Saturday, July 26, 2014

How to stand a keris

A well made keris will have the properties of pliability, strength and balance. In times of war, the first two are tested for their mettle. But in times of peace, keris lovers spend their time testing the third property by standing a keris.
An interesting spectacle, many people have come to view it as an unattainable skill personally. As for myself, having stood many a keris before, I will say that it is very possible for a beginner to stand his own keris for the first time.
Now, if anyone out there once thought that standing a keris has to do with mantras and magic, I apologise for bursting your bubble. The ability to stand is just a testament to the smith's magic, which is in making the blade.
There are two ways to stand a keris. One is on its handle, and another is on its tip. Believe it or not, it is easier to stand a keris on its tip than it is on its handle. So, today, we'll choose the easier one to do.
First, you will need a keris. Two types are generally available, a Keris Sepokal, which only has one lok or a Keris Semenanjung, which has three and more loks. Choose a Keris Semenanjung with between 3 to 9 loks which is the easier to stand, since the loks act as fine counterbalancers against each other.
Be careful of choosing one with too many loks, since this will mean that the keris is inherently heavy and won't be able to support itself on the sampir of the sarung.
Second, remove the keris from the sarung and find a rough area to practise on. A good place to start is a carpet about 5mm thick. This will give the tip a good foothold. Place the sarung on the carpet and position the tip of the keris at a 45 degree angle to the neck of the sarung. Make sure the hulu is facing outwards. This will create a triangular shape between the sarung and the keris. Make sure the tip touches the sarung.
Third, with one hand steadying the tip, hold the hulu lightly in your other hand using your index finger and thumb. This gets tricky. You have to carefully find the sweet spot where the weight of the hulu will make the tip rest on the side of the sarung. This can take between a few seconds to a few minutes. Keep going until you get it. Practise makes perfect.
After you've practised on the carpet, challenge yourself by trying out other difficult surfaces, such as linoleum, a tiled floor or even glass. After standing your own keris, you'll want to try standing other kerises as well. 
Good luck!

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