the paradox of silat ... tradition vs change

Discussion in 'Silat' started by Rebo Paing, Jun 18, 2008.

  1. Rebo Paing

    Rebo Paing Pigs and fishes ...

    Does a paradox exist?
    I think it might. Staying true to tradition in it's complete and original interpretation from a physiological and psychological standpoint ensures that the style won't divert from its root ... but if it's not a living system that incorporates change is it really silat or a museum exhibit, a shadow of silat in days gone by?
    But then, staying true to a physiological psychological base might be missing the point. Silat exists on many levels and can become a binding framework to approach all aspects of life for the practiser, including the concept of change and growth in one's own era.
    Some profess to only appreciate a static aspect, except this too has impact on other aspects of life.
    I think that the internationalisation of silat is opening the pores and putting new breath into silat ... not always appreciated by the original cultural owners, particularly if they feel some aspect has been misrepresented :).
    The truth is change is happening, and silat is always changing ... are the two views of traditionalist and progressive modernist irreconcilable? Maybe the truth is also that every generation experiences change that is not acknowledged as such by the traditionalist?

    Last edited: Jun 18, 2008
  2. slipthejab

    slipthejab Hark, a vagrant! Supporter

    Not that I'm involved in Silat at all... but the questions/dilemma you propose seems almost to be universal amongst martial arts. I can imagine in some ways it's even a bigger issue in Silat.
  3. Saiful Azraq

    Saiful Azraq Valued Member

    Salam hormat,

    I believe that the very words 'tradition' and 'change' lock in an understanding that what is traditional has to be carved in stone forever. Instead of saying tradition vs change, my meaning would be closer to tradition = change.

    Silat is an expression of the Melayu thoughts and external culture within a combative framework. As fluid as these thoughts and culture are, so too is the expression. Much as snowflakes then, ultimately no two pesilat are alike, thus no two silat are alike.

    These combative norms exist in many forms and are held as cultural maxims that are passed along from generation to generation. For many of the masters I've met, they call it Petua. Even though these masters studied from the same source, but they experienced different pressures.

    Some met different foreign styles that were far superior in certain aspects and were forced to reinterpret these Petua to counter against them. This is different from the cobbling together of foreign techniques onto a core that was never built for them in the first place, creating an interspecies frankenstein.

    When these styles of a common root get together after such a long absence, they immediately recognise the inherent petua within each other, and are enriched by the sharing of experiences and innovative ways of applying parts of their style that had never occured to them before.

    The only obstacle to this is a hard headed teacher/s who insist that their styles are already/ far more complete than the next one and needs no improvement.

    Otherwise, this idea of developing tradition has been going on for hundreds, if not thousands of years, before names, silsilah, uniforms and sport. Silat stemmed from survival, and in order to survive, you had to change, but you always changed from what you had, not abandon it and adopt another.

    A progressive modernist is one who might not realise the value of things old and may be a generation or a context removed from the masters before him. Seeing more value in things he can grasp easier, he 'adopts' instead of adapts.

    Ironically, it is the progressive modernist that causes the creation of the traditionalist as an aggressive response to defend what he sees as a cultural right to exist. His mistake? Freezing everything in place in order to define it as different from his enemy's idea of silat.

    None of these two have a place in my heart.

    I have met people who, at first glance, could be labelled 'traditionalist' but launch into an infectious discussion on the merits of a loaded revolver and a spanner in a silat fight.

    If anybody can reconcile the two brothers above, it would be them.

    Salam persilatan,
  4. Rebo Paing

    Rebo Paing Pigs and fishes ...

    Hi Slip! Nice to see you as always with your solid opinion, thanks for dropping by mate :).

    Regarding the question, I'm genuinely curious how people will answer.

