The Dutch and Indonesian Silat

Discussion in 'Silat' started by Louie, Nov 5, 2007.

  1. Louie

    Louie STUNT DAD Supporter

    Previous discussions on various forums have covered the influence or non-influence of Spanish swordsmanship on Filipino MA -
    Since reading Nicolaes Petter's wrestling book I've wondered how much
    the Dutch influenced Indonesian martial Arts (or not!)

    The Dutch had been in Indonesia from 1602 when Nicolaes Petter wrote his grappling manual in 1674....
    In the book there are several techniques reminisant of Indonesian Silat techniques in particular this one (see Photo) under the section on 'Hair Pulls'

    Did the Dutch adopt a form of fighting from the people they had 'colonized', did similar styles evolve on different continents or did the Dutch influence the art of Silat :confused:

    Anyone familiar with Silat done research on Petter?


    Attached Files:

  2. Sgt_Major

    Sgt_Major Ex Global Mod Supporter

    *Moved to Silat forum*
  3. Rebo Paing

    Rebo Paing Pigs and fishes ...

    I have never heard of Petter, sorry.

    This is certainly an interesting angle.
    As for the Dutch influencing silat, my immediate reaction is to say "no way!" ... but how could I know?
    Such an interchange isn't documented anywhere that I'm aware of, but who knows if this interchange might not have taken place in the 300 odd years of occupation? There is to much that has happened in the past that doesn't make it to the pages of our common history, and history is coloured perspective mostly anyway.
    One thing I know for sure is that some of us did learn how to fight the Dutch through that time period, ... so there was an appreciation of each other's technique and strategy in warfare as well as in individual skirmish, but maybe not wrestling IMO. Could be wrong though.
    Point of interest ... my avatar is my family 'coat of arms' who fought the Dutch during that period (Diponegoro Wars), and it roughly means 'sun=>sunflower=>the shining face of battle=>the face of battle' ...and I doubt that any of my family story would admit to being influenced by the Dutch lol.

    Mas Pekir might know more though ... I hope you see this thread brother!
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2007
  4. Louie

    Louie STUNT DAD Supporter

    Hi Kembang Alas
    Thanks for your honest reply..... I have only had limited experience of Silat before taking up the research of Western forms of martial arts.... but it was enough to make me wonder if there was a connection between the two.

    Little is known of Nicolaes Petter, other than he was a 'very famous and well-known wrestler' and his book was first published in 1674. It would seem he had a 'Combat Academy' which by the time his book was published, was being run by his student Robert Cors.

    I would be interested to hear the opinion of the Silat community so If anyone wants to check out the rest of the techniques, the book can be found at:

  5. Pekir

    Pekir Valued Member

    Salaam Krisno,

    As far as my knowledge goes Dutch individuals might have brought along wrestling, boxing and streetfighting knowledge. I know the French have Pancreas but I guess they may have taken it from their Indo-china colonies too (or not) The Europeans in the Dutch East Indies colony were from all over Europa, hence the French Pancreas. A Dutch fighting skill to the extend that it may have influenced silat in Indonesia? I have a hard time supporting this. This is not to say that some Indonesian individual may have taken some boxing or wrestling technique from a certain European individual. The classic wrestling techniques were quite sophisticated by their own merit.

    The images in the book though (just Google his name and you'll find the book in PDF) made me think of an other fact in history that could be of importance to any cross continent influence.

    After 1641 the Dutch East Indie Company had the exclusive trading rights with Japan from the Island of Deshima until the opening up of Japan in the beginning of the 19th century. So the images in the book could have been the result of Japanese Aiki Jitsu/Judo etc. as well. The Dutch travelled intensively to China as well, were did they not go..........

    My general perspective on the images is that from a static perspective it is hard to judge if they would relate to any specific origin. Many of 'my own' silat techniques may resemble those of other silat styles or maybe even karate or Tang Soo Do and even the 'Petter techniques' if one only sees static pictures. That changes in general when one sees the motion, footwork and little, but very important, details.

    So IMO it could be influenced by Indonesian silat, Japanese fighting arts or Chinese fighting arts but it could also be images that show very highly skilled gentlemen showing expert techniques of European wrestling.

    At a certain point the options of dropping someone to the ground from a fixed starting point is limited to the physical movements a human body can allow. You're bound to end up with movements that look similar to a certain extend were ever you are in the world.

