Various Indonesian Arts

Various Indonesian Arts
By O'ong Maryono

Among the regional faces of pencak silat, the author feels for a number of reasons that three regions are most dominant: Sumatra, Java, and Bali. Pencak silat in Sumatra and Java--West Sumatra and West Java in particular-besides having very specific moves, pioneered the growth of this form of self defence in Indonesia by influencing pencak silat styles in other regions. Balinese pencak silat holds a special place in the national configuration of pencak silat this century, owing to its integrated sports movement with its highly innovative and effective elements of regional art, high level of activity, and many branches and sub-branches scattered throughout the community.

As an initial introduction, the styles of movement particular to these three regions are briefly described here, beginning with Jakarta. The style of pencak silat in the capital, silat Betawi, is much influenced by the Chinese martial art kuntao . Betawi offshoots, such as Serak, Beksi, Rahmat, Mustika Kwitang, Madi, Kare, and Gerak Rasa, involve powerful moves, which are not particularly 'beautiful' in the conventional aesthetic sense. The initial stance is low and braced, with the body's vulnerable points closely guarded. The offensive often involves punching with both hands. The defence focuses on moves to dodge and baffle, with the aim of hurting but not injuring the opponent. The hold, lock and block check the opponent's attack while protecting the body. Pencak silat from the surrounding region of West Java is similar to silat Betawi, in its low and braced initial stance, close guard, and prominent use of the hands to attack.

But unlike silat Betawi, West Java styles-including Cimande, Cikalong, Cikaret, Madi, Kare, Sahbandar, Timbangan and Makao-involve very beautiful moves combined with a regional artistic element. Each harmonious and smooth pattern of movement is accompanied by the special music of the pencak drum. Graceful movement resembling aspects of regional dance, is also a distinguishing feature of the pencak silat that has grown and developed in Central Java. The difference is that Central Javanese styles, such as Gusti Harimurti, Banjaran, and Bojonegaran, are not accompanied by special music. The basic techniques differ too. The initial stance is high and flowing, with an open guard. In the counter-offensive, much use is made of the arms and legs. The defence involves the use of the palms and dodging the opponent. In provinces in the eastern part of Java, pencak silat styles fall into two groups. In southern inland areas, pencak silat closely resembles the pencak silat style of neighbouring Central Java. The Setia Hati school and its offshoots, such as Pencak Organisasi, Setia Hati Terati, and Setia Hati Winongo Tundas Muda, feature graceful and practical moves, although these are not set to special music. Like the Central Javanese styles, the initial stance is high and flowing, with an open guard inviting attack; and in the counter-offensive much use is made of the arms and legs, dodging to and fro.

Conversely, in coastal areas and the neighbouring islands of Madura, Poday, Tlango, Bawean, and the Raas islands, pencak silat features efficient, swift and powerful moves. Permainan Pamur and Keraton Sumenep in Madura, and other schools using regional names, such as pencak Poday, pencak Bawean, and pencak Tlango, are hard and aggressive self defence tools but still maintain an artistic element. When performed at social events, they are set to special tabuan mencak music, which differs from island to island. The counter-offensive generally involves sharp weapons and employs locking techniques. As in the Central Javanese style, the initial stance is flowing, but is rather different in that the position is lower. The defence features a close and wide guard, with a block that makes use of the palms and the feet, while attack is warded off by sticking close to the opponent's body.

Crossing over to the island of Bali, the basic East Javanese and West Javanese pencak silat styles are still evident--the Cimande, Cikalong, and Cikaret styles in particular, which have been unified with elements of regional culture into a new and unique style. The initial stance in Balinese pencak silat varies greatly, combining high and low moves and both open and closed guards. Fast, strong and powerful punching and kicking is combined with long and graceful steps and moves. Arm and body movements resemble Balinese dance moves, as do the very eloquent facial expressions characterised by glinting eyes. Regional cultural elements are also very evident in Sumatran pencak silat, an extremely rich and graceful style. Like the East Javanese style, Sumatran pencak silat can be divided into two groups according to initial stance. In coastal areas, the initial stance is very low, almost touching the ground; and in the offensive, much greater use is made of the arms. By contrast, in inland areas the legs are used a great deal in the offensive and the initial stance is high, marked by suspending one leg in the air and repeatedly clapping the hands on the chest. Both coastal and inland styles, including Pauh, Starlak, Lintau, Kumangau, and Silek Tuo, feature an open but at the same time, closed, guard-soft but efficient. A contact block is seldom used, and an opponent's attack is warded off with a combination of footwork and counterattack. The distinguishing feature of pencak silat from Sumatra is its wide range of locking and unlocking techniques. Each offensive is concluded with a hold and a break lock. For each offensive there is a lock, and for each lock there is an unlocking technique. In the words of the master of the Beringin Sakti school, Erizal Cal Chaniago: 'Counting the number of locks in Minang silat is like counting sarongs. The twisting and turning is never ending'. Since pencak silat styles on other islands are greatly influenced by the styles originating from Sumatra and Java, the moves and techniques used are very similar. The differences are usually subtle, not fundamental and not particularly noticeable. For this reason, these styles are not discussed in detail here and will be touched on only lightly on subsequent pages. However, it must be stressed that wherever they originate from, styles and schools of pencak silat have grown up and taken root in all corners of Indonesia, and are a part of people's lives 'from Sabang to Merauke'. More information look on Pencak SilatMerentang Waktu

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