First published on 3 Nov 2011. Updated on 14 Feb 2013.
The former Sportsboy of the Year has been practising silat since he was ten, but stopped competing at 25 to further propagate the artform and share it with others through regular classes.
The dagger, machete and walking stick are weapons commonly used in silat.
How he got started
‘I got into the national team when I was 17 and was invited to compete in the World Junior Championships in Hanoi. I was the only Singaporean to win a gold medal [there]. I later became a Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medallist and Singapore’s Sportsboy of the Year in 2002.’
Why he loves it
‘Silat originated from the Malay Peninsula, but like the art of batik, no one [region] can claim silat came from them. In the old days silat was used as a weapon and skill to defend the country… [Now], it’s good for mental and spiritual refinement.’
Who it’s for
‘We have a lot of demand for silat in Singapore, especially as a self-defence course among the Malay community – from tiny rangers‚ starting at four-and-a-half, to adults. We have beginner classes tailored to those who want to take it up as a hobby. Our form of silat is modernised, but the tradition of performing is still there. We have the traditional syllabus, so students learn artistic silat with weapons training and physical, locking and self-defence skills. The full syllabus spans 12 belts and takes six to seven years to complete.’
‘Silat will make you a better person, but don’t confuse it with being tied in with religion. It is also a good form of self-defence and a rich form of arts and culture. [We teach] sport silat, something that brings all of these aspects together.’
Where to find him
Sports Silat Academy, 1/A Tampines St 92 (6297 5659, www.silatacademy.com). $70 per month (1 session per week). A new studio will open next year.