Monthly Archives: October 2014

Brief History of Pencak Silat

Iko Uwais

Raid star Iko Uwais

Brief History of Pencak Silat
What is the definition of Pencak Silat?

The official name used to indicate more than 800 martial arts schools and styles spread across more than 13,000 islands in Indonesia is called “pencak silat”. However, this is actually a compound name consisting of two terms used in different regions. The word “pencak” and its dialectic derivatives such as “penca” (West Java) and “mancak” (Madura and Bali) is commonly used in Java, Madura and Bali, whereas the term “silat” or “silek” is used in Sumatra.

The ambition to unify all these different cultural expressions in a common terminology as part of declaring Indonesia’s unity and independence from colonial power, was first expressed in 1948 with the establishment of the Ikatan Pencak Silat Indonesia (Indonesian Pencak Silat Association, IPSI). However, it could only be realized in 1973 when representatives from different schools and styles finally formally agreed to the use of “pencak silat” in official discourse, albeit original terms are still widely used at the local level.

What are the origins of Pencak Silat?

It is not easy tracing the history of pencak silat because written documentation was limited and oral information was handed down from the gurus or masters. Each region in the archipelago has its own version of its origin which is largely based on oral tradition. Malay myths concur that pencak silat was originally developed by tribal groups in the archipelago through the observation of animal movements and other natural phenomena, in an effort to defend themselves from wild creatures and other environmental dangers. In the course of time, pencak silat eventually become instrumental in attaining social status when fighting among tribal groups, clans, communities and later kingdoms. Because of his/her skills a person could be feared and respected by the surrounding society, and secure prestige and political power.

Pencak silat as self-defense has always existed since human beings had to fight with each other and with wild animals in order to survive. At that time, people who were strong and skilled in fighting could attain a privileged position in society, and could become heads of clans or army commanders. In the long run, fighting techniques started to be regulated, so that a comprehensive martial art form was developed which was eventually called pencak silat. (Asikin 1975:9-10)

Subjugation happened because groups of people started to fight each other to gain control of power. In an effort to expand the conquered areas, kingdoms were created. To maintain and expand the power of these kingdoms, self-defense, with or without arms, was developed. (Liem, 1960:38-40)

When, where and how this process of systematization started nobody knows. What can be gathered from the scant information available is that pencak silat developed from the acculturation of various self-defense styles, which had developed locally under different names and with different characteristics.

Pencak Silat’s Role in History

Pencak silat plays an important role in Indonesia’s history. Since the age of ancient Indonesian Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms like Srivijaya, Majapahit, and Kingdom of Sunda, these kingdoms used pencak silat to train their soldiers and warriors.

Archaeological evidence reveals that by the sixth century A.D. formalized combative systems were being practiced in the area of Sumatra and the Malay peninsula. Two kingdoms, the Srivijaya in Sumatra from the 7th to the 14th century and the Majapahit in Java from the 13th to 16th centuries made good use of these fighting skills and were able to extend their rule across much of what is now Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

According to tradition of Minangkabau, their Silek (Minangkabau pencak silat) can be traced to the fore father of ancient Minangkabau people, Datuk Suri Dirajo. It is said that according to old Javanese poetry, Kidung Sunda, the sentinels of the Prabu Maharaja Sunda exhibited great skill in the art of pencak silat when they escorted Princess Dyah Pitaloka to Majapahit as a potential bride for King Hayam Wuruk, and faced indignities that greatly affronted their honour[2]. In a battle that ensued at the Bubat field (1346), the Sundanese forces fought to the last drop of blood, using special pencak silat moves and various weapons. Albeit the pencak silat styles employed in combat were different, we can still draw the conclusion that in Javanese kingdoms throughout the archipelago, pencak silat served the same function: to defend, maintain or expand territory.

Different styles of Pencak Silat

There is no overall standard for Pencak Silat. Each style has its own particular movement patterns, specially designed techniques and tactical rationale. The richness of terms reflects a wide diversity in styles and techniques across the regions due to the fact that pencak silat has been developed by different masters who have created their own style according to their preferences and to the physical environment and social-cultural context in which they live. For example, West Java, Central Java and West Sumatra.

West Java is inhabited by a specific ethnic group with specific cultural and social norms. For them, pencak silat is part of their way of life or as they say, “the blood in their body”. In their language they say “penca” or “menpo” (from “maen poho’, which literally means play with trickery) to indicate their main four styles Cimande, Cikalong, Timbangan, and Cikaret and all the schools and techniques which have derived from them. The Sundanese people have always utilized penca/menpo for self-defense and recreation, and only recently have started to use it as a sport in national and regional competitions.

The bela-diri (self-defense) aspect of penca can be very dangerous. Therefore it was kept secret, especially its mystical aspect where only selected students were taught in phases. Penca as an art (penca ibing) has been a source of inspiration for traditional Sundanese dances such as Jaepongan, Ketu’tilu’, Dombret, and Cikeruhan and actually it resembles dance in its use of music instruments. These instruments, called “pencak drummers” (gendang penca), are devoted exclusively to penca performances and consist of two sets of drummers (gendang anak dan kulantir), a trumpet (tetet) and a gong. Pencak performances also use standard music rhythms such as tepak dua, tepak tilu, tepak dungdung, golempang and paleredan. Penca as art is not considered dangerous and can be openly shown to everyone. From generation to generation until today, penca performances animate wedding parties, rituals of circumcision, celebrations of the rice harvest and all kind of national festivities.

