Silat is an umbrella term used to describe the martial art forms practiced throughout the Malay Archipelago. Internationally it is now called Pencak Silat. Silat is a combative art of fighting and survival and it has been evolved in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam civilizations for centuries into social culture and tradition. During the colonization era, both in Malaysia and Singapore as British Colonies and in Indonesia as Dutch colonies, practitioners (locally known as pesilat) used the martial art as a form to liberate from foreign authorities.
The distinctive forms of silat with other Asian martial arts, such as kung fu, tae kwon do or karate, lie on the cultural aspect. Silat is not only for combative purposes. When accompanied with traditional instruments, such as kendang, silat transforms into a folk dance. In Minangkabau area (the West Sumatra province of Indonesia), silat was the oldest men’s tradition known as silek and it is one of the components to perform the Minangkabau folk dance of randai. In Malaysia, one form of silat known of silat pulut also shows the harmonic silat styles as a dance accompanied by traditional instruments, and so in Brunei Darussalam “silat cakak” also performed with the presence of “gulintangan”. A silat form in West Java province of Indonesia, known as pencak, is usually accompanied with music, notably by the traditional Sundanese suling instrument.