Studying Silat in non-Malay land

Discussion in 'Silat' started by Taker, Mar 26, 2008.

  1. Kertas

    Kertas Valued Member

    killing the worms haha!

    salam/hello to all,

    interesting dscussion...

    i am in south africa, and i managed to travel a bit, and gathered some knowledge from silat via friends and colleagues i have met. my first encounter of Silat was when i was at a boarding school at the age of 15, and saw a student from Cocos Island practice Silat in the garden at later that 12am at night.. / morning...

    he taught me my first steps in Silat, and the name of that silat is still unknown to me. the silat we practiced was only done late at night, in the dark. from there i learnt the importance of lankah. i only learnt silat, and no adat and adab attatched to it. my teacher promised to teach me the name of the silat only once i completed it, but he left the school before teaching me theentire art. all i know is that it had much to do with "Laam Alif"...

    then my second learning came from Pukulan Melaka, a malaysian style to this day i have much respect for as i have learnt much of the adat and adab of Silat, which gives you a rough picture of what malay culture is. i have never been to malaysia, but i have lived with malaysian students in the middle east. this is where i learnt other forms of silat like RTD (indonesain - Radiasi Tenaga Dalam) which was more and only focused on breathing. it made me very tough though.

    In Syria, i learnt Harimau from Abang Zain from Sumatera, and also Setia Hati from a teacher who hails from Surabaya, indonesia. i didnt however complete these styles. i have been exposed to gayong eman, Silat cekak and harimau berantai from malaysia.. and learnt mostly silat from these people.

    that being said, i dont want to get into the political or religious debate. i know that i have been accepted as a student from many of the teachers just because i myself am a malay. some schools do not teach non-malays for their own reasoning and we just have to respect that. some would restrict it to muslims because the philosophyand spiritual teachings would not be grasped by the non-muslim.

    i would like to ask a question.. seeing that the issue of Islam and its influence on the malays and eventually their culture (silat), has any of the arab fighting arts been taught to the malays?

    when i read about the wars in the time of the Prophet SAW(peace be upon Him), it paints the picture that when the two opposing armies confronted each other, they would send their Best Warriors forward in a dual, and this would incite the Semangat on either side (depending on which warrior won the first fight), then another dual, and so forth until the armies decide to clash in battle...

    does anyone know more about this?
  2. Gajah Silat

    Gajah Silat Ayo berantam!

    Mas Kertas,

    It appears we have some silat in common, Harimau Berantai. Although this is the system of the Othman family from Malaysia, the style is originally Indonesian. Is someone teaching it in SA?

    I have read that Arab blade arts influenced some silat, along with Persian wrestling, gung fu, Indian fighting arts etc etc. However, I often wonder why so much effort goes into attributing foreign influences to silat. It's sometimes as if the Indonesians and Malays don't want to take credit for silat?:confused: Regardless of outside influence it is very much an Indo-Malay Martial art.

    Perhaps some research into the history of the Arab peninsula would reveal more. Certainly the use of 'champions' is very entrenched in European culture. Perhaps European chivalry influenced the Arabs:D Historically the pre-Islamic Arabs also had a code of conduct and form of chivalry, after Islam this became absorbed to become Al Futtuwa and adab. Sadly, this seems to be something all cultures have lost or are losing.:(
  3. Kertas

    Kertas Valued Member

    hmm.. so if arab chivalry was influenced by the europeans.. then how did that happen? i mean oil wasnt really much of use in that time
  4. Gajah Silat

    Gajah Silat Ayo berantam!

    Well, oil is a completely different and complex issue and not suitable for the silat forum.

    As to chivalry, during the crusades it was a two way process. The Europeans were also enormously influenced by the Arab codes of conduct and Saladin was very well respected as a wise and chivalrous leader. That time in history was not simply about war, there were periods of truce and peace, exchange of ideas, medicine and science. Do not also forget the moors in Spain had much cultural influence too.

    BTW perhaps the writings of Habeeb Salloum may give you some answers
  5. Kertas

    Kertas Valued Member

    ok, thanx for that... i was referring to the euroopean influence on arab war tactics, chivalry in the time of the Prophet SAW. this was roughly 600 CE just estimating...

    anyway, thax for that brief interlude of history there hehe..
  6. Saiful Azraq

    Saiful Azraq Valued Member

    Salam hormat Kertas,

    You asked: "i would like to ask a question.. seeing that the issue of Islam and its influence on the malays and eventually their culture (silat), has any of the arab fighting arts been taught to the malays?"

