"Your Center"

Discussion in 'Silat' started by realitychecker, May 4, 2006.

  1. realitychecker

    realitychecker New Member

    Hello Everybody,

    The harmony going on in Silat Land is very refreshing! I have a question that I should maybe have hunted through the archives to see if it was brought up before, but I couldn't resist. As the title states, it is about "your center". I would like to know how other people and other Silat systems define thier center. How do you look at it? In your training? It has been taught to me by other systems as an imaginary line that extends out from you, and vertically cuts you in half. I have also learned (in another system) that your "center" rests in your pelvic girdle, and is like a "sphere" that your entire body "revolves" and "moves around". If you can, would you please give me a description of what your system defines as "your center? I understand this is secret/rasia(?) in some Silat camps. I am just a beginner trying to develop my understanding correctly.
    I appreciate your help and advice always!
    Take care,
  2. Orang Jawa

    Orang Jawa The Padi Tribe-Guardian

    That was the very common interpretation of "your centre" and it was the right one. However, in my shalow knowledge in our silat system. They were the second interpretation that my teacher emphasizes very dillegently. Its not just the vertical but the horizontal. The center of your movement is depending of how center your body horizontally. I've touch this issue previously and I do not want to argue with anyone about this. In order for you to be effective and able to move without effort, you must understand the essence of your body center horizontally and vertically. It basically brings us back to weight transfer. Weight transfer is connected to shoulder movements. Therefore, shoulder is the first indication of how effective your movement would be. Can we walk without transferring weight, of course, but what good can come out on that? Can we move without moving the shoulder, yes of course, but why? Pak Lek once said: Can you charge the enemy without preparation or without means for victory, yes you can. But you will be dead before reaching the target objective.
    There is no secret in silat, I think? But some teacher hesitate to teach their students to that level of knowledge untlil he so darn sure that the student understood the basic and the principles of silat. I had try to share my shallow knowledge on this board and its always ended in an argument. That the very reason why the elders like to keep their mouth shut. ;)
    Peace and Be Well,
  3. Fireshadow

    Fireshadow New Member

    Where does the harmony come from?
    As far as "your center", our camp's answer would depend on context. The first understanding is typically what you spoke of with center line. It gives us a reference to our langkahs and establishes our environment. We try to teach this understanding with BN juru 1 (and refine it on up). Another definition of our center, would be our center of balance (different than center of gravity?). Understanding of this is reliant upon an upright stance. An excellent example of this is the beginning of BN juru 6. Can you sapu, torque, and then twist back with a kick (at speed and keep "your center")? Can you do it against an opponent (is it functional)? A further understanding within our camp would be taking this to a mental understanding. "Your center" could refer to emotional and/ or mental stability in day to day life and/or during a fighting sequence. For us, this is also part of the training and part of the student/teacher equation. All three of these are related to each other in some ways. They build on each other. They lay a great foundation for future ability and understandings. What is the difference between knowing and understanding? Theory and concept vs. function.
  4. Orang Jawa

    Orang Jawa The Padi Tribe-Guardian

    An Esoteric Therapy

    In Silat we discover our bodies. Strange as this may seem, many of us never do. We either completely ignore our body for the major part of our lives or we go to the other extreme and try to perfect it in one way of another by making it skillful or beautiful. This is not wrong but it very limited.

    With the passage of time all things change and no man can stay his hand. In Silat, however, we discover that not only do we refine our movements externally, but that the outer motions influence our inner organic activities. Apart from the obvious things like increased lung depth and an evening out of the blood pressure, within the system various energies are set into motion by the movements, especially within the form practice. Reduction of tension leads to many developments within the psychological plane, and this to the alleviation of that type of obstruction.

    The average Indonesian, trained in Silat from an early age, is one of the more healthy Indonesian in existence. The first doctrines of Silat, there exist an interpretation between mind and body. To work on one and neglect the other will prove useless or, more dangerously, one sided

    Thus we can see that by embracing all the aspects of Silat we are on the first steps to a new, deeper, and more meaningful path to a greater life.
    Peace and Be Well,
  5. Steve Perry

    Steve Perry Valued Member


    Have to go with Bart on this one. "Center" has several meanings, it depends on whether you are talking about mental, physical, or spiritual, and in the case of physical, it can be subdivided again. Center of balance, center of gravity, these will change with your stance and position. Stand up straight, your center of gravity will be higher than if you squat. Move your legs apart, your center of balance will alter. Lean forward or backward, shift your weight onto one foot or the other, these factors alter the dynamics of the equation.

    It's not just about you, it is about the relationship between you and an attacker.

    Generally, a lower center of gravity and better balance enhances your technique, at least in an environment with normal gravity. (In space, or underwater, say, balance and gravity don't matter as much; there, momentum plays a bigger role.)

