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Pencak Silat Competitions in the 1970’s
Rapid Journal, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Book 28, 2003: 442-43)
© O'ong Maryono
The approval of pencak silat competition rules at the 4 th IPSI Congres in 1973, as described in the previous journal, was a crucial moment for the development of pencak silat olahraga since it implied its public recognition as a competitive sport. Still, nothwithstanding a great deal of public interest, the growth path remained hardous. In the early 1970’s, pencak silat sports competitions were still far from perfect. The regional selections for the 8 th PON were actually conducted without proper facilities and infrastructure. Athletes had to compete without body protectors, and often no special arena was provided. Also, competition rules being new were not fully understood by pesilat, trainers, or jury members, which meant that the matches were often wild. The atmosphere was usually very noisy and frightening, as the author himself experienced:
In other regions the mood was very similar, as Uca, master of perguruan Panglipur recalls an early pencak silat sports competitions in West Java:
To change this situation, at the 8 th PON, and two years later at the 1 st National Pencak Silat Championships in Semarang, the competition rules ratified at the 4 th IPSI National Congress were strictly applied. These rules comprised 30 articles including the opening and concluding articles which covered aspects such as competition facilities, instructions, equipment for participants, prohibitions, penalties, and a scoring system. To discuss all these articles in detail would lead us astray. It suffices here to mention some of the key elements in pencak silat sports competitions. Beginning with facilities, Article 5 required that the ring measure 7 square meters and be divided into a fighting zone measuring 5m x 5m with a one meter safe zone around the edge. Only athletes wearing competition uniforms pencak clothing comprising fairly loose black long trousers and a long-sleeved shirt, with the contestant’s red or blue insignia displayed were allowed to fight. For safety’s sake, contestants were also required to do the chest and genital guards provided by the committee.
One day before the competition, all the athletes were given a health check and weighed to determine their class. Matches were divided into three two-minute rounds, with a one-minute rest in between. Upon entering the ring, each contestant paid homage and performed an opening salutation according to the style of his perguruan before the match began. The matches were supervised by a referee assisted by five jurors, all hailing from different styles, schools, and regions from the competing contestants. Male contestants could target all parts of the body, except the genitals and above the neck, and female contestants all the parts of the body except the breasts, genitals, and above the neck. If a contestant attacked a prohibited part of the opponent’s body, he/she would be given a warning and have his/her score deducted. In extreme cases, a contestant would be dismissed and disqualified.
The winner was the contestant awarded the highest score by the jury. Only offensive techniques were scored, according to the target contacted: contact to the opponent’s arm or back scored one point; contact to the opponent’s chest, stomach, and left or right side scored two points; and an offensive causing the opponent to fall or a three-second lock scored three points. Apart from winning on points, a contestant could also win on a technicality if the referee stopped the match for some reason, or could win outright (for KO) if he incapacitated his opponent for ten seconds.
Enforcement of all these rules started to enhance the quality of the competitions, but –as we will discuss in the next journal─ many masters still remained critical towards the existing rules, their implementation and the associate scoring and penalties system.