Silat Hasilkan Penuh

Steve Benitez, pendekar (the highest level of mastery attainable) talks about his life in the devastating art of Silat, how Silat Hasilkan Penuh was formed, its history and future and how he became known as ‘Munak Putih’ which means ‘white leader’.

I was born in 1969 in London and my parents are Spanish. I grew up in an area where fights took place every day on and off the playground, so I needed to learn to defend myself early in life. I began Judo training at the age of eight at a local club, but found it difficult to make the techniques work in the street. Luckily, after about two years in Judo, an Indonesian martial arts instructor called Jerry dropped by my class and watched me train. We got talking and he suggested that I might like to try Silat. I’d never heard of this art, but decided to have a go anyway. I was hooked after the first class. Silat seemed to have everything you needed to defend against any kind of attack. There were strikes, kicks, takedowns, throws, chokes, pressure points, ground fighting…. you name it, they could do it. I couldn’t get enough and ended up having private training sessions every day plus evening classes. Jerry taught me Praying Mantis Kuntao, an Indonesian martial art with

Chinese roots, plus his own family’s Pencak Silat system. After training with him for about four years I became an assistant instructor in both. A couple of years later I started entering full contact tournaments, and at seventeen won the British Full Contact Kung Fu Championship.

After I’d been with Jery for about ten years he left the UK for Indonesia. I was really disappointed when this happened because I sensed that

Silat contained a lot more material that I hadn’t learnt couldn’t find anyone else in the London area who taught the art so I went to Holland where I knew there was a huge Indonesian population. A couple of days after arriving in Rotterdam, I was wandering down the street wondering where I could find a Silat teacher. Staring at the pavement and lost in thought I passed by a tobacconist’s shop. About fifty yards further on something made me want to go back and look in its window. I obeyed this hunch, went to the window and found a small card in it advertising Silat instruction. It displayed an address and detailed that someone named ‘Ma’ taught there. I went straight to her place and rang her doorbell. She answered, invited me in and from that moment on my entire martial arts began to change profoundly.

I spent the next three years with Ma training night and day. Sometimes our work together would start eariy in the morning and finish early the next with very little break in between. I guess I did get tired sometimes, but it never slowed me down. What she was teaching was the most fascinating stuff I’d ever seen. If I described it all to you we’d be here until next week, but I’ll run through a few aspects. First of all, like most martial artists, I’d been trained to move more or less in a straight line. I’d learned to block an attack, shoot in, hammer the assailant with linear strikes and kicks, and

In 1996 I returned to London. A lot of changes took place over the next three years. I married my fiancee, Laarni and we had three children. I wasn’t sure at the time whether I then finish him off with a grapple if he was still standing. After all, isn’t a straight line the shortest distance between two points? Ma showed me how wrong this approach is. She invited me to attack her, so naturally I went straight in. Everytime I tried this she just wasn’t there – she would end up to my side or behind me, always in a place where I was completely open and vulnerable. Then she — would fire off a barrage of hand strikes, but not straight ones like I’d been taught, hers would crisscross the body, moving in circles and coming in from all angles. I couldn’t even see half of them because each would hide the next.

Apart from the circular nature of her Silat, it also utilised something called the gelek in Indonesian. This refers to a continuous twisting motion of the body when applying your Silat. The way this works is that when you’re attacked you twist one way to block it, then twist the opposite way to counter it. Finally, you twist back again to finish the opponent. Each time you wind your body it’s strongly chambered for the next movement, giving your techniques their maximum bio-mechanical advantage. Related to this is an alternating action of the body wherein a closed position is always followed by an open one. This continuous open-close-open-clbse cycle gives the body a pumping action that further increases your fighting power. You can see these aspects clearly in each of our forms. To top all this, you never remain stationary: once you’re in motion, each time your hands move, your feet do too. This makes you an elusive target and is extremely useful if you’re faced with multiple attackers.

Returned to London in 1993. but I carried on practising the system I learned from Ma which she called Silat Hasilkan Panuh. After about a year,

I travelled to Cheng Du Mountain in mainland China with a religious group and stayed on after they left. I spent two months there fasting, meditating, and of course working on my Silat.

Later, I travelled to west Sumatra and got to know Guru Edwardo Guci, who taught me the entire system of Silek Tuo (which means ‘old Silat’).

