Pencak Silat in Western writings sometimes spelled “pentjak silat” or phonetically as “penchak silat” is an umbrella term for a class of related Indonesian martial arts. In neighbouring countries the term usually refers to professional competitive silat. It is a full-body fighting form incorporating strikes, grappling and throwing in addition to weaponry.
Every part of the body is used and subject to attack. Pencak silat was practiced not only for physical defense but also for psychological ends.
The leading organization of pencak silat in Indonesia is Ikatan Pencak Silat Indonesia (Pencak Silat Association of Indonesia). The liaison body for international pencak silat is the International Pencak Silat Association or PERSILAT (Persekutuan Pencak Silat Antara Bangsa).
Although the word silat is widely known throughout much of Southeast Asia, the term pencak silat is used mainly in Indonesia. Pencak silat was chosen in 1948 as a unifying term for the Indonesian fighting styles. It was a compound of the two most commonly used words for martial arts in Indonesia.
Pencak was the term used in central and east Java, while silat was used in Sumatra and Borneo. In Minang usage, pencak and silat are seen as being two aspects of the same practice.
Pencak is the essence of training, the outward aspect of the art which a casual observer is permitted to witness as performance. Silat is the essence of combat and self-defense, the true fighting application of the techniques which are kept secret from outsiders and not divulged to students until the guru deems them ready. While other definitions exist, all agree that silat cannot exist without pencak, and pencak without silat skills is purposeless.
The origin of the words pencak and silat have not been proven. Some believe that pencak comes from the Sanskrit word pancha meaning five, or from the Chinese term pencha or pungcha which implies parrying or deflecting, and striking or pressing.
Other terms may be used in particular dialects such as silek, penca, mancak, maen po or main-po. Dutch East Indian newspapers of the colonial era recorded the terms for martial arts under Dutch spellings. These include silat, pencak (spelled in Dutch as “pentjak”), penca (“pentjah”), mancak (“mentjak”), manca (“mentjah”), and pukulan (“poekoelan”).
In 1881 a magazine calls mancak a Batak fencing game “with long swords, daggers or wood (mentjah)” These papers described mancak as Malayan (Maleidsche) suggesting that the word originates in Sumatra. These terms were used separately from silat in the Dutch East Indies.
The terms pukulan or main pukulan (spelled “maen poekoelan” in Dutch) referred to the fighting systems of Jakarta but was also used generally for the martial arts of other parts of Indonesia such as Sumatra and Lombok. Believed to be a Betawi term, it derives from the words for play (main) and hit (pukulan).
Read too : Kumpulan Perguruan Silat Hebat Indonesia
The oral history of Indonesia begins with the arrival of Aji Saka (lit. primordial king) from India to Java. At the request of the local people, he successfully killed the monarch Dewata Cengkar of Medang Kamulan in battle and took his place as ruler. This story traditionally marks the rise of Java and the dawn of its Dharmic civilisation.
The tale also illustrates the influence India had on Indonesian and Southeast Asian culture in general. Aji Saka is shown to be a fighter and swordsman, while his servants are also depicted as fighting with daggers. The Indian method of knife-duelling was adapted by the Batak and Bugis-Makassar peoples.
Ancient Indonesian art from this period also depicts warriors mounted on elephants wielding Chinese weapons such as the jian or straight double-edge sword, which is still used in Java.
The earliest evidence of pencak silat being taught in a structured manner comes from 6th-century Riau from where it spread to the Minangkabau capital in West Sumatra. The Minangkabau had a clan-based feudal government. Military officers called hulubalang acted as bodyguards to the king or yam tuan.
Minang warriors served without pay. The plunder was divided among them according to military merit, so fighters strove to outdo each other. They were skilled horsemen with the native pony and also expert bladesmiths, producing arms both for their own use and for export to Aceh.
Traditional Minang society was based around matrilineal custom, so pencak silat was commonly practiced by women. As pencak silat became widespread in Srivijaya, the empire was defeated by the Tamil Cholas of south India in the 13th century. The Tamil stick fighting art of silambam is still the most common Indian fighting system in Southeast Asia today.
