The Traditional Pencak Silat Preservers Forum

Discussion in 'Silat' started by nasigoreng, Jun 18, 2007.

  1. Kiai Carita

    Kiai Carita Banned Banned

    In Defense of Silat-Bogor mailinglist

    Firstly I would like to congratulate Ray for studying behind the petrol-pump in Grogol. Secondly I would like to defend the silat-bogor mailinglist and what they have done and what they aspire to do.

    Traditional silat IS in danger of dying in Indonesia, because it is hard to find. What you find in a lot of villages now is modernist silat, for example, in Madiun area, you find Setia Hati silat, Kera Sakti silat, which are all 'modernist' in the sense that they are organizations in a modern sense, with hundreds of thousands of members recruited through mechanisms not unlike multy-level-marketing. The silatbogor crowd have identified and brought to attention several Betawi silats plus Padang and Sunda silats, and the result is that interested people have been able to study with the masters without having to search for them, and also, the masters get really committed and interested students. No large sums of money have changed hands at all.

    There is a real fear, or concern, that the West is positioning itself as the legitimate source of silat knowledge. For instance there were claims that Mustika Kwitang's guru besar resided in the US - these claims were dropped when the Kwitang gurubesar issued an invitation to fight to the US guru besar wannabe of Mustika Kwitang. But till now, the best Cimande according to internet research would be in California, developed by a Californian. Claims like this are one reason why many Indonesians are concerned, hurt, angry even.

    And the way the silatbogor crowd are documenting the traditional silats they know of is a great asset in many ways. For our national honour, at least the bringing forth of the traditional gurus are useful to debunk the ridiculous claims from the West. There are unscrupolous bule out there capitalizing on Indonesian culture and members of silatbogor mailinglist are helping to curb this colonial, manipulative, attitude, on one hand, while making the traditional silat more accessable to all, Indonesians and bules, on the other hand.

    There are many traditional silat styles that most Indonesian silat lovers only knew of by name, untill silatbogor mailinglist began to document them, search them out, visit the teachers and bring them to the public's attention. Eko Hadi has been instrumental in making Koran Tempo, a respected daily here, have a traditional silat page every Sunday edition. I fully support what the silatbogor malinglist people are doing.

    As for IPSI homogenizing silat, the activities of silatbogor mailinglist are the opposite, by bringing forth traditional silat and their teachers, they are ensuring that the old diversity will always be there, giving birth to even more diversity.

    Salam hangat,
  2. Pekir

    Pekir Valued Member


    I've read posts in which you were rather to the point and some who in my modest opinion were less. Your latest post is like taking a corner with to much speed.....

    There is a real fear, or concern, that the West is positioning itself as the legitimate source of silat knowledge. For instance there were claims that Mustika Kwitang's guru besar resided in the US - these claims were dropped when the Kwitang gurubesar issued an invitation to fight to the US guru besar wannabe of Mustika Kwitang. But till now, the best Cimande according to internet research would be in California, developed by a Californian. Claims like this are one reason why many Indonesians are concerned, hurt, angry even.

    There are unscrupolous bule out there capitalizing on Indonesian culture and members of silatbogor mailinglist are helping to curb this colonial, manipulative, attitude, on one hand, while making the traditional silat more accessable to all, Indonesians and bules, on the other hand.

    It's a pitty you use a few individuals to point to the 'West' as claiming certain stuff were in fact the fast majority doesn't and will allways give full credit to their Indonesian or Malay teachers and legacy. On both sides of the globe there will always be individuals with their own peculiar perspective on the way to go about with 'their' silat. It sure is not a problem restricted to the western world and it has nothing to do with colonialism, a far to big word in this matter.

  3. Rebo Paing

    Rebo Paing Pigs and fishes ...

    Finding the right guru is always a challenge ... that IS part of the challenge of commitment.

    ... and marketing (because that is what it will be) so called "traditional" silat will result in something similar ... certainly the potential will be there.
    BTW, Setia Hati taught one on one (and that certainly happens) is a traditional silat process. It all depends how you argue what traditional is. A process or an object.

