Resurrecting Silat for a New Generation of Indonesians

Seated at the end of Jalan Malioboro in the town and province of Yogyakarta, Indonesia is the Kraton (the Sultan’s palace).  The Kraton holds a special place in the history of Inti Ombak Pencak Silat as it is the origin of the style of Central Javanese Silat that comprises a major part of the art we practice today (the other major side coming from the island of Madura).  In eras past the Kraton was the seat of martial arts for the region.

Malioboro, and the Kraton all exhibit a fascinating blend of old and new.  Waves of motorbikes zip past an array of becak (pedicabs) and horse-drawn carriages.  Street-side vendors hawk a variety of traditional handicrafts such as batik alongside an assortment of bootleg purses and t-shirts.  In front of the Kraton is a giant town square known as Alun-Alun Utara.  In the alun-alun you are just as likely to see a concert as you are to see giant mounds of rice presented in celebration of the birth of Mohammed.  Yet for silat’s role in the region’s cultural heritage it is largely absent.

Unfortunately, modern Indonesians tend to think of Silat as an outdated novelty of their grandparents’ generation.  Many consider silat too halus (soft/polite) as they associate it with the flowery, dance-like motions seen at demonstrations and tournaments.  While I lived there, several people asked me why I studied silat instead of cooler, more en vogue arts like capoeira or karate.  In many ways they are correct.  The move to modernize silat has robbed the motion of meaning and marginalized those that continued to practice in the traditional way.

But not all is lost, I have witnessed a resurgence of interest in the years since I was last in Indonesia.  Fueled by Indonesia’s rapid adoption of social media, it appears the remaining masters are taking to YouTube and Facebook to ensure their respective arts live on.  Today, I was pleased to see yet another merging of old and new.  In my Facebook feed there was a link to a video of a silat parade and exhibition right in the middle of Malioboro.  This video features a wide range of silat styles, many of which have ties back to the Kraton of Yogyakarta (including Mas Sigit of Inti Ombak).  To see another way in which silat is being shared with a new generation of Indonesians,  visit this album from the Tangtungan Project.

Seminar with Daniel Prasetya

Daniel Prasetya will coming to the Westminster school on August 29, 2012 from 7:30pm to 9pm. This is an opportunity to learn from a true master. Free for Inner Wave members and only $15 for everyone else.

Guru Daniel Seminar Wednesday 4/25/2012

Guru Daniel Prasetya will be returning to our Westminster school for another seminar on Wednesday April 25, 2012. For those of you new to Pencak Silat, this is a great way to get a feel for the art directly from the source. For those of you already familiar with Guru Daniel and his style, this is an opportunity to expand and grow in your martial arts studies.

I hope to see you there,
Lee

Upcoming seminar to help Guru Bahati

On Saturday, March 3, my teacher Guru Daniel Prasetya will be leading a Pencak Silat seminar at our Westminster school.  The proceeds of this seminar will be used to help a dear friend of our martial arts family, Guru Bahati Mershant, pay for cancer treatments for his wife Cathleen.

For those of you who do not know Guru Bahati, he is not only an impressive practitioner of Sundanese Silat (see footage here), he is also the kind of person whose presence instantly brings a smile to all around him.  This charm bridges all cultures and has enabled him to become kind of a video ethnographer of Indonesia and Indonesian martial arts.

While I was living in Indonesia, he came to Yogyakarta to meet my teacher Ki Poleng Sudamala, and I had the honor of serving as his translator.  Over those few days, I experienced a variety of ceremonies and witnessed a wealth of silat knowledge that I would not have otherwise have seen, and for that I am eternally grateful to Guru Bahati.  This video, provides a glimpse into those few days.

If you are available, I encourage you to attend.  In addition to helping out a great person, this is an opportunity to learn something new.

March 3 Flyer
Silat Seminar to Benefit Guru Bahati

12 Proverbs of Javanese Silat

The following twelve proverbs outline the philosophy behind Javanese silat.  These were presented to me by my teacher Daniel Prasetya, but are commonly known and taught throughout Java.  Thank you to Guru Tristan Sutrisno for his help in keeping these translations true to their original meaning.   Note: Capitalized sentences are the original Javanese, the bracketed sentences are the Indonesian translation, and the English is in italics.

