Do you know that pencak silat is an unifying term for not 1, nor 2… but over 800 styles of martial art?
The story behind its name – pencak silat
Pencak silat is an amalgamation of two most commonly used words for martial arts in Indonesia. Pencak was commonly used in central and east Java while silat was commonly used in Sumatra and Borneo.
In 1948, Indonesia declared independence from colonial power. Hence, there was an urgent need to unify the people. For a start, the different cultural expressions for martial arts, which were an integral part of the natives’ lives, were integrated to give pencak silat.
Styles of Pencak Silat
There is absolutely no single style that could do the job of describing pencak silat. As mentioned, pencak silat is a term that represents over 800 styles of martial art. Some styles focus on offense while others focus on defense. Some may include weapons while others may not. Over the years, and at different living places, styles of martial art were developed and evolved according to the needs and demands of physical environment and social-cultural context.
For illustration, let’s take a deeper look at the development of pencak silat in the Maluku Islands, also known as Moluccas, located within Indonesia.
Unlike its cousins, pencak silat in the Maluku Islands involves a wide array of weaponry: chabang (forked truncheon), pisau (knife) and many more. Some of which were the natives’ unique innovations.
Zooming in on Haruku Island (island located within Maluku), one would observe a particular emphasis placed on one-legged stances. In Haruku island, ankle-deep sands is common. Hence, this tactic enables one to fight effectively through executing both kicking and eye-gouging techniques simultaneously.
Truly, each and every style differs.
Pencak silat and its footprints
In the recent decades, pencak silat federations and academies have been established and are flourishing all over the world. Following the nurture of finest fighters and artistic performers, several notable pencak silat national and international competitions have been held all over the world. To name but a few: Belgian Open Championships, World Pencak Silat Championship, SEA Games.
Not to mention, pencak silat will be one of the events played at the upcoming 18th ASEAN University Games!