  6. tellner

    tellner Valued Member

    The Indonesians synthesized and syncretized all the cultures that came through the Archipelago. And they learned from everyone they fought with. Why wouldn't that include the Dutch? I don't know about that particular book. In fact, I rather suspect that it didn't have any noticeable influence at all. But there were centuries of contact including lots of fighting. And the Dutch didn't lose them all. Otherwise there would be Indo-Dutch colonial families still unhappy about the loss of the family farm near Rotterdam :)

    Do you think the Indonesians didn't learn anything from the experience?
  7. Louie

    Louie STUNT DAD Supporter

    Hi Patrick....
    Obviously I am reasearching an area that can never be fully answered - (until they invent that time machine :D )

    Petter's manual is unusual in that many of the other Italian and German fight-books (medieval and later) illustrate basic throws & armlocks, ect,. similar to those used in Japan - whereas the Dutch techniques seemed to flow more like their Silat counter-parts..... hence my 'gut feeling' there might be a connection.

    The only other reference to the Dutch fighting skills during this period comes from the illustrated book of an early 18thC Scottish 'master' Donald MacBaine, who referred to the Dutchmans skill with a knife - "The Hollanders who fight with their knives have no legal guard, for they by slipping when their advesary strikes at them save themselves, and the supplest man often carries the victory, in their scandelous method of butchering one another"

    I know that there was cross-cultural exchange in techniques with the Japanese, mainly in the 19thC but the Indonesians as well as the Chinese have always struck me as being more secretive and less willing to teach foriegners - (until fairly recently)
    Do you think anyone from Indonesia would teach the Dutch silat during this particular period?


    Last edited: Nov 6, 2007
  8. Pekir

    Pekir Valued Member

    Hi Louie,

    I don't want to end up in anxious debates on Dutch vs Indonesian adversary again so I will do my best to be as civil as possible :Angel:

    Up to a certain extend you are right, certain Chinese and Indonesian MA's may have had or still have a tendency to be rather closed quarters, I wouldn't say secretive.

    One could also wonder why Indonesians would teach their adversaries MA. Written history on these subjects though are almost always based upon generic historical views and often don't account for individual situations.

    I know for a fact there were Indonesian individuals who taught Dutch as well as Dutch-Indo's individuals their silat, as my teachers teacher was a Dutch-Indo and he was taught by a 100% Sundanese teacher. Not all the Dutch or Dutch-Indo's were 'cruel bastards' and not all Indonesians felt they were adversaries to the Dutchor certain Dutch(-Indo) individuals. People obviously had problems with the Dutch government but does this mean there is a problem with your 'neighbor'. I do not favor G.W. Bush but do I therefor not favor the Americans????

    Indonesians teaching Dutch or Dutch-Indo's was based on personal relationships between individuals not on the relationship between nations. I'm of Dutch-Indo descendence (as most probably already know) and from my own experience I can tell you this. I have 100% Indonesian relatives in Indonesia but I also have 100% Indonesian relatives who are not really relatives but are regarded as such. Why?, because my family has been very close with those not 'really relatives' as very good friends or neighbors since decades before the Independence. Did anything change because of the independence? nothing at all The same goes for quite some pure Dutch people I've known who have kept in contact with their Indonesian friends until death.

    I guess what I try to say is, in terms of written history it sometimes looks very easy. There is you and there is the enemy, in real life this is almost never the case.
  9. Pekir

    Pekir Valued Member

    Hi Todd,

    I'm pretty sure they learned how to use the Dutch way in their own advantage, I just doubt this in a traditional martial sense.

    I don't really get the Indo-Dutch colonial family thing and the family farm in Rotterdam. You got to help me out here...

  10. tellner

    tellner Valued Member

    If the local fighting systems had been so overwhelmingly superior the Indonesians would never have had to learn anything from the Dutch. The conquest would have been the other way around, and it might have been the Dutch getting independence from the Malays after hundreds of years.
  11. Pekir

    Pekir Valued Member

    Now I get it....
  12. Rebo Paing

    Rebo Paing Pigs and fishes ...

    This is very well put Patrick, and I totally agree. If there hadn't been cooperation on a personal level, there wouldn't have been Dutch-Indo descendants! The English too in India had similar experience I think. There is an English term I think "going native", that describes the disapproval of too free of mixing and absorbing cultures ... the disapproval and approval cut both ways that's for sure.

    I had one such 'relative who wasn't really a relative' from the feudal hiearchy whose farm we would visit when we were children ... and most of the conversation between her and my father was in Dutch! They only spoke Jawanese if they needed to say something to us ... heh.