    Mas Saiful Azraq ... what can I say? Awesome answer! Silat is a practical methodology that incorporates the concept of change. :cool: It should be anyway ... but that's not how many practice it. I am happy to accept the idea of "traditionalist" as you portray, may it become infectious and spread!
    However the idea of adopting for the progressive also incorporates the idea of adaptation. One man's adapting could be another's adopting .. lol. Maybe some could adopt in order to adapt ... if the base currency doesn't support the acquisition, and if we are honest these conditions have a high probability of occurring over time ... it ties in with what we consider to be unique. If we accept the generality of all human movement for example, then change in the face of necessity is adaptation, even if the idea comes from stealing from some other style.
    I draw your attention to : "Generally speaking on the physical level, you can blend silat techniques with other martial arts pretty smoothly if you know what you’re doing." from mas Jeff's blog. I agree with him. Conversely though the idea works across styles.

    Salute in the name of silaturahmi,
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2008
  5. Saiful Azraq

    Saiful Azraq Valued Member

    Salam hormat Pak Kembang Alas (I just noticed your age) :)

    I used the words adopt and adapt in strict definitions to keep my answer short, other wise, I'd have a thesis on my hands.

    In my sense of adoption is to import wholesale without making changes, while adaptation depends strongly upon the present skill and inclination of the practitioner.

    For me, adoption means being tied to the premises of a particular style. It's taking the blocks from karate, and entering from kali and locks from silat and 'stringing' it together. It's seeing them as components.

    Whereas adaptation looks at the objective of the method, it has a clear beginning and a clear end. When seen from this angle, 'stealing' techniques become easier, but they will never work the same as it originally did, because instead of modification, it is reinterpretation.

    These are the instances when they look at silat and say, "Hey, that looks like Shanghai Brown Bear Kung Fu's Double Barrel Twist Roll, but not really".

    I too agree with Mas Jeff and I know we speak of the same things, insyaAllah. I don't doubt that there are intelligent martial artists who understand it this way but most often I see people studying variously different arts and frankensteining them together to make 'new' techniques.

    And this is where they look at silat and say, "Hey! That's exactly the same!". This is the irresponsible adoptions that I refer to.

    Salam persilatan daripada adikmu di Malaysia,
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2008
  6. Rebo Paing

    Rebo Paing Pigs and fishes ...

    Adik Saiful Azraq, it is an honour for me to call you adik because you are wise and knowledgeable beyond your years and I know that your intelligence eclipses mine :).

    Now to do my friend Slip's answer justice.
    I agree that the dilemma may be worse in silat because silat is poorly documented in the way modernity accepts and can trace. That is not to say it is not documented at all, because the way silat is traditionally documented (in Indonesia anyway) has been by oral tradition ... even though it transpires that there was an official juru tulis with Cimande ... but that is the exception in Indonesia. I'm not aware of the situation in Malaysia?
    Oral tradition leaves a lot to be desired from the perspective of an outsider to a specific tradition ... even for an Indonesian it becomes difficult to sift through the claims and counter-claims.
    The key question as to the authenticity of claim and counter-claim can become fraught with danger from the perspective of adat. A good current example is the recent brouhaha with the European instance of the Cingkrik Goning aliran and the ensuing conflict with the Indonesian instance ... both were Cingrik Goning, but neither it seems were aware of the other, and the mix of Internet communication and cultural separation fuelled a minor conflagration. In this particular instance, the situation arose between two Indonesian groups of Betawi origin (Cingrik is a silat betawi ... from the old Batavia which is now Jakarta).
    Like it or not there are new traditions, an extension of the old where there is true adaptation happening (not adoption as defined by my friend Dik Saiful Azraq) ... and that is in the U.S. and Europe ... like a graft on to their existing tradition. I have resisted the idea for too long ... I think I was wrong. Silat is not confined by any particular perspective of adat. All that is required is that there be adat! There are so many examples to support this. In this way silat cannot help but to be traditional where-ever it lands it will find its feet.

    So then the issue of traditional vs progressive becomes a moot issue ... instead it might be an issue of control? Maybe. Can anyone else inspire me with a different viewpoint?

    Last edited: Jun 18, 2008
  7. Kertas

    Kertas Valued Member

    Hormat everyone, salam as well...

    it seems we all are reading and being read on the same page :)

    Traditional practices in silat may not always be useful, or understood. if you think about it, the originator of any silat system has himself borrowed from some or other practice or concept and just "interperated" it in his own understanding. So yes, many techniques in silat could look like the Kungfu Blue Bear roll, but in silat could be interperated and applied differently.

