Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Keris

In Seni Silat Telapak Nusantara, the keris plays a very important role. It signifies the higher levels of the physical techniques and symbolises the key to opening the spiritual side of silat or kebatinan. Keris is considered a weapon which in turn contains within it multiple weapons or functions.

Every inch of the keris is used fully: from the blade, the handle to the sheath, every single part. Some consider it as the 'extension' of the hand, when holding a keris, one is considered to have extended one’s limbs. It will not be treated as a foreign object.

In our silat school style, keris become the first weapon to be mastered before any other weapon. It can be use to stab, slice, slash and block; and can be a very versatile weapon of offense and defense.

The first lesson of keris in Pertubuhan Seni Silat Telapak Nusantara Malaysia comes from “Bunga Bongsu” or “Silat Pengantin”. A set of form called “Keris Kosong” inside “Bunga Bongsu” is trained with such details. One must feel all the movements, seen and unseen, coming from the “Keris Kosong”.

There are many variations for hands movements that must be understood and felt. All these variations have different results in reality of applications. There are also various body and limb movements. One must feel even the slightest movement while practicing.

When one understanding deepens, not moving must also be considered as movement. There are also many physical and spiritual philosophies that must be applied. Breathing techniques are also essential. There are many physical, semi-spiritual and spiritual practices that must be understood and applied in perfecting one’s keris skill.

When one acquires a complete understanding of keris, one can fully utilise it from tip to toe, from handle to sheath, from the blade to the “ganjah”. Many masters use the keris as a metaphor for the human body due to its many uses, uniqueness and functions.

When attacking, a keris can inflict a lot of damage to many target areas with just one movement. The handle and the sheath can be made as very good defence tools or shields to block or parry enemy attacks; either empty handed or armed.

The handle and sheath can also function very well as a dangerous weapon of attack. Some keris masters carve their handle and sheath from extremely hard wood or very fine and hard metal. This will not only make their keris look very exotic but also enable their handles and sheaths with weapon qualities.

In our school's style, keris techniques are mastered to tame the keris and not to worship it. There are many cultural and Islamic manners that must be implied in it.

After mastering the “Keris Kosong”, one must train in duel the “Keris Sanggah Satu” techniques. This is the first details of the “Keris Kosong”. Instead of using only one keris for both exponent in “Keris Kosong” technique, one keris for each exponent will be used in “Keris Sanggah Satu”. Both exponents will be train to use keris against each other simultaneously.

The blade is the first part of keris to be used in “Keris Sanggah Satu” followed by other part of the keris in the next lesson. There will be 3 levels in “Keris Sanggah” or “Sanggah Keris”. Each level is unique and will emphasise different aspects of keris utilization while perfecting the previous level.

It is said that taming a keris and mastering its techniques signify a tamed nafs or oneself or one’s desire toward Allah (swt) with the Sunnah or the way of the Prophet Nabi Muhammad (saw).

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