Is Pencak Silat Good For Self-Defense?

Pencak silat is often confused with other branches of martial art like Kung Fu and karate. Silat originated from Indonesia, and it’s less popular than the arts mentioned earlier. Despite its low-profile existence in the world of self-defense, it still has the most brutal hit. 

The misconception people have about Pencak Silat is that it focuses too much on weapons than unarmed combat. However, that’s just an opinion aired by individuals who know close to nothing about this art. Few paragraphs from here, you will come to understand what Silat is all about and the various techniques involved. 

What’s Pencak Silat? 

Pencak silat is a type of martial art that originated from Indonesia. It has a lot in common with Kung fu and Shaolin, except that it has a wider combat system. Silat is both offensives as well as defensive.

On one hand, you will learn combat styles, such as punching, blocking, and grappling. On the other hand, you also learn defensive strategies such as how to defend yourself in sword fights and prevent an opponent from inflicting wounds on you. 

Silat belongs to the same family as karate and kung fu. This is why they use the pressure point in the body to hurt the opponent. At advanced stages, you will also be introduced to a little element from Krav maga. 

From what you’ve read so far, you can tell that this art combines different techniques, and it could take a lot of time and energy to master. Overall, the system encourages a great deal of fluid hand movement. You might also need to learn how to execute powerful low hand blocks and foot kicks. 

The training is usually slow. Most practitioners will first take you through the process of unarmed combat before introducing you to tools such as knife, spear, and sword. Even though this art is seen as a sport, it goes beyond that. 

Silat isn’t a form of recreation, and you don’t practice when you feel like it. It involves a certain level of commitment and dedication. It takes some time to master your skill, and there are some training you can’t take with levity as you do in conventional sports. 

At some stages, you will be introduced to some brutal styles and might have to go head to head with armed fighters. Lack of focus from your end could result in a collection of injuries. 

Overall, all the techniques you will learn here will help defend yourself in real-life battles. It applies to regular fights with bullies on the streets. Even with basic training, you will be able to defeat your opponent in freehand training where only kicks and punches are needed.

You will be able to take on individuals twice your size. Because this art teaches you intelligent movement, and you don’t even need to be the bigger person to win. 

Pencak Silat Principles And Strategy 

Pencak silat has certain principles and strategies everyone willing to learn must master. Looking over the rules, it’s sacred for a fighter not to back down in any challenge or look down on their opponents. Also, a fighter in possession of this skill must not go about looking for trouble, and neither instigate an attack or any form of disputes. 

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The rule book is similar to that of other martial art principles. In summary, a fighter should use their skill to protect themselves as well as others. As with physical combat, certain principles will shape your attitude and put you in a better frame of mind to positively influence others. 

Most Silat training are divided into two categories: attack and defense. 

1. Attack mechanism

Most attacks are executed with emphasis on your opponent’s movement. When you attack, your aim is to breakdown your opponent’s offense and render them harmless against you. In every encounter, your opponent seeks to overpower you, and he does so by throwing blows and kicks. 

Overall, you should be able to read your opponent well. Is he trying to use his weight against you? Or is he throwing fast punches to cancel out yours? A smart fighter doesn’t just pay attention to their opponent’s strength; they also pay attention to their weaknesses. In martial art, you do not always have to use your strength; you need clever tactics to read your opponent’s every move and counter it. 

2. Defense Tactics 

Defensive tactics are even more complex. It’s your defending that will help you defeat an opponent. Your defensive attitude depends on your level of awareness and your ability to pay attention to details. Your goal when creating a defensive strategy is to ensure your opponent doesn’t strike you in a way that will inflict serious injuries. 

Is Pencak Silat Good For Self-defense? 

Silat teaches both armed and unarmed combat. You will learn how to defend yourself using your hands and your legs. There are no limitations to how you can apply it in real-life situations. You can develop your unique moves aside from the one you will be taught by the practitioner. 

Silat is flexible, and you can use it to defend yourself against several attacks. If you happen to have access to weapons, you will use it to your advantage since you’ve already undergone training. However, Silat techniques are brutal, and you can inflict serious injury on your opponent. 

Another disadvantage is that your best moves are executed when you’re on your feet. You can get easily overpowered once you lose balance and have your back on the ground. 

Difference between Pencak Silat And Karate 

Karate has a bit of similarity with Pencak Silat. In all honesty, most people view all Asian martial art as the same. In practice, they’re divided into different branches, and to crown it all, they originate from different countries. 

Karate is a completely unarmed combat technique. It focuses on using the feet and hands to deliver strikes. Karate focuses on the offensive as well as a few counterattacks. 

Silat is a complete art. It deals with weapons and includes certain techniques that break the human body. Silat has better footwork, superior body movement, and more intense use of weapons. Unlike karate, Silat doesn’t need any costume. It can be practiced on everyday clothing, and the training is regulated. 

If you pay close attention, you will notice that both Silat and Karate can help you with self-defense. The biggest factor you should be concerned about shouldn’t be the art but the one that’s teaching it. Both have their area of applications and a few weaknesses. 

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More than anything, the biggest deciding factor should be the teacher of the art and not the art. Every art out there has weaknesses and strengths. 

Benefits of Silat 

The most common reason why most people learn this art is to defend themselves in street fights. While the system will teach you how to use some weapons, you might not be able to do so in the real world. The overall effect of this type of art is immense. 

It has so much more to offer than self-defense. Among the best benefit, you will derive is how to develop your body. The constant movement of your body, especially the foot and arm, improves flexibility. No wonder Silat fighters are good dancers. 

You will also benefit from reduced injury occurrence, and some drills will improve your mental awareness. In the long run, you will be able to sniff danger from a distance, and this is because the practitioner will teach you how to examine your environment. 

We also love the speed of movement, and you can benefit from such persistence. This improves your accuracy, but above all, your stamina and strength go to a new level. 

What Silat doesn’t Involve 

Silat will induce some physical changes, but it won’t completely recondition your body. Your stamina will improve, but there’s nowhere it is written that indulging in any of its drills will give you your dream body. 

Also, most of the movement can only be executed when both fighters are standing on their feet. Once you lose balance, you can easily be taken advantage of. In the worst scenario, they can sustain serious bruises and bad cut in the eye. 

There’s a risk that comes with practicing some of its techniques in the real world. Using the pressure point in the body during street fights is a risky venture. The individual might pass out. If we were to look at other self-defense mechanisms, we could say Silat is difficult than Russian Systema. 

Also, some of its moves seem to resemble that of systema but slightly more difficult to execute. Unlike systema, you can find a credible trainer for Silat even if you stay outside Indonesia. 


Learning this art comes with a few strengths and weaknesses. You’re undefeated on your feet but vulnerable on the ground. The best practitioners will teach you both armed and unarmed combat techniques and how to use weapons. Silat teaches self-discipline, and the rule book should be your companion. 


Hi - I'm Jonathan, and I've been passionate about fighting ever since I was a little kid. I did some Karate, Judo, and Kickboxing, and always wanted to try Aikido. I started this site to indulge my passion for Martial arts, answering all the geeky questions I had. Now I want to share all the information I've learned with you guys.

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