    Our teacher once said that we could learn other silat styles in order to have an appreciative eye for silat as a whole. What we are learning is how to defend ourselves and when you are in a position to defend or attack to save your life, then "i dont want you to say that Haji hasnt taught me how to smack, so i dont have permission to smack". if a smack could save your life, it might have been a technique inherited by the son of Adam!

    i read on one thread that any martial art has techniques using the arms and legs, so its just the interpertation of the punch, kick, block, evasion etc that may differ.

    We learn the old ways in the context and time it was implemented, not necessarily believing it is the most worthy technique just because its 'My Silat'. However, we should be bold enough to admit some flaws we find in it, and therefore learn the traditional syllabus as it was preserved, but also find the martial interpretation with the guidance of your teacher.

    Our teacher himself has approached his teaching methodolgy with this in mind. He has blended his silat experience (here i dont mean style only) and edited the syllabus, taken out what was useless, and replaced it with the usefull. In doing so, he however does expose us to the original interpretation and traditional techniques as he learnt them.

  8. Kertas

    Kertas Valued Member


    Silat is continuously evolving i would say, but within the framework of Silat itself. I would like to pose a question here. If we were to compare the Warriors of old, to the Contemporary Warriors, then who would dare to compare?

    I heard from a silat teacher once who is teaching for more than 30 years already, that a group of 5 of his best students begged him to train them in the same manner in which he had trained. The teacher warned the students that they will not be able to handle the training as they do not have the same motivation which existed in the old days due to the enviroment etc.. the students insisted, and at the end only lasted 5 days.
  9. Rebo Paing

    Rebo Paing Pigs and fishes ...

    Lol ... I have to agree that generally speaking, the affluent westernised societies around the world are soft. Actually, I think that most societies become soft when they have too much of the good life ... all empire's, the Greeks, Sriwijaya, Majapahit, Rome, China's dynasty's, Europe and dare I say the U.S. ... when they reach the peak of affluence, they lose the toughness that drove them their and decline is inevitable.

    Among small special interest groups there are some exceptions.

    Last edited: Jun 18, 2008
  10. Saiful Azraq

    Saiful Azraq Valued Member

    Salam hormat,

    Not bad. A discussion without sighs and screams. Global oil prices must be $40 today, or snowing in Bali.

    Walang Kadung
    Walang Kadung? Ah, proof that silat is about change! Pak Krisno, thank you, your compliments honour me. In return, I share a story from one of my teachers on recognition and acknowledgement:

    A murid of a sufi shaikh was obsessed with the walis of Allah. He loved to hear stories about them and imagined meeting one. He would often ask his shaikh to introduce him to a wali, suspecting he knew at least one.

    One day, the shaikh finally relents and tells his murid, "If you want to meet a wali, go to the Kaabah tomorrow and sit performing rememberance of Allah. After two hours, a wali will come and sit next to you. Please convey my salam to him".

    Excited, the murid immediately packed up and left for Makkah. He did as he was told and after two hours, a thin old man with a long white beard in a white robe sat next to him. The murid gave his salam and the old man replied the salam.

    "O wali Allah, my shaikh sends his salam to you". The old man laughed and replied, "Your shaikh told you where and when to find me? Even I didn't know I'd be here today. Go back to your shaikh and behold a true wali of Allah".

    Like they say, it takes a bigger one to know one.

    On to the discussion. You said:
    "I'm not aware of the situation in Malaysia?"

    Irrespective of how much documentation silat undergoes in Malaysia, there is a dearth of technical records. Here is a primer to understand what I'm talking about

    Most books, magazines or random articles only describe the surrounding culture, the masters's biography, the history of the styles but very rarely the technical aspects of it. This is a sad but logical approach.

    For those modernised silat with clear techniques and defined vocabularies, documentation is easy. Unfortunately, traditional silat in Malaysia is more often bereft of static techniques and wealthy with concepts and philosophies which guide adaptation better.

    Once you try to crystallise one aspect of these silat, it locks the definition of that style to exclude other aspects, when in fact, silat is physically inclusive, not exclusive (This concept is difficult for some to grasp, but I know you understand, Pak Krisno).

