How long have you been in this sport and who actually introduced you to "Silat"?
I have been involved in this sport since 2006 while I was still in secondary school. I had a part-time colleague who was competing in the sport held at Choa Chu Kang Community Centre one afternoon and I had decided to show some support. It was then that I got to witness firsthand the competitive side of Silat. Being a competitive person by nature, I decided that I wanted to give it a try. And so, in April 2006, I joined Grasio Silat School at Keat Hong Zone 6 RC and the journey began from there. Up tillnow, I still feel like I am new to the sport and have a lot more to learn from my coaches and seniors.
What inspired you to join Silat?
Personally, I have always loved sports since I was in primary school. I was involved in various sports including track and field, cross-country, basketball and many others. In secondary school, I was elected to be in the student council and was appointed the "Head of Sports". I would never mind trying any new sport and in every sport I was involved in, I would always be competitive and give it my heart and soul! As for Silat, I was attracted to it since the first time I set my eyes on it. I was generally inclined to the "Olahraga" aspect, which means the sporting branch of Silat. I was specifically very inspired to have my hands on "Tanding" category which means
"Match" when I saw two individuals battle it out in the ring during 3 rounds of 3 minutes each. They were exchanging combat attacks like punches, kicks, sweeps and throws all through the 3 rounds. I was also watching the "Seni" category, which means "Artistic" on that same day. This involved choreographed sets of movements and it reminded me a lot of my days in Malay dance but what sets it apart is that the movements were executed with much more force, aggression and defensiveness. It was all drama but it takes a lot of strength, power and
physique to put up a good show. All in all, the high performance energy involved in this sport inspired me big time. So there I go!!
I've seen different pesilat wear different coloured belts. Does Silat have belt ranks? (If so, please elaborate on the different colours and what they represent)
Different silat schools have their own set of ranking system, such as belts, coloured sashes and titles.
For Grasio Silat School, it has over 20 levels of belt ranking. The first five coloured belts are white, yellow, green, purple and blue. In Grasio Silat School, we have the red sash for centre helper and black belt for coaches. In the International level, we have three sash colours, white for athlete, orange for coach and yellow for referee.
What is the minimum age to join Silat?
I don't think there is a minimum age to join Silat. I know of parents who enrol their children as young as 4 years old for silat classes. I would say that Silat is a good sport for all ages because it teaches you basic defence skills and to be composed especially when highly pressured. In fact, it is ideal to start at a young age as the sport actually helps to reinforce discipline as well as develop morals and character. It also helps children to grow physically and instill good reflexes naturally.
Is "Silat" a technique or strength-based sport?
If we are talking about "Pencak Silat", it can be divided into 4 main branches. One of which is the Mental or Spiritual aspect and practices. Second would be "Seni" which is the artistic or cultural aspect. Next is "Bela Diri" which is the self-defence aspect and lastly, "Olahraga" which is the sporting aspect. Silat is a holistic sport that encompasses the full well being of a human being, namely the physical, mental and emotional.
It seems like Silat is a male dominated sport. Why did you choose this sport amidst many others?
I don't look at it that way. Yes, some sports are more female dominated or more male dominated depending on the nature of it. But Silat is a martial art which is an act of self-defence comprising a collaboration of rich forms of art and culture with a branch that allows it to be practiced as a sport. In fact, I would say that more ladies out there should learn an art of self-defence so that they'll be able to protect themselves if need be (hopefully not)!
What is the training schedule like and how do you balance that with your work?
When I first started off, my training schedule was 3 days a week at several centres of my Silat School. It didn't affect my school schedule much since I was still in secondary school. When I entered polytechnic, I had to train 3 times a week with the school team and an extra session with my team at the Silat School centre. Training schedules normally vary in frequency depending on the seasons. During the competition periods, training schedules will usually be increased to 5 times a week. I got into the national team when I was 21, after
graduating from the Republic Polytechnic. The national team trains every day from Monday to Friday. But lucky for me, it was still quite manageable, as my studies didn't clash with my training sessions. However, I still have to plan my training schedule especially now that I am doing my part time degree in SIM and am part of the school team as well. Having to manage work, school and training is definitely challenging but I am very happy to still be able to win a few medals while doing so.
How do you prepare yourself before a competition?
I ensure that I always train diligently with the various teams from my Silat School, at SIM or in the national team, months before any competition. With the increasing intensity of training towards every competition, I also consciously increase my jogging routine to enhance my fitness level and watch my food intake closely so as to maintain my weight in the category that I participate in. Additionally, I will watch all of my previous match videos, other videos that display good technique and some motivational videos. This serves as a good mental preparation technique for me.
Can a non-malay join Silat?
Definitely! All are welcomed! Silat is a fun sport!!