How is kembangan actually used?

Discussion in 'Silat' started by RedBagani, Mar 13, 2005.

  1. RedBagani

    RedBagani Valued Member

    How is kembangan in SILAT actually used?

    Hi, I am new here and checked if anyone was discussing the practical application of kembangan in Silat. I could not find any. I did a bit of Silat and Kuntao, and have raised the question quite often even among other Silat stylists, but have not found an adequate answer. The answers I got were varied - it is used as an artistic expression, as a ritual or symbol for Silat, a trademark move for a particular style, a way to score points with the judges in sports silat, a method of setting up attacks/defenses, weaving of spells and throwing of malicous energy at an opponent. I find the answers inadequate because in many other martial arts, such movements are not used to the extent that Silat practitioners do the Kembangan. I would like to know if anyone of you out there has other ideas. If possible, I would like the question viewed from a PRACTICAL COMBAT APPLICATION, although it would still be interesting how it can be answered from other points of view.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2005
  2. Wali

    Wali Valued Member

    Hi RebBagani,

    The Kembagang is CRUCIAL for anyone learning silat. The problem is that many schools don't have a proper understanding of this aspect of the art.

    At it's essence, the Kembagang is the place where you bring all your silat together. A good silat man will be able to determine what another really knows by observing their kembangan.

    The Kembangan also raises a persons awareness, and if properly trained, greatly enhances peripheral perception, inreasing the effectiveness of fighting multiple opponents. It also helps with the alignment of the body, ensuring that correct posture and movement are perfected.

    On a more spiritual level, it enables us to develop a deeper connection with the Creator, fellow man and Mother Earth. It enhances our perception of everything around us, and allows us to discern things better.

    There is a lot more to the Kembagang than just flowery, dancy movements, but you need to go to a teacher that really knows it.

    I have given you an extremelly basic explanation, as there is a lot more to it, but it's something that you are better of experiencing rather than reading about.

    I hope this clears out a few misconceptions.

    Kind regards,
  3. RedBagani

    RedBagani Valued Member

    Thanks for the info, Wali.
    Most guys see Kembangan as a kind of Kata or Form but it is actually quite different in use and intention. Before fighting an opponent, I noticed that the pesilat makes a 'flowery' move before he engages. In fact the term used to describe this movement is "Buka Bunga", translated as "The Opening of the Flower". In sports silat, points are even given for doing this. My concern is, why is this movement crucial in an actual fight? Other martial arts style that do Kata don't have this pre-fight component. They go straight to the point. The only guys I see doing a similar "Buka Bunga" are actors in Kung Fu movies. I've asked different people about this, including high ranking masters. I've always found counter-arguments for the explanations, specially when I look at the question from a purely combat point of view. After more than 2 years of doing silat and kuntao, I still don't fully get it!! Have you?

  4. Wali

    Wali Valued Member

    To be quite honest, I find the silat done at tournaments embarrasing to silat. The students cannot possibly know what they are doing, because the teacher themselves don't know what they are doing.

    I have witnessed silat tournaments where the players begin with flowery movements, yet when the fight starts, they drop it all, and the fight resembles a TKD ot Karate fight, then when it is over, the flowery movements return. In short, a total farce.

    The Kembangan, as I have said, is primarily there to deepen your connection with the Creator. It brings out the beauty on the inside, and changes the way you move and feel. It also deepens you connection with your fellow man, and helps you to discern their intention, making it far easier to determine what they are going to do. This has ovious fighting advantages!

    It is different to Kata, in the sense that the movements aren't fixed, and 2 kembagangs should never look the same. If someone has said that they are the equivalent, then they don't know kembagang, and have only a very limited knowledge of real silat.

    To answer your question, once the Kembangan is learnt, you internalise it. By this I mean that it becomes a state of awareness as oppossed to the physical movements. Most people think it's just the flowery movements, and try to mimick the moves when in combat, not understanding the deeper aspects I mentioned to you.

    I would suggest you find a teacher that can answer all your questions, as this is the most beautiful, yet deadly part of traditional Pencak Silat. If you ever find yourself in London, visit our academy on a Wednesday evening, when we do a Kembagang night.

  5. RedBagani

    RedBagani Valued Member

    Hello Wali,
    Thanks for inviting me to come over to your gym but right now that is impossible; I live more than a thousand miles away. Ironic, isn't it, that the only guy who answered my query isn't from one of the places where Silat originated? The reason why I posted my query in the Beginners Section is because I want to view it from a fresh perspective. Until I have solved the riddle of Kembangan, I will consider myself a beginner. Silat is such a profound art people tend to misunderstand it. Where i am, people have given different answers, none of which I have found to be truly satisfactory. Only someone who had a good understanding of Silat could have bothered to answer my question. It is true about what you said, Silat has to be encountered first hand in order to be understood. It cannot be mastered simply through discussion.
  6. krys

    krys Valued Member


    Kembangan or flower dance is not really my top priority. It is part of our silat, but I don't believe you really need it for fighting. I don't say it is useless, actually there are some benefits (internalising things, awareness, tricking your opponent), but in my oppinion these skills can be trained in more efficient ways....Peoples seldom show their silat in the Philippines but if they decide to teach you, you'll learn the real thing, direct and brutal but without all the flowers and hidden movements....