    Documentation in Malaysia is for reference, not preservation and started very late. When we speak of authenticity, we run into another problem, self-documentation. Many styles now have younger professionals in their fold and they are the information gatekeepers to the world (via print or internet).

    When both Silat Cekak and Silat Kalimah have books and websites claiming to be THE cultural inheritor of Mahaguru Yahya Said or Silat Seni Pusaka Gayong claiming that Mahaguru Datuk Meor Rahman approved of their denomination before he died whence Silat Seni Gayong Malaysia claims to have no knowledge of it (etc), the best you can do sometimes is just to document the disputes.

    As for adat, I certainly agree. Pengajar Sean Stark of Pencak Silat Pertempuran asked me several years ago what I thought about adat and adab in silat and how he should practise it, especially him being Christian and many adat being Islamic influenced or incompatible with Christian teachings.

    I quote from my reply to him (which was eventually expanded into an article) from here

    "Should a non-Melayu foreigner (or non-Nusantarian) be forced to practise adat and adab Melayu when studying silat, thus transforming his or her value system to conform to that of the art they study?...

    "Interestingly, my, though it may seem biased, I would have to say, yes. A foreigner who studies silat and is keen on understanding the roots of the philosophies and attitudes within silat, has to experience the adab of relationships within its cultural context, or risk second-guessing and/ or misinterpreting the silat lessons itself, which as many pesilat understands, is not limited to jurus-jurus, buah, sapuan and others like it.

    "However, everyone has a right to practise their own culture. So I suppose, treat silat like a university where all of the university by-laws are your laws, until you leave it to forge your own path in life. Then, if you have permission by your master, integrate your lessons into your cultural contexts and teach them to your local students, all the while understanding the original intention behind them.

    "Reminds me of our local McDonald's and Pizza Hut serving congee and satay dishes a la carte."

    I agree that silat cannot help but be traditional, but it also depends on how well these values were indoctrinated into the inheritor by his master, and how serious the inheritor is in performing his expected role. This is self-control, and no amount of nudging from PERSILAT or any other body can put reins on something that is grounded in the philosophy of escape!

    "i dont want you to say that Haji hasnt taught me how to smack, so i dont have permission to smack".

    In the P.Ramlee movie, "Pendekar Bujang Lapok", Aziz Sattar chases away gangsters from his silat master's doorstep. As they leave, a gangster throws a rock at his head, prompting him to cry, "Pakcik! Dia orang balik batu" (They're throwing stones!)

    His master asks, "Kenapa kau tak elak?" (Why didn't you evade?) to which Aziz replies, "Macam mana nak elak, pakcik belum ajar mengelak! (How am I to evade? You never taught me that!)

    "In doing so, he however does expose us to the original interpretation and traditional techniques as he learnt them."

    My Silat Sendeng master, guru Jamaludin Shahadan taught us this way: "This is how Uda Hamid (his master) taught me. Now... This is how I do it. I believe it's faster and more difficult to see coming. When you're with me, you do it my way".

    "If we were to compare the Warriors of old, to the Contemporary Warriors, then who would dare to compare?"

    I would say that depending on the which one you're talking about, some styles have actually made great strides in streamlining and compacting their training, essentially creating better fighters.

    I have met silat students who have become amazing streetfighters after honing and refining their skills on the streets of Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru (which incidentally has become far more dangerous than in previous decades) and fed these improvements back into their system.

    I believe that pressure creates diamonds, and fire tempers steel, and those styles which eases pressure on their students inevitably creates walking mouths, which are quickly shut up. Sadly, the traditional methods of simulating this pressure is often ridiculed for their inanity and irrelevance to the modern world.

    (I'm a writer, not a fighter...)

    Salam persilatan saudara-saudaraku,
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2008
  11. slipthejab

    slipthejab Hark, a vagrant! Supporter

    Interesting stuff. I'm not entirely familiar with all the terms used in Silat but I get the gist of what you're saying. I think that in most cases... martial arts and it's practitioners are never going to fit entirely into a nice, neat and clean category that we humans find so much appealing to deal with. I think our tendency as humans is to polarize. White/black, right/wrong, Christian/Muslim etc. etc. etc. (notice the word order there... no mistake I assure you... but rather taken primarily from mass media).

