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.