Monday, December 05, 2005

Silat Melayu Issue #4 (and Counting!)

I have just received the fourth outstanding issue of the ezine Silat Melayu. I told you guys this was great stuff. To give somewhat of a "peek" into the nature of a few of the topics covered in Silat Melayu, I would like to reproduce here an on-line discussion between Saiful Azraq and myself which took place several months ago (yes Saiful, I have saved every one of them.)

My initial question to him was: "Why is there such a reluctance on the part of Malaysian Silat teachers to show the 'real thing' during demos" Saiful's observation is below in italics:

In the 1940s-1960s, Malaysia was overrun by Judo, Karate and Taekwondo resulting in many Malays looking down upon the low-key, humble Silat. It wasn't until four masters, all brash in their own right and ahead of their time decided to play the karate game and created fancy demonstrations of power and coordination

Cekak did away with the flowery movements and went straight to fast-paced rock em sock em demos and trained just as hard and fast. Gayong incorporated karate-like reverse punching and blocking to standardise the demo movements and so did Lincah

Gayung Fatani although still flowery, sped the movements up and put a guy in front to replace the 'shadow' that was there once and \get beaten. I've seen Gayong demos and they look nothing like what they train in.

Just like Cekak. There are three kinds of Cekak. One for demos (which is flashy and hard), one for training, (which is boring and repetitive) and one for combat, (which is very, very deadly an requires minimal locking)

You have to understand, real silat is nothing to look at. They had to diversify to make it more interesting for youth to identify with. It's nothing to see with a guy standing one second and lying down the next.

My next question was "Why were the Malaysian Silat teachers that Donn Draeger mentioned in his book so secretive?"

Remember this, Malays became a colonised race in 1511 and gained independence in 1957
Many promises were made by the Portuguese, Dutch and English and many more were broken. Trust did not come easily to the Malays when a white man they associated with colonisation was asking them about the one remaining thing they could keep a secret. Nowadays, with a strong background in law and knowing their rights, more silat are willing to open their doors, but learning from the mistakes of the Indonesians.

Anyway, Silat Melayu is probably the best resource out there for the non-Malay Silat enthusiast. Cikgu Nadzrin and his worthy colleagues have answers that we don't even have the questions for...yet. My order stands: Check it out!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, Cikgu Nadzrin is a rare find. This really helps my understanding of Silat. The similarities with Filipino Martial Arts from the colonization in 1521 from the Spaniards to their independence from the US in the 1900's plus the parallels of the more popular arts of karate, Tae kwon do and kung fu as compared to our own FMA is fascinating for there is so much probable truth in those insights.