Part of understanding Silat is understanding the culture behind the art. To further this, we at Gerakan Suci encourage that all students abide by some simple adab (manners) when at the school or at school events. This will also help when we have visitors from Indonesia or if the student chooses to visit there and study. Plain and simple, adab means to treat people with courtesy and politeness, to be refined in your actions and humble in your speech and also to be respectful of your elders and teachers. It means to be helpful to others beyond your own needs. Treat the Perguruan as a sacred place of learning where you have come to grow and become the person you envision in your secret heart.
Entering the Perguruan: Always bow when entering or leaving the Perguruan. Give Salaam to the senior instructor first, then to all of your classmates. This is a sign of humility and a willingness to learn as well as respect for the Perguruan, the gurus, the art and all past masters.
The Head: Do not pat people on the head, even children as this is considered the seat of the soul in many Southeast Asian cultures.
The Left Hand: In many countries it is considered impolite to do certain things with your left hand. This is because in many parts of the world the left hand is used to wipe oneself after going to the bathroom. Therefore; -Reach for people with your right hand and try not to touch them with your left hand. Obviously this doesn’t count when working out. -Do not put your left hand on an eating surface or handle food with it. Eat with your right hand. -When moving through a group of people, it is polite to put your right hand in front of you and your left hand behind your back and bend over slightly. -Give and receive objects, money, etc. with your right hand. This can be difficult for lefties at first, but becomes easier with practice.
Feet: It is impolite to point your feet at another person or to touch them with your feet, other than when doing Silat. Therefore; -Do not point your feet out at another person when sitting. -Do not rest your feet on another person, ever. -Do not step over another person, a weapon, or a musical instrument.
Weapons and Musical Instruments: These items are imbued with spirit and spiritual properties. Always treat them with the utmost respect. Do not step over them.
Pointing: It is better to point with the thumb than with your finger.
Eating: Politeness when eating becomes very important in poor countries. We observe several rules here and recommend several when eating in Indonesia. Therefore when eating here; -Always serve others first, serve yourself last. Usually guests are first, then elders then others in descending age order. -General politeness is always important. Therefore when eating in Indonesia; -When offered food or drink, thank your host and accept, then continue talking. Wait for several offers to begin before you actually do. This shows that you are not visiting because you need to eat, even if you do. It is most polite to wait for the elder male to begin eating first. -When you become full, leave a very small amount of food on your plate. If you clear your plate it will be filled again for you.
Addressing Instructors: Although the Perguruan as well as Indonesia is casual and informal in personal interactions, in a classroom setting the head instructor should be addressed as Guru, Pak, Che, Mas or A’kang followed by their name such as Pak Rennie, Guru Mushtaq or Ce Charlene. When leading a class, student teachers are addressed as Guru .
In Class: Before beginning a drill with another student or instructor it is polite to put your hands together as if praying and bow. This is a reminder that this is only practice and that your mock opponent is your friend helping you to learn.
Leaving Class: Always ask permission to leave a class in progress, even if just getting a drink of water. Remember to bow when leaving and returning. Arriving Late: Always give salaam to the instructor when entering a class in progress. Do a quick stretch and then enter the group as quickly as possible.
Hand Gestures and Body Language: In many cultures hand gestures and movements are considered powerful forms of communication. Certain gestures that are common in the US are considered impolite in Indonesia and are a good way to get a free Silat lesson, the hard way. These are; – Motioning with your index finger to ask someone to come to you. This translates as giving someone “the bird”. If you wish someone to come over to you, scoop the air with your palm facing down. Always approach a Guru or elder rather than motioning them to come to you. – Standing with your hands on your hips while listening or talking with someone is effectively saying “you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about”. This can be very dangerous if you are learning martial arts from that person. Avoid this posture. Standing with your right hand over left in front of your body as mentioned above is preferred.
Correcting an Instructor: Never do it. If you think he/she is wrong or has something mixed up then ask them about it later when it is convenient. It is very rude and they may be showing a variation that you do not have knowledge of.
Hazing: It is essential that new students are treated with the same courtesy as longtime members, if not more, as we wish for them to find the Perguruan to be a safe place to learn. It is the height of disrespect for Perguruan members to intimidate, harass or victimize other students. This includes using excessive force in exercises. Those who haze others will be kicked (literally) out of the school and will forfeit all dues and fees as well as being cursed in some esoteric manner that will be very unpleasant for all concerned.
Guru: It is traditional to help provide for your school and your teacher so that he may devote more time to teaching. Aside from your donations (money), this includes a certain amount of time helping school operations (cleaning, maintenance and odd jobs), and sustenance and supplies (food, tea, rice, etc.). Take the initiative to ask how you can be of service.