Pencak Silat

Pencak silat or known as ‘silek’ in Minangkabau is a martial art rooting from Malay. Malay ethnics are commonly found in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Phillipines and several tiny islands adjacent to those countries. In fact, Melayu is one of hundreds of ethnics inhabiting the regions.

Martial arts of pencak silat can be found in these countries with various terms. In Indonesia, this traditional martial art is officially known ‘pencak silat’. However, people in each region have their own terms. In general, all t way from west to east, pencak silat is known in West Sumatera as ‘silek’ and ‘gayuang’, whereas in the eastern coast of the island, just like in neighboring country Malaysia, the term used is ‘silat’.

Photo: Aldo Cimpago

The origin of pencak silat remains open to discussion, and the anthropologists keep attempting to find out the origin of this martial art. There are some legends on silat. One of them is a tale of a woman beholding a fight of gigantic mantises by the river. The woman watched the insect movements closely that she was not aware of her being by the river for a long time. Her husband was upset to wait at home then decided to look for her. To his surprise, he saw his wife sitting alone by the river. He angrily tried to hit his wife. Yet, his wife missed the attack easily and beat him. He was impressed to see the martial art of his wife. Eventually, he asked his wife to teach him the martial art that she learned from the mantises.

Another tale on pencak silat closely related to Minangkabau is a story about a minangkabau king who combined martial arts of his guards coming from four different countries: Persia, China, Vietnam and Siam. Minangkabau people called such combination of martial arts ‘silek’. Silek has various techniques which depends upon the place where it was learned, for example; Silek Tuo, Silek Pauh, Silek Kumango, Silek Seteralak and Silek Lintau. Despite its different terms and techniques, this silek essentially comprises four aspects :
Martial art, Arts, Sports and Mental / spiritual.

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