WHAT IS SILAT?
Silat, also known as Gayung, Gayong, Seni Silat, Bergayung, is an umbrella term used to describe the martial art forms practiced throughout the Malay Archipelago. Silat is a combative art of fighting and survival and it has been evolved in Indonesia and Malaysia civilizations for centuries into social culture and tradition. During the colonization era, both in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam as British colonies and in Indonesia as Dutch colonies, practitioners (locally known as pesilat) used the martial art as a form to liberate from foreign authorities.
The distinctive forms of silat with other Asian martial
arts, such as kung fu, tae kwon do or karate, lie on
the cultural aspect. Silat is not only for combative
purposes. When accompanied with traditional instruments,
such as kendang, silat transforms into a folk dance.
In Minangkabau area (the West Sumatra province of Indonesia),
silat was the oldest men's tradition known as silek
and it is one of the components to perform the Minangkabau
folk dance of randai.
Silat spread throughout the Malay Archipelago since the seventh century AD, but its origin is still uncertain. However, silat has been acknowledged as a genuine Malay art. When Islam was spread throughout the archipelago in the fourteenth century, it was taught alongside with silat. Besides as a combative art and cultural folk dance, silat then became a spiritual training.
Silat was gradually refined into the specialized property
of sultans, panglima (prime-minister) and pendekar (warriors)
during the Malacca Sultanate, Majapahit and Srivijaya
empires. It was the time when silat spread through Malay
peninsula, Java, Bali, Sulawesi and Borneo. Malays,
in particular in Malay peninsula, considers the legendary
story of Hang Tuah of the fourteenth century as the
father of silat.
Practice, forms and aspectsSilat education focuses on the development of the person internally and externally which will enable the formation of a community that embodies discipline, morals, patriotism, self identity and citizenship which can contribute towards the development of thinking and the forces of race, religion and country.
A student is first and foremost taught how to defend himself or herself. This is done in stages where the students learn the basics, such as langkah or steps (how to step, where to step) and techniques. Then she or he is taught how to attack before being attacked, in self preservation. Along with the body, one uses weapons, such as dagger, sword, machete (golok), knife and walking stick.
The students practice:• Jurus, which is a set of movements made up of strikes, blocks and maneuvers. It teaches how to combine movements, langkah, tapak and to practice them in their strikes, blocks and fighting stances (sikap pasang).
• Bunga (flower) or seni is an integral part of Silat. The aesthetic movements teach the student grace, fluidity of movements and in some cases is a hidden form of practice for certain techniques.
Beladiri, self-defence that is taught by all styles of Silat.
• Tempur, that basically means a battle, duel or fight between two pesilat but it can also be expanded to mean a battle or fight in general, disregarding the number of participants.
The seni or art form in Silat is an integral part of it as it serves to distinguish one style from another and Silat from all other martial arts. The seni aspect, also known as bunga or tari is the aesthetic form of Silat. It is portrayed through slow, graceful movements performed for aesthetic value but rooted in an essential principal of Silat, which is trickery and deception.
Silat has its spiritual aspect; the aim of the practitioner is to free oneself of worldly conceptions and realize that our reality is an illusion. This was originally based on the meditative practices of Hinduism, Buddhism, Kejawen and local forms of animism which is still evident in the older styles today. The later introduction of Islam brought influences of Muslim philosophy. Nowadays, spirituality in silat is largely based on tasawwuf (knowledge of Islamic esoteric teaching). In this way, the exponent learns to respect life and his surroundings and see it as a gift from God./source: wikipedia/