‎1. URIP IKU URUP
[Hidup itu nyala, hidup itu hendaknya memberi manfaat bagi orang lain di sekitar kita]
Life is a flame, live to benefit others around ourselves.

2. MEMAYU HAYUNING BAWANA, AMBRASTA DUR HANGKARA
[Harus mengusahakan keselamatan, kebahagiaan dan kesejahteraan serta memberantas sifat angkara murka, serakah dan tamak]
Strive for safety, happiness and prosperity while eliminating characteristics of greed, wrath, and jealousy.

3. SURA DIRA JAYA JAYANINGRAT, LEBUR DENING PANGASTUTI
[Segala sifat keras hati, picik, angkara murka hanya bisa dikalahkan dengan sikap bijak, lembut hati dan sabar]
Cruel traits, pettiness, and greed can only be lost with wisdom, kindness, and patience.

4. NGLURUK TANPA BALA, MENANG TANPA NGASORAKE, SEKTI TANPA AJI-AJI, SUGIH TANPA BANDHA
[Berjuang tanpa perlu membawa massa, Menang tanpa merendahkan/ mempermalukan, Berwibawa tanpa mengandalkan kekuasaan/kekuatan/kekayaan/ keturunan, Kaya tanpa didasari hal2 yg bersifat materi]
Fight without needing numbers. Win without degrading or shaming your opponent. Command without relying on power, strength, wealth or lineage. Be rich without relying on material things.

5. DATAN SERIK LAMUN KETAMAN, DATAN SUSAH LAMUN KELANGAN
[Jangan gampang sakit hati manakala musibah menimpa diri, Jangan sedih manakala kehilangan sesuatu]
Do not become heartbroken easily when disaster falls upon you. Do not be sad when something is lost.

6. AJA GUMUNAN, AJA GETUNAN, AJA KAGETAN, AJA ALEMAN
[Jangan mudah terheran-heran, Jangan mudah menyesal, Jangan mudah terkejut dgn sesuatu, Jangan kolokan atau manja]
Do not become amazed too easily. Do not be quick to regret. Do not let things shock you too easily. Do no not become spoiled or pampered.

7. AJA KETUNGKUL MARANG KALUNGGUHAN, KADONYAN LAN KEMAREMAN
[Janganlah terobsesi atau terkungkung dengan kedudukan, materi dan kepuasan duniawi]
Do not become obsessed with or shackled by position, material goods and worldly satisfaction.

8. AJA KUMINTER MUNDAK KEBLINGER, AJA CIDRA MUNDAK CILAKA
[Jangan merasa paling pandai agar tidak salah arah, Jangan suka berbuat curang agar tidak celaka]
Do not step on someone’s toes or hurt others to pursue your own agenda. (Literally: Don’t feel clever by not going the wrong way.  Do not cheat to avoid harm.)

9. AJA MILIK BARANG KANG MELOK, AJA MANGRO MUNDAK KENDHO
[Jangan tergiur oleh hal2 yg tampak mewah, cantik, indah dan jangan berfikir gamang/plin-plan agar tidak kendor niat dan kendor semangat]
Do not salivate over things that appear luxurious, pretty or beautiful, and do not fret or act wishy-washy to avoid sagging morale.

10. AJA ADIGANG, ADIGUNG, ADIGUNA
[Jangan sok kuasa, sok besar/kaya, sok sakti].
Avoid arrogance and maintain humility. (Literally: Do not act with quasi-power, quasi-size, and quasi-magic.)

11. ALANG ALANG DUDU ALING ALING , MARGINING KAUTAMAN.
[Persoalan persoalan dlm kehidupan bukan penghambat , jalannya kesempurnaan].
Problems in life are not barriers, but are the way to perfection.

12. SOPO WERUH ING PANUJU sasat SUGIH PAGER WESI.
[Dalam kehidupan siapa yg punya Cita2 luhur, jalannya seakan tertuntun]
In life, those with noble ideals, walk as if guided.

We are officially open

 

Thanks to everyone for their help in making the grand opening of Inner Wave South a success. It was an honor to have Gurus Daniel Prasetya, Shelley Millspaugh and Uncle Willem sharing their skills and knowledge a series of seminars.  The Inti Ombak Pencak Silat and the Kombatan Arnis demo teams put on a great performances with a mix of forms, stick fighting, and techniques.  And of course there was lots of great food.

Classes start Monday November 14.  I hope to see some new faces interested in playing Silat.