Sunday, June 03, 2007

It Can Do That To You.

You'd hear the instructor shouting the command in Korean like 'Chombi!' With this you should stand at attention ready to execute the next move like horse riding stance single, or double punch. Inner, outer, upper and lower section blocks. Or front kick, side kick, turning kick, or back thrust. You'd learn a few other Korean words throughout your training in Taekwondo and that's about it. You wouldn't want to be anymore Korean than this. It won't make you want to pack your back to go live in Korea for the rest of your life.
Taekwondo won't do that to you.
It's the same thing with Escrima. Or Kali Pekiti Tersia. You may master the knife and stick art after a few years of training under the best instructor from the Philippines. Or you may train hard under an instructor from the army for years but this art won't make you any more Filipino than you want to be.
You may love Capoeira for its cool moves and the flexibility of performing the cartwheel to get at your opponent in a deadly sweep. Or you may love to wrestle your opponent in a Judo, bringing him down hard on the floor, breaking the bones using his own body weight. Or you may want to twist the joints of your opponents using Jujitsu. Or fight your opponent with JKD relying solely on your muscle memory to deflect, defuse or counter strike an attack.
But nothing can make you think different, act different and do things different. For this you gotta to experience Silat first hand. Silat can do that to you.
Maybe you are already a member of Silat Cekak (whether Malaysia or Hanafi it doesn't really matter). Or Silat Lincah, or Gayung Malaysia, or Gayung Fatani, or Gayung Pancaindera 9. Maybe you've trained in Silat Sendeng. Or maybe you are a member of Silat Setiabakti. Maybe you have mastered Silat Melayu Keris Lok 9. Let's not talk about Gerak Lian, Lian Padukan, Buah Pukul Mersing or Lian Yunan yet since these are a different category of Silat all together. The truth is Silat can make you think different, act different and do things different. It can make you act different when someone somewhere says something offensive about you. About Melayu. It can make your eyes turn white and all you see is red.
It can do that to you.
And it is very interesting to see the trend where more and more suburban Malay parents are sending their children to Silat classes as a way to revive the spirit of the Malay in them now that it is fashionable among the liberal Malays to consider themselves a notch closer to being Caucasian. A few years ago this was unthinkable. Parents used to be skeptical about Gelanggang Silat being open in the neighborhood. They preferred Taekwondo, or Okinawan Karate since these are sport oriented arts where their kids can compete in and win medals. Some parents themselves signed up for a cool, non-violence art like Aikido. But after a while, reality hit them in the face that martial art isn't just about self defence. It's about the meaning of being a Malay and the willingness to do what you can to defend it from being made fun of by non-Malays. Cikgu Arifin in London has a Silat class going for a few years now. In Holland and Germany there are a couple of Gelanggang Silat taught by the Malays from Indonesia, mostly Silat Cimande style, or Kuntau Jawa.
And tonight a new Gelangang will be established right in the upper-middle class suburban neighborhood. It's good to see that more and more Malays from this section of the society beginning to take an interest in Silat. Tonight's opening ceremony is very special because four Mat Salleh from Holland, and two from Sweden will be joining us to peform the Buka Gelanggang with Silat Cimande which they have mastered after 7 years. They will be dressed in full Penglima Melayu attire. The guy from Holland will perform Silat Keris. They are all Muslims now and they are more Malays than the Malays you find going about thinking they are mat or minah saleh.
Silat can do that to you. It can make your eyes white and see red.

3 Comments:

Blogger Kak Teh said...

Bergen, my son wanted to learn silat after his stint in malaysia - we didnt need to force him and for that I am glad. His guru had to warn him off to stay away from the classes now because he is now having exams and he just cant wait to go back. Just two months ago, he was practicing silat with a friend at Kensington Gardens and then during the last day of school he performed for the school.
aaah, made this mama so very proud!

and no - he is not with Apin.

3:06 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

Kak Teh: I hear you, ma'am. When we have children as young as 5 performing the Jurus, or a fight demonstration, I usually focus my attention on the faces of the parents, beaming with pride. Trust me, ma'am, nothing makes me happier than to see parents like this because it makes me feel good to put that pride on their faces. To teach their kids the right thing i.e knowing when to push them and when to stop.
It's a choice we've got to make. When teaching martial art especially to children, you want to keep interested but at the same time you don't want to teach them the watered down version of the art that could put them in real danger when faced with one in a real situation.
Of course it's different with adult classes where you can actually hit a guy maybe with maybe 70% - 80% power to enable him to get an idea what it would be like in a real situation. With women, hmmm, it's a totally different game all together.
You can teach them where, or how to hit but usually they wouldn't have the heart to hit their sparring partner. More about it in an entry later: Maybe I will title it 'How To Teach Women To Hit Where It Hurts'
Anak Kak Teh belajar Silat apa?

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Malays are not a very welcoming group of people like the Indonesians. The Malays are rasist and prejudice. They newer become your friend, no matter how long you know them. Have been training silat with them for a while now and I'm very dissapointed in their ignorance and lack of interest in other cultures and people.

3:53 PM  

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