2015 Boulder Creek Festival Demo

This year Pencak Silat Inti Ombak Boulder performed at the Boulder Creek Festival as part of A Place to B’s variety show extravaganza. Here are our two sets of playing silat while accompanied by the energetic beats of TNT Taiko.

Set 1, part 1

Set 1, part 2

Part 2

Langkah Pancar Lima

This past weekend was the second biennial gathering of Inti Ombak black belts. One of the the things we learned was a langkah (stepping pattern) named Langkah Pancar Lima. As we practiced its application, it became clear to all of us who had never seen this pattern before that it is especially useful for cutting off your opponent’s center line.

Fresh off the high of the gathering, I was inspired to assemble an animated gif[1] to help study and practice this step. Enjoy!
[gfycat data_id=”PeacefulBlushingAztecant” data_autoplay=true]

[1] Actually this has been converted to HTML5 using a nifty website called gfycat. If you’re ever tempted to share an animated image with the world, try uploading it to gfycat first, it will save on bandwidth.

V-steps and srimpets

When teaching footwork, I repetitively talk about how the v-step is often referred to as “sikap simpurna” or “perfect position” because it leaves you the option to adjust weight and direction as needed. We also practice the srimpet and simpir langkah quite a bit. These cross-steps may seem overly flowery and vulnerable, but amazingly they allow you to advance and move off line without losing ground. They also serve an important function when wearing traditional, full-length sarung. Take note of the footwork in the video below, especially around 7:40. The woman is v-stepping and srimpet-ing up a storm. Without the srimpet, she would have tripped over her outfit at the beginning of the performance.

Ngapurancang and Sengoang

I just wanted to add a little running commentary to this video featuring Guru Daniel and Mas Kyle as there are lots of details that can be overlooked if lacking some additional background.

0:05 The term for this position in Javanese is ngapurancang (pronounced eng-ah-poo-rahn-chawng). This is a common position in Indonesia as it expresses humility and respect towards others. Conversely, standing with one’s arms behind the back is considered less respectful and standing with the arms crossed projects coldness and distance.

0:08 Pointing with the index finger is considered rude in Indonesia. It is more polite to point with an open palm like making an offer, but pointing with the thumb out and the fingers folded is considered the polite method.

0:22 Just another example of how block+check can come from anywhere.

0:50 While ngapurancang can have either the right or left hand on top, it is more common for the right hand to sit atop the left as the left hand is considered unclean in Indonesian culture. The right hand is shielding others from seeing something undesirable, much in the same way that Javanese blangkon hats keep the not in back.

1:01 Sengoang (pronounced suhn-go-awwng) with the arms forming an L-shape, and the palm just to the side of the cheek is a slightly more intimate position than ngapurancang. Though the position has changed, almost all of the same openings are available.

1:20 Up to this point all of the motion has been in the style of Mataram Central Java. If you look back on the previous opening, you will notice the range is longer and the posture more upright. Also pay attention to how when Guru Daniel engages with Mataram motion his chin is either level or upright. Now with the example of Madurese motion, the range closes to less than an elbow’s distance, the stances sink, and the chin is either level or looking down. For most the rest of the video Guru Daniel transitions naturally between both approaches.

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.

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.

Pencak Silat in Advertising

Guru Daniel shared this Kuku Bima energy drink ad with some of us Inner Wave folk, so I thought I’d share it with others. Kuku Bima translates as Bima’s nail and is an alternative name for the curved blade known as the kerambit. As for the meaning of Bima, I have no idea if it refers to the city in West Nusa Tenngara or if it refers to Bhima the second of the Pandava brothers from the Mahabharata. I suppose it could be neither of those explanations.

Thinking back on my time in Yogya, I feel like the most common commercials were for Indomie (instant ramen noodles), energy drinks, and of course cigarettes. So it’s only appropriate that I post a couple of silat + cigarette ads here.

Bentoel Biru:

Dji Sam Soe (I have another Dji Sam Soe story here.)

Given that all my Pencak Silat teachers are rabid chain smokers, it could be that there’s more truth in advertising in the Bentoel and Dji Sam Soe ads than in the Kuku Bima one.