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Malay Culture

Silat Bayang Buayo (West Sumatera - Indonesia)


1. The Origin

Indonesian Language Dictionary (KBBI), as cited by Maryono (2000), defines the silat as the game/skill to defend oneself from external threat by set sequence of techniques such as striking, kicking, jumping, and defending with or without weapons. Specifically, the silat is defined as a game which underlies the usage of attacking skill, self-defense, with or without weapons, while bersilat means “playing with the attacking skill and self defense” (Kompas, 1996:18). Apart from the above definitions, the silat movements undoubtedly reflect aesthetic facet (art). Therefore, the silat is commonly perceived as “self-defense art”

There is a specific martial art prevalent among south coast of west Sumatra community, precisely in Bayang region, Indonesia. The martial art is called Silat Bayang Buayo. Haji Nasrul, one of the silat masters, explained that the naming of the martial art as the Silat Bayang Buayo (buayo means crocodile in West Sumatra language) has something to do with the unique jurus (series of steps and moves combination) developed within, and the area where the martial art became popular. Those jurus in the Silat Bayang Buayo are mostly inspired by the moves of crocodile (buayo), and this type of silat only exists in Bayang region.           

Since the Silat Bayang Buayo requires speed, accuracy, and bravery to initiate attack moves, the jurus within has considerable difficulty. One of the special techniques demonstrated during the silat is the combination of jumping, falling, rolling accompanied by kicking and catching. In addition, some spontaneous improvisations in the moves should be made to anticipate the enemy‘s attack. One will be the master of the Silat Bayang Buayo if he can comprehend those sophisticated jurus.    

2. Specific Technique of Silat Bayang Buayo

In the Silat Bayang Buayo, there are two “devastating” techniques or moves. The first move, pesilat (silat practitioner) lies on the ground, facing side ways and touch upon left elbow. The opponent, who stands before the pesilat, holds knife to attack (picture 1). To avoid the attack, the pesilat stays on the ground crossing his two legs (like scissor position) toward opponent‘s hand (picture 2). The pesilat spins his right leg to the right side, and his left leg locks the opponent‘s elbow. This move will twist the opponent‘s body and make him falling to the left side (picture 3). Anticipating the injury while falling, the opponent rolls himself, lies on supine position, and ready for the next attack (picture 4). The opponent will kick the pesilat face, but the pesilat rebuts and catches the opponent‘s leg, locking with his right hand, while the left hand takes over the knife from the opponent (picture 5). Keeping his foot locking the opponent‘s hand, the pesilat pulls the opponent‘s hair and puts the knife on the opponent‘s back neck (picture 6).

Picture 1 Picture 2
Picture 3
Picture 4

Picture 5Picture 6

The second technique includes waiting for opponent‘s attack by lying on the ground, while the opponent holds knife (picture 7). Anticipating the opponent‘s move to target the neck, the pesilat lowers his body position and head to the right/left side (picture 8). The pesilat backs to the first position, while the opponent prepares the next attack (picture 9). Lowering his kuda-kuda (stance position), the opponent sticks the pesilat by his knife, but the pesilat careens his position so that the knife positions in side of the pesilat mouth (picture 10). The pesilat takes the knife using his mouth, while his left hand holds the opponent‘s hand (picture 11). The pesilat spins the opponent‘s right hand to the left side, so the opponent‘s position is aslant to the right side (picture 12). As the imbalance position of the opponent, the pesilat will easily pull the opponent (picture 13). The pesilat has control over the opponent so he can put the knife on the opponent‘s neck (picture 14 and 15).

Picture 7 Picture 8
Picture 9 Picture 10
Picture 11 Picture 12
Picture 13 Picture 14

Picture 15

3. Cultural Values

Through scrutiny to the Silat Bayang Buayo which develops in Bayang region (West Sumatra), one can discover several cultural values embedded within. Those values can be valuable reference for people in daily activities such as health, self-confidence, discipline, and fairness.

Health value is reflected through the jurus and various techniques performed during the training and fighting. Those jurus are similar to sport activities since they exercise muscles and accelerate blood circulation which contributes to the increasing one‘s health. As said in a proverb “mensana incorpore sano” which means “health spirit lies in health body”.

One‘s attempt to master the jurus and the various techniques -to certain extent- reflects hard work value within the Silat Bayang Buayo. The jurus proficiency necessitates special skill, determination and continuous training. In addition, without hard work, it is impossible to win in a silat competition    

Learning the Silat Bayang Buayo means one‘s self-preparation to encounter many unintended possibilities to him or/and other people. Mastering the Silat Bayang Buayo will develop self-confidence and train one becoming fearless to any kind of external threat. Even the pesilat is sometimes pushed to sacrifice for other‘s sake.

The discipline constitutes another value embedded within the Silat Bayang Buayo. Being discipline here can be both: discipline to him and to the rule of persilatan (school of silat). One can be expelled from the persilatan if he disobeys the rules. The discipline also helps the pesilat to master the sophisticated moves of the silat.

To advance the skill of pesilat, the silat masters usually conduct training activities such as competition, tournament, and training-fighting. Besides, those trainings are intended to develop the fairness among the pesilat, since there will be a winner and a loser. The fairness is reflected through pesilat‘s acceptance to the final decision made.



Source :

  • Maryono, O‘ong. 2000. Pencak Silat. Yogyakarta: Galang Press.

Source :

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