    That's fine, my original contention was not actually against them perse, but a reaction against what felt like a personal insult to me ... which I have since worked through when Ray explained that he wasn't insulting me at all ... a misunderstanding on my part. Silat Bogor got caught up in the threads. Ora dadi issue.

    Ensuring? Maybe it would be better put that it is what they are attempting to ensure. Nothing is certain about the future. The best laid plans of mice and men ... etc.


    And yet those few have been quite persisitently vocal. I think Indonesians have a legitimate reason to attempt a remedy. Some certainly believe it to be the case ... don't you? It is their prerrogative after all, whether or not it's a popular decision.

    As far as colonialsism is concerned ... it never really left. Only the masters have changed.

    Last edited: Jun 26, 2007
  4. Kiai Carita

    Kiai Carita Banned Banned

    Pekir, you are probably right. The majority of the West doesn't even know or care about silat. It might be a post-colonial mentality that colours my thinking. After all, VOC was only a small number of people opperating from a tiny office in Rotterdam, but the damage they created is still here today.

    As to people developing their own silat that is what always happens and that is natural and good. What is not good is if people claim to be / teach what they are not, or what they do not know.

    Warm salaams and apologies,
  5. Rebo Paing

    Rebo Paing Pigs and fishes ...

    In complete agreement.
    With particular reference to the second part of your statement (in blue), I'd like to suggest to all and sundry (and to Ray in particular) that even on there could be a suggestion of this sentiment. I'm refering to the story about the prana-vibes (and some might disagree, that's ok ... just zap me with your energy from a distance ;)).
    The tendency for removing any reference to kuntao or any other Chinese influence in some styles could also be seen as not telling the whole truth. I will hasten to add that this is not always the case.

    :topic: I think it would be valuable and interesting for some of the more scholarly types in the West to begin a similar process with regard to Dutch-Indo silat and other western off-shoots which have in essence developed their own strong, unique and legitimate traditions (and in the process becoming a legitimate source for their own silat traditions). This too is natural and good. Pekir, do I hear your name echoing through the ether? :D

    Last edited: Jun 27, 2007
  6. Pekir

    Pekir Valued Member


    I can only talk in reference of the dutch(-indo) silat schools (not on behalf). The mentality in the Netherlands is quite down to earth as far as teaching silat and attitude towards each other is concerned, we can debate fiercly but in general with respect. As far as I can tell, and I know quite a lot of the schools around, there are no commercial or 'professional' teachers in the Netherlands. This might be the reason that down here you'll find no advertisements claiming to be 'the deadliest whatsoever' or the 'only original silat ...... around'. Most of both the older and younger teachers have strong (re)connections to the respective Indonesian roots as there are: Satria Muda, Panglipur, Pajajaran, Mande Muda, Pamor, Setia Hati, Merpati Putih, Perisai Diri, Silek Tuo etc. In general, the more a teacher shouts out loud and braggs the more the other schools tend to raise their eyebrows, thinking.... yeah whatever.

    I can't vouch for everyone in the Netherlands but I've never heard any teacher claiming to by the guru besar of anything which is still around in the mothercountry. If one is adressed as a guru besar or maybe kepale aliran they surely have no connection to the mothercountry and their style is probably 'baru' or/and 'campur' , could lead to some misunderstanding at the symantics level but there are no wrong intentions. In the contrary I know of no Dutch-Indo teacher overhere that doesn't have the utmost respect for the Indonesian pesilats and what they still consider their mothercountry. I'm of the younger generation and was born in Indonesia in 1965 but the earliest generation of Dutch-Indo's who started teaching silat in the Netherlands were born and have lived in Indonesia for the greater part of their lives. Most of them had more connection and affection with Indonesia than the Netherlands in the early years and probably in their hearts still have. I think there is no reason to connect the Dutch-Indo to the colonial mishaps (which we all acknowledge there were), the fast majority was considered a step down the social ladder by the Dutch toktok intellectuality. History tainted by personal emotions tends to lead to rather incomplete and general perspectives that a lot times don't relate to experience of the individual.