    There have been many cases where Arab culture directly influenced Melayu culture and silat is no exception. In the Melayu peninsula, we find quite a few silat styles claiming lineage or influences from 'Arab' (sometimes it means the Middle East) sources.

    The most well-known is Silat Kalimah, which claims descent from Sheikh Abdullah Qumairi Al-Rifaie Al-Parsi (a.k.a Sheikh Tajred, the hidden sheikh), a Rifaie Sheikh who passed through Persia and reverted the citizens of Qalha (later Kedah) to Islam by way of its king Sultan Muzaffar Syah, nee Merong Mahawangsa in the 12th century.

    This system is supposedly the core from which all modern Silat Kalimah and Silat Cekak styles derive from.

    Read more of this history here

    Another style with unconfirmed Arab origins is LianPadukan, who claims that when the Sahabi Saad Abi Waqqas came to China to proclaim Islam, one of his later followers brought along an Arab fist fighting art. This particular person is rumoured to be name Saiyidina Sema'un and his name is listed in the first line of the LianPadukan geneaology.

    This system is supposedly the core from which all Buah Pukul (in Johor) styles derive from including: Buah Pukul Mersing, Lian Paduka, Gayang Lima, Silat Awang Daik, etc.

    Read more of this history here

    Two other instances occur in Kelantan and Terengganu, where several styles sharing the nom de plume of 'Silat Tongkat' claim to have been brought back by Hajis from Makkah who studied from 'Arabs' there. Several of these styles have been documented in SENI BELADIRI magazine and one especially was looked into by Tuan Ismail Tuan Soh, in "Pengenalan Sejarah dan Amalan Seni Silat Tongkat" in Sari 8 (academic journal) 1990: 49-59

    Here is an extract from his abstract: "This essay discusses some aspects of Silat Tongkat as a form of martial art in this country. A comparison will be made with the conventional Malay silat to determine if Silat Tongkat is a variant of the conventional Malay silat or it is a silat which has its own identity. Generally, Silat Tongkat has three phases in its development namely the Bunga (flower) phase, the Butir (seed) phase, and the Isi (Flesh) phase. Each of these phases has some details in its techniques. For that matter, Silat Tongkat has its own complexity and identity and should be studied systematically independent of the conventional Malay silat."

    A recent introduction is Seni Silat Gayongman in Terengganu which claims that less than 100 years ago, a Haji met a 'black man' in Makkah who taught him a staff fighting art which he taught amongst the Melayu when he returned. I don't know if this qualifies as an Arab art, but when observed, the Silat Tongkat and Silat Gayongman share similar traits, such as the open handed grips of the staff.

    On a 'hidden history' note, Silat Sri Panglima Ulung in Terengganu claims that the Melayu sultanates had quite close relations with the Muslim Caliphates and as recent as the Uthmanis shared knowledge and skills with their Melayu brethren. Difficult to confirm, I'm afraid, but they believe it and that, at least proves influence.

    Finally, my teacher, Guru Haji Jamaludin Shahadan of Silat Sendeng Haji Hamid claims that the Arabs brought sword fighting to the Nusantara region but was not picked up easily because of systematic differences. However, Silat Sendeng was quite compatible because of its emphasis on the compass points in footwork and striking and managed to adopt quite a bit of the methods.