    Since most of the time we are apt to find outselves fighting in a place where gravity is equal to one-gee (Earth), then we use that as our basis.
  6. SilatSeeker

    SilatSeeker Valued Member

    Steve, Shhhhhh....


    Tristan, I for one am interested more in the "tells" the shoulder reveals about an opponent's movement and attack. I'll start paying more attention to this and would also like some insight from you. Thanks for sharing.
  7. Orang Jawa

    Orang Jawa The Padi Tribe-Guardian

    Leading center-the way a person direct his body. The way a person sets his body often reveals what technique the fighter will throw. Some movement can conceal the leading center but not the shoulder. Most silat player fights with one or the other side forward. The more experience silat player often successfully switch his leading center to camuflage their intention.

    In one common technique is when the attacker's attack with right hand and the defender deflect with left hand and place right hand forearm between Attacker's shoulder and elbow. The purpose of your forearm placement is: to detect any movement in his shoulder. If you do it right, your forearm becomes your eyes and ear. The attacker's cannot attack unless you let them. By stopping his shoulder movement, you will dictate his next moves.

    One must remember. Placement of the body caused many uncertainties among silat players. The unsual placement of the hands and legs has prompted some to believe that magical power can summoned by holding one's body in strange posture. The truth is that to assume a strange posture because of its visual effect accomplished little, if anything.
    And I could be wrong too,
    Last edited: May 5, 2006
  8. Wali

    Wali Valued Member

    I can't believe were on this again, after all our discussions, I thought that....... JUST KIDDING!!! :) It's nice to look back and laugh at things...

    How true. Many silat teachers try to wrap silat in mysticism and mystery, however, the reality is that diligent training under correct instruction is the way to develop the silat.

    Hope your keeping well.
  9. Orang Jawa

    Orang Jawa The Padi Tribe-Guardian

    Yes indeed Wali! :)
    My almarhum Mom told me this three simple words "Seeks the good" but not until lately I understand the true meaning of the word, its so profound.
    Hope all is well with you too.
  10. realitychecker

    realitychecker New Member

    Thank you guys again! I suppose that I am looking for understanding in all of the things mentioned above. In first example that I mentioned in the origanal post, I was speaking of the 'classical' center line. The second was an interpretation givin to me by a past instructor (whom you know, Guru Bart) describing your center of gravity, and of 'being' in general. I was told by this man that your 'center', as he described, never changes 'height' after you have grown to your full height after puberty. That even when you change 'levels', your center will always remain at the height just above your pelvic girdle. An example he gave of this was to stand up straight and get pushed backward about chest high. Then he had us raise up to our toes, and pushed us over easily. We then measured the height of our center to just below our navel, and changed levels until our shoulders were at that height, and I remember somehow feeling a stability of something like being 'behind' my center. He also went on to relate being on the ground to that particular height of our centers, and somehow he was able to show us a relationship to it from being on his back or in grappling positions. It has been a while since I trained under this person, so forgive me if I'm a little vague.
    From what I remember about BN, the 'physical' relationships that you had to your enviorment came from centerline, and shoulderline. Is that correct? Is that then similar to what you are speaking of, Tristan?
    I suppose, as a begginer that I'm looking for an all around understanding of all of this to relate to/from what I am developing through training the basics/ foundations of our art. I 'gauge' my understanding (not 'knowledge' ;) ) sometimes like in the example Guru Bart gave about BN Juru 6.
    Again, I give you all my sincerest appreciation. I truly am learning a lot from you all. You are all an asset to a medium like this for martial artists, and we a fortunate to have your generousity here in the Silat section.
    I look forward to any future help.
    Take care,
  11. Orang Jawa

    Orang Jawa The Padi Tribe-Guardian

    Yes or no bro :rolleyes:
    Most people practice something by being told to do so and very few of the silat students being told to experience the body mechanic to understand why and what is the benefit of doing so.
    They were two movements that most silat or martial arts students must use in order to apply the techniques efficiently.
    Upper body and shoulder movements and lowerbody and hip movement. Be it rotation or counter-rotation, separation upper and lower body movements, and agility and versetality. This two parts of our body are the prime important movements to achieve the objective. Without both or at least one of this two movements your technique would became less effective.
    Pak Lek once said: "Not to get "hit" is an easy task but yet the important task in silat. Easy if you know what is your perimeter, and how to secure your perimeter." Imagine that your body is a Firebase. You as a Commanding Officer (CO) is responsible to secure the firebase with the tools and personal you have and based on situation and environmental in the AO(area of operation). As a human body, our perimeter is the width (shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip) and face to ground. By standing in one side, we have cut the perimeter width in half, by positioning our leg ie type of stances, we are protected the lower body and by positioning our hands we are protecting our upper body, therefore. in totallity, if we would be able to reduce our perimeter in half and more. Your hand positioning will dictate your attacker to where they are going to attack.
    Another points of hand postioning, too many silat students moving their arms for unknown reason too far from their body (perimeter) it may looks good but it useless. Why? Because by leaving too far from the perimeter, you have to brings the hand back to secure it. Your both hands should NOT leave your perimeter farther than your shoulder. Think about it. As a CO, I would not let half of my soldiers to go for long range patrol, It would make your firebase vulnerable for an enemy attack.
    But again, I could be wrong too.
    My Saturday sermon,
    Last edited: May 6, 2006
  12. Narrue

