The WAI (pronounced ‘way’) stands for Warrior Arts of Indonesia. It is an organisation that was ‘birthed’ in 2012 by Johnny Silmon, although it has been incubating and forming for over 25 years.
Silat as an Indo/Malay martial art has been around for centuries. The genesis of Silat, generically speaking, has no definitive point of origin but there is a great deal of evidence to show it’s evolution can be traced back to well over 1000 years. Indonesia (formerly Nusantara) as an island nation has a deeply rich history. With its geographical position it sits strategically among many trade routes. For centuries the archipelago has been visited by people from all over the world seeking to trade spices and fabric among other things. With this in mind we can draw a reasonable assumption that the evolution of Silat as a whole has been influenced by the martial arts of other nations. This of course is not even talking about the numerous kingdoms through Indonesias ages – such as Sriwijaya, Padjadjaran and Majapahit which also, because of battles and invasions, had large parts to play in the formation of hand to hand combative arts, perhaps forerunners of Silat!
Today in modern Indonesia there are a great many different styles and expressions of Silat. These can broadly be categorised into two groups: Aliran & Perguruan.
Aliran in this context can be translated as ‘an original stream’. For example, Sundanese styles (West Java province) such as Cimande, Cikalong and Sera are all known as Aliran. Everything has a starting point and the founders of those respective systems would more than likely have been influenced by other teachers or styles in order to help fashion their own expression. However, with often conflicting or unreliable information pertaining to a verified history (not in all cases of course!), these styles have, over time come to be known as ‘original styles’, even though at the time they were developed they were new!
By contrast, the term Perguruan means a school or institution. In this case, it is also used to define a style that is not an Aliran. Generally speaking, Perguruan are newer. They borrow and are clearly influenced by ‘original streams’ as can often be seen by techniques and names. Perguruan that come to mind includes Mande Muda which is comprised of many borrowed aspects from different styles – as well as the founders own experiences, naturally! Another example of a perguruan is Silat Panglipur. Perguruan are by no means inferior, some may conclude they are superior because they can include a greater variety of techniques and training methods. It all comes down to how well the Pesilat (Silat practitioner) understands and owns whatever style he or she practice. It is not any one style that is better or worse, usually just people!
Ultimately both have great merit. Some styles are suited to individuals based on their physiological capabilities and limitations. The point here is that there is something that suits everyone.
While it is not logistically possible for The W.A.I – Warrior Arts of Indonesia to highlight every style that exists, as an organisation it has direct links with numerous streams of Silat across the nation, be they Pencak Silat from Java or Silek Minang from Sumatra. We aim to bring you exciting features, media and methodologies about many warrior arts of Indonesia.
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