An uplifting mishap ensures UTP’s Pencak Silat Team continue to press on after missing out U.S Open
Competitive pencak silat now a fixture in UTP’s sports calendar
Opening up about missing out on the U.S Open still leaves a bitter taste, shares Muhammad Helmi bin Sharqawi. Helmi, the president of UTP’s Pencak Silat martial arts club says that they (club members) felt really hard done and unlucky to miss out. Months earlier, club members had given everything in preparation for the first U.S held tournament. “It was pure excitement to compete at the tournament, but we were not able to obtain our American visa in time,” he says.
It’s a huge thing because pencak silat is so tightly woven into the fabric of our local culture, Helmi reiterates. Although only known in small pockets of the western world, silat has played a significant role in the history of South East Asia for centuries.
The idea is to engender a feeling of pride—as pencak silat practitioners are also seen as people with superior mental and spiritual prowess, says Helmi. He adds, the fact that the U.S is holding its first pencak silat world tournament is alluding to the country’s ambition to push silat for the Olympics as early as 2024.
Despite the delay costing club’s tournament outfit a place at the tournament, Helmi is nonetheless upbeat about the future of the sport. And Helmi believes that the martial arts scene is on an upward track at UTP.
He says, “I’m really glad that at UTP, we get the opportunity to take part in overseas’ pencak silat tournaments. We get a lot of support from Yayasan Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (YUTP) and the Centre for Student Development (CSD). In fact, we are the only university in Malaysia that goes out to compete in international silat tournaments.”
Previously, according to Asmawi bin Harun, the club’s instructor, pencak silat was categorised as a tier three club. However, after a strong recent achievement and increase in the club’s members and activities, the club has now moved up into tier one.
What this means is, pencak silat is now eligible to receive full support from the university to participate in domestic and international competitions. Of these, last September, UTP’s pencak silat team competed at the Pekanbaru Open Pencak Silat Championship II in Riau, Indonesia. It was a familiar visit as the team also competed the previous year in Riau at the 2018 ASEAN University Games.
Member, Khairul Amirin shares that at the moment, the university has all three pencak silat sects at UTP. You can choose any one you want he says. “We have Cekak Hanafi, Cekak Silat and the National Silat Federation (Pesaka). If you are into dance and culture, Cekak Hanafi and Cekak Silat are the obvious choices. However, if you are into fight competition, you can join Pesaka where we take part in a host of competitions such as the Deputy Prime Minister Cup and so on,” he says.
Further, he adds that silat is an integral cog in the nation’s history. And besides slugging it out at international pencak silat courts and events, UTP’s Pencak Silat club regularly receives internal and external invitations to grace corporate and wedding events to perform traditional silat dance.
Indeed, At UTP, we provide our students a vast array of opportunities for the pursuit of knowledge and interests in various fields. Beyond academic excellence, our students are geared to represent the university at key domestic and international events.
Evidently, silat is more than just a measure to defend themselves for our students, Asmawi concludes. It is also a form of sport and performance. Quite significantly, pencak silat at UTP is regarded highly as a treasured source of inspiration for its cultural values, international recognition and last but not least, traditions.