Silat is a Malaysian martial art that is also found in parts of Indonesia and the Philippines. Involving the use of all parts of one’s body to strike an opponent, there’s much emphasis on stances and footwork. What most beginners will find confusing is all the varieties of silat, which can vary considerably. Some incorporate music, or a kris, a traditional knife with a wavy blade that is believed to take on the personality of its owner.
The easiest form for beginners is silat pulut, says Mohamad Nizam, head instructor at Pusat Cemerlang Silat, a school near Kuala Lumpur that welcomes tourists from abroad.
Accompanied by drums, gongs and flutes, silat pulut is a relatively slow noncombatant version played out between two opponents to display their skills. For beginners it can serve as a casual form that’s also a good aerobic workout.
The school is more known, though, for a type of silat called gayung fatani, which also uses music but emphasizes the use of fluid movements to avoid attacks. (Students learn silat pulut along the way.) For casual tourists, three hours is enough for a basic overview, though double that is recommended.
Audran Le Guillou, 24, first encountered silat near his home in Paris. While he was waiting for kung fu lessons at a martial arts center, he spotted gayung fatani training nearby — and was immediately enthralled by its graceful motions: “It was like…bom! I cannot really explain it,” he says. Now he travels once a year to Malaysia with a group just to practice at Pusat Cemerlang Silat.
The school (60192487577; firstname.lastname@example.org) charges about $25 an hour for each student (groups pay less per student). More information at fatanisb.tripod.com (English) and www.pusatcemerlangsilat.com (Malay).
Sources : http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118365404046958109.html
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