Historically, technique was passed down from generation to generation within the same bloodline and written records and public demonstrations were rare. ”Our Silat was only for our family” says Mas Amien of Chakra Lima. “Before 2007 we never shared our technique.”
In a country of 18,000 islands and 300 ethnic groups, it is no surprise that Indonesia has about 600 styles of Pencak Silat. Perisai Diri is one of the most regulated with daily classes and the National Perisai Diri Championship featured in our documentary. Training is based upon Serang-Hindar, a two-person drill for attack and defense. Using twisting body movements the defender evades the attack and simultaneously sets up a counter attack. Perisai Diri means ‘to shield’ and practice is centered around the family, “We apply all our Perisai Diri training to our daily life” says grandmaster, Mas Herdjoko, “my students are conditioned to do great things.”
The style of Tapak Suci was founded 50 years ago, the distinctive red uniform is a tribute to the Muslim struggle against communism in the 1960’s. Tapak Suci embraces long-range technique that include powerful punches, blocks and kicks and is ideal for competitions where it has gained a reputation for winning trophies throughout Central and Eastern Java. Our visit to the Tapak Suci school at a Surabaya university shows how Muslim female students can train just as hard as the males and eliminate any cultural barriers that may exist.
Chakra Lima Silat from Surabaya is a practical fighting system using a comprehensive set of punches, low kicks and evasive footwork. A small four meter wide room is their training ground. “Keep moving and be aware” says Mas Amien, “always find a bigger space.” Emphasis is placed on training with partners and later the drill will include multiple attackers armed with a knife. For these students there is no grading system or tournaments or religious faith they should follow. They study Chakra Lima to understand Madurese culture and it’s martial art.
Inti Ombak was created by U.S. based Guru Daniel Prasetya by blending together two opposing styles of Madurese and Mataram Silat. In doing so he applied his own martial art philosophy, referred to as Kaedah. It is a set of core principles or rules that govern Inti Ombak. “Our second rule is always assume an attack involves a weapon” (usually a knife) says Inti Ombak Guru Cahyadi from Jakarta. However he continues, “the first rule is to avoid conflict.” In Yogyakarta, the head of the Inti Ombak school, Guru Sigit Cahyana calls it “Finding the essence of living within the wave of life.” His school trains in the mountains and demonstrates the qualities needed for Silat are developed daily – fishing or farming or walking the mountains. There is no warm-up… a Silat fighter is always ready.
Today, Pencak Silat is a mainstream martial art and as a worldwide audience of enthusiasts discover Indonesia’s remarkable combat system, it’s secrets are finally being revealed.