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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:
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:
Americas and the Caribbean:
Africa and the Middle East:
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.