Friday, April 9, 2010

Pencak Silat: An Indonesian Perspective Realities & Philosophies


if we review the previous discussion, we can conclude that pencak silat involves four different functions: the development of mental and spiritual faculties, the mastery of self-defence, its aesthetic quality and its sporting element. If we view pencak silat as a unit, then all four of these functions become the different aspects or dimensions of pencak silat.

An aspect or dimension is the observable fa├žade of particular object. Thus, if pencak silat is that object in question, it has four faces of the same shape and measurement. All four can be differentiated but cannot be separated and creates a solid unity of function. Pencak silat with all four aspects and philosophies is taught to prospective members of society through selection, endurance trials and tests of will because of the danger involved if it were to be mastered by the irresponsible.

These screening processes are directly connected to the prospective student’s mental attitude. Pencak silat is taught with the intention to develop a human being who is both physically and spiritually fit. The underlying hope and ambition is that a man, as a result of that education, may become a model member of society, exemplified for his virtuous attitude, behaviour and actions. Such a model, when idolised by other members of society, will create a people which possess a sense of togetherness, camaraderie and responsibility. A society of such quality becomes social capital for investment and has the potential to reap returns in the form of a peaceful, mannered, ordered, developed, just and tranquil society. Therefore, the goal of pencak silat education is to create pure human and social ambition in accordance with the endorsed values of society.

The title pendekar in pencak silat is given to those who have mastered the skill of self-defence,is of pure character and is eloquent in speech or action. Because of this, the pendekar in society is not only respected, but is modelled. The pendekar is not only a pencak silat figure, but also a figure of society. With his charisma and vision, the pendekars play a role in social life as the driving force to realise the ambitions of a utopian man and society.

The perguruan that is established and run by these pendekars are educational institutions that are highly regarded by society; as noble as the pesantren (religious learning institutions). There are many pesantrens which are simultaneously pencak silat perguruan. Because of its high regard, being a student and member of the pencak silat perguruan becomes a proud and honourable matter.

This pride and honour strengthens the spirit and resolve of the alumni (graduates) of the perguruan to practice the perguruan’s teachings in their daily lives and for the benefit of their society. The graduates of these perguruan also establish new perguruan in their own local neighbourhoods.

Through this, the pencak silat perguruan expands and pencak silat spreads over a wide area. When analysed from its attributes and objectives, pencak silat, the culture that spawned it and the philosophy that permeates it as well as its aspects as a unity, is in reality the material, spiritual and physical education that molds a human being of character. Every perguruan has its own philosophy, some of which are represented in their perguruan names and salutations. Generally, these philosophies take on the form of ideas regarding morality, ethics, agenda and religious teachings.

Some perguruan later summarise these ideas into pledges, oaths or covenants which bind the perguruan’s members, whether it be oral or written. Others even develop these summaries into slogans. The Tapak Suci perguruan for example, decided their slogan thus: “With faith and good character, I am strong, without faith and good character, I am weak”. The Setia Hati perguruan aside from developing the idea as a covenant with the perguruan, also uses it in its philosophy.

In reality the philosophy of pencak silat, also regarded as the noble virtues of pencak silat, are ingrained specifically and intensively into the students. This specificity and intensity can be observed in the theoretical examinations on perguruan philosophy, aside from those that test knowledge of physical self-defence techniques, as a prerequisite for its students to achieve elevation of grade or conclusion of studies.

This is due to the fact that each student is expected to become a better member of society than its other members. This privilege is gained from obedience and practice of society’s endorsed values.

Upon close observation, it is common for the philosophy of pencak silat as taught by perguruans to generally contain religious, ethical and moral teachings. These teachings are ingrained in the human being to develop budi pekerti luhur. In the human soul, budi is the covert aspect, while pekerti is the overt aspect. Both of them are in unity. If a similitude of a plant is used, budi is the root and pekerti is the trunk.

According to Professor M. M. Djojodiguna in his book Asas-asas Sosiologi (The Foundations of Sociology), Budi is the singular of budaya (culture). Budi is the stylings of man’s soul; its elements creativity, perseverance and sense. This ‘soul styling’ can be defined as an affinity, creativity as thought, intellect or mind, perseverance as desire,drive or motivation; sense as feelings, emotions and aspirations.

Budi can be defined as the unity of thought, desire and sense that guides a human being, while pekerti is the manifestation of budi, observable by others. Budi is ethics and pekerti is character,

while the meaning of luhur can be defined to mean of an exalted ideal, nobility or virtue. In turn, budi pekerti communicates and interacts with other human beings through attitude, conduct and action. Budi pekerti luhur then automatically exists and is reflected in the praiseworthy attitude, conduct and action in accordance with social view. Praiseworthiness means that communication and interaction creates harmony, peacefulness, togetherness, orderliness, progress, justice and tranquility in society.

Therefore, budi pekerti luhur is the manifestation, the reality of the pencak silat philosophy. Thought, contemplation, opinion and debate in pencak silat philosophy revolves around the molding of budi pekerti luhur and the practice of a manifest form and its spread in social life by the provision of a status and role to the human being as a creature of God, an individual creation and a universal creation.

The forming of budi pekerti luhur in itself has to begin with the molding of creativity, perseverance and sense, that is the forming of thought, intellect, orientation, vision and opinion, the forming of desires, urges, motivation and stimulation, plus the shaping of emotional feelings and appreciation of things of value and high quality according to social views.

The barometer for this is the social perception or view which is based on highly regarded social,moral and religious values. Its manifest form has to correspond with the status of the human role. Thus the manifest form has to be related to religious virtues, personal virtues, social virtues and universal virtues, all of which are luhur. This means that humanity as God’s creation has to obey and execute consequently and consistently the values of divinity atau religiousity, whether vertically or horizontally. Vertically, it is incumbent upon him to worship God as appreciation for his existence. This is done continuously according to agenda of religion.

Horizontally, it is incumbent upon him to practice God’s teachings and religion in his personal and social life. Man has to show and practice obedience to religion, not only in his religious life but also in his personal and social life. His actions and norms in every effort and activity, has to always be guided and directed to stay steadfastly on God’s Path. All of this can be described as taqwa and iman to God

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