Pencaksilat is an indigenous martial art form that originated in Indonesia. The term pencaksilat has been popularised after the Indonesian independence. It is a regular medal sport event in the Asian Games, Asian Beach Games, South Asian Games, and Asian Youth Games and is duly recognised by the Olympic Council of Asia, Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports (MYAS). The sport has reached India very recently. The only recognised association of this form of martial art exists in central Kolkata, near the Amherst Street Police Station and the organisation has affiliated by Indian Pencak Silat federation and has been applied for Affiliation to Bengal Olympic Association. It is gaining popularity as Olympic committees of other states like Andhra Pradesh, Assam, and Jammu and Kashmir have also recognised this martial art. It has also been included in different school and university level sport meets.
How is it different from other martial arts?
According to Ian Douglas Wilson, anthropologist and former member of the Australian pencaksilat team, “This is a form of traditional education, a performance art, a component of ritual and community celebrations, a practical form of self-defence, a path to spiritual enlightenment, and more recently an internationally recognised sports. It is unique in many ways.”
YosisSiswoyo, the Head of the BandarkarimaPencakSilat School in Jakarta, Indonesia, stated, “The philosophy of pencaksilat is linked with physical movements. This philosophy can be at the level of a self-defence strategy but it can also be used as a means of having an ethical life.” According to many martial arts experts, pencak is one of the most artistic forms of martial arts as it combines choreography with fighting techniques. More than a hundred weapons are allowed in this format.
According to many experts, this game can gain popularity in India as many of the terminologies used are of Indian origin and the mythical bird from the Ramayana, Garur, is the symbol of this sport.
Achievements and prospects
Sunil Singh (general secretary) is the founder and the Coach of the Pencak Silat Sport Association (Bengal) situated in Amherst Street, Kolkata, said, “This is a very low cost game as compared to cricket and football.” According to his experience, mainly children from economically backward families are showing interest to learn this new form of martial art. He informed BE, “It is important for youngsters to learn some form of martial arts as it helps them to secure themselves. Girls should focus on learning this technique as the roads are getting increasingly unsafe for them and it can be used as an effective means of self-defence.”
PencakSilat Sports Association is currently training around 50-60 students. They are planning to increase their penetration. Given their limited means, they have achieved a lot. Their students have bagged 11 medals in the junior national championship and four medals in the senior level. One of the best senior level players, Raja Das, has been selected for the Selected for the foreign exposure to Jakarta, Indonesia for Advance Training from 20th June to 30th June, 2018. And also National Coaching Camp For Asian Game 2018 which is being held at Srinagar in Kashmir from 1st July to 15th August, 2018. Another of Sunil Singh’s trainees has secured the silver medal in the second PencakSilat Asian Championship held in 2016. He has also been selected for 4th Asian Pencak Silat Championship 2018 at Punjab.
This game has its own share of problems. As it is a relatively new sport in India, it is lacking patronage from any organisation or federation. Though it has been affiliated by different bodies, funds are scarce and that acts as a major impediment. Sponsors are not yet ready to invest as they are uncertain of their returns. Pencak Silat Sport Association (Bengal) does not have any indoor facilities or the equipment that is needed for training. The students practice in open grounds. According to Tapan Kumar Ghosh, President, “We have to forego various oppurtunities as we do not have the financial strength to participate in many competitions or advanced training. Patronage from the government or sponsors will definitely give a boost to our sport.”