    The US I think is a whole different ballpark. I only know one of them personally. The American culture is completely different from the European or Dutch culture but one thing is the same. There will always be a few people who do things in such a different way that they draw attention to themselves (either positive or negative) The others shouldn't be held accountable for that.

  7. Rebo Paing

    Rebo Paing Pigs and fishes ...

    Well said, and thank you for the reply.

    Hehe ... I know that this post doesn't necessarily add to the growth of the discussion, but I felt compelled to express my agreement to those two (noble) sentiments.

  8. SundaWarrior

    SundaWarrior Valued Member

    I think the traditional forum will truly be a blessing - especially in US. It is important that people understand the history and philosophy behind any aliran(style). Some in US claim to know this or that but can not give a clear history of their art. It may be just because they were not given a proper lineage but hopefully the traditional forum can help clear things up. I have been lucky enough to meet most of the forum coordinaters personally in Java and I am very impressed with their knowledge and their willingness to help preserve traditional Pencak Silat.

    Ray, please send Salam to Pak Bambang for me. It was truly an honor to meet him. His knowledge and humbleness is a true treasure to all. It is unfortunate i was unable to meet you but Pak Bambang spoke highly of you and showed me the photo of you both. Maybe if/when you return to US you can open a Cingrik Goning school.


    Bang Nicholas
  9. Rebo Paing

    Rebo Paing Pigs and fishes ...

    Lineage wont help.

    No martial art that I know of has a clear history of their art, even the modern ones as they too build on previous influences. Eventually when one keeps going back, one reaches that area of history that merges with legend and mythos.

    Lineage (could be seen as an excuse for name dropping) is not important. :D Lineage should be seen only in the context of family, and that was the original application of it's usage, even in China.
    These days when the transaction does not have the emotional and survival ties (usually family, that which gives depth of meaning), the usage of lineage has superficial meaning at best.

    Mbah Krisno
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2007
  10. Rebo Paing

    Rebo Paing Pigs and fishes ...

    Article from Tempo on maenpo Sabandar ...

    Because of my misunderstanding of Ray Hook's metaphor (which sparked my original rave :rolleyes: ) and as way of compensation to the forum ... here is an article from the site which might be of interest.

    If people are interested I will (periodically as time permits) translate other articles ...

    Please to enjoy.

    "Incapacitating with Rasa (Feel)"

    Sabandar silat players do not only emphasise speed and strength in a fight.

    Writer: AMAL IHSAN
    "Tempo" newspaper/magazine Sunday Edition, 24th June 2007


    His body appears fragile. His back is slightly bent. When he walks, his steps appear uncertain/rickety. Wak Entir's (who is 92 y.o.) physical condition could give rise to some concern. In addition to that only one eye is open. His hearing too is very much reduced.

    However, when invited to spar sticking hands, his strength immediately rises/comes to the fore. Opponents who are much younger are guaranteed a hard time, says R. Memet Muhammad Tohir (R - Raden translates as prince - from traditional feudal times in Jawa), an elder from maenpo (Sundanese usage for Pencak silat) from Cianjur of the Sabandar style.

    Sabandar is one of the styles of pencak silat in Cianjur that was introduced by Muhammad Kosim (1776-1880). He was a pendekar from Pagaruyung, West Sumatera, who ventured to the island of Jawa.

    The young Kosim had the opportunity to stay in Jakarta before heading back for the village of Sabandar (situated in Cianjur) to live. The style of silat he brought with him then became known by the name of the place where he lived.

    According to Memet, at that time there was already a style in Cianjur that was quite famous, which was Cikalong, the creation of R. H. Ibrahim. This style of silat was studied by many of the noblemen of the area.

    One of Ibrahim's students, R. H. Enoh commenced also to study under Mamak Kosim (Mamak is a term for an old person in Sundanese). Enoh's move/enterprise was followed by a number of Ibrahim's other students on the quiet.

    That being the case, eventualy Ibrahim found out that a number of his students were learning from a person whom he did not know. Therefore as he was angry (and frustrated), he travelled to the village of Sabandar with the intention to meet with Mamak Kosim.