    Narrue Valued Member


    If you want to learn more about the centre or "keeping the one point" maybe you can ask on the Aikido section of this forum since it is a speciality of Tohei style Aikido.
    You might also find this link useful:

  13. realitychecker

    realitychecker New Member

    Brother Tristan,

    I am sorry if I upset you, or Narrue. Like I said, I am a beginner in silat. I am kind of just asking if you all would share experiences and relationships that you might have had when you were in the early parts of your training. I assure you that I actually work hard at what I'm doing, mentally and phsyically, a lot. I appreciate, and completely pay very close attention to everything my teacher generously shares with me. I work it, and work it, and work it some more until I develop an understanding that seperates what I am doing from just the 'knowledge' of it. Then I start over, and do it again. I am a long distant student and don't have the luxury of being able to just be 'fed' the silat. We pay close attention to everything we go over, ask a lot of questions (which may irritate some), take a lot of notes, and work hard at this art we love to do.
    But 'I' could be wrong...
    Take care,
  14. Orang Jawa

    Orang Jawa The Padi Tribe-Guardian

    Brother John,
    Not at all, I was not upset. My appology if I created some misunderstanding. I was just trying to share my shallow knowledge to you all. Please don't feel that you have to read my post. I'm an old grumpie man at a times. Sometimes I pretended that I know silat. The fact is probably, you all know more than me.
    Peace and Be Well,
  15. Narrue

    Narrue Valued Member

    Likewise I am not upset by anything you have said :)
  16. realitychecker

    realitychecker New Member

    Point Taken

    Brother Tristan,

    My Guru spoke very highly of you, sir. I value every piece of advice you offer, no matter how worthless you state it is :rolleyes: . This forum adds a fourth dimension to my training. This is why I express my gratitude to guys like yourself, Steve Perry, Todd Elner, Bart, Narue, Wali, Buddy, and just about everyone who has a point of view +/- on this forum.
    I look forward to as much wisdom as I can gather from the 'old timers' :eek: !
    Thanks, and take care,
  17. Narrue

    Narrue Valued Member

    As stated in the Aikido link the point below the navel is thought to be of prime importance since it is a place which links or coordinates many aspects of the human body i.e. mind, breath and physical functioning.
    As one gets older the point from which a person breaths gets higher. If you look at a baby breathing the stomach expands and contracts because a baby breaths from the pit of the stomach, the breath is deep and silent.
    In contrast if you look at an old person you will often notice that they breathe very high up in the cheast and breath is often shallow and noisy.
    We should aim to keep our breath low, silent and deep in order to maintain health. When humans are stressed their breathing becomes shallow. The shoulders rise up and the neck stiffens. By concentrating on the pit of the stomach you will find that the shoulders will automatically drop and the process will be reversed.
    The point below the navel is also important for storing energy, kind of like a battery and in many MA meditation exercises breathing is conducted whilst concentrating on that centre, think of it like charging your battery.

    Perhaps someone could inform me as to why many Silat practices employ noisy forceful breathing exercises. The breath being forcefully expelled from the mouth with a loud hissing noise like a welding torch. I have never understood the benefits of such breathing.
    In other systems the benefits of silent, natural deep breathing is emphasised. Do you see any animal walking around hissing like a gas torch? It’s not natural.
    When you breathe forcefully tension generated in the body obstructs the flow of energy so although you may SOUND powerful by making these loud hissing noises actually you are generating less power then the person who employs silent deep breathing.
    Think of two rivers, in this analogy the flow of water represents the flow of breath in the body. A river which is deep, the water flowing quickly is silent as it sweeps by. If you were to enter that river you would be swept away by the powerful currents no matter how good you are at swimming. In contrast a river which is shallow and fast makes much noise and SOUNDS dangerous but you could easily cross it. We can see here that noise does not equal power so next time you are hissing with your heads ready to explode think about what you are doing.
    Perhaps I am overlooking something and if I am I would be very interested to know the benefits of this forceful breathing I see so much in silat breathing exercises, what are the benefits over deep silent, natural breathing?
  18. Steve Perry

    Steve Perry Valued Member

    Air in, Air out ...

    Narrue --

    Good point.

