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Internationalization of Pencak Silat

Rapid Journal, Vol. 7, No. 3 (Book 25, 2003: 46)

© O'ong Maryono


Under the leadership of Mr. Wongosonegoro (1948-1973), Tjokopranolo (1973-1978) and Eddie M. Nalapraya (1978-2003), and with the support of the government and President Soeharto as Principal Founder, IPSI gradually spread both at home and abroad. At home, in the 1970’s IPSI established branches in all regions, and began organising pencak silat sporting and art events at regional, provincial and national levels. Although the intensity of activities varies greatly from region to region, IPSI’s chapters have become an integral part of local government.

In 1975, this national expansion continued overseas. Following up on work done by his predecessor, who had begun introducing pencak silat olahraga to the neighbouring countries of Malaysia and Singapore, Eddie M. Nalapraya strove to familiarise and spread pencak silat to every continent. This move was initiated on March 11, 1980, with the formation of the Persekutuan Pencak Silat Antarbangsa (PERSILAT), or the International Pencak Silat Federation, along with the pencak silat nations of Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei Darussalam. The aim of this organisation is: direct and co-ordinate efforts and activities to preserve, develop and spread pencak silat throughout the world, and to make pencak silat an instrument for promoting friendly international relations and world peace (PB IPSI 1994a).

For his initiative in setting up this international body, and in recognition of his role in enhancing pencak silat in the world, Eddie M. Nalapraya was elected President of PERSILAT, assisted by Oyong Karmayuda as Secretary General. Under his leadership, PERSILAT membership grew, and in 1994 amounted to 21 nations. National pencak silat organisations have been set up in all continents:

Indonesia – Singapore - Malaysia - Brunei - Thailand - Philippines - Myanmar -Vietnam - Laos - South of Korea – Japan – Pakistan - Saudi Arabia – Palestine – Yeman - Nepal - Australia - New Zealand.

Swiss - United Kingdom - Spain - France -Austria - Germany - Belgium - Netherlands - Portugal - Denmark - Italy - Greece - Norway - Turkey - Sweden - Bosnia - Check Republic – Russia.

Americas and the Caribbean:
United State - Canada - Suriname - Chile.

Africa and the Middle East:
Morocco - Egypt - Palestine - South Africa.

The formation of PERSILAT paved the way for international events. In 1982, the first international pencak silat olahraga championships –the 1 st International Pencak Silat Invitation– was held at the Senayan stadium in Jakarta. Two more of these international invitations were organised –one in Jakarta (1984) and one in Vienna (1986)– before the name was changed to ‘Pencak Silat World Championships’, the first being held in Kuala Lumpur in 1987. In the 1990s pencak Silat seni also began to be contested at the Pencak Silat World Championships and at the South East Asian (SEA) Games, a Southeast Asian sporting event held every two years (for more details on these international events see the appendix). However, at the most prestigious international sporting events such as the Asia Games and the Olympics pencak silat olahraga is still not officially recognized. Some progress has been done as far as Asia Games are concerned with the exhibition of pencak silat at the Sport Cultural Event in the 14 th Asia Games held last October in Pusan, South Korea. It is hoped that pencak silat will finally become part of the official competitions in the next Asia Asian Games to be held in Doha Qatar in 2006.

Again in the interests of raising the dignity, worth and image of pencak silat as a cultural heritage overseas, IPSI constructed the Indonesian National Pencak Silat Centre (Padepokan Nasional Pencak Silat Indonesia or PNPSI) in Jakarta. This mega facility, aside from housing the IPSI offices, includes modern and comprehensive training and competition facilities, as well as accommodation for pesilat from overseas interested in furthering their knowledge of pencak silat. Begun in 1994, the construction of PNPSI was completed at the end of 1996 and officially opened by President Soeharto on April 20 1997. Pesilat from all over the world were invited to this opening ceremony and appointed collectively to make ‘this facility a bridge and link promoting close friendship and fellowship among nations’ for the glory of pencak silat. The majestic construction of the Padepokan aims to raise the prestige of this ancestral martial art in the eyes of the international community, and consolidate Indonesia’s position as a pioneering pencak silat nation. Pencak silat belongs to the Malay peoples, but most of the styles that have spread overseas actually originate from Indonesia. So, Indonesia is the place where people from all over the world can learn about and study the aspects of pencak silat they are most interested in.

That brings us up to the present day. The lengthy review that has taken us through the era of kings, colonialism, the war of independence, and of its first two presidents has come to an end. But our study of the role of pencak silat in contemporary Indonesian society has just begun. In the next article I will examine in more detail the development of pencak silat as self-defence and sport.


    The 1 st Pencak Silat World Championship in Indonesia 1982
    The 2 nd Pencak Silat World Championship in Indonesia 1984
    The3rd Pencak Silat World Championship in Austria 1986
    The 4 th Pencak Silat World Championship in Malaysia 1987
    The 5 th Pencak Silat World Championship in Singapore 1988
    The 6 th Pencak Silat World Championship in Holland 1990
    The 7 th Pencak Silat World Championship in Indonesia 1992
    The 8 th Pencak Silat World Championship in Thailand 1994
    The 9 th Pencak Silat World Championship in Malaysia 1997
    The 10 th Pencak Silat World Championship in Indonesia 2000
    The 11 th Pencak Silat World Championship in Malaysia 2002
    The 12 th Pencak Silat World Championship in Singapore 2004
    The 14 th SEA Games in Indonesia 1987
    The 15 th SEA Games in Malaysia 1989
    The 16 th SEA Games in Philippines1991
    The 17 th SEA Games in Singapore 1993
    The 18 th SEA Games in Thailand 1995
    The 19 th SEA Games in Indonesia 1997
    The 20 th SEA Games in Brunei 1999
    The 21 th SEA Games in Malaysia 2001
    The 22 th SEA Games in Vietnam 2003
    The 23 th SEA Games in The Philippines 2005
    Pencak Silat European Championship in Zwolle, Holland 2001
    The 1 st Pencak Silat Championship in Singapore 2002
    The 2 st Pencak Silat Championship in The Philippines 2003
    The 1 st Pencak Silat Open Junior Championship in Hanoi, Vietnam 2000
    The Open Belgian Championship in Braaschaat, Belgium 2002
    The Open Austrian Pencak Silat Championship in Vienna, Austria 2000
    The 1 st Open Vietnam Championship in Hanoi, Vietnam 1994
    The 2 nd Open Vietnam Championship in Hanoi, Vietnam 1996
    Brunei Open in Brunei Darussalam 1991
    Thailand Open in Pattani, Thailand 1992
    France Open in Paris, France 2003
    UK Open London 2004
    Germany Open Hamburg 2004
    France Open in Paris, France 2005