    I prefer spending my time on other aspects of the art that I find more usefull than Kembangan. To me sharpening the bolo comes before learning how to dance....and the bolo never can be sharp enough.

    I always was attracted by arts using economy of motion and natural movements, attacks that can be launched quickly without showing my intentions, crash in as soon as possible and destroy....I don't believe in showing my opponent I know Silat, or the kind of Silat I practice. Ideally attack before he notices it and finish the fight before he realizes what happens, in case of a duel or the fight is already engaged let him believe I practice another art until it is too late....

    The good systems I've seen go straight to the point, but many silat systems became overstylised, lost touch with real fighting because of commercialism, sport, cultural reasons, secrecy... Nowadays you will see lots of systems spending most of their students time on dancing, prearanged fighting, countering other silat systems or memorizing overcomplicated combinations of techniques....this isn't a very effficient way to prepare for the real world.....
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2005
  7. Wali

    Wali Valued Member

    It seems that you don't understand the Kembangang at all. It doesn't REPLACE the brutal aspect of Silat, but enhances it.

    It helps deepen your connection with the Creator, and fellow man. I can understaqnd why you say what you say. It is where you are at this present moment.

    Good luck with your training.
  8. RedBagani

    RedBagani Valued Member

    Hah! It's good another guy has joined us in our discussion on this mystifying part of Silat, Wali. i hope this will lead somewhere. Your statement " don't understand the Kembangan at all..." seems to summarize the feelings and thoughts of a lot of silat practitioners. Honestly, very few of us have really grasped the meaning. I just hope that you could be more technical in your answers, like at what range or phase of the fight can anyone put in the "bunga"? What do you think of the stilted poses or "sikap" that pesilat do? What do you think of the fights between pesilat, for example the tournament that took place in UK last year where there were a lot of international participants? I understand your group didn't join the tournament. How would your players have fought differently? Better yet, is it possible to show a video clip of you guys free sparring? Pls understand I am not here to pt anyone ina bad light, but I believe anyone who TALKS must show he can do the WALK. I have seen pesilat fight against each other, as well as against other stylists. It would be very helpful for my understanding if I could see how you guys spar with one another and against other stylists. Thanks.
  9. Crucible

    Crucible Valued Member

    Good Questions. I'll be able to write on this more later. Moderator, perhaps we should move this to the silat section? I know Redbagani posted here in the interest of asking with beginners eyes, but I think it would get more notice from pesilats in the silat section. Cheers.
  10. chib

    chib New Member

    Hi guys
    do all forms of silat use Kembagang? How does it help you connect at a deeper level, where can i read more about it?
  11. Crucible

    Crucible Valued Member

    Chib, here's some articles for you
    Do all forms of silat use kembangan? I think there's so many forms of silat we will probably never be able to say what all of them have, but yes, generally speaking its common to many forms of silat.
  12. Crucible

    Crucible Valued Member

    So coming primarily from a weapons background most of my time in this area has been not emptyhand but live sundang. With my teacher it was emptyhand but due to distance I do whats presently available inbetween visits.
    I've heard many of these things as well. I remember being told that when two pesilats meet, they wont ask each other to fight, but they'll ask to see each other dance, and just by the movements they'll already know how good the other is. I sometimes think of the movements in kembangan as part of what makes silat distinctly a Malay art. I think of as the movments contained within kembangan as setups showing fake openings, over-telegraphing a movement, and attacking by drawing. I've almost walked into the piont of a live blade on several occasions because they showed a fake opening. I also agree with everything written in the previous posts.
    I actually disagree, I had such movements applied on me and seen and heard of them in other MAs. I've seen them applied by a high level Gao style Bagua guy, I've heard of it done by boxers(doing an overt movement with one hand, to draw attention away from the other) I've seen it done on systema footage by Vladmir Vasilev, I've had it done on me by Andy Abrahim and Sunny Umpad(the old I'm going to shake your hand with my empty hand and stab you with the other, or "look its an airplane" nope an abanico :rolleyes: ) and its subtle part of capoeria. My brother used to call them "bugsbunny tricks".

    hmmmm, Personally I know I have much to learn, so whatever I say is based on todays understanding. I'm sure I'll get to deeper and deeper levels of understanding as the years go by.
  13. Buddy

