Pencak Silat

By Sameer Raza & Andrew Cimpean


Pencak silat having been passed down almost entirely by speech. In the absence of written records, much of its history is known only through myth and archaeological evidence. The earliest fighting arts in Indonesia can be traced back to prehistoric tribes. The primary weapons of Indonesia's tribal peoples were the single-edge sword, shield and javelin. The inhabitants of Nias Island had until the 20th century remained largely untouched by the outside world, however, they are culturally similar to the Himalayan Naga tribe. Neighboring Sumatrans are said to have left the Nias people alone because they were fearless warriors


Although the word silat is widely known through much of South East Asia, the term pencak silat is specifically used 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 modern usage, pencak and silat are seen as being two aspects of the same practice. Pencak is the performance aspects of the martial art, while silat is the essence of the fighting and self-defense. It is often said by practitioners that there can be no silat without pencak, on the other hand pencak without silat skills is purposeless

Pencak silat

Some of the weapons in indonesian martial arts

  • Kris: A dagger, often with a wavy blade made by folding different types of metal together and then washing it in acid.

  • Kujang: Sundanese blade roughly shaped like a deer's antler.

  • Samping/Linso: Piece of silk fabric worn around the waist or shoulder, used in locking techniques and for defense against blades.

  • Batang/Galah: Rod or staff made from wood, steel or bamboo.

  • Cindai: Cloth, usually worn as sarong or wrapped as head gear.

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