If you tire of the usual karate and taekwondo classes and are itching to pick up a different form of martial arts, why not try your hand at Silat?
Origins of Silat
An ancient martial arts form originating a hundred over years ago in the Malay Archipelago, Silat is a combative art often used for fighting and survival. Loosely translated as ‘to fight’ or ‘fighting in self-defence’, Silat has been practiced widely in South East Asia, especially in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines.
There are a number of legends and stories about the creation of Silat, and one of the more popular ones tells the story a Sumatran woman who witnessed a ferocious fight between a tiger and a very large bird. Inspired by their fighting styles, the woman adapted their moves and created her own style, which formed the basis for one of the many Silat styles today.
With its popularity throughout South East Asia, there have been many cultural influences on the sport, depending on the region it is practiced in. Different schools teach varying styles of Silat, each with a different emphasis on the type of techniques employed.
In Indonesia, the art is known as Pencak Silat whereas in Malaysia and Singapore, it is more commonly known as Seni Silat or just Silat. Despite their difference in schools and influences however, most Silat styles reflect four common traits – self-defence, traditional art, spiritual training and sport.
“In general, there are two main dimensions to Silat,” explains Coach Imran at the Silat Sports Academy. “The competitive sporting aspect and the traditional form of Silat that started as a culture sport.”
Silat as a sport
Competitive Silat can be divided into two main categories, namely the artistic form and match sparring; both of which involve a great deal of tactical ability, combined with the right technique, artistry and physical fitness.
In match sparring, Silat competitors use a combination of techniques ranging from kicks, punches and leg sweeps to defeat their opponent. Points are awarded for successful punches, kicks and for felling an opponent, while hits to the head and groin are banned.
In contrast, the artistic form of Silat focuses more on the creativity of movement and synchronisation. Competitors may choose to participate in solo categories as well as double and trio movements. Here, a variety of weapons are used, including the keris (dagger), pedang (sword), parang (machete) and lembing (spear).
I want to become a Silat expert
If you are interested in trying out this Malay martial art but have no prior sporting experience, worry not as beginners are welcome at all classes. For those who wish to learn Silat as a recreational sport, training once a week is usually enough. For the more ambitious who plan on competing, training can come up to three or four times a week. No equipment is necessary, though some schools require you to purchase uniforms.
Where do I sign up?
Silat courses are available at the following sports schools:
Founded by three-time World Champion and SEA Games Champion, Muhammad Imran Abdul Rahman, Sports Silat Academy is a holistic Silat academy providing professional training for one and all. Training centres for the SSA are located at Tampines Safra and Republic Polytechnic.
Sports Silat Academyis located at 274A Macpherson Road, Tel: 6297 5659 www.silatacademy.com
Apart from teaching Filipino martial arts, Kali Majapahit also offers enthusiasts a chance to learn the traditional combative form of Silat. For the more adventurous, the school also teaches the unique art of sarong fighting, a rarity in Singapore.
Kali Majapahit is located at 43 Carpenter Street, # 02-01, Tel: 6534 5254