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Pencak Silat

Pencak silat is one of the sports included in the Southeast Asian Games and other region-wide competitions

Pencak Silat

Every part of the body is used and subject to attack.

Pencak silat was practiced not only for physical defense but also for psychological ends.

Pencak silat is one of the sports included in the Southeast Asian Games and other region-wide competitions every part of the body is used and subject to attack.

Pencak silat was practiced not only for physical defense but also for psychological ends.

Pencak silat is one of the sports included in the Southeast Asian Games and other region-wide competitions


Pencak silat is the indigenous martial art of Indonesia.  The term, pencak silat, has only been used as a term of general application since about the 1950s and after Indonesian independence.

A wide diversity of styles and techniques occur by reason of the wide diversity of development by different people in different regions without necessarily emanating from a common source.  There are many hundreds of different styles (aliran) spread across the 13,000 islands comprising the Indonesian archipelago and they can differ markedly.

Pencak silat (by different names) is part of a common Malay culture spanning Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, and the Philippines.  “Silat Melayu” is a common term for the types of silat in the Southeast Asia peninsular consisting of Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei and Singapore.  “Bersilat” is used in Malaysia.  “Pasilat” is a term sometimes used in the Phillipines.  Often the shortened version of “silat” suffices.

Pencak Silat History

The term pencak silat derives from two components.  The word “pencak” (and its dialectic equivalents) is commonly used in Java, Madura and Bali, whereas the term “silat” (or “silek”) is more likely in Sumatra.

Pencak has different associations in different places.  It is associated with dance performances performed to specific rhythms provided by drummers and publicly performed.  The contrary was the case for the Javanese people of West and Central Java; for them it meant self defence and, as such, was inappropriate for public consumption and certainly not for general display.

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