The area’s martial arts masters believe this is Indonesia’s original form of Silat and that it is some 2000 years old. Guru Ed authorised me to represent Silek Tuo in Europe and introduced me to his own teacher, clan leader Rusli Bajo Bunsu. I really got on well with Pendekar Rusli, and he seemed very surprised and pleased that a westerner was interested in supporting an Indonesian orphanage. This was really a fortunate relationship for me because he passed on a number of ancient internal teachings reserved for only a handful of people each century. He also gave me the symbolic name ‘Munak Putih’ (White Leader) and the title of Pendekar iich signifies a high level of mastery. Nevertheless, I don’t like using titles and my students just call me Steve. While I was there I also gained membership of the Sumatranese branch of IPSI, Indonesia’s governing Silat body that now officially recognise the Silat Hasilkan Penuh that I currently teach.

The history of Slat Hasilkan Penuh

Silat Hasilkan Penuh appears to date right back to the earliest origins of Silat itself. First of all, when I met Guru Edwardo Guci, who I mentioned earlier, I noticed that his Silat was very similar to ours. His art is called ‘Silek Tuo’ which means ‘old Silat’ and he traces it back some 2000 years. Since Hasilkan Penuh and Silek Tuo are very much alike, they probably share a common history. Guru Ed travelled around

Indonesia talking to a good many grandmasters about Silat’s beginnings and they all told more or less the same story. I also checked with a number of authorities in Sumatra and Holland and came up with a similar account.

Silat originally was the exclusive property of royalty – kings and queens, their body guards, courtiers and friends. Its first version was developed by four royal minders, each of whom respected the others’ fighting arts and wanted to combine the most effective aspects of each into a single system. One of these people was from Persia and practised Gulat, or Persian wrestling, which you can still find in Iran today. Many of our locks, takedowns and other grappling techniques reflect this influence. Another contributor was from Siam and provided elements of an art called Kucing Siam, the Siamese cat fighting system. This is still practised in Sumatra and is clearly visible in our ground work. An Indian expert provided methods of attacking the 108 Marma Adi vital points, and the Chinese guard rounded the system off with his ‘soft’ and internal combat methods, which are not unlike those of Tai Chi. From the start Silat was a life-and-death warrior art, so its techniques proved themselves first and foremost in the battlefield.

Silat Hasilkan Penuh – The System In addition to a substantial range of hand strikes, kicks, locks, chokes, takedowns and ground work, Silat Hasilkan Penuh contains twelve forms. The forms are structured somewhat differently from those of the Chinese or Japanese martial arts. Instead of representing specific techniques, their movements train the learner in the underlying principles of the art. That way, each movement and position can be used to form a large number of applications. We teach students how to translate each of these and the future principles into fighting moves and how to discover their own combinations of these.

The first two forms contain the system’s basics. Here is where you learn the first blocks, strikes, postures, footwork and entries. You also learn fundamentals such as how to fake a retreat in response to an attack, turning this movement into a lightning unexpected counter-attack.

The third form teaches you how to defend against grappling and also how to use grappling in response to an attack. First of all, you learn to be soft and yielding when grabbed, rather than resisting with strength. In our system, you always go with the opponent’s force, then turn it against him to escape and counter him. Third form principles can also be used to initiate sweeps, locks, breaks, takedowns and strangles. Most of these skills get developed in ampeh-ampeh which are two-person sensitivity drills carried out sighted and blindfolded.

In the fourth and fifth forms the student learns to use ‘the web’. This is a deceptive system of body movements and footwork that lure opponents to their destination. It’s almost a system in itself and it’s where you would spend considerable time learning how
to anticipate and control the angle, direction and type of opponents’ attacks. We cover every angle of attack and defence at this time, and also introduce a lot of advanced circular footwork which keeps you constantly moving and hard to hit.

The history of

Slat Hasilkan Penuh

Silat Hasilkan Penuh appears to date right back to the earliest origins of Silat itself. First of all, when I met Guru Edwardo Guci, who I mentioned earlier, I noticed that his Silat was very similar to ours. His art is called ‘Silek Tuo’ which means ‘old Silat’ and he traces it back some 2000 years. Since Hasilkan Penuh and Silek Tuo are very much alike, they probably share a common history. Guru Ed travelled around

Indonesia talking to a good many grandmasters about Silat’s beginnings and they all told more or less the same story. I also checked with a number of authorities in Sumatra and Holland and came up with a similar account.