    Aye, the VOC had fire-arms, but the most compelling reason for Dutch dominance however was a major lack of Indonesian unity. The VOC didn't occupy overnight. They gained power through getting concessions for helping out in regional conflict between kingdoms.
    I doubt it would have been the other way around. Indonesia had the spice, something Europe needed at the time ... but if things had been the other way around and I'd been king I might have sought to dominat the Swedish oupair (spelling?) trade :D.

    I'm leaning to cross-cultural influence as well ... even in some of silat. Just because it isn't written I think one can't discount it either with absolute proof of any sort ... come to think of it, I've incorporate European boxing into my style for some situation.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2007
  13. ICT

    ICT Shaolin Malay Silat


    I have just recently gotten into the whole Western/European Martial Arts scene thanks to my student David Vargas over at ICSDA, the one I sent you the link to.

    From the manuals that I have seen so far: Italian, French, Spanish, Dutch and etc. the one thing that strikes me is all but Nicolaes Petter's manual shows "common" throws that you see now a days. (that's actually what got me into looking at them, that a David's damn pestering)

    The reason I like the Silat and Indonesian Fighting Arts is they are so combative and brutal and they don't go by the European/Western "Honor" system. Since you have seen more on the European/Western fighting arts than me I will ask you if you have seen any that would fall under "Dirty Fighting" like pulling hair and etc.?

    The reason I ask this is because the techniques in Nicolaes Petter's manual reminds me of exactly that Good Ol Dirty Silat, hair pulling and slamming their opponent to the ground!

    So as that type of throw may be European and not Silat, I think the WAY of the throw may have been influenced by Silat because of the use of the hair pulling for leverage & control.

    Teacher: Eddie Ivester
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2007
  14. Louie

    Louie STUNT DAD Supporter

    Hi Pekir,

    I actually posted this thread on the Western MA section to discuss it among the WMA community (we sometimes run out of things to discuss so as Mod I like to initiate things occasionally) and I was unaware that fellow MOD Sgt-Major was going to move it here.
    I am aware that this might be viewed as a Dutch v indonesian thing which I had hoped to avoid, so I appreciate your honest answers, theories and suggestions which go some way to helping me research Petter and Western MA!!!!

    Hi Eddie

    I'm a big fan of Silat for the same reasons..... :D

    Hair pulling, elbows & knees can be found in Johann Georg Passchen's book published in 1659 -

    Technique No.33 in which you "Pull Adversarium head back by the hair with your right hand [in the drawing this seems to be the left hand], and strike him with your closed fist upwards on the chin".

    The early Prize-Fighters in the UK in the 17-18thC supposedly shaved their heads to avoid hair-pulling- there's the famous match between "Gentleman" John Jackson & Daniel Mendoza's in which Jackson grabbed him by his hair and beat him senseless.


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 6, 2007
  15. Devon

    Devon Valued Member

    Answering in a new thread, because the original seems to be locked (I'm assuming by accident).

    Louie wrote:
    As far as I know this has never been the subject of any formal research and you could argue it in several directions. There are both Indonesian and (much) earlier European precendents for many, if not most of the techniques shown in Petter's book.

    Personally, given:

    1) the chronology of Dutch exploration in Indonesia

    2) the apparent absence of similar Dutch or other European unarmed combat books in the decades preceeding Petter's and

    3) the very unusual (from the European MA perspective) nature of some of the manoueuvres, such as the quadrupedal knee strike to the leg

    I'd give slightly more weight to the idea that his system was influenced by Silat.
  16. Pekir

    Pekir Valued Member

    In the 'old days' (I'm only 43 y old :) ) I remember people talking about certain 'streetfighting and streetfighters'. They referred to people not really trained in a formal sense but using the most dishonorable techniques to finish up opponents..... There was no martial arts originating from the far east about, just plain brutal dutch guys.

    I think there are a lot of experienced fighters without any formal training background all over the world. In the end 'pulling hair' or using throws and other techniques is something any individual who gains experience by fighting a lot will find out by own merit and insights.

    The way we are taught and teach our silat is much the same way. We are given certain basic techniques or combinations and whilst you progress and have repeated the technique over and over again you often discover there are more technical opportunities present than one could ever presume at the beginning. Some just discover more than others........
  17. ICT

    ICT Shaolin Malay Silat

    Last edited: Nov 7, 2007
  18. Devon

    Devon Valued Member

    No need to shout, friend. There was no indication that it had been moved.
  19. Sgt_Major

    Sgt_Major Ex Global Mod Supporter

  20. ICT

    ICT Shaolin Malay Silat

    Sorry I forget about the capitals meaning shouting, my bad!

    Teacher: Eddie Ivester
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2007

Share This Page