Pencak Silat is a grouping of martial arts found within the countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, and the Southern Philippines. The term Pencak Silat is a blanket term for the indigenous martial arts of those areas, each with its own unique emphasis.
Pencak silat is typically considered a “complete martial art” having an emphasis on weapons, but includes the more common aspects of evasion, striking, kicking, locking, throwing, ground fighting, spiritual development, and societal training—but each system to it’s own degree. Some of the most common factors being landscape or geography, urban v. rural, cultural lineage, religious lineage—essentially adaptation to the immediate cultural context.
But despite it’s similarity in general structure to other martial arts, Pencak Silat has some characteristics that are not found to the same degree in other martial arts. One of those characteristics is the consistent use of “baiting” or Welcoming Postures (Sikap Pasang). Pencak Silat also has an aspect of beauty within it’s movements, which are sometimes mistaken to lack combative value.
The art itself (in it’s thousands of variations) contains training in both circular and direct motion as well as muscularly soft and strong motions. An emphasis on efficiency, fluidity, and adaptability are found within Pencak Silat, though not often explicitly stated. This brings a very critical component of organic flexibility to Pencak Silat that does not seem to exist to the same extent within other arts.