* Asikin. Pelajaran Pencak Silat. 1975
* Central Board of The Indonesian Pencak Silat Association. An Introduction to Pencak Silat.
* Draeger, Don F. The Weapons and Fighting Arts of Indonesia. Japan: Tuttle Company. 1972.
* Liem, Yoe Kiong. Rahasia ilmu pedang. 1960
* O’ong Maryono. Pencak Silat in the Indonesian Archipelago. 25 May 2005
* Steele, David E. A History of the Indonesian Martial Arts.

Phuket Dreaming Episode 2 “Where Will It End” on location at Phuket Top Team

FSA - FightSport Asia

In the second episode of Phuket Dreaming, Phuket Top Team’s Rob Lisita continues his training camp for his next outing against Eric Kelly on July 11 in Taiwan.

Also, Ole Laursen and Sweden’s Zebastian Kadestam arrive in Phuket to begin training camp for Zebastian’s PXC Welterweight Title fight.

Episode 3 Drops Tuesday July 8th

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Written by Trever Dueck Twitter: @TrevDueck

John Wick is just a simple movie about a man and his dog; okay maybe add a few guns, some gangsters and hit-men for good measure.

Keanu Reeves stars as John Wick, a former hit-man who tries to live a straight and normal life while grieving the untimely death of his wife.

A series of unfortunate events brings him back into the assassin fold to seek revenge on the Russian gangsters who took everything from him. They killed the man’s dog!

John Wick will never be confused as an acting tour de force with a deep storyline and intricate character development. Instead it is a straight up stylized action movie in the same vein as Taken, The Raid: Redemption or The Replacement Killers.

Keanu appears to be comfortable in his own skin when starring in these shoot ‘em up action flicks. Let’s not make any bones about it, Shakespeare is not for him, but a role that involves gun wielding and kick ass martial art scenes is where the Canadian actor belongs.

Directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, who are well respected Hollywood stuntmen and stunt coordinators, make their directorial debuts and get to work with a pretty cool cast.

Michael Nyqvist, who is known for his work as Mikael Blomkvist in the original Swedish Millennium series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) plays the big Russian mob boss Viggo Tarasov.

For you Game of Thrones fans, Alfie Allen, who is Theon Greyjoy in GOT, also plays a Russian gangster, who John Wick wants dead more than anyone.

You add the likes of Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, and two minutes of Ian McShane and John Leguizamo and you have a nice cast with a ton of potential.

The problem is you have all of these fine actors who don’t really get to do what they do best, and that’s act. Instead they are just fodder for revenge but I’m not complaining.

Keanu spends the entire movie in a state of a deadpan. In fact I think he speaks in monotone for the entire film, which in itself is pretty impressive even for him, but let’s not label that as acting range. Nobody plays the brooding hero type better.

Reeves does a good job with the material and actually provides some nice comedic timing with some of the dry wit.

There were some cool ideas in the movie like an underground assassin bar at the Continental Hotel and we also learn that making a dinner reservation for twelve doesn’t actually mean having a dinner party. I will leave it at that.

The fight scenes are very impressive and this is where the directors shine. Reeves has actually turned into a solid big screen martial artist. From Jeet Kune Do to Jiu-Jitsu, the very athletic fifty-year-old shows that he still has it when it comes to breaking bones.

The gun scenes are an ode to John Woo’s Hong Kong action films and it appears Stahelski and Leitch were also influenced by movies like Leon:The Professional and The Boondock Saints.

John Wick is not the first hit-man, revenge movie out there and it probably won’t be the last, but it is fun to watch.

Yes it’s formulaic and the storyline is sort of only there to provide us with reasons to see bullets fly, but for fans of the assassin movie genre it is fun way to spend ninety minutes of eating popcorn.

Check your local listings to see where John Wick is playing. Definitely not meant for kids or romantic date nights, unless it is your turn to choose the movie, which in that case it’s fair game.

I give this movie three out of five rain drops. It is a nice return of sorts for Keanu to the action movie realm and I can see John Wick being turned into a franchise or trilogy but don’t expect any Oscar nominations.

Now all Keanu has to do is return as Theodore Logan and we have ourselves a true Hollywood comeback. Whoa…

The China Issue: Contending Dragon, Fighting Tiger

FSA - FightSport Asia

The growth of MMA in China is seen as a ‘no brainer’ as MMA promotions around the world line up to compete for the hearts and minds of the Chinese people. The landscape is no picnic though. Fight Sport Asia looks at what it will take for the sport to flourish in the home of traditional martial arts.

It would be wrong to frame the debate about MMA as a homecoming, because martial arts and fighting have many different influences. The influence of martial arts in China is wide ranging and is part of the genetic code of the culture and forms of MMA have long existed like Sanda competitions.