    There the two pendekars agreed to test the others skill. However, as soon as the two crossed/touched hands. Mamak Kosim was surprised. He knew at that moment that Ibrahim's skill was truly great. Ibrahim felt a similar sensation/drew a similar conclusion about Mamak Kosim.

    "If I attack first I will be wounded. If you try to attack you will be wounded", said Ibrahim to Mamak Kosim, thus is the story as related by Memet.

    The two of them then stood still. Neither of them willing to initiate an attack. "It's best that we end it here before anyone gets hurt", said Mamak Kosim. Ibrahim agreed and the two of them shook hands.

    Eventually, the art/skill of pencak silat Sabandar grew/spread at a fast pace, especially among the local noblemen and religious groups in the province of Cianjur.

    One of Mamak Kosim's pupils was Ajengan Cirata. When Ajengan Cirata wished to move to Purwakarta, Mamak Kosim was asked to accompany. He agreed and lived in Purwakarta till the end of his life.

    Even though Mamak Kosim has passed away, his students/followers continued to spread the skill/knowledge (ilmu) of pencak silat in Cianjur. Nowadays the Sabandar style is largely found in the area of Bojongherang and Cikaret as the center of the perguruan.

    Because the second generation of this style also studied Cikalong, the styles both influenced each other. The similarity of both styles is the heavy emphasis placed on rasa/feel, says Pepen Effendi, an elder from Sabandar.

    Rasa/feel can be intepreted as the effort to base and adjust ones flow of movement to match that of the opponents strengths (expression of energy).

    With rasa, a Sabandar pesilat does not only emphasise speed and strength in a fight, but also displays physical sensitivity to the point they are able to 'read' the direction of a movement or attack, and to use the exact amount of required energy in anticipation of the attack.

    There are two types of rasa/feel. The first is the "rasa antel" (?), that is learned by practicing sticking, that is the exercise of moving the hands connected or sparring. The second type is "rasa anggang" (?), which is the ability to detect.

    Another unique character of Sabandar is "titimbangan", which means to find the fulcrum of balance. The meaning of which is that a Sabandar pesilat emphasises their effort to find the optimum body balance, while at the same time they attempt to use the opponents energy to take them off-balance, said Pepen.

    To attain the skills of "titimbangan" well, a Sabandar pesilat has to learn and understand how to soften/relax the flow of body movement. The aim is so that the opponent doesn't become aware of our strength and to entice the opponent to express their strength, said Cece Sumantri and elder of Sabandar.

    At the moment the opponent expresses their strength/energy, the Sabandar pesilat will perform a dodge (utilising soft flow) that will result in the opponent finding empty space, he said.

    This concept is what is meant by "leungit" or "to disappear. It means that the opponents attack is drawn in and the full force of energy only finds empty space, he said.

    At that moment a Sabandar pesilat attacks and uses the opponents energy that is expended (into empty space as described above) to incapacitate the opponent, described as to "tungtung"(?) a move.

    If you ever meet an elder person in Cianjur (one who looks old), don't bother them. Who knows that the person might turn out to be an elder of Sabandar who looks fragile, but if we goad them to spar 'sticky hands' and he will make you sprawl.

    End of article.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2007
  11. basilek

    basilek New Member

    Dear All,

    We thank you for your kind attention to our Forum. Also thanks to Ray Hook that voluntarily help us translating and editing some articles to be published at, an English version of

    Nothing special about us. We just concern with some misperception by Indonesian to our pencak silat. Some of us believe that pencak silat is ‘kampungan’ (old fashion) or always something to do with mystics. Or silat is not complete martial arts, just another type of dance since it need ‘gendang pencak’ when you do the silat. Also, if you happen to watch a silat match on TV, you will see a boring hit and run fight. So, if you ask 10 Indonesian teenagers whether they are interested to learn silat, I believe majority will say no……..

    Frankly, I was also one of them until a good friend introducing me to a guru silat from Cianjur. Since then, pencak silat is part of my life…. In fact, some of our active members, including several founders, were not silat players.

    So, what we do…?

