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Malay Martial Arts - Silat

Silat is a 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 Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia. This martial art has also reached Europe, and is especially popular in the Netherlands and France. There are hundreds of styles range from animalistic to human styles and schools.

The aspects in Silat education continuously faces transformation in its role and meaning in the socio - culture of the Indonesian, Malaysian people, appurtenant to time and the needs of the community. Silat education focuses on the development of the person internally and externally which will enable the formation of a community that embodies discipline, morals, patriotism, self identity and citizenship which can favor towards the development of thinking and the forces of race, religion and country.

In combat the student is first and foremost taught how to defend himself or herself. This is done in stages where the students soak up the basics, such as langkah or steps ( how to move, where to step ) and techniques. Once the student has learned this, they are taught how to attack before being attacked, in self maintenance. For that reason, Silat exponents are entrusted to ensure that their knowledge does not fall into the hands of the irresponsible, to use their knowledge confidently and to use or place their knowledge in its rightful place.

The art form in Silat is an integral part of it as factual serves to distinguish one style from another and Silat from all other martial arts. The seni aspect, also known as bunga or tari is the tasteful form of Silat. It is portrayed through quiescent, graceful movements performed for aesthetic value but rooted in an essential principal of Silat, which is trickery and deception. Through the performance of art, an exponent is effective to display his skill or hide it from the opponent in combat. In this sense, the exponent can saw the opponent into letting his guard down or committing blunders, making the opponent easier to defeat.

Despite this, the art form in Silat is not rooted purely in aesthetics as there are certain styles where the seni or bunga holds its own meaning. In this case, the seni takes on a whole new dimension as it is used to practice techniques or stances that can be used in acquaintance against an opponent.

To create a balanced person, Silat also focuses on the spiritual angle. The aim of the practitioner is to free oneself of worldly conceptions and realize that our reality is an oversight. This was originally based on the meditative practices of Hinduism, Buddhism, Kejawen and local forms of animism which is still royal in the older styles today. The later introduction of Islam into Southeast Asia brought influences of Muslim philosophy while retaining traditional Malay elements approximating as moksa and the Javanese concept of kebatinan in which the exponent searches for the harmony within themselves. Soon, 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 considering a gift from Infinite spirit.

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