Updated: Dec 19, 2018
"Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"
Pencak Silat refers to the martial arts of Indonesian. It encompasses many different styles and methods of training, each determined to some degree by the needs of the warriors and the geographic demands of the region. The forms reflect a close relationship with the natural world, many drawing directly from the animals of the area. The forms aim to isolate and explore the specific attributes and strengths of the animals and how they might be honed and developed in the body of a man.
Harimau (Indonesian for Tiger) is one of my favorites. It is incredibly diverse, and lends itself to the development of intense mental focus and impressive, explosive physical movement.
Think about the way a tiger moves. Methodically. Calmly. There is method, and impeccable timing. They are extremely agile. Their ability to spring from low to high (and vice versa for that matter) with incredible speed, strength and accuracy is something to behold. They hunt with control, and ruthlessness.
The average weight of a tiger can range anywhere between 300-600 pounds depending on the gender and species. But in the wild, that is 300-600 pounds of pure functional muscle. Their claws are around 4 inches long and razor sharp. Their canines are approximately 3 inches long. And they can run up to 40mph and are excellent swimmers.
What is more, these animals are incredibly intelligent.
There is no arguing their status as an apex predator.
Harimau was developed to attempt to emulate and harness some of the characteristics strengths of the tiger. This form helps to build dynamic, functional movement when it is practiced correctly. Harimau is incredible for developing the lower body, and can be adapted in a multitude of ways to incorporate the upper body.
In addition to the obvious strength and power benefits, harimau stands alone as a transitional art. As you begin to blend harimau into your training you will see how seamlessly it lends itself to other movements.
It takes some work, but it is a lot of fun once you get the hang of it!
There are many variations on harimau, but we typically begin in a standing position with the hands in prayer or a fighting position.
The front leg steps deeply forward and the toes of the front foot turn out to the side.
(*This foot position takes some training to achieve and it is important to work your way up to it slowly to protect your knees and ankles*).
The big toe of the back leg is lined up with the heel of the front foot.
Both hands plant on the ground as you lower the hips and the shoulders. If you can, keep the pelvis lifted off of the front heel.
Keep the body straight and supported.
Shoulders and hips lower simultaneously.
Once you have found your balance your weight shifts forward slightly and the back leg lifts, drawing the leg up in a straight line.
The knee bends and the toes point up at the sky.
From this position we can begin to move through the different harimau variations.
Harimau can be a very advanced technique, and you really want to work your way up to it. Episode 3 of Rough Haus touches on how we can train in harimau, but there are many phases of this training and it is important to start at the beginning to build up to the movements.
Harimau is not a form to dabble in without the supervision of a trained professional. It is always advisable to check with a doctor before beginning or trying any new training methods. We are strongly advise against attempting this on your own. If you choose to do so, it is at your own risk.