In a 2012 interview Joel Resnik of RUFF China said ‘a lot of parents would rather that their kids do MMA than play basketball’. This reflects the view of Mike Haskamp, the former promoter of Legend FC who currently works…

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Wrestling, Senegal Style

Laamb Wrestlers

Laamb Wrestlers

Although traditional wrestling exists in various forms throughout West Africa, the version in Senegal, known as laamb, has reached unparalleled heights. Laamb ends when one of the wrestlers puts his opponent’s head, back or both hands and knees to the ground. Unlike other forms, laamb allows punches in certain matches. Those matches are the ones upon which wrestlers, spectators, sponsors, promoters, shamans, musicians and journalists descend every weekend.
Full Article here:

4 Words of Tuishou – a video by Roberto Sharpe

In this video, recorded in 2007 in Manhattan’s East Village, we are treated to a lesson, by Roberto Sharpe, on “4 key words” applied to tuishou (pushing hands).
Posted on June 11, 2014 by TaiChiCentral

Roberto Sharp is a martial artist with about 4 decades of experience. His training includes, but is not limited to, Tai chi, baguazhang, xingyiquan, capoeira, judo, karate, boxing, jiu-jitsu, and shuaijiao.

Editor’s commentary
The Four Word Secret Formula is attributed to Wu Yuxiang 武禹襄 (Wǔ Yǔxiāng), the founder of the Wǔ (武) style tai chi. (Wǔ style is also called the Wu/Hao style and not to be confused with the more widely known Wú 吳 style founded by Wújiànquán 吳鑑泉.)

The four word formula, in typical Chinese style, consists of about 57 characters, (about 49 words). The key words are


Usually called “Fu”, this can be interpreted as “cover” or “spread”. It is like covering your opponents energy so they are trapped and cannot express their attack.


“Gai” is “a cover”, “a lid”. As a verb it means to “cap” or “top” or “cover” the opponent. But this is often called “block” in English, because the lid or cover is used to obstruct the opponent’s attack, but in a different way than Fu.

對 对者:

“Dui” is “intercept”. But it is not merely the physical act of meeting or confronting the opponent’s movement. To intercept requires that your intent and energy connect directly to the source of the opponent’s attack. You move before they do.

In Roberto Sharpe’s words, “You learn to hear them before they speak.”

吞 吞者

“Tun” is to “swallow”. Roberto Sharpe give a wonderful explanation in this video, and demonstrates it clearly. Some martial artists will try to “chew you up and spit you out.”

But tun implies that you swallow the opponent’s energy whole, as a snake does, by letting the whole body receive and neutralize the attack. Don’t meet it with force and aggression, but let your training and the cultivated structural integrity work for you.

Genghis Con Films drops Episode 1 of the “Phuket Dreaming” series filmed on location at Phuket Top Team MMA

FSA - FightSport Asia

Filmed on location at Phuket Top Team MMA the series shot and edited by Genghis Con Films, revolves around the characters, business, living and fighting of the fighters from Phuket Top Team gym in Thailand.

In the first episode of Phuket Dreaming, Phuket Top Team’s Rob Lisita fights Yusuke Kawanago in OneFC and begins training for his next fight. Meanwhile gym owner/manager Boyd Clarke helps Luke Jumeau train for his fight in Dubai at Global Fighting Championships.

Episode 2 Drops Tuesday July 1st

check out the YouTube Page for upcoming series episodes

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What is Arnis/Kali/Eskrima?


Lobo's Blog

It’s taken a while to write this up as I’m not familiar with this style. For a better picture of this martial art check out the Wikipedia entry here or better yet, try it out yourself. I’ve also written a follow up piece with my own thoughts on this style here.

The names Arnis, Kali and Eskrima are all labels of the same family of Filipino weapon-based martial arts. Whereas the origin of the term ‘Kali’ is uncertain, the word ‘Eskrima’ and ‘Arnis’ are of Spanish origin – Esgrima which means fencing, and Arnes meaning armour. Consequently, practitioners of this style are referred to as Arnisadores, Eskrimadores or Kalistas.

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Ninth Degree Eskrima Masters

My own personal stash – hardwood sticks that are used in duels, padded sticks for competing, rattan stick for practise along with Kris and Bolo knives.

"Secrets" of the Filipino Fighting Arts

I never really understood this one.

Let’s just say up front that I never liked the Black Belt ranking structure for the Filipino arts. I don’t have a problem with that structure being used for students as a way to designate the various levels of learning and accomplishment. We even tried it twice in my own school. It wasn’t for me, but I do understand why it is used and how it may be useful. Personal preference, to be honest.

For the expert (Black Belt) level, however, I totally dislike it. Here’s why.

In the Filipino arts, unlike in Karate, Kung Fu, Judo, Jujutsu, Aikido, and the like–we do not have the number of skills and techniques that they do. Our curriculum is more like boxing, with a small number of actual techniques, and a focus on skill-in-technique and strategy. Honestly, one could learn all the basics of boxing in…

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