During the 13th century, the warrior-king Kertanegara of Singhasari conquered the Melayu Kingdom, Maluku Islands, Bali, and other neighbouring areas. From 1280-1289, Kublai Khan sent envoys demanding that Singhasari submit to the Khan as Jambi and Melayu had already done, but Kertanegara responded defiantly by scarring the last envoy’s face.
Kublai Khan retaliated by sending a punitive expedition of 1000 junks to Java, but Kertanegara had already been killed by a vassal in Kediri before the Yuan force arrived. His son-in-law Raden Wijaya replaced Kertanegara as leader and allied himself with the arriving Mongol army. With their help Raden Wijaya was able to defeat the Kediri forces.
With his silat-trained warriors, Raden Wijaya then turned on the Mongols so that they fled back to China. The village he founded became the Majapahit empire. This was the first empire to unite all of Indonesia’s major islands, and pencak silat reached its technical zenith during this period. In Majapahit, pencak silat became the specialised property of the nobility and its advanced secrets were hidden from commoners.
Balinese warriors armed with kris in the 1880s. The lucrative spice trade eventually brought colonists from Europe, first the Portuguese followed by the Dutch and British. The Dutch East India Company became the dominant power and established full colonial rule in Indonesia. Local revolts and uprisings were common, but all were suppressed by the Dutch armed with guns and cannons.
The Dutch brought in even more Chinese workers to Indonesia, which brought a greater variety of local kuntao systems. But while the Europeans could effectively overtake and hold the cities, they found it impossible to control the smaller villages and roads connecting them.
Indonesians took advantage of this, fighting an underground war through guerilla tactics. Local weapons were recorded as being used against the Dutch, particularly knives and edged weapons such as the golok, parang, kris and klewang.
During the 17th century, the Bugis people of Sulawesi allied with the Dutch colonists to destroy Mangkasara rule over the surrounding area. While this increased Bugis power in the southwest, Dutch rule deprived seafaring merchants like the Bugis of their traditional employment. As a result, these communities increasingly turned to piracy during the 17th-18th centuries. Not only was pencak silat practiced by the pirates, but new styles were created to combat them.
During the Dutch colonial era of the 18th and 19th century, the exploitative social and economic condition of the colony created the culture of the jago or local people’s champion regarded as thugs and bandits by the colonial administration. Parallels can be seen in the jawara of Priangan, jagoan of Betawi, and warok in the Ponorogo region of East Java.
The most infamous band of jagoan was the 19th century Si Pitung and Si Jampang, experts in Silat Betawi. Traditionally depicted as Robin Hood-like figures, they upheld justice for the common man by robbing from the rich who acquired power and status by collaborating with the colonists. The jago were despised by the Dutch authorities as criminals and thieves but were highly respected by the native pribumi and local Chinese.
Conflict with the European rulers provided an impetus for the proliferation of new styles of pencak silat, now founded on the platform of nationalism and the desire for freedom from colonisation. The Indonesian Pencak Silat Association (IPSI) was founded in 1948 to bring all of Indonesia’s pencak silat under a single administration.
The world’s oldest nationwide silat organisation, its basis is that all pencak silat is built on a common source, and that less functional styles must give way to the technically superior.
IPSI has avoided the tendency of modern martial arts that gravitate towards sport. The resistance to sport has lessened over time, however, and sparring in particular has become less combative. While nominally an Indonesian organisation, many of the rules and regulations outlined by IPSI have become the de facto standard for silat competitions worldwide. Indo-Dutch Eurasians who first began practicing pencak silat in the 20th century spread the art to the west in the late 20th century.
Today pencak silat is one of the extra-curricular activities taught in Indonesian schools. It is included as a combat sport in local, national and international athletic events such as the SEA Games and Indonesia’s National Sports Week. Since 2012, the Pencak Malioboro Festival has been held annually and features demonstrations by the biggest silat schools in Indonesia.
Sumber : Wikipedia