Pencak Silat is a popular umbrella term for an entire group of related Indonesian martial arts. In neighboring countries, the word tends to be used to refer to high-level competitive silat, which is essentially a sport. However, it is also a full-body contact sport incorporating throws, grappling and striking as well as weaponry. It was invented by a group of teachers and students who were studying the art of traditional silat when they came across an inherent need to develop a different style of contact. Today, the term “pencak” or “pencak silat” is used by most Indonesians in the world, even though the true origin may be Bornean.
The true roots of pencak silat can be traced to early Batak communities
that were located in the central and northern parts of the country. They were skilled in the use of weaponry and they practiced a martial art style that involved taking out their enemies using whatever they could get their hands on. It was not until they migrated to the Southeast Asian regions that their style of martial art changed into what we know today as pencak silat. This group eventually settled in the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and China. As more Batak moved to the Southeast Asian countries, there was little change in their style of practicing their martial art, except that the weaponry they had become adept at using changed somewhat.
In India, pencak silat has been known as Bangla Malay, or simply Malay. This name was given because these communities made great contributions to the shaping of modern day Singapore. In Malaysia, where the early migrants originated from, pencak silat has also been called Bumatih, or Batil. And in Singapore, this martial art is known simply as silah.
A big reason why silah has been adopted by the martial arts community is the implementation of an effective system of drills and movements. Training in this manner teaches individuals to understand and execute various movements that will assist them in defense situations. At the same time, peak practitioners are taught how to properly handle weapons, making it easier for them to defend themselves. These techniques can also be applied to non-lethal self-defense methods, which makes it easy to create a comprehensive self-defense program that will fit any lifestyle.
One of the first martial arts to adopt pencak movements was the All Australian Martial Arts (AAMA) in the early 1980’s. During this time period, the AAMA incorporated the use of kung fu weaponry into its movements. After much testing, the use of this weaponry was changed to stick and spear combat, which has proven to be an effective form of self defence in the hands of any individual. Since then, other martial arts, such as karate, judo, Tae kwon do, wushu and others have also adopted the use of peak weaponry. The development of silat movements, combined with the application of traditional martial arts such as Sumatra, keeping and karate, has created a unique style of martial arts that is known as peak kung ulama, or “pencil self defence”.
Unlike other forms of martial arts where striking is usually the main form of attack, in pencak movements a fighter will strike his opponents from a distance using the edges of his palms. The purpose of this type of striking is to make maximum contact with the opponent and immobilize him, rendering him unable to move. This strategy has proven extremely useful to law enforcement officers, who may encounter violent suspects. Although there are some limitations to this type of fighting, such as the inability to throw opponents off balance, it has proved to be extremely effective in many combat scenarios. If practiced and executed properly, it is also possible to use the momentum of a blow to propel an opponent across the ring or ocean without damaging him.
As part of the system of penal movements, there are two specific disciplines which are employed in most silat classes across the archipelago. These disciplines are known as tuning and silat pakikrit. In the early years of its development, the peak was primarily trained for hand-to-hand combat, but nowadays these two forms of silat are often practiced together to create more dynamic and exciting silat manoeuvrability. Tunjang, also known as “the way of hands”, is aimed at perfecting the art of grappling, while silat pakikrit is all about throwing an opponent out of the ring or water using the most advanced techniques. Both disciplines are closely linked to each other, and many experts estimate that silat pakikrit, the more advanced of the two, is the foundation of any pilot class in the Indonesian archipelago.
Pencak movements martial arts have grown in popularity in the decades since its establishment, mainly due to the evolution of the global sport of mixed martial arts fighting. This type of fight is characterized by a mixture of striking, locking and takedowns, and it was initially developed in the Philippines and Vietnam. Today, this type of fighting is widely spread across Asia, Europe and America, and has even become a staple of many high-profile tournaments. The principles of peak movements martial arts can be practiced by both amateur and professional fighters, and they often form the base of many of the modern techniques used in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighting. If you want to learn more about the movements of pencak, it would be a good idea to check out some of the classic pencil exercises that will help improve your overall flexibility and range of motion.
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