Silat is the traditional martial arts originating in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Silat Tuo Minang refers to the cultural traditions of the Minangkabau people of West Sumatra, Indonesia, where Silat is incorporated into the traditional and cultural arts, dance, theater, and forms of healing. The Minang people are known for their unique culture and customs, their systems of adab and adat, as well as their distinctive traditional headdresses and architecture, reminiscent of the horns of the water buffalo. The Minang people are one of the oldest and largest fully functional matrilineal societies still in existence in modern times, with their roots and heritage stretching back to the 6th century and before.

For more information about Silat and the Minang Culture, click to visit the homepage of the International Silat Federation of America or the affiliated group at Yale University. The Yale University School of Medicine recently invited the ISFA to present a Wellness Program for the students of the Summer Medical & Dental Education Program, in June 2008. Click here for more information on that program.

The article below is reprinted with permission from the International Silat Federation of America at Yale (ISFA@Yale).

Silat Tuo Minang encompasses the forms of natural and traditional healing practiced throughout Indonesia and Southeast Asia. In the lexicon of Complementary and Alternative Healing, Silat can be considered part of the category of ‘mind-body medicine,’ along with such disciplines as yoga, tai-chi, qigong, mindfulness meditation, and others.

Silat draws many of its movements from the natural environment, and the movement of animals including the tiger, water buffalo, and eagle. The natural element within the movements brings alignment to the joints and strengthening to the muscles and ligaments throughout the body. Consistent practice of Silat movements have been shown to aid in injury prevention and rehabilitation, and Silat is used by athletes and performers alike for this purpose. In addition, due to the enhancement of balance that comes as a result of the movements, Silat Tuo Minang has potential therapeutic benefits particularly for the elderly, in terms fall prevention and postural stability.

Emphasis in all movements of Silat is on awareness of one’s breath. With experience, practitioners, or silat players, gain control over their breath, even in situations that would normally require elevated levels of exertion. More advanced practitioners may gain control over other physioogical aspects as well, including their heart rate. In fact, cardiac hospitals in Indonesia provide Silat Tuo Minang therapy for patients recovering from heart conditions.

Silat Tuo Minang also facilitates healing through the meditative aspect of the movements, where the goal is to move fluidly and continuously, without thinking. This aspect aids in stress reduction, the prevention of fatigue, and bolstering of the immune system. In a similar fashion, the movements of yoga, tai chi, and qigong are used in the treatment of depression, fatigue, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and have been shown to improve the immune response. Silat practice is also encouraged for those seeking focus and clarity of thought, which is helpful both for the younger generation as they go through their schooling, and also for the older generation to offset the effects of aging on the mind and memory.

In Indonesia, another form of natural remedy and treatment is available in the way of traditional herbs, called Jamu. Please click to read a brief introductory article on Jamu and its usage.

Article reprinted with permission from the International Silat Federation of America at Yale (ISFA@Yale).


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