Pentjak Silat is the Indonesian set of Martial Arts, all with diferent styles
and schools (over 400 of them).
Since Silat is an umbrella term covering many styles, it is not possible to
give a single history. Some of the arts are very old (1000 years?), and some were
developed less than 50 years ago. Also, as with other arts, the history of Silat
is somewhat unclear. There is a mixture of indigenous techniques along with techniques
borrowed from Chinese Wu Shu and Indian arts such as Kalaripayit.
Pentjak Silat depends heavily on an indigenous weapons and animal-styles heritage.
In the (distant) past, it was predominately a weapons system; empty hand techniques
are derived from the weapons forms. As a weapons system, it was guarded jealously
as a royal art; over the centuries, Pentjak Silat became a village art.
Techniques are quite varied, although kicks are not emphasized much. Foot work
is sophisticated and the development of stability is of major importance. The
foot and and hand techniques are so subtle and intricate that they are often taught
separately, then integrated after the student has mastered them individually.
There is a good balance between offensive and defensive techniques.
A great master of Pentjak Silat is referred to as "pendekar." Pendekar describes
someone who is not merely a great martial artist; a pendekar has also attained
a high level of spiritual development. Senior students are called "guru" by beginning
students, and a proficient instructor is called "kang."
As an example, Pentjak Silat Mande Muda has a complex and rather rigorous system
of training, which includes classical empty hand and weapons forms, practical
empty hand, weapons, and improvised weapons techniques, stretches, physical conditioning,
and breath control. Although the forms are often performed with musical accompaniment,
much like a dance, they are nevertheless extremely valuable both as conditioning
methods and as encyclopedias of technique.
- Mande Muda
- and many others
(Contributor: Jeffrey Chapman)