    I'm not sure which silat styles to which you refer, but we don't have any steam kettle exercises in our version. We do tend to work on the breathing so that it is in accord with our efforts -- exhaling, for instance, for increased power, typically while initiating action; inhaling when gathering energy, but not always -- it depends on the situation.

    This seems fairly natural. Watch a weightlifter pushing a heavy barbell. S/he will instinctively exhale with the push.

    Although you have to be careful when using the term "natural." It is unnatural to wear clothes, live in houses, and use deodorant. Some of the moves in our silat are not instinctive, i.e., they run contrary to "natural" reactions. (I suspect that a lot of the breathing exercises involving force and noise are because they blow off CO2 and retain more oxygen -- or at least people believe this is the case.)

    There is a point of saturation, of course. Take a bunch of deep breaths quickly, and if you aren't careful, you can over-oxygenate your system and pass out.

    But back to natural: If, for instance, somebody jumps out of the bushes in the dark at you and goes "Boo!" the natural reaction of most people falls into certain patterns: you freeze, duck, throw up your arms for cover, run, or strike, depending on your particular wiring. We are all born with this, and current research seems to say whichever one you are born with is the one you will instinctively do nearly every time if unexpected danger threatens.

    Training seeks to overcome this, but doesn't always work completely.

    Almost nobody leaps at an attacker instinctively -- evolutionarily speaking, this was not a good idea when the sabertooth cat came at you. Much of what we learn in our silat involves doing just this -- going in against an attack, even when there is a knife in the attacker's hand.

    Ask ten people on the street what they think about that -- If a mugger comes at you with a knife, what do you do?

    Get up in his face and take him apart will probably not be the first response from most people. I'd guess that "run like the wind" or some variation thereof would be the gist. My choice, too, but sometimes that isn't an option.

    There are breathing exercises in yoga that involve channeling the breath in decidedly unnatural ways, but that, if practiced, help you breathe better.
    And while I agree that the natural belly-breath of a child is more efficient than the high-chest breathing of most adults, both are natural -- why adults leave the belly-breathing behind is interesting, but not unnatural -- most people do it and without any conscious training ...
  19. Narrue

    Narrue Valued Member

    I have been thinking about it and the only benefit of forceful/restrictive breathing I can think of would be in resistance training. I’m sure you’ve seen those devices which restrict the amount of air you can inhale and exhale by essentially adjusting an aperture to provide various resistance levels.
    This causes the lungs to work harder thus strengthening the diaphragm muscles.
    Forcing the breath I guess would perform a similar function of strengthening the diaphragm muscles but “energetically” speaking it is not in any way superior to the deep silent breath in my opinion.

    Whilst on the subject of breath we all exhale when we punch but what should you do when taking a punch to the gut for example, inhale, exhale or retain?

    Likewise when you jump, sink your weight, shuffle or slip should we inhale or exhale?

    As for “natural” reactions to an attacker, I think it does vary greatly. I have seen a few fights but one incident particularly stands out in my mind. I once seen a young man stop a fight with a single posture or gesture.
    He was being harassed by a big mouthy guy who obviously thought he was going to be a push over. Instead of reacting as lots of people do by being mouthy back he went very quite, and went into a peculiar posture. His head tilted down and to the side, his eyes opened wide and everything went quite around him.
    Difficult to understand if you never seen it but he looked wild or fierce like a cat about to strike, a trap set ready to explode with the slightest movement. The effect this had on the other guy was to immediately humble him, he knew he had already lost the fight and raised both his hands in the submissive gesture. Everyone looked on in silent wonder, it was one of those rare moments we sometimes observe and remember forever. I looked at the faces of everyone round, all humbled by what they had seen. I doubt that that guy had learnt that or that he had even studied martial arts but then again what is martial arts to a person who has a “natural” gift like that, able to stop a fight with a gesture. Martial arts don’t get much higher then that.

    Funny you can find masters in the strangest of places, not in a temple praying but standing next to you in a pub drinking a pint of Guinness :D
  20. Steve Perry

    Steve Perry Valued Member

    Breathing Technique

    It may not be, but if people think it works and have gotten results from it, such breathing will have a place in their training. There is an exercise in yoga wherein you press the right nostril shut, breath in through the left, then switch, pressing the left nostril shut and breathing out through the right. And always retaining one-third of a breath. Presumably somebody along the way found that this was useful.

    Weil, first, don't get hit in the gut ...

    Different arts have different approaches. In some of the Japanese systems, there is a forced exhalation when either striking or struck -- the kiai. I would think that tightening the abs to absorb a hit would effectively preclude breathing in or out effectively.

    For us, a move that requires an extension of power toward an attacker is usually cause for an exhalation. Those that are more to gather power prior to extending it would be better served by gathering air.

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