Animals and observation

Discussion in 'Silat' started by Narrue, Apr 22, 2006.

  1. Narrue

    Narrue Valued Member

    What can we learn from observing wild animals and how did or can this result in Silat?
  2. Gajah Silat

    Gajah Silat Ayo berantam!

    I don't want to go too anthropological on this but to quote Mary Douglas 'bodies are good to think with'.

    By this I mean using the body as a metaphor is a very good way of making things more tangible. Think of how many times a day we refer to non bodily things via bodily reference. Head of state, foot of the mountain, hard shoulder on the motorway, brow of the hill....the list is endless and is a common feature in all cultures.

    Now think how often we refer to, describe humans as animals or with animal attributes. Ass, bitch, wise owl, stubborn as a mule, bear with a sore head....again almost endless.

    Now take this a step further and use the format of an animal as a template for movement.

    Now, wether or not these moves came about from watching animals move, or moves were called whatever because they are reminiscent of animal move ment does not detract from the usefulness of the concept.

    It is entirely natural to think metaphorically. It is more useful as a tool to implant movement concepts by notions of animal movement rather than a long winded explanation.

    So, take a horse stance or kuda-kuda. It makes perfect sense to call it that. the image is helpful in understanding the stance. What else could you call it?

    A feet parallel, knees pushed out, shins vertical, bum low stance :confused: See what I mean. Animals are good to think with :rolleyes:
  3. Narrue

    Narrue Valued Member

    I think that when the statement that a particular style of silat was influenced by observing wild animals I don’t think it necessarily means that the physical movements were taken from the animal in question. Instead I think it refers to the character or essence of the animal.

    When in a fight situation humans can often become overwhelmed with the whole situation and perhaps one way of overcoming that is to approach the situation as if you were an animal i.e. momentarily take on the mind set of a tiger, become wild for a moment if you will until the threat has passed.

    Animals act without thought, they just do it and that is why they are often such great fighters.

    Humans tend to overuse the left side of their brains in situations where they should not. Tactical and calculating thoughts take time to be processed and in a fight situation you often don’t have that time. This is why people often freeze in such situations, their computers (brains) momentarily crash and need to reboot. By that time they have a knife stuck in their side or they have already been struck.

    I’m talking about the advantages of instinctive behaviour in a fight and how observing wild animals can help humans to get back what they have lost.
  4. Gajah Silat

    Gajah Silat Ayo berantam!

    Indeed, for most of our lives we are taught to 'overcome' instinct which is all well and good in the office, but there are times when we need instinct. So, 'becoming' an animal in combat can be a tool to overide the brains critical factor.

    There is a Japanese saying which says, "trust your instincts, question your habits".

    Ever immediately disliked or not trusted someone, only to find out months or years later that you were right?

    Done this one before but, ever felt something is 'wrong' in a bar only to witness a fight later?

    I call this my spider sense but maybe it should be my Tiger Sense :) Yeah I like that, Tiger Sense :)

    So, on the surface using the...I didn't want to use this but.....spirit of an animal is a useful way to get rid of that overanalytical 'fluff' that fills our heads for a while.

    Of course we could go much deeper into this. Shamanic traditions......
  5. Narrue

    Narrue Valued Member

    Well I have often met a person and from the moment I meet them totally did not trust them despite all the smiles, laughter and joking. I often feel guilty about making judgments so quickly but sadly mostly those judgments turn out to be correct.

    Often humans will mistrust such instincts because they are not based on facts or evidence. We often talk about “having all the facts before you make a judgement”

    I think SENSE is a good word to describe this though, when you smell a rose do you need facts to tell you that what you can smell is the sent of a rose? Likewise when you “smell a rat” do you need facts to convince you that what you smell is the odour of a rat?

    I deliberately avoided using the term “animal spirit” because I know many people have diverse opinions about what it means to take on or utilise animal spirits in martial arts.

    Personally I don’t believe in possession by animal spirits. I prefer to use the word connection or bond.

    The human is a microcosm and I believe that this means that the essence of everything in the macrocosm exists within the human. This includes the essence of every living animal on earth and because of this humans can decide to use that connection or not. I think this is the true use of animal forms in martial arts.

