Birth of Silek Minang and Minangkabau Land

The emergence of Silek Minang coincided with the birth of Minangkabau land, which was actively promoted by two influential figures: Dt. Parpatiah nan Sabatang and Dt. Katumangguangan from Pariangan. The post titled Minangkabau: Origins discusses more about the creation of the kingdom.

Three Original Laws

Under the guidance of Dt. Parpatiah nan Sabatang, four original laws were established:

  1. Laws of Sitariak Baleh
  2. Laws of Simumbang Jatuah
  3. Laws of Sigamak – Gamak
  4. Laws of Silamo – Lamo

The Standard of Law

These laws became the standard of law for the two Datuks: Dt. Perpatiah nan Sabatang and Dt. Ketumanggungan. Together, they were known as “Bajanjang Naiak Batanggo Turun.”

Silek Minang Birth

During this period, Dt. Sari nan Bamego mego pioneered the science of self-defence known as “Silek.” Prior to that, he had inherited the knowledge of self-defence (not yet known as Silek) from his father, Cati Bilang Pandai, and Sultan Maharajo Dirajo, which was referred to as “Gayuang.”

Understanding Gayuang

Gayuang represented a science of self-defence used to fight and defeat rivals. It comprised two main categories: Physical Gayuang and Mental Gayuang. “Gayuang Lahir” (Physical Gayuang) involved delivering powerful toe kicks to three critical targets: the neck (Adam’s apple), the pit of the stomach, and the upper legs or the groin. These targets formed the basis for the creation of Silek.

The Science of Gayuang Angin (Mental)

Gayuang Angin (Mental Gayuang) encompassed a fighting technique that aimed to defeat rivals by targeting the heart, lymph glands, and liver, harnessing the strength of one’s mentality. Additionally, there were other mental combat forms that used tools or other mediums, such as Sijundai, Tinggam, Sewai, Parmayo, among others. The wisdom of Gayuang has been preserved by the elders of Minangkabau and is known as a saving science (Panaruahan).

The Development of Silek Minang

Inherited Self Defence Knowledge

Apart from his ownership of the “Gayuang” science, Dt. Sari nan Bamego megoalso inherited self-defence knowledge from four followers of Sultan Maharajo Dirajo.  These followers were military leaders and were directed by the Sultan to go and expand his lands.  They were:

  1. Harimau Campo

    Harimau Campo was commanded to lead the team to the area of Luhak Agam. As it is familiar to Minangkabau people in Agam, the son of Tiger from Luhak Agam. “Harimau Campo” also taught Silek Tuo (an old Silek) to his generation which was dominantly coloured with imitation movements of tigers from his homeland.

  2. Kuciang Siam

    As well as the science of Silek Minangkabau developed in Canduang Lasi, taught by Kuciang Siam to his generations, principally was still Silek Tuo (an old Silek). The movement was basically dominant with the movements of the Cat, as the house pet to protect from the disturbance of rats. Cat movements are extremely soft and calm but also dangerous. When a cat falls it lands on its feet and there will be little sound; very light stepping on the ground. In certain styles of Silek, there is a movement called “Jatuah Kuciang” which means ‘fall down like a cat’.

  3. Kambiang Hutan

    Kan-Bin or Kambiang Hutan who was from Cambay northern Malabar also inherited the science of Silek Tuo or Silek Usali taught by Dt. Suri Dirajo. The science of Silek Kambiang Hutan developed in the area of Luhak Lima Puluh Kota, the characteristic of this kind of Silek uses more movements besides using hands; it is also using head strikes and feet crossing unsuspected by the rivals.

  4. Anjieng Mualim

    Anjing Mualim was the name of An-jin from the southern Hindi Persian or Gujarat, this science of Silek was developed in Rantau Pesisir (foreign shore). When we take for granted the existence of Bukit Barisan (mountain range) stretched from the North West to the Southern East, and from the central to the South it could be seen the Mountaineus ethnics commencing from Mandailing, Minangkabau, Lebong, Rawas, Relang Pasaman, Merapi mountain, Seblat mountain, Kaba mountain, and Dempo Mountain, as well as the river flows and goes to the estuary of these of Eastern Coast of Sumatera. This was the area where An-Jin was based.  He was the leader in the development of foreign areas as well as the growth of its society. This kind of Silek used the fighting movement and defence in the form of a circle.

Silek Minang Forerunner – Silek Usali

Dt. Sari nan Bamego mego combined three styles from the four followers of Sultan Maharajo Dirajo at Batu Sajamba Makan, Pariangan Area, and it is known as Langkah Tigo (three step), and in 230AD Dt. Sari nan Bamego mego combined all the inherited self-defence knowledge into a unified system known as Langkah Ampek (four steps)and it become Silek Usali (original Silek) or Silek Tuo (Old Silek). As the regions developed, they also contributed to the growth of the “silek” Minangkabau, which later took on various names based on the region and the teacher. Styles like Silek Harimau Campo, Kambiang Hutan, Anjieng Mualim, and Kuciang Siam were developed in accordance with regional nuances, such as Silek Pakih Rabun, Silek Lintau, Silek Inyiak Uban, Silek Starlak, Batu Mandi, Kumango, Silek Pauah, and others.

Integration with Regional Development

Minangkabau, throughout its development, has always aligned with the progress of its regions and sciences. The foundation of Silek Minangkabau remains rooted in the teachings of Dt. Sari nan Bamego mego with the development of the Minangkabau area expanding to include the eastern Malay region (melayu tua) and the northern region covering Sriwijaya.

The Supporting Evidence

Buddhist Priest I’Tsing’s Account

Supporting evidence for the expansion of the Minangkabau area is found in the account of Buddhist priest I’Tsing, who journeyed from India to China in 671 CE. I’Tsing noted that the eastern part of Minangkabau belonged to the old Malay area (melayu tua), while the northern area was part of Sriwijaya. His observation was reinforced by the fact that at “Mo – Lo – Yoe” (Melayu), situated in the valley of Left Kampar and Right Kampar rivers, I’Tsing’s shadow was directly beneath him at noon, signifying the equator’s presence.

In summary, the birth of Silek Minang coincided with the establishment of Minangkabau land. The three original laws paved the way for the standard of law governing two prominent Datuks. Dt. Sari nan Bamego mego’s creation of “Silek” marked a pivotal moment in the development of self-defence. Under the concept of Gayuang, the science of self-defense thrived and found expression in various forms of Silek. The efforts to develop the Minangkabau region also facilitated the growth and diversification of Silek styles, each named after their respective region and teacher. The integration of regional elements with the original teachings of Dt. Sari nan Bamego mego’s led to the formation of Silek Usali (original Silek). Finally, historical records, such as those of I’Tsing, provide supporting evidence for the expansion and significance of the Minangkabau area.

Edwardo Guci