    Salam persilatan,
  7. Kertas

    Kertas Valued Member


    Hormat Saiful Azraq, terima kasih banyak,or in the cape town malay we say baie tramakasie! Hehe.. Its very interesting to know what you have mentioned above. I have met arab brethren,and also visited some arab states,and i always wonder why the arab doesnt have pride in his own fighting art. In egypt and syria,the arabs love kickboxing,karate and even silat..but i havent yet heard a title or name for a purely arab martial art. Maybe it didnt survive? Or the arabs may have found more efficient ways in other styles hey. So back to the forum question on learning from a Malay or indo Guru.. Yes i have learnt from malay teachers who came to South Africa. Most South African malays are from Javanese origin or indonesian,but we lost the fighting arts over 200 years of indonesian blood landed on African soil. Some families stil have books,mostly religious ones, from their ancestors written in Jawi or arabic. Some keris and parangs were also preserved,but the families dont knw about silat. We do however use the word 'SLAT' without the 'i' which sounds similar to silat. And the word slat to us means to beat or hit,so there might have been a link i dnt knw. So silat was officialy demonstrated to the south african community only in 1995 or 96,i speak under correction,when the malaysian government brought a silat group from Melaka to show us our lost culture. Silat first became known as 'malaysian karate' amongst the local people. Now there are many people who have learnt silat abroad,some students went to indonesia etc.. And people myself and friends who learnt under our cikgu Hilmy who studied under Hj Mukhtar,who came to cape town to personaly teach us further. Although we dont have a stationary teacher in cape town,we do stil try to keep silat alive. A student once asked his teacher, "how can we learn from you when you aren't here?" he replied "if you cant benefit from me if i am far,you will not benefit from me when i am near".. So il leave that open for contemplation and interpretation. Salam hormat
  8. Saiful Azraq

    Saiful Azraq Valued Member

    Salam hormat Kertas,

    Sama-sama dan terima kasih kembali. I don't know what happened to Arab fighting forms, except that I agree it is sad that it is on the verge of extinction, if it hasn't crossed it already. As for the word SILAT, never fear, I think the context remains similar. I once interviewed the President of the Philippine Pencak Silat Federation and he told me that 'SILAT' there means to trick, or bluff. He used it in conversation as, "Are you trying to silat me?" which was an interesting usage.

    Congratulations on your efforts to keep the heritage alive. It's nice to know that someone is.

    As for my brother Taker, I never answered your original question, so here goes:

    1. All of my silat teachers regard themselves as Melayu.

    2. In fact, all of the silat styles I studied came packaged together with a talk on good character. Some of them were simple moral lessons, others were very religious in nature and took up 80% of class time.

    3. I don't know this. I live in Malaysia. However, a few of the arts I studid originally came from other areas in Nusantara. Sendeng for example, has changed much since it was introduced from Kalimantan to Sulawesi. Every state and district has its own variant of Sendeng.

    Salam persilatan,
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2008
  9. Kertas

    Kertas Valued Member

    just a brief answer to the 3 questions

    1. Have you ever met the guru from the Malay Archipelago him/herself before/after studying the Silat style? (Or maybe the gurus themselves travel to your place to teach?) Or you didn't even know there's a Silat guru for your style?

    i have answered this Q in above posts :)

    2. Did the Silat class in your country also teaches the Adat and Adab of the Malays? Or did it only teach the blocks and punches without any Malay manners insights? If so, that's where the comments on "I'm going to go BSing" comes.

    Yes, i have learnt much of the Adat and Adab of the malay silat. I also feel that it is important to understand the history, cultural practices and customs of the art you are studying in order to appreciate its value.

    3. Does being far from the Malay Archipelago meant that the Silat had been changed or modified to suit the culture in your country? Does it stil preseve the actual technique that was created eons ago by the Malay warriors of old?

    we have exactly the same syllabus of silat as it is in Melaka/ malaysia, and we have not edited or changed any of its content.
  10. Raden-Rahmat

    Raden-Rahmat Valued Member

    The Arab Malay Fusion

    Salam To All

    Somthing Ive Never Doubted Even Since You Can Find It In The Coffee Called Mocca-java...hehe...that Shoudl Explain The Influence Both Have On One Another...and In A Great Way The Sufi Ways Have Been Vigorously Transported.
    Im Most Interested In The Influence On The Rifa'i Sheikh Since I Did A Research A While Back, But In My Persoanl Capacity, Regarding Sufi Influence And I Found That The Rifa'i Order Had The Most Profound Influence, Especially Initiating And Not Just Teaching The Adab Of Tasawwuf/sufism.
    The Very Tenaga Dalam Which Has Become Mystery And Ilmu To Others Which Might Have Negative Connotations To Others Were Actually Thikr Used In The Rifa'i Thikr Sessions And Thikr Prescribed By The Sheikh To His Initiates For Whatever Im Gona Read That Silat Kalimah Htread You Got There...tramakasie Mohd Nadzrin
  11. Raden-Rahmat

