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Overview Of Silat And Indonesian Martial Arts (Part 2)

Continued from part 1

The Pentjak Silat styles are the indigenous styles which include cultural elements. Here is where you will find the wedding styles, the dance styles, and many of the sport styles. There are also quite a few fighting styles in here. The Pentjaks tend to prefer outside over inside fighting positions. They tend to go from open defensive postures to closed offensive postures. They will occasionally have mystical elements.

The Poukilan Silat styles tend to be pure fighting styles without cultural elements. They tend to be direct and to the point. They tend towards close fighting (Poukilan means "impact"). They also tend to prefer outside positions.

The Kuntao Silat styles are conglomerates of Indo and Chinese fighting methods. They tend more towards closed defensive postures that open to attack. They also tend more toward inside positions when fighting, preferring the availability of soft targets to the safety of outside positions.

The Silats do have animal styles (Harimau (tiger) and Madi (monkey) being two of the better known). They have few if any unarmed styles. They tend to adapt rapidly. There is a tendency to throw out whatever becomes obsolete and add whatever becomes relevant. This is why most modern Silat schools to teach firearm retention and counter-firearm strategies, as well as more traditional weapons (knife, stick, spear).

One noted difference between the Indo arts and the nearby Chinese arts is the tendency of the Indo arts to use already strong structures within the body (as opposed to the Chinese tradition of conditioning the body). This allowed the old, the young, the sick, and the wounded to effectively use these arts.


With so many arts, there is a great deal of variation in training methods. Some schools teach Silat in a very conceptual way. Some are similar to classical Chinese or Japanese schools. Some teach it around the sparring (like kickboxing). Feel sure that there is a Silat school somewhere that matches your preferred training method.


Silat - Silat means something close to "fighting applications". By itself it has little meaning, rather it modifies the word it is with.

Pentjak - Literally "forms, postures, and movements". Without Silat, Pentjak is useless, and without Pentjak, there is no Silat.

Poukilan - Literally "impact".

Submitted by:

Richard Clear & Gerald Love

Sigung Richard Clear has over 30 years of experience in Chinese Kun Tao and Indonesian Silat. http://www.clearsilat.com


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