Pencak Silat

Title: Pencak Silat
Date: 10 September 2008 21:17
Category: Personal
Tags: toastmasters

Project 6 “Your Body Speaks”

Anybody here have not heard of Kung Fu, Karate, Tae Kwon Do? Some of these “fighting skills of the orients” are even contested in the Olympics. Anybody heard of Pencak Silat? Probably not. That is a lesser known martial arts discipline from the Malay Archipelago. They’re not as famous as their central asian cousins but they do have a unique value proposition — which I’ll tell you in a while.

Firstly you may wonder why a chubby guy like me talk about the martial arts? Obviously I’m no longer in shape for any fighting contest or even friendly sparring. But I’ve done a couple of years of Pencak Silat back in high school as an extracurricular activity. So I came into contact with those who are vastly higher skilled than me whom shared some of their stories in the field.

What is unique with Pencak Silat and sets it apart from the other arts of defense is the use of a skill that we call the “inner strength”. Some people call this “pranic energy”, “aura”, or even “bio energy”. As mystic and as pseudo-science it may be, I can safely say that it is simply a teachable skill that the “western science” haven’t yet cover. Although I don’t deny that there are heightened claims by some people who try to market pranic energy as snake oil.

When someone practices “inner strength” they don’t emit flashes or bangs or those things that you see in some anime series such as Saint Seiya. And no, one can’t take down a house or a skyscraper just solely on their inner strength. But the highly skilled Pencak Silat practitioners are able to take down an opponent within a five meter range without even touching him. He does it by compressing air using his bare hands and then pushing that air to literally “blow his opponents away”.

So what did I learn in the ECA in high school? We practice stances, kicks, punches and occasionally walking on broken glass and breaking bottle butts. There is a synergy to this — after we break the bottles we then collect the pieces, break them down further and use the glass pieces to practice walking on — it’s really economical. We don’t practice breaking bricks and planks because they’re more expensive.

How do we do it? There are some exercises involving meditation and breathing control which enables one to focus his/her “inner strength” where it is needed the most. For the glass walking exercise, we focus to the bottom sole of our feet whereas for the bottle breaking exercise we focus on the palm of our hands.

We did the bottle breaking by filling up a used tea or soft drink glass bottle with water until it almost fills to the top. Then we hit the nozzle with the palm of our hands which will cause the bottom of the bottle to come off due to the increased pressure inside. Soft drink bottles are harder to break due to their bottoms being thicker. The more skilled students can break the bottles with less water inside and the teacher can do it without any water inside the bottle.

If you’re a person that is intrigued with things not yet explainable by science and considering to take on martial arts, maybe Pencak Silat is a worthwhile option. No, it won’t teach you how to levitate. But it may provide you with tools to give your opponents a “remote hard kick in the rear” without any traceable evidence.

Thank you.

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