Silat or Pencak Silat is the generic term for a whole family of martial arts that developed in Indonesia, the southern Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. Very deep stances, a very intensive floor work and often leg scissors and throws are common to all of them. Silat is (actually) not a sport, but an effective way of martial arts. Weapons are the rule, often the student first learns a weapon, fistfighting is considered an advanced discipline.
The most basic movement of Silat for me is Gellek. It means the rotation of the body balancing on the balls of the feet. This should be done similar to a tracked vehicle. The weight resting on both legs, always in balance. If you combine this rotation with an evasive movement, you immediately stand perfectly in front of your opponent.
Balancing the body is the key and the challenge. The firm and bombproof stance, without wobbling and fidgeting. If you can’t get it right, you have to practise, practise, practise. Just like me. But once you have felt that, you can move very relaxed even in the wildest confrontation. And the angle at which he stands to his opponent will always enable him to perform an action.
Sounds banal, but even for experienced martial artists it is often a real challenge. In many cases, exaggerated hardness or wild physical exertion is used to try to cover up the lack of balance. This only works until you meet someone who has perfected the Gellek. At the latest in the forms, the Sifat or Kata, it becomes clear whether the Kempoka stands securely or wobbles and fidgets and is always in danger of losing its balance.
The Gellek has its counterpart in the Japanese Tai Sabaki. Here, the different mentalities produce very different follow-up techniques. The Japanese striving for straightforwardness, for the ultimate knockout technique, is opposed to silat with its drumfire of techniques from different turns. It is fascinating to see here how cultural and mental differences are also expressed in the martial arts.
And it is at least as fascinating to see how harmoniously the Silat techniques complement the Kempo basics. Especially if you train very early styles, like I did with Sifu Olaf Bock.
Where in my opinion Silat, as I am allowed to learn it, is superior to Shaolin Kempo, is the consequence in the techniques. While in Kempo Kumite, after one or two defences and a counterattack, the end is often completely surprising, in Silat you continue to work until the opponent is disassembled into its individual parts. In Silat it is not about memorizing 50 or 60 sequences of movements, but about learning movement patterns, which are then intuitively linked in free sparring.
The further you advance in silat, the finer the techniques become, the more you understand the sense of minimal changes of stance or hand positions in defense or attack. And this knowledge also fits surprisingly well into Shaolin Kempo.