Suryadi “Eddie” Jafri is one of the best-known instructors of the Indonesian martial art pentjak silat (also spelled pencak silat). Pentjak refers to the fighting movements, while silat means a “spiritual way.” Jafri’s style of pentjak silat, pera taki sendo, is a close-combat system using empty-hand techniques as well as traditional weapons. His system has combined some elements of Philippine arnis styles, as well as several classical styles of Javanese, Sumatran and Borneo silat.
Indonesian Martial Arts HistoryThe Indonesian archipelago is made up of 13,677 islands, the best known of which are Java, Sumatra, South Borneo, West Irian (New Guinea) and Bali. While Bali has a unique Hindu-Buddhist culture, the rest of the islands are Muslim, a result of proselytism and military incursions between A.D. 1275 and 1520, Islam having first been introduced by merchants from India and Persia.
Your Filipino martial arts training starts with this FREE download! Escrima Sticks 101: Julius Melegrito’s Practical Primer on the Fighting Arts of the PhilippinesThe two major kingdoms prior to the Muslim takeover were the Sriwijaya Empire, beginning in the fifth century with its capital in Jambi (South Sumatra), and the Majapahit Empire, which began in the 13th century with its capital in Java. The Majapahit Empire extended all the way to the southern Philippines, where an interchange of martial arts occurred as the Filipinos adopted the kris (Indonesian dagger) and Malay-style fighting arts before integrating the rapier and dagger techniques of Spanish conquerors. In the 15th century, European colonial powers turned their eyes to the “East Indies,” which they saw as the “Spice Islands” because of their natural supplies of clove and nutmeg. In 1596 the Dutch, under the command of Cornelis de Houtman, solidified their hold on the islands, forcing out Portugal and the other European colonialist traders. Eventually the Dutch monopolized the spice trade, setting up the East Indian Company, Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie. Indonesian patriots fought the company as best they could, using silat’s traditional weapons against Dutch firepower. Needless to say, firearms ownership was forbidden to native Indonesians, and even metal, from which edged weapons could be made, was restricted. The martial arts techniques had to be taught in secret.
Pentjak's Silat's DevelopmentThe original system of pentjak silat dates back 4,000 years, and the first moves copied the strikes of animals such as monkeys, tigers and snakes. It provided self-defense techniques against wild animals, bandits, madmen and foreign invaders. Its principal weapons were the staff and various bladed tools. By the time of the Dutch conquest, Indonesian martial arts had already developed into complete systems. Except for primitive decapitating moves practiced with mandau jungle knives by the Dyak tribes of Borneo, virtually all Indonesian styles had developed martial arts techniques for various weapons. The blade was emphasized over the empty hand or blunt instruments. Even today, there are more knife and sword designs in Indonesia than any other place in the world.
Download your FREE flashback to Black Belt magazine's first in-depth coverage of the Indonesian martial arts! Pencak Silat: Techniques and History of the Indonesian Martial ArtsThe traditional styles were adapted to modern combat first against the Dutch and later the Japanese. The objective was to infiltrate so close to the enemy that he could not use his rifle. During the early days of the Dutch conquest, this meant working against a single-shot musket, the objective being to avoid the first shot and then the bayonet. The Atjehnese of Sumatra developed a kicking style whereby the unique rentjong knife was held between the toes to compensate for the superior length of the rifle’s bayonet. The bayonet could be parried with either a golok or another field knife, then the rentjong was kicked into the groin. Such frontal combat could be suicidal against the Japanese in World War II, who were armed with modern repeating weapons, so Indonesians later emphasized subterfuge and assassination techniques. The night attack, stalking of sentries and stragglers, and poisoning of officials became tactics of choice. Even today, poisoning is taught at the higher levels of silat for use against one’s most dangerous enemies. Suryadi “Eddie” Jafri teaches Philippine stick techniques to his students because Indonesian arts do not give the stick special emphasis. Police officers and those who need nonlethal self-defense techniques can use silat’s techniques to good effect. Suryadi “Eddie” Jafri also teaches silat empty-hand techniques, although most of his students are not expected to strike banana trees with punches and kicks as he had to in his early training in Sumatra. Currently, most of his teaching is devoted to the Indonesian blade, the core of the old styles. The following are the silat weapons that he considers the nine deadliest.