    Raden-Rahmat Valued Member

    the Rifa'i

    hmmm now thats enlightening to my styagnant research...ill renew my research by your updates now. ive always thought that only the indonesians have had influence of the rifa'is through the practice of debus which apprently was a form of real fighting by pesilats but obviously through the baraka of the doa and athkaar performed, the fighters were not harmed but could thus gain experience in fighting thus becoming very skillfull and dnagerous. which draws to the conclusion that the palace could have warriors even though they have not fought. this explains why panglima Tok Ismail had overcome the Tuah renegade. personally i wanted to know this because the form of debus that reached cape town was actually more of a militant style, i mean silat...not really militant...but saying this im just detracting from the original sufi ceremony of the rifa'is where they would perform dangerous acts that would not harm them due to the recital of certain ayat or athkaar which the rifa'is seem to have mastery of. ive seen some pictures and studying this, i concluded that the rifa'i brand brought here had silat influence and this now reconfirms this becaus eof your input...i think i need to have contact with Silat Kalimah pesilats and even visit the place....i really wanted to do this 3 years back but then Allah directed me to for now im just tied down but my intention is definitely renewed!!!! Allah help us achieve our goals ameen
  12. Saiful Azraq

    Saiful Azraq Valued Member

    Salam hormat Raden-Rahmat,

    Your trip to Malaysia to meet Silat Kalimah could be fruitless. The problem is this: Sheikh Abdullah is claimed by to be a direct murid of Al Ghaus Al Muhyiddin Sheikh Abdul Qadir Al-Jailani [1]. After Sheikh Abdullah came to Kedah in the 12th centure, his progeny took office as Muftis and religious teachers around Kedah and Pattani [2].

    It is about this time that the military and sufi practises split. The martial component was taught to the royal household and gained a separate royal lineage while Tariqat Rifaiyyah was passed down through another line. They have remained separate ever since.

    The current holder of the Rifaiyyah lineage is Ustaz Aswadi bin Yah al-Qubrawi al-Kelantani al-Kawi [3], who received it from his mursyid in Acheh. During a recent conference with Silat Kalimah, he proposed a reunison, but after being apart for so long, most of the masters politely declined.

    I don't know the real reasons for this, but one possible explanation is that the late Mahaguru Yahya Said had already reconfirmed the spiritual lineage of Silat Kalimah through another tariqah branch in the 1970s (which also realises a relationship to Sheikh Muhyiddin), though not many Kalimah pesilat know of this event. [4]

    However, there is another line you might want to look into, which is Silat Gelombang in Acheh, whose martial movements are unnerringly similar to Silat Kalimah and also wear the same white garb [5]. I don't know if they wear it for the same reason Silat Kalimah wears it, which siginifies the white swath at birth, the white jubah of salat, the white ihram of hajj and the white kafan of death.

    Salam persilatan,

    [1] Statement made by Allahyarham Sheikh Mahmud Nasri al-Osmani, of the Pondok Lanai religious school to researcher Allahyarham Haji Wan Muhammad Shaghir Abdullah, a researcher into Pattani (Fatani) religious manuscripts, who was the descendant of the famed Uthmani-era alim, Sheikh Ahmad bin Muhammad Zain al-Fatani
    [2] As recorded in local history
    [3] Confirmed by guru Mazlan Man of Silat Kalam Utama, who attended the conference
    [4] Which happened in Perak during a royal audience
    [5] As reported personally by O'ong Maryono to guro Omar Hakim of Silat Kuntau Tekpi USA
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2008
  13. Raden-Rahmat

    Raden-Rahmat Valued Member

    hair splitting is it??? its all remeh

    thats what a malaysian guy told me when it comes to things that dont need to be and issue...just regard it as remeh and carry on. sometimes i wonder why did something this good have to succomb to something so weak/sad?
    My question...waht happended to leadership?? Why the decline? what were the outlining factors preferring segregation from the spiritual essence of islam as opposed to just being physical, especially when this was the foundation of this organisation??? really it begs to know what could be so bad by reuniting?
    but 1 factor that allures me to find out more about this and especially the Acheh branch, is the fact that you say the leader was a direct murid of Sultan al Awliya Sh Abdul Qadir (qaddasallahu sirrahu RA). This means this Silat has real buah in it and feels they must must discard it when the opportunity comes to reclaim???