    Meanwhile so many are rushing and straining to fit things into preconceived categories with hermetic labels on them... there are still many places where life just goes on. People train and systems evolve in haphazard ways... often times with no apparent rhyme or reason and often times in ways that defy being fit into orderly and linear categories.

    Peoples egos do become involved... it's impossible for them not to. So when claims pop up and then counter claims pop up... it becomes even more disorderly and people quite often times dig their heels in right, wrong or indifferent. It's not hard to understand... because if we're completely honest with ourselves (and that's generally rare) then we now we've done the same thing from time to time.

    At any rate... I'm just rambling as I sit here and get my first cup of coffee in... but I can look at the how things might have evolved in Indonesia and around the world with Silat and in many ways it's really not so different than other martial arts. That it's so varied is one of the beauties of it really - variety and diversity are generally a positive. That there is very little if anything recorded in the written form does pose challenges... but again I think too often we come from the western point of view where expect to be handed a nice neat package with clear instructions and that fits all of our preconceived notions... as we were buying something from Ikea. Probably not the best way to go about discovering what Silat... or any martial art for that matter has to offer.

    Just food for thought.:)
  12. Kertas

    Kertas Valued Member

    Very nice observasion Slip.. we all want things to run according to our way. There is one wise man who said, "a debate can never be fruitful unless both parties are seeking the truth".. So do we have to find the truth in what we learn instead of imposing on ourselves our own ideologies.
    Yes, you have metioned egoes. The Harimau within, indeed needs to be tamed.

    Ustaz Saiful Azraq, i am not sure if i undertood your words correctly concerning non-muslim / non-nusantarian people learning the art of silat. Someone corectly said that silat is part of the way of life. How i understand students need to adapt to the Adat and adab of the school is that if the beliefs in practice does conflict with his cultural/religious norm, then The Adab would commandhim to excuse himself of that certain practice with the izin/permission of his teacher. So well said in the quotes you have posted, "you may sacrifice, but do not be sacrficed". So as long as you fimiliarise yourself with the Adat and Adab of the Silat you learn within the context of silat or not, and do not disrespect it, Its OK
    that was my teachers favourite words "Its OK".. we used to ask him, "can we punch the guy this way too?" he says..."Its OK" (but later would make us feel :) the wisdom behiind the way he has shown us. A non-muslim student used to appreciate us breaking off training to fulfill our prayers, but the teacher never asked him to do what we do.

  13. Kertas

    Kertas Valued Member

    So Abang Saiful, what is the situation on the streets of Johor Bahru an KL now? Here in cape town, crime is much drug and gangsterism related. My uncles brother in law was shot in his back,left paralized in a wheelchair and hijacked. Rapists and criminals get out of jail too quickly on a lousy bail,and continue what they used to. I believe many people who were sadly killed by the knife or at gunpoint could have saved their lives if they knew a bit of silat.
  14. Kertas

    Kertas Valued Member

    So Abang Saiful, what is the situation on the streets of Johor Bahru an KL now? Here in cape town, crime is much drug and gangsterism related. My uncles brother in law was shot in his back,left paralized in a wheelchair and hijacked. Rapists and criminals get out of jail too quickly on a lousy bail,and continue what they used to. I believe many people who were sadly killed by the knife or at gunpoint could have saved their lives if they knew a bit of silat. Thanx to u being a writer instead of a fighter! You could kill yourself with all that knowledge hey. Only joking hehe.. Keep writing
  15. Saiful Azraq

    Saiful Azraq Valued Member

    Salam hormat Mas Kertas,

    The question of religious or personal principles depend on how seriously or what concessions they allow themselves. For example, many Muslims in Malaysia have absolutely no issues prostrating to their Aikido masters, even when it was pointed out that it resembles sujud.

    I won't say they are liberal, but it has got to the point where everyone understand the intent behind it, and not many ulama touch upon it anymore. This is also true of the traditional Asian greeting of palms together, which appears Hindu and Buddhist religious norms, but only as a cultural norm by the Melayu. So, the tolerance is there.