    Since man is a microcosm and contains the essence of all things I think that should be reflected in mans natural fighting style i.e. formless and dynamic.

    I recall Bruce Lee saying that the highest expression in martial arts is the formless form ;)
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2006
  6. Kejawen

    Kejawen New Member

    hmmm...Well, i'm one of the practioners who used animal spirits like snake, tiger, wolf and more. At first it was great! I got to improve my silat movement without an effort. Even my instructor at campus was impressed. He asked me which group i'm from i just smiled. Well actually i dunno what i'm doing, i'm in a trance moving on my own. Imagine nine months of not training but defeating a national silat athlete in a match of three rounds with beautiful move especially the bat. However, it doesn't comes easy, there's some offers need to be made like smoke, meat...also the "pantang"s like not bathing after 10am. If i did not eat meat or smoke, they will "Makan Diri" and i've got it before...very painful and weak. But i'm now not practising it anymore because my new Guru advised me not to continue. "Taking good spirits teaches you good ways, bad ones teaches you to be bad and animals will teach you in being animals." Found some sense in his quote because i noticed my appetite grew drastically but my weight never goes up and i am very hot-tempered unlike the real me. I'm discarding them away but i can't seem to totally push them away, is there anyone got a tip for this?
  7. tellner

    tellner Valued Member

    They make great metaphors, but only if you're familiar with how that animal moves and acts. It's counterproductive to take it too literally.

    "Move like a cat."
    "OK, as soon as I've learned how to lick my own butt I'll sleep for the next 12 hours."

    Possession by animal spirits? Not this cowboy. There are two possibilities. First, there's something to it. If so it's dangerous and utterly against my religion.

    As a friend of mine - who grew up on an Apache reservation - says :

    "Grandfather, why is that White man walking around on all fours and peeing on the bushes?"
    "Well grandson, he invited the Coyote Spirit in and doesn't know how to get rid of him."

    The other possibility is that there isn't anything to it. In which case it's still dangerous to take it too far with the additional complication that there's no harder problem to get out of than the one you create by fooling yourself.
  8. Ular Sawa

    Ular Sawa Valued Member

    Narrue, I think you answered your own question quite well in a couple of your posts. BTW, like your new avatar. I think one can connect to the essence of the animal and take on certain attributes.
  9. Narrue

    Narrue Valued Member

    Thanks Ular Sawa, it’s a nice kitten is it not lol, Its good to know what others feel about this also

    When people talk about trance possession by animal spirits I think that in many cases they believe that a spirit has entered their bodies and therefore behave in that manner, in many cases I think it’s all in their minds and no spirit has actually entered their body. Self hypnosis if you will. I’m sure we have all seen a stage hypnotist hypnotise a subject to believe they were a dog for example. Would you say the spirit of a dog had entered their body or would you say it all in the mind?

    In the case when a person deliberately calls familiars/Imps to be at their service those creatures are not animals in the normal sense but are elemental beings. In the west such practices were also common but also many many innocent people were put to death for being accused of such practices. Those were dangerous times, you could be innocently collecting herbs to make medicine and your neighbour could report you for practicing magic. Such creatures feed off their master. True or not it’s obviously not good.

    What I was referring to was not the practice of using familiars/Imps but a connection from within i.e. It does not come from outside and does not use spirits, It’s a mind thing.

    Attached Files:

  10. Gajah Silat

    Gajah Silat Ayo berantam!

    Um, I suppose spirit has many connotations. I didn't nessesarily mean 'spirit' to be spirit as in soul, ghost or whatever.

    I meant something more like 'characteristics' or 'attributes' which is different to spirit possesion. So maybe that's what I should of said. :rolleyes:

    Hey, Narrue are you turning into a Mystic Silat Hippy ;)
  11. Narrue

    Narrue Valued Member

    A Mystic Silat Hippy! What does that mean……wait a second where’s my crystal ball :D
  12. Ular Sawa

    Ular Sawa Valued Member

    I am in agreement again with you Narrue, oops, does this make me a hippy? No one really knows the limits of the inside. Ironically, I have experienced some inside things over the years that I am convinced would have gotten me burned at the stake in the old times.

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