These days Pentjak Silat or Penchak Silat generally refer to martial arts systems of Indonesia. There are literally hundreds of systems in Indonesia but we will focus our topic to the ones that we deal with in our Academy.
Pentjak Silat, like Kali of the Philippines, is a weapons based system. With emphasis on the golok (sword) or knife (various types) the martial arts system were geared strictly for fighting. Character development and physical fitness were mere by-products to training. Self defense was the number one goal.
As with many cultures different styles developed due to terrain, weapon variations and personal preference. These styles became known by region or village. For instance the Cimande style of Silat is named after the Cimande village. This system, closely guarded, was taught to the members of this village and no one else. If you studied one system you would not study another. Others systems were named after animals such as Harimau, named after the tiger, a very powerful symbol in Indonesia.
We received our Silat training from three sources. Guro Dan Inosanto, one of the worlds leading authorities on the subject, the late Pendekar Herman Suwanda who brought Mande Muda Pentjak Silat to the U.S. and the late Guro Terry H. Gibson, one of the top Maphilindo instructors under Guro Inosanto.
Guro Inosanto, who is recognized as a Master Instructor in several systems of Pentjak Silat, passes on the information and training methods to us so that we may carry on the systems. His blend system, Maphilindo Silat is created to blend the arts from Malaysia (Ma), Philippines (phil), and Indonesia (indo). Containing elements from various Silat systems allows the student to flow freely from system to system, range to range without effort.
Pendekar Herman Suwanda, the late Head of the system, brought to us the beauty and deadly effectiveness of Indonesian Pentjak Silat. His fluid motion and incredible level of skill awed beginners and advanced practioners alike. His system is carried on in the U.S. by dedicated instructors who will continue to increase the Mande Muda legacy and his family in Indonesia who now lead the family system into the future.
Guro Terry Gibson, was a pioneer in the Maphilindo system. His dedication to Guro Inosanto's teaching and the Maphilindo system help spread the art all over the world. As a popular seminar instructor he introduced people to Silat for the first time. His tape series continues to increase the general population's knowledge on the subject and is available through Gibson's Martial Arts.
The actual systems of Indonesia were developed hundreds of years ago but the systems were battle tested during Indonesia's fight for independence from the Dutch. During that time Half-Indonesians Half-Dutch were put into Prison camps were the systems were put to the test. Using the arts to save their lives, many traveled to the U.S. and begin new lives, eventually teaching and spreading the arts here.
Other systems were on the other side of the battle. Indonesian freedom fighters armed with swords and daggers attacked enemy ships, fighting opponents armed with firearms and overwhelming numbers. Pendakar Suwanda's father was one such freedom fighter. A local hero, he earned an impressive reputation for his exploits during the revolution. His son Herman Suwanda carried on the tradition of effectiveness and skill, earning his own reputation among the various masters of Indonesia. These men where true Warriors and they will be sorely missed.