    Buddy Valued Member

    I'm betting you study with Bernie L.
  14. Crucible

    Crucible Valued Member

    Hi Buddy,
    You must be Buddy T. I've checked out your website before and seen you in the Ring of Fire pictures and in the back of Pak Vic's book. Bernie's a good friend, I actually introduced him to my silat instructor in the late 90's. I did nei gong and privates with him for about 2-3 years. Good guy, wonderful understanding of the human body, fun at parties. The Bagua person I was refering to above actually is Eric Luo. he was once demonstrating how bagua movements are used to open up a persons guard, "why do you think we do all these funny movements" he said. Actually I noticed the fighting guard he uses in close was lower, close-more like my silat gurus posture or a boxer than the extended arm postures he was using to draw a reaction.
  15. Crucible

    Crucible Valued Member

    Buddy, your a sera guy, what your take on kembangan?
  16. RedBagani

    RedBagani Valued Member

  17. Crucible

    Crucible Valued Member

    RedBagani, Do you have a copy of, or have you read Guro O'ong Maryono's book? It looks at many of the questions that you just brought up, and the difference between different schools of silat. What he calls Conservative schools, Liberal schools, and there may be other types as well(the books not on me at this moment). Conservative or traditional schools teach the way you do in a village, there may be techniques you show to outsiders and there may be things you never show or tell to anyone but your own school. Liberal schools came about in response to sports competition and are more concerned about what works in the competitive enviroment, so sometimes there are comments that a block or movement doesn't look like silat in these schools, it looks like judo, jujitsu, karate, or kickboxing. In his book he doesn't state preference for one or the other so much as give a general sense of the state of silat.
    I think I was taught one being inside the other. I was never shown a stylized movement that didn't have application. And I was never shown that distinct from prayer or ritual.
    I think for your kembangan to be "full" you have to have the fighting, other wise it'll show-in your arms, in your eyes, your breath, how your legs hold the ground. I'm not saying I can see this, I'm telling you what others have told me they see when another does their kembangan.
    I think in the heat of combat whatever comes out is what comes out, but inside of a duel you'd see kembangan.
  18. RedBagani

    RedBagani Valued Member

    Crucible, I have read O'ong article only in Rapid Journal, and he discussed the four types of Silat schools. Rapid Journal also regularly shows the different postures, or sikap, used in Silat. I found it frustrating that the use of these postures was not adequately explained. How are these used as set-ups or to create openings? I get these bits and pieces of information, but I can't thread them all together into a coherent and formidable whole. I know that 2 years in the arts is not enough to gain true understanding, but 2 years is a long time to be placed on the waiting list and be fed 'fruit peelings'. Maybe the saying is true: "You don't choose Silat, Silat chooses you."
    Thanks for the info you gave me. I understand you'll come here this year. I hope we can meet and cross hands in the spirit of brotherhood and understanding.
    Now, about the other stuff you wrote. I remember how Sugar Ray tricked Marvin Hagler with the bolo punch. It was a bugs bunny trick that worked not just once but twice. Yes, flowery moves have been used in boxing. You are right about other arts using exagerrated moves to camouflage the more lethal but subtle techniques. But Silat seems to have developed this aspect of combat to an extreme degree, compared to the other styles. There is logic to the madness. It's just that I still can't see it. Frustrating, no?
  19. RedBagani

    RedBagani Valued Member

    I said I have a few anecdotes about Silat fighters. Before I tell them, I would first like to say that I sincerely beleive that Silat is one of the best martial art in the planet. What I am narrating next should not be meant to show disrespect to the art. Hehehe
    A friend who used to live in Jolo, Sulu, said that unsanctioned fights used to be organized near the Malaysian border. This fights are akin to the no-holds-barred contests popular on tv. One particular bout matched a Chinaman (presumably a kung fu stylist) and a pesilat. The Silat guy began with a 'bunga' (flower movement), probably to harness the energies of the universe and to deepen his connection with his Creator. In the middle of his 'bunga', the Chinaman rushed in and knocked him out.
    Years ago, an amateur contest was held in Malaysia that pitted styles against styles. This particular match was between a female Thai boxer vs a female pesilat. When the bell rang, the pesilat started her dance. The Thai boxer bore straight in with a flurry of kicks and punches, and only the timely intervention of the referee prevented the pesilat from being united with her Creator.
    Okay, you say, anyone can make up stories. This last case was witessed by thousands on tv. In the early days of the Ultimate Fighting Championships, a pesilat joined the melee and got clobbered. Remember that?
    I just want to avoid the mistakes that these pesilat made. I also know success stories of pesilat, but telling them is not as fun. Cheers!
  20. Wali

    Wali Valued Member

    Seems to me that both these people you mentioned only did the kembangan for it's artistic look, and had no knowledge of the internal aspect.

    The minute you go into the kembangan, and I mean from the very 1st second, your awareness increases exponentially. Had they know how to do kembangan correctly, the minute their opponent rushed in, they would have been more than ready (assuming that their silat was any good to begin with).

    Like I said, you are welcome to visit EastWest studios when your over to see how it's done properly.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2005

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