Pencak silat pronounced "penchak silat" and sometimes spelled "pentjak silat" in Western writings) is an umbrella term for a class of related Indonesian martial arts. In neighbouring countries the term usually refers to professional competitive silat. It is a full-body fighting form incorporating strikes, grappling and throwing in addition to weaponry. Every part of the body is used and subject to attack. Pencak silat was practiced not only for physical defense but also for psychological ends.
The leading organization of pencak silat in Indonesia is IPSI (Ikatan Pencak Silat Indonesia, meaning Pencak Silat Association of Indonesia). The liaison body for international pencak silat is the International Pencak Silat Association or PERSILAT (Persekutuan Pencak Silat Antara Bangsa).
Although the word silat is widely known throughout much of South East Asia, the term pencak silat is used mainly in Indonesia. Pencak silat was chosen in 1948 as a unifying term for the Indonesian fighting styles. It was a compound of the two most commonly used words for martial arts in Indonesia. Pencak was the term used in central and east Java, while silat was used in Sumatra and Borneo. In Minang usage, pencak and silat are seen as being two aspects of the same practice. Pencak is the essence of training, the outward aspect of the art which a casual observer is permitted to witness as performance. Silat is the essence of combat and self-defense, the true fighting application of the techniques which are kept secret from outsiders and not divulged to students until the guru deems them ready. While other definitions exist, all agree that silat cannot exist without pencak, and pencak without silat skills is purposeless.
The origin of the words pencak and silat have not been proven. Some believe that pencak comes from the Sanskrit word pancha meaning five, or from the Chinese term pencha or pungcha which implies parrying or deflecting, and striking or pressing.
Other terms may be used in particular dialects such as silek, penca, mancak, maen po or main-po.
Dutch East Indian newspapers of the colonial era recorded the terms for martial arts under Dutch spellings. These include silat, pencak (spelled in Dutch as "pentjak"), penca ("pentjah"), mancak ("mentjak"), manca ("mentjah"), and pukulan ("poekoelan"). In 1881 a magazine calls mancak a Batak fencing game "with long swords, daggers or wood (mentjah)" These papers described mancak as Malayan (Maleidsche) suggesting that the word originates in Sumatra. These terms were used separately from silat in the Dutch East Indies. The terms pukulan or main pukulan (spelled "maen poekoelan" in Dutch) referred to the fighting systems of Jakarta but was also used generally for the martial arts of other parts of Indonesia such as Sumatra and Lombok. Believed to be a Betawi term, it derives from the words for play (main) and hit (pukulan).
Doubtless the earliest men, as prehistoric immigrants to the islands now known as Indonesia, had methods of self-defense. Perhaps at first these primitive peoples were primarily concerned with self-defense against wild animals. Later, as their wanderings took them into different areas, they came into unavoidable contact with other peoples-some unfriendlyand defense against humans became necessary. Art objects and artifacts show that, by about the eighth century A.D., specific systems of combative measures had been evolved and were operative in the Riouw Archipelago, which lies between Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula. Such systems, however crude, were greatly influenced by various continental Asian cultures, and spread as fighting arts into Indonesia. The Menangkabau people of Sumatra took these early fighting arts and developed them into a particular Indonesian style. One of the earliest powerful
kingdoms, that of Srivijaja in Sumatra, from the seventh to the fourteenth centuries, was able to extend its rule by means of the efficiency of its fighting skills. The civilizations of eleventh century Java developed a wider range of weapons and fighting arts that reached