Reconnecting with Cultural Roots

When the film 'Mat Kilau' was released in theatres across the country, it instilled pride in all Silat practitioners, including Akid.

When the Mat Kilau film was released in theatres across the country, it instilled a sense of pride in Silat practitioners. Akid Aly, who has been practising the art for half a decade, talks to New Sarawak Tribune about his journey.

Introducing Silat as key cultural identity of Malaysia

The history of Silat dates back to the early Malay civilisation. The philosophical foundation of modern Malay Silat is based on Islamic spirituality.

Silat is an ethnic form of physical and spiritual training that embodies culture and tradition.

According to Silat practitioner Akid Aly, martial arts have a long and significant history in Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, and Singapore.

“Although Silat was originally practised for self-defense, it has since evolved to play an important role in preserving our Malay heritage’s history and culture.”

Because martial arts are ancient and traditional, Akid revealed that some practises and rituals are considered taboo.
“Despite the passage of time, wayward methods of practising Silat continue to exist. For myself, I practised Silat to learn self-defence and to reconnect with my cultural roots. Some people, however, practised Silat for other reasons.”

The 23-year-old disclosed that some practitioners study Silat for its ancient mystic practises.

“My only advice to them is to be prepared to deal with the consequences that may arise.”

Akid, a member of the Malaysian Silat Seni Gayong Organisation (PSSGM), began participating in the art more than half a decade ago during his tertiary studies.

“I had no prior knowledge of Silat and only picked it up to challenge myself and gain experience,” he said.

Soon after, he discovered a new passion for martial arts. “It has since become an important part of my daily life. Silat has increased not only my physical and mental resilience, but also my confidence,” added Akid.

The martial art comprises various self-defence styles such as Seni Gayung Fatani, Lian Padukan, and Seni Gayung.

Akid revealed that he practises the Seni Gayung style. According to him, the style is the most popular and well-known Malaysian Silat discipline.

When asked about the challenges, the Pahang native said that moving up a level in the ranking system was one of the most difficult.

“During training, we must wear a traditional bengkung (waist sash). Different colours represent different ranks. Because knowledge of various Silat techniques is crucial in earning your next bengkung, I will need to master various forms of Silat before proceeding.”

Although the process takes time, patience, and determination, Akid admits that the sense of accomplishment that comes with reaching the next level is immense and incredible.

Like in many martial arts disciplines, participants in a competition or training session may sustain injuries. According to Akid, the pain experienced during practise is normal.

“As practitioners, we must accept pain as a means of strengthening our physical resilience. Boxing is a great parallel in this regard. However, I believe that even if you are knocked down, you must get back up. You will eventually be able to keep going.”

Akid said that he once broke a finger while performing. Fortunately, it was not a serious injury, and he recovered quickly.

When asked about his fondest memories of Silat, Akid said it was the first time he performed publicly on the court.

Another memorable moment was when he was chosen by the social media application Bigo Live to appear in their recently released video promoting the art of Silat.

“With the release of the film ‘Mat Kilau,’ I had the opportunity to highlight the benefits of Silat as well as introduce the folk hero behind the film. Coming from Pahang, where Mat Kilau was from, it was an honour to introduce him to my viewers and carry on his legacy of honouring the art of Silat for future generations of Malaysians,” said Akid.

Akid, a social media influencer based in Bigo Live, credits the social media application with helping to spread the art of Silat to a wider audience.

Akid regularly encourages his followers to learn more about the ancient martial art by sharing videos and going live on the app.

“Furthermore, with the recent release of the film ‘Mat Kilau,’ there has been a surge in interest in Silat, with many Malaysians expressing genuine interest in learning more about it, as well as its historical and cultural significance.”

The dedicated martial artist also mentioned that Bigo Live has given him the opportunity to expose Silat to a wider Malaysian community through knowledge and passion sharing.

“Silat teaches us patience and strength. These attributes, in my opinion, guided Malaysians throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They are now moving on with their lives in the post-pandemic era. Therefore, I hope that I can continue to inspire them and have a small positive impact on their lives.”

In addition to talking about martial arts, Akid sings to his audience in Bigo Live.

As he continues to spread the word about martial arts, Akid hopes that Silat’s future will take it to the international stage.

“I’d like to see it gain more global prominence and recognition rather than being limited to Asia. Silat is a beautiful martial art form with deep historical and cultural roots in Malaysia.”

Thus, Akid said that it would be a shame if the art of Silat is lost with each generation to come.

“On Bigo Live, I hope to continue promoting and introducing Silat to a global audience in order to solidify it as a key cultural identity of Malaysia,” shared the Silat practitioner.

Previous articleOn the vanishing Lugat trail
Next articleRoad in Seoul named Kuching South RO to reflect friendship with Kuching city