A novice usually assumes the obvious in any combat. For instance, if the attacking technique was a round house punch to the head, the untrained person's instinct may be to raise his arm to block that punch. This works but may not be the most effective manner to respond to an attack. He will also tend to be static staying at one position only or if he moves it will be uncoordinated and without a system. At the very most he may move in a linear fashion either forwards or backwards. He does not systematically and deliberately move to deprive his opponent of the opportunity to launch focused attacks.

Many Silat techniques do not employ the obvious and yet when one observes them they seem to be so profoundly simple that one is struck by the simplicity and ingenuity of it all. It is when these techniques are strung together in response to the opponents movements that the deadliness and effectiveness of Silat techniques become truly apparent. Like beads strung together on a necklace one movement flows into the other in quick succession, continously adjusted by the pesilat in accordance to his opponents movements.

The opponent never has a chance to launch a truly effective counterattack as the PENDEKAR is too elusive a target. How is this possible?

We must remember that an attack is only effective if it has focus. The focus and power of an attack is maximum at certain ranges or zones only. For example when a martial artist takes a step forward and executes a punch, the maximum force generated is forwards in the direction of his attack. It is awkward to step forward and punch to the side or to deliver a kick backwards. Such strikes if it hits the opponent can be painful but in most cases is not effective as it may be only achieve about 30 to 40% of the force that can be generated had it been delivered in the direction of attack. It is therefore desirable the to position one's self within this range outside of the opponents effective zone of focus at all times and counterattack from this position. This is one of the most fundamental principles in SILAT and perhaps by many the least understood aspect of all even among many practioners of SILAT themselves.

It would be best to begin by understanding a basic concept in Silat called "LANGKAH SILAT". The word "LANGKAH" literally means a step in Malay. Each movement we take is a LANGKAH or step usually fowards or backwards and even sideways and obliquely. Within the context of the martial arts, LANGKAH is related to footwork and is a very important component of SILAT in order for it to be the devastating art that it is. Frequently a SILAT practitioner will say that he was using, Langkah Satu(One Step), Langkah Tiga(three steps), Langkah Tujuh(Seven Steps) and so on. With each Langkah is there is a shifting of stances and with each step, opportunities for counter attack will open up if the pesilat's LANGKAH is right.

If we think of our arms, feet and body as our arsenal or ordnance by which we are able to launch our attacks, and combat as a battle field, then LANGKAH is our strategy, without which no battle can be won. A friend of mine once said, "Langkah is knowing where your final destination will be." and is probably the most fundamental statement one can make about LANGKAH.A true SILAT practitioner MUST understand this as it the basis and foundation of his SILAT SISTEM. Without LANGKAH there can be no SILAT.

As an example to illustrate this point, let us take SILAT SAPIK KALO. SAPIK KALO is a name from the MINANGKABAU dialect of WEST SUMATRA. SAPIK means pincers, and KALO is a scorpion. Combined these two words translate into The Scorpion's Pincers.

SILAT SAPIK KALO is not a traditional SILAT style in the sense that it was designed from a combination of traditional SILAT styles such as SILAT BATU MANDI, SILAT STRALAK, SILAT KINANTAN and several others.

Instead the traditional approach of soft to hard style of training as in SILAT BATU MANDI, SAPIK KALO does the reverse from hard to soft. Designed originally for SILAT OLAH RAGA(SPORTS SILAT) with the first batch of of trainees being high school students about 12 years ago many of the traditionally deadly aspects of SILAT training were differed until a later stage. Even then, it employs many effective techniques at an early stage and among this as it's foundation is the concept of PERPINDAHAN DAN PEMBALASAN (EVASION AND COUNTERATTACK)

The basic steps and the philosophy of this SILAT system can be seen in basic lesson of LANGKAH. The four basic steps are, a step backwards(menghindar), a step to the left(mengelak), a step to the right(menasihat) and finally moving forward into the the attack of the opponent(melipat). The four words used here, menghindar, mengelak, menasihat and melipat are not meant literally but rather reflect the fundamental attitude and philosophy of the PENDEKAR in facing his opponents. The representation can be seen below:-

For now we start with the word 'menghindar' which means to avoid confrontation. From here we begin to understand the fighting philosophy of the PENDEKAR.

The PENDEKAR knows that the SILAT system he practises will do irreparable damage and hurt to his opponent and with this knowledge he loathes to inflict this pain on others. Well versed in the art of healing, compassion is part of his nature.This does not mean that he is a pacifist but he will explore all other options before resorting to physical combat. He will avoid physical confrontation for as much as he can unless there is no other alternative. The PENDEKAR does not fight for petty reasons but only when it is a matter of life and death.

There are also other practical reasons in applying the concept of menghindar or evasion to combat. A guru of mine said "Yang lurus itu biasanya bengkok." Literally it means that the straight is often bent. Within the context of SILAT, things are not what they seem, a direct attack may be a deception or trap where a secondary attack may be hidden, often with weapons such as the 'kerambit' which are small, hidden and deadly. Therefore, the guru SILAT advises his student, take a step backwards when attacked and if the opponent continues with his attack, then we have given the opponent his chance after which he has come to a point of no return. If there are any hidden weapons, it is normally in the following attack that it will be revealed or signs that there are unseen dangers hidden within the opponents attack. These signs become more obvious if the opponent has lost control of his emotions, such as being overcome by rage or fear.

The PENDEKAR will counter attack at the precise instant between the execution of his opponents first and second techniques, at this moment of unbalance and vulnerability. By evading the first attack, the PENDEKAR has opened this window by which he counterattacks and quickly establishes his control when the opponent is momentarily stunned by this unexpected onslaught. The PENDEKAR will then quickly move around the opponent, trapping, pushing, striking, breaking without stop until the opponent has been totally broken and destroyed. He is relentless and does not at any moment give the opponent a chance to recover. Speed, timing and control are key elements here.

The basic steps described above, when extended into a grid like pattern will be used by the PENDEKAR to map out his SILAT system's strategy in fighting multiple opponents in the most efficient manner.

We see then, that the key to the effectiveness of SILAT is it's LANGKAH. By understanding LANGKAH one can learn how to place one's self in a position of control over an opponent, depriving him of opportunities for effective counterattacks by staying out of his zone of focus. Combined with striking, trapping and joint breaking techniques, all of this becomes a system for efficiently despatching opponents who does not fully understand this concept and the basis for developing a personal system of combat as practised by the PENDEKAR.


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