from his daily surroundings such as pens, combs, drinking receptacles, shoes, belts and eating utensils, even a salt shaker can be brought into play to enhance a particular technique.
In self-defense Silat, the environment is to be used when possible if time permits, because the assailant, even if empty-handed may be concealing a weapon of his own. His moves must be treated extra carefully.
With this unifying, coherent system firmly planted in place in the trainee’s mind, he can substitute and transfer the use of weapons to the techniques he already knows empty-handed. His skill is already built in from his empty hand training. This is unlike Filipino methods that teach weapons use first and empty hand derivations second.
The unifying principles of Silat are used to help the trainee fight his fight without being confused about what he should do next.
These unifying principles are based on the physics of efficiency of technique and economy of motion, and are kept as secrets of the systems. The unifying principles help the trainee to understand the endless variations of empty hand techniques. There are so many in fact that it is impossible to name them all.
They all stem from the root techniques of the empty hand curriculum and are recognized by “insiders” as such. Silat practitioners make use of all parts of the body for locking, joint breaking or as striking weapons. Substituting a shoulder for an elbow, for example, one can produce the same joint / lock conceptually.
The various hand formations similar to the crane beak, tiger claw, eagle claw, panther fist, like those used in Kung Fu can be adapted in the moment, to the various techniques.
The trainee, at some point in his study designated by the master, learns the vulnerable points of the body to be exploited with the techniques he has already learned. Often times it is a matter of reviewing the techniques already known and adding this knowledge as a finishing touch.
Like a road map, the routes are already known and in place, the teacher just makes the student aware of a few more stops and points can be hit, pinched, torn or squeezed and add a rich dimension to the techniques already mastered by the practitioner. They are especially useful against larger assailants who need prodding and convincing in order to make a technique work or escaping holds and locks that the practitioner has somehow found himself caught in.