    Conversely, I once had a boss who is a devout Catholic and was a Taekwondo black belt holder. But he gave it up when his church forbade the studies of Taekwondo, Tai Chi, Silat, etc because they had spiritual content that was incompatible with a belief in Christ.

    My answer to Pengajar Stark was categorical. If the style a foreigner wanted to study specifically allows non-Muslims to study, most often it means that they won't force any religious obligations upon them. An example is in Silat Melayu Keris Lok 9, guru Azlan requires all Muslims to recite Al Fatihah to Buka Gelanggang but for his non-Muslim students, requires them to pray or meditate in their own way, to help focus their mind for that day's session.

    We'd break for prayers and they'd hang out quietly behind our jemaah. Alhamdulillah, quite a few of them were taken with what they saw, and went home Muslim.

    I like the "It's OK" anecdote. It reminds me of how cheeky some teachers can get in trying to get you to think for yourself.

    My favourites when I ask similar questions (can we do it this way?) are: "Hmmm... cuba tengok" (I'll punch and let's see), or "Macam mana tu? Mai sini" (How is that? Come over here...) or "Menarik tu" (That's interesting) or "Bolehlah tu" followed by, "tapi kan..." (That's OK.... but then again...)

    It never ends well for my body.

    As for the situation on the ground here. It's bad, and going to get worse now that fuel prices have jumped. Social groups are expecting crime to increase dramatically, as people are pressed even further. Drugs and gangsters are the food of KL and JB.

    Snatch thefts by motorcycle gangs are rife and often cause injuries, coma or death to the women still hanging on their handbags as they're dragged along. Everyone closes a blind eye to it until recently, even TV personalities and celebrities begin becoming victims.

    The newspapers will always have 3 pages worth of something gory to report every day. But when something happens to someone you know, that's when it gets scary.

    A woman my office deals with was shot dead through her cheek just two weeks ago at the entrance to our business complex. Things are just too close to home.

    You'll be happy to know that three of guru Azlan's students have, within 3 months of studying with him, managed to deal with or fend off aggressions, attempted kidnap and rape (which were reported several times the newspapers).

    I pray things get better with the world before it gets worse.

    Salam persilatan,
  16. Pekir

    Pekir Valued Member

    The value of tradition is in the eye of the beholder. Adaptation and change doesn't have to conflict with tradition as long as the roots and history are kept in perspective within the evolution of change. Maybe the harder one clings to being a traditionalist the further ones drifts away from the true essence of tradition.

    Change is probably not the essential part in questions about what tradition is, especially in relation to so-called modernism. Knowledge might be the most essential. The popularisation of MA in general seems to have the side effect that people with 'limited' knowledge and probably a 'paper tiger status' start to interpret, combine and teach MA as if they are full grown grandmasters. I doubt this is a matter of tradition versus modern, it is knowledgeable vs. a lack of it ;-)

  17. Rebo Paing

    Rebo Paing Pigs and fishes ...

    Very astute Mas Patrick.
    I think that this explains the situation in a nutshell when we monitor the pulse of practical feedback on tradition ... how we identify and ensure the continuance of a living tradition compared to a tradition that has lost it's original vitality.
    Agreed, applicable knowledge of principle is indeed the most essential, because it links the time-line from the past to the present.
    Yes. Traditionally there has been some onus of proof required before one is accepted by the public as guru. What constitutes as proof may be different according to culture, place and time but in my cultural experience the process to wisdom and knowledge and acquiring the weight to teach is gradual and organic, not as a proclamation (which is influence of modernised Japanese arts IMO), but different folks different strokes I guess.

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom Mas Patrick and making this forum a good place to be.

    Last edited: Jun 26, 2008
  18. Saiful Azraq

    Saiful Azraq Valued Member

    Salam hormat Mas Patrick,

    I absolutely agree. The issue with many modern day pesilat is that because the syllabi they study is so openly documented and clear, they know that they have progressed, when in fact, all they have done is memorise a few techniques.

    But notice, that when a true traditional master teaches, he gives you your tools and guides you in how to use them but leaves you with one reminder: there may be nothing more I can teach you, but you have still so much more to learn.

