By William Sanders, Pendekar
In the Indonesian Martial Art of Pencak Silat, the internal aspects known
as Kebatinan (mysticism) and Ilmu (sorcery/magick) are an intrinsic part
of this art. A student versed in other arts which do not contain these
aspects are confronted with mixed emotions when faced with this portion
of the art.
Many martial arts today have become sterile. Extreme physical conditioning
with over stretched tendons and ligaments have replaced inner power and
meditation. The body has gotten bigger while the mind and inner strength
First one must realize that this art in its conceptual form was designed
as a moving ritual which gathers forces from without and within the practitioner
(Father Sky - Mother Earth) and all of the elements associated with it,
earth, wind, fire, and water, and finally spirit. This spirit is the Raja
Naga which symbolizes the full embodiment of everything propelling the
Tenaga Dalam or inner spirit (power).
Keeping the art's true purpose in mind and then trying to make
it work on purely physical skills without consciously acknowledging these
forces is akin to using a coffee brewer as a paperweight. It may be partially
effective by accident but it certainly is not being used up to its designed
After teaching Pukulan Cimande Pusaka Pencak Silat for many years, I
can assure you we don't have any lack of outer physical aspects. With
18 Jurus (sequences of upper body moves) done both left handed and right
handed, which in themselves contain thousands of applications along with
langkas (moving forms) and dozens of specialized moves and footwork patterns
such as, web patterns, war wheel, pukulan wall and wedge, with tiger,
snake, monkey, and crane animal styles, you get a picture of our depth
into the physical. Indeed I have had students come from very simplistic
styles who became overwhelmed at our available material.
So what is all of the Kebatinan and Ilmu about and more importantly,
why study and practice it? In this art we follow a map of intensity which
leads from the most purely physical skills, with easiest to hit to the
most precise and skillful, eventually requiring actual energy damage.
The first level is joint destruction. This is the most physical and easiest
to develop. There is energy damage to the opponent, as the bones store
the Tenaga Dalam (inner power), however it requires no inner power by
the practitioner to deliver the strike. Although, obviously all strikes
can be intensified with it.
The second stage is muscle and nerve damage. This requires more physical
skill as the accuracy of the strikes must improve. Again inner power would
intensify the result but is not necessary to cause damage.
The third area involves nerve damage. This requires pin point precision
accuracy and is very effective. Inner energy could greatly increase the
damage here, as even a close hit could score with enough energy being
The fourth step is energy damage. Here we have crossed the line, no physical
power will do. This must be transferred directly to the practitioner through
the acupuncture points or with sufficient training this can be accomplished
at a distance from the opponent.
Keep in mind, if the opponent is being taught the art correctly the Tenaga
Dalam has been developing all the way through these steps. The correct
understanding of the Kebatinan and Ilmu make it occur. without these,
this last step will never occur and the potential of the others will be
So what does all of this really accomplish? The moving fighting ritual
of Pencak Silat leads to altered states of consciousness. These altered
states of consciousness produce the desired combat attitude in the fighter.
Attitude has been called a warrior's primary weapon. These states allow
functioning of the physical body unchained by doubt, fear, and apprehension.
These negative faults have been termed "mind brakes" that will
halt physical skills. Additionally altered states allow isolation of physical
attributes which will then sharpen specific skills.
The intense desire to merge with the animal spirit fighting skills directly
causes a link into the most ancient portion of the human brain, often
referred to as the reptilian brain. This area is the most closely associated
with survival and real fighting skills, not tournaments or other such
An opponent facing a fighter who has turned his conscious mind off and
is under the precedence of this inner dragon is facing the most feared
fighter on earth. A fighter who has no fear and is neither intimidated
by size or talk. A warrior who is fighting with what we term controlled
recklessness. And who's mind set only says "Destroy" or "Get
For sure a qualified teacher is a must to guide the student as
these powers emerge. But make no mistake about it. This is what Pencak
Silat is all about.
A superior high powered race car being driven by a monkey will not beat
a pick up truck driven by a champion . Embrace the Kebatinan and Ilmu
of Pencak Silat and you will win in the end!