Pencak Silat ('Silat') is the generic term for the indigenous martial arts of the Indonesian/Malay archipelago, which includes Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. Silat has played an important role in the history and culture of Indonesian and Malay peoples. Traditionally, Silat formed part of the education of all young men, and was an integral part of a boy's path to manhood.
The great variety of the geography of the Indonesian/Malay archipelago, and the different cultures of each region gave rise to many different styles of Silat, e.g. in areas where the terrain was slippery and rocky, the style of Silat would be characterised by low stances.
Silat continues to be a significant aspect of Indonesian and Malay culture. It is practised in a variety of traditional and modern forms and is fast gaining popularity around the world under the auspices of PERSILAT, the world governing body for Silat.
Pencak Silat was introduced to Europe in the early 20th century and has been taught publicly in the U.K. since the late 1970's. It is a non-aggressive martial arts, which is learnt and practised by men and women, boys and girls of any age, and is accessible to complete beginners in martial arts.
Silat employs natural body movements and develops balance and economy of movement in each individual. It can be practised purely for sport and fitness, for the aesthetic beauty of the art or for the chance to learn one of the world's few remaining complete traditional martial arts systems.
Most Pencak Silat schools now incorporate the self-defence ('bela-diri'), the artistic ('seni') and the sport ('olahraga') aspects, with individual teachers varying the emphasis placed upon each of the elements.
Though the sports aspect 'olahraga' or 'tanding' has only recently been developed, it is proving particularly popular with young people both in Asia and around the world. Under the auspices of PERSILAT, olahraga and seni have been developed as unifying aspects of all the different Pencak Silat styles. A common set of rules and regulations was introduced by PERSILAT, and all competitions are held according to these rules.
Competitions on a national, regional and World level are held regularly. Any student ('pesilat'), who is a member of a recognised Silat school/club/perguruan can participate in these championships, having passed through a selection procedure.
Silat enhances and strengthens self-awareness, self-discipline, integrity, responsibility, loyalty and cooperation amongst its practitioners. When taught by a qualified teacher it offers an opportunity for students to develop physically, mentally, morally and spiritually.