    The crystalisation of the Japanese systems did us no harm other than the harm we did ourselves. It was we who gave precedence to form over formlessness.

    Salam persilatan,
  19. Rebo Paing

    Rebo Paing Pigs and fishes ...

    DiMas Nadzrin I agree, that is an interesting conundrum that all silat faces. It also ties in with the illuminating article penned by you that inspects various ways of passing on knowledge (IM, EM and AM).
    To clarify discussion into a wider and more inclusive circle, IMO technique has slightly wider meaning than routine. To teach someone the quality of sabet, translate to whip (as in a technique to release plyometric force), the body needs to follow the following principles and experience agrees that the routine followed in prescribed way tends to work. Kombinasi IM & EM.
    When the body knows how to bring forth sabet on demand, the pesilat has mastered the technique (he or she has the ilmu sabet) and is no longer bound to static form or routine (self-realisation or AM).
    As you mention, just following the form is not enough and one doesn't achieve ilmu.What is needed is the epiphany ... the "aahh ... so that's how it's done" moment. What is left is to hone (asah) the skill, combining self discovered neurology with physiology.

    Yes ... a gifted teacher will guide us how to discover the tools to peel back the realities within our psycho-physical selves. Remembering that our selves is about the only thing with which we have some amount of reliable influence and choice.

    The amount of available information is both good and bad. Too much information to process leads to information overload. Worse, an individual will pick and choose combining data with no uniting thread ... making as you've mentioned before a frankenstein silat.
    The biggest problem in learning in this age of freely available information, is that people might not have the understanding to look through form, or think prematurely that they understand. The discussions on the Taiji forum (MAP) also show that this problem is common across different silat styles ... and that people following Silat Taiji are fortunate that the problem is voiced and people are searching for solutions :).

  20. Saiful Azraq

    Saiful Azraq Valued Member

    Salam hormat Pak Krisno,

    This discussion is getting more interesting by the day. I think Mas Patrick hit it on the head. There is a broader younger generation who think they KNOW what silat is, and a lessening older generation who could be bothered to correct them, because their explanations won't make much sense to these upstarts anyway (you can tell my chain gets easily rankled by these folks).

    "But silat has many levels of definition, depending on who is defining it. The paradox is that, there are so few people who attain the higher levels of silat and will publicly define it from their perspective, that the majority definition becomes the default. That means, it is the beginner students who tell you, "This is what silat means" when in fact, it should be the wizened masters who define it for them.

    Democracy over truth, I'd say."

    Quoted from

    I used the word technique in the nominal Malaysian sense of Buah, that of a physical block of movement with a clear beginning and end. This is not, however, the traditional meaning of Buah, which refers to any outcome of a defensive situation.

    You are correct. My assumption is based on the lack of the eureka moment that gives our Silat (that is, the one we discover in ourselves) meaning. It's like having a playground inside your head. (Which makes me wonder if MP3 players and the box office is a result of our youth's inability to find this playground, and instead look for a playground outside of it?)

    I agree with your explanation on 'technique', but it sounds more like a method. Tomato, tomato. Irrespective, I know what you mean.

    When asked about the difference between modern and traditional silat styles, guru Azlan Ghanie of Silat Melayu Keris Lok 9 gave me a once-cryptic answer: "Traditional styles have objective, modern styles have method".

    I'd say he tried his best to make a rough distinction, but I think you know what I mean. The whip in LianPadukan is vastly different from the whip in Lok 9 in terms of how they get there, and both practitioners are equally surprised by how well each other's method works.

    So when someone says there is only so much the human body can do, I often disagree. True, kinetic energy flows through bones and muscle in the same manner, but not in the same path. This is exactly why thousands of martial arts (and sports science studies) have found various different ways of doing it.

    This is why, the objective is often more highly prized in silat than the method itself, because careful understanding of your own body will get you there just alright, what more if someone is guiding you and watching you for the necessary responses. (A sort of traditional KPI).

    This forum is interesting, but amazingly boring without controversy. Anyone want to spice it up a little?

    Salam persilatan dari Malaysia,

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