Comparison of Indonesian/Filipino martial arts

Discussion in 'Silat' started by stump, Jul 18, 2002.

  1. stump

    stump Supersub

    Hi folks,

    I was wondering what do you think are the main similarities and differences between the martial arts of these two countries? i realise there's a wealth of difference within both FMA and IMA but i was hoping someone could point out a couple of generic points that can be used to defferentiate between them?


  2. pesilat

    pesilat Active Member

    Well ... I can only speak for the arts/systems I've been exposed to.

    I would say that Silat systems tend to be weapon oriented and Kali systems tend to be weapon based. This is a subtle difference. In my experience, they both end up being *very* effective at using and defending against weapons. But the mindset is a little different. In the Filipino arts that I've been exposed to, *everything* is derived from the use of weapons. The stick work is derived from sword work. The knife work is derived from sword work. The empty hands is derived from the knife and stick work. In the FMA, it all *starts* with the weapons.

    In the Silat I've seen, they are always thinking about weapons and thinking in terms of weapons ... but they aren't "defined" by the weapons in the same way the FMA seem to be. It's a hard distinction to outline ... but that's the way it seems to me.

    The overall difference in mindset in general (in what I've seen) really lies in the mindset. The Silat I've seen tends to be *very* direct and *very* aggressive. "I'm going to take this guy out, period ... who *cares* if I get injured on the way?"

    The FMA tend to be a bit more evasive and take the mindset of, "If I can avoid getting injured I will ... but I'm going to take this guy out, period."

    Of course ... the specifics will differ from instructor to instructor, system to system, art to art. There are *always* exceptions ... and I've seen less than 1% (probably less than 0.1%) of all the systems of Silat and Kali out there.

  3. Andy Murray

    Andy Murray Sadly passed away. Rest In Peace.

  4. Jim

    Jim New Member

    ttt? Andy, drinking and typing don't mix.

    I think you've hit the nail on the head, Mike - but of course with your background you would :).

    We have a lot of ex-pat indonesians, particularly Balinese, here and the ones who have knowledge of Penjak Silat are very fast, flexable and good with weapons - particularly their Kris (Angled Dagger).

    But, the forms they use seem to be based very much on the use of this and are predictable when you know what to look for. No disrespect intended of course.

    The 'attack with disregard to personal safety' mentality of FMA & IMA I see as being in common with Muai Thai. It's a regional thing I believe.

    This is a good article/essay:

    Your thoughts?
  5. pesilat

    pesilat Active Member

    Yes, the regional thing is a definite. That whole region (Southeast Asia ... from Thailand through Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines) has been a hotbed of trade and conflict for many, many centuries (and still is today). There's been a lot of cross-pollination (of materials, cultures, bloodlines, etc.) It's really impossible to trace all the various items (including martial arts) to their original roots ... which predate reliable history (and, in some instances, predate any sort of written history at all).

  6. Jim

    Jim New Member

    The thing that makes it very hard (from a Western point of view) is that there is a lot on emphasis placed on lineage and origin of an art, where in this area in particular there just is very little written confirmation, other than that of monks and missionaries (and their interest didn't really lie in trying to identify and classify martial arts).
  7. pesilat

    pesilat Active Member

    Yes, and also, some of the written histories that are available (from the monks and missionaries) is unreliable because it was written from such a skewed perspective.

    I think there are some older texts in existance ... but I don't know how many or what state their in or how much they actually discuss the martial arts.

    Most of the history is oral tradition. Which, of course, is often refuted by the oral tradition of other arts. And there's no way to know which is true ... in all probability, the truth actually lies somewhere between them all.

    But, really, the same is true of a lot of the arts around the world. Even if there *is* written history, there's often an oral history ... or the written history of another art ... that refutes it.

    Basically, as students, we have to choose to believe (perhaps with a grain of salt or two) the history that makes the most sense to us as individuals.

    But no one really knows their complete lineage. It can be tracked to the founder of a specific system ... but that's not really the beginning of it.

    Take Goju-Ryu, for instance. I forget the exact history, but Chojun Miyagi is, to the best of my recollection, considered the "founder" of the specific system ... but he was a student of Kanryo Higoanna. I don't know who Higoanna learned his Okinawa-Te from, but he also studied from a Gung Fu master in Fukkien Province, right? So ... who were their instructors? Where does the lineage end ... or, rather, begin?

    All arts are like this. The roots of *every* martial art lie in prehistory. Specific arts/systems/schools can trace their roots to their founder. But that's never really the beginning of the history.

    I don't think that all martial arts go back to the same root (unless it's Cain killing Abel ... assuming the Bible is a factual historical reference ... and that's a whole different discussion :) ).

    We humans are, by nature, warlike and confrontational. It's a pretty good bet that we have been that way since the inception of our race. Consequently, I think that each group of people developed their own martial arts to suit their region and needs. Over time, these methods began to formalize so they could be taught to help other people survive.

    Somewhere along the way, people started associating specific methods with specific families, people, or groups ... and "systems" were born. Each language had a different collective term for these ... and "arts" were born.

    But, in the end, the actual roots of *any* system can be traced into prehistory.

    So ... "lineage" is really just a matter of a group of people agreeing on a specific history and then agreeing on a point at which to cut it off and say, "OK ... that's the beginning."

    Getting caught up in it and making a big deal of it ... well, each to their own :)

    I slot that into the category coined by a friend of mine: "That's political crap ... I'm just here to train." :)


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