Silat originally was the exclusive property of royalty – kings and queens, their body guards, courtiers and friends. Its first version was developed by four royal minders, each of whom respected the others’ fighting arts and wanted to combine the most effective aspects of each into a single system. One of these people was from Persia and practised Gulat, or Persian wrestling, which you can still find in Iran today. Many of our locks, takedowns and other grappling techniques reflect this influence. Another contributor was from Siam and provided elements of an art called Kucing Siam, the Siamese cat fighting system. This is still practised in Sumatra and is clearly visible in our ground work. An Indian expert provided methods of attacking the 108 Marma Adi vital points, and the Chinese guard rounded the system off with his ‘soft’ and internal combat methods, which are not unlike those of Tai Chi. From the start Silat was a life-and-death warrior art, so its techniques proved themselves first and foremost in the battlefield.

Silat Hasilkan Penuh – The System In addition to a substantial range of hand strikes, kicks, locks, chokes, takedowns and ground work, Silat Hasilkan Penuh contains twelve forms. The forms are structured somewhat differently from those of the Chinese or Japanese martial arts. Instead of representing specific techniques, their movements train the learner in the underlying principles of the art. That way, each movement and position can be used to form a large number of applications. We teach students how to translate each of these and the future principles into fighting moves and how to discover their own combinations of these.

The first two forms contain the system’s basics. Here is where you learn the first blocks, strikes, postures, footwork and entries. You also learn fundamentals such as how to fake a retreat in response to an attack, turning this movement into a lightning unexpected counter-attack.

The third form teaches you how to defend against grappling and also how to use grappling in response to an attack. First of all, you learn to be soft and yielding when grabbed, rather than resisting with strength. In our system, you always go with the opponent’s force, then turn it against him to escape and counter him. Third form principles can also be used to initiate sweeps, locks, breaks, takedowns and strangles. Most of these skills get developed in ampeh-ampeh which are two-person sensitivity drills carried out sighted and blindfolded.

In the fourth and fifth forms the student learns to use ‘the web’. This is a deceptive system of body movements and footwork that lure opponents to their destination. It’s almost a system in itself and it’s where you would spend considerable time learning how to anticipate and control the angle, direction and type of opponents’ attacks. We cover every angle of attack and defence at this time, and also introduce a lot of advanced circular footwork which keeps you constantly moving and hard to hit.

When a student reaches this stage, he’s ready for the open circle. This is a training exercise in which you fight from three to twelve of your classmates who surround you and go after you with punches, kicks, grappling and weapons.

Once you get through all the material so far, you learn the sixth and seventh forms which teach you to strike the 108 ancient Indian vital points. In a way, this is a system within a system, because there’s a great deal to it. You learn that when you strike a point you invariably get a reaction that opens up another point which, when struck, opens up a third point and so on. Usually after two or three such strikes your opponent is on the ground and incapacitated. You also discover how to incorporate vital point striking into your web and open circle tactics so as to induce opponents to attack in ways that open up direct lines to their points. All our hand, elbow, knee and shoulder strikes, plus all our kicks, are always aimed at the points. The leg points, which we attack with a barrage of low-line kicks, are intended to break or paralyse the opponent’s legs. A good Silat Hasilkan Penuh man can fire off six or seven such kicks in two seconds.

The last five forms provide you with internal training. A j lot of nonsense has been spoken and written about this aspect of the martial arts, and I’ve seen numerous magazine articles and videos that purport to reveal the so-called ‘secrets’ of this topical area. Most of them deal in vague generalities and leave their audience with little more knowledge than they had before buying the magazine or tape. Our forms eight to twelve and their accompanying exercises develop breathing, mental imagery and other factors to accomplish things like internal striking power, light body, heavy body and iron shirt. We are happy to pass this knowledge on to any student who shows good character because at the end of the day, Silat, like many fighting systems, is essentially an internal art.

In addition, Silat Hasilkan Penuh consists of some short ground fighting forms, a large number of two-man drills, sticky hand and leg training, sparring and a lot of other material. We also teach the mental and spiritual side of Silat to students who are interested. This last bit of education really does round off the rest of your training and gives you the right mental attitudes to prevail if you’re attacked.

The Future Course 01 Silat Like most folk arts, Silat is evolving and adapting to the pressures of modern society.

Much Silat currently taught is for sports purposes and is designed for competition. In fact, one of the aims of IPSI, the official Indonesian

Pencak Silat governing body, is to get Silat accepted as an Olympic sport in the same way that practitioners of Tae Kwon Do and Judo have done. Among other things, the purpose of this is to achieve recognition for Indonesia.

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