Tuesday, November 18, 2008

< The Origins of Silat >

The Beginning


Maha Guru Victor de Thouars, interviewed by reporter Steve Gartin, for Fighting Knives/Street Fighter magazine.

Excerpts :

Victor: By the end of the second century A.D., India had already established trade routes to Indonesia. By the year 125 A.D., influences from Indian Hindu/Buddhist missionarys was beginning to be felt in Indonesia.

Victor: Indonesian martial arts was very crude and unrefined during that time period, followed by a period of refinement. With the later Influences from India, Indonesia established a system of fighting unique to Indonesia.

Victor: The martial arts the Chinese saw in Indonesia were referred to as "Silate". The indonesian able to absorb and adapt to other cultures, took many words from those cultures and integrated them into their language. This was done with the word "Silate", and was changed to Silat, so in short the word "Silat" is from Chinese origin, not the action".

Victor: Martial arts in Indonesia and China began to develop separately, but both were influenced by the buddhist monks who traveled from India to Indonesia and China during those years".



Silat is an umbrella term for a number of martial art forms originating from the countries of the Malay Archipelago. This art is widely known in Indonesia and Malaysia but can also be found in varying degrees among the Malay-affiliated communities in Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia. The art has also reached Europe, and is especially popular in the Netherlands and France. There are hundreds of aliran (styles) ranging from animalistic to human styles and schools or perguruan



To create a balanced person, Silat also focuses on the spiritual aspect. The aim of the practitioner is to free oneself of worldly conceptions and realize that our reality is an illusion. This was originally based on the meditative practices of Hinduism, Buddhism, Kejawen and local forms of animism which is still evident in the older styles today. The later introduction of Islam into Southeast Asia brought influences of Muslim philosophy while retaining traditional Malay elements such as moksa and the Javanese concept of kebatinan in which the exponent searches for the harmony within themselves. Nowadays, spirituality in silat is largely based on tasawwuf (knowledge of Islamic esoteric teaching). In this way, the exponent learns to respect life and his surroundings and see it as a gift from God.


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