    What leadership is this??? Unless the membership now subscribes to the Wahhabi way of thinking??? it would be a bad turn of events if this is the case.

    how do you think i could get in contact with the Acheh school??? email??? mobile number??? I would like to pursue the matter as research into the tariqah instead of its politics...

    tramakasi such a help...i think im gona think up some more things for new threads just gets better
  14. Saiful Azraq

    Saiful Azraq Valued Member

    Salam hormat Raden-Rahmat,

    The affairs of tariqah, once deemed mainstream by the Melayu, have moved into the background, and what has moved into the foreground is ethnocentrism. I am ashamed to say that there are many people here who regard themselves as Melayu first and Muslims second, if ever. This is my general answer.

    As for Silat Kalimah, I am of husnul zhon. I know many of them, myself being a pesilat Kalimah as well, although I studied 'off the beaten track' (I know that my teacher, at least, has silsilah). I am of the opinion that they know their affairs better. As far as I can tell, there was no spiritual segregation, only that the masters who inherited Silat Kalimah were not given authority to pass on the tariqah.

    Based on my research and insights, there was no particular system to this silat until only very recently. Thus, it is unknown if Sheikh Tajred had any intention of it being taught outside of the royal household (Please refer to Silat Kalimah history) or it being a subject of study the way we devote ourselves to silat nowadays.

    The claim that Sheikh Tajred was a disciple of Sheikh Muhyiddin so far comes from only one person, and his students maintain that claim to this day. The Silat Kalimah I received contained no remnants of Rifaie awrad. It only came as a purely physical method, but with a lot of discussions on haqiqah passed along, depending on the religious background and knowledge of the teacher you studied under.

    As for Wahabbi influence, I do not think there are any for the time being. On the contrary, many styles go in the extreme opposite. I hope I haven't disappointed your search for a link.

    If you need to contact Silat Gelombang, I suggest you get in touch with Pak O'ong Maryono of the Thailand Pencak Silat Federation through his website He might be able to get you a recent phone number or contact.

    Salam persilatan,
  15. Raden-Rahmat

    Raden-Rahmat Valued Member

    thinking good always...nice..ihsaan

    i was hoping my assumptions would be refuted. but its true as well that the spiritual successor cannot be wrecklessly passed to anyone and perhaps the shaikh decided to pass ti to those who have the spirit for Guru Azlan says..."Semangat". that drive, that energy!
    lets for now regard it as just a matter of priority. but it would have been good to reunite since muslims should not be specialised in 1 thing but always good to specialise in many things and since being able to fight is required alongwith being spiritually alive is required, these 2 serve as good products for a wholesome being for further development and social security...just my view but i will pursue the connection
  16. Saiful Azraq

    Saiful Azraq Valued Member

    Salam hormat,

    As I understand it, Sheikh Tajred passed along the tariqah to Sheikh Shahib Ahmad Dabab, and since it was well known that Sheikh Tajred's progeny long served as the religious consultants of the palace, there is a strong possibility that one these sheikhs, Sheikh Abdullah As Sumbawi Ar Rifa'i was the Datuk Seroja Imam mentioned in this paragraph in an old manuscipt:

    “Arakian maka menyerulah akan Datuk Seroja Imam kepada sekalian hamba rakyat agar memperkuat jiwa dengan menghidupkan malam dan berpuasa di siangnya. Tatkala datanglah bala tentera dari Acheh, gegak gempita bunyinya beralun sorak tiada taranya, berdirilah akan Datuk Seroja Imam, diam qiam bagaikan sembahyang, bukan diam tidak bergerak, itulah gerak dalam berjuang, gerak hidup bagaikan solat, memukul cepat bagaikan kilat, itulah gerak fisabilillah”

    "And so it happened that Datuk Seroja Imam called to all the citizens to strengthen their hearts by enlivening the night (with salat) and fasting in the day. And when the armies came from Acheh, the sounds of uncomparable frenzy accompanied them, and so stood Datuk Seroja Imam, at qiam as in prayer, but not quiet and unmoving, verily it is the motion of war, alive with movement as if in salat, striking quick as lightning, that is the movement in the path of Allah."

    Therefore, it is very possible that for a very long time after that, silat was still with the sheikhs, and the possibility that it was spread to Acheh afterwards also makes sense.

    However, as I understand it, Rifaiyyah places little importance on specific combat methods and will accept any style as long as it's of military importance. Thus, it could be that somewhere along the line, the methods in Malaysia changed and only Silat Kalimah and its derivatives managed to preserve the physical aspect.

    Salam persilatan,

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