    I think all of you know what we’re doing. We have websites (, and, practicing traditional silat once a week (now only in Jakarta, hopefully will be all over Indonesia), organizing silat tour to Cianjur (and to other center of pencak silat in future…. Insya Allah), monthly discussion about silat, TV show on silat, looking for aliran silat that you never heard before, or you have heard this aliran but you don’t know where to find them and then publish an article about them (in our website or newspaper), and many other activities that we think will encourage our people to learn pencak silat.

    Why we only concentrate on traditional silat…?

    First, to us traditional silat means silat that never taught to public. Usually, it’s not easy to find them but from our experience, they also concern that level of interest from young generation to learn silat is very low. To find successors internally, become very difficult. That’s why, when we meet them, they also support us.

    Second, for simplicity purposes, we differentiate between silat for competition (we call it ‘silat for sport’) and traditional silat which only taught self defense method. Despite IPSI should also concern with the traditional silat, the fact is IPSI gives more attention to the development of silat for sport rather than traditional silat. This is why, Bapak Eddie Nalapraya (President of Persilat and ex-Chairman of IPSI) also support us.

    Why we decided to have an English website?

    We find that information about silat in English is very rare. We hope that by translating many articles that we have at the moment, will help foreigners to understand silat better. In addition, if anybody interested to come to Indonesia to learn traditional silat, at least they come with right information and meeting right persons. For example, when Nick (sundawarrior) came to Jakarta early June, wanted to learn Maenpo Cikalong, he was very lucky to meet pak Eddie at the Padepokan Pencak Silat. Otherwise, no way he could learn Maenpo Cikalong…..

    Pak Krisno, while writing this, I found that you’re translating our articles. We have so many articles that really need your help, since you understand both languages fluently. I hope you don't mind if I put your translation on Maenpo Sabandar in our English website Can I have you email address….?

    Kind regards.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2007
  12. Rebo Paing

    Rebo Paing Pigs and fishes ...

    Mas Basilek, please use the translation as you wish, no problemo.
    I have emailed you regarding future translation and I would be happy to do it time permiting. :)
    Maybe if you can indicate the order of articles to be translated?

  13. nasigoreng

    nasigoreng Valued Member

    Thankyou Pak Krisno for your forgiveness over our unfortunate misunderstanding and thankyou for agreeing to translate some articles. I know you will do a much better job than I.

    I think 'traditional' MA (PS in particular) is a process and the goal is to become a spiritual warrior: someone who applies the discipline and dedication of Martial arts in their everday life to win the 'inner battle' and defeat the negative emotions that cause us to suffer(ego, anger, jealousy,etc...). I find the Pekiti Tersia Kali motto especially inspirational:

    Last edited: Jul 3, 2007
  14. Rebo Paing

    Rebo Paing Pigs and fishes ...

    No Ray ... it's me who needs the forgiving. So thank-you for your forgiveness. :)

    You do kali too? Jempol! :cool: .

    I agree unreservedly with your ideas about the goal to becoming a spiritual warrior ... the struggle to become one with the great consciousness ... manunggaling kawula Gusti.

  15. Swalesey

    Swalesey New Member

    Having learned Minangkabau Harimau silat for the last 9 months in Yorkshire, England I can assure you that even thought the art has spread from it's original home in the Indonesian archipelago, there are still systems which are directly passed down in a form close to that which has been passed down for generations. Not all Silat has taken the route of self defence, a term which is passed around far to often these days. My current teachings that are passed along through the Hannafi family can be traced right back to the 16th century. The art is still there despite which continent you are on, it is the people teaching it that can be blamed for watering it down. The real Silat schools are just a little harder to find as they haven't bought into the competition and standardisation mentality.
  16. Gajah Silat

    Gajah Silat Ayo berantam!

    Salam Swalesey,

    I have never heard anything about you guys in Knaresborough, other than you are the real deal :)

    And I'm with you on the competition and standardisation stuff! Not the point with silat kampung ;)

    Salam Hormat

  17. Swalesey

    Swalesey New Member

    Thankyou Gajah silat. My respects to you.
  18. fire cobra

    fire cobra Valued Member

    Swalesey,please say hello to your teachers from me,just mention paul and muay thai please :)

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