Silat Championship In Loveland A Stepping Stone On Path To Olympics
Pencak silat is a non-aggressive martial art that descends from the Indonesian and Malaysian islands. There are hundreds of different forms of silat, which employs natural body movements and develops balance and economy of movement in each individual.
It can be practiced purely for sport and fitness, for the aesthetic beauty of the art or for the chance to learn one of the world's few remaining complete traditional martial arts systems.
There is a push to include silat in the Olympics alongside other martial arts such as judo and taekwondo. The United States Sports Silat Association is based in Eaton, Colorado, with a P.O. box in Greeley. The USA Pencak Silat National Championships are this weekend in Loveland, July 13 and 14 .
Jacob Richter, the association's president, describes silat as a harmony of motion.
"If you look at nature, if you look at animals within nature, if you look at the ocean or the wind, and you look at this beautiful earth that we live in, the emotion depicts that," Richter said. "So as you move as a pencak silat player, you become one with everything that is around you."
Richter says pencak silat is different from other martial art forms because it's holistic in nature.
"It has healing aspect. It has a spiritual aspect. I feel that the Olympics is the best way to showcase this martial art because of what it can do for our community, and most importantly, for our youth," he said.
But getting the Olympic Committee to recognize silat won't be easy, says Richter: "It does require a minimum of 70 countries for the International Olympic Committee to recognize it. Officially there are over 50 countries associated with the world Pencak Silat Association."
Like other Olympic sports, a system for scoring and declaring a medal winner would have to be implemented, as well as establishing it as a safe sport.
Richter says there would be two objectives for including pencak silat in the Olympics. One would be a single-person event, in which a competitor would be judged based on hand and leg motions and the use and display of a weapon, either a stick or knife, accompanied by an empty hand. The second event would be sparring between two competitors, which would include technical and style scores for striking and kicking contacts.
The USA Pencak Silat National Championships are a stepping stone for Olympic recognition. The more countries other than Indonesia or Malaysia hold national tournaments of their own, with standardized rules regulated by the International Pencak Silat Association (or PERSILAT), the closer the Olympic committee will be to recognizing it as a worldwide sport.
The event in Loveland is the first PERSILAT-sanctioned tournament in the United States, and it will double as tryouts for the USA National Pencak Silat Team, which will go on to compete in tournaments in Asia.
The USA Pencak Silat National Championships are on July 13 and 14 at the First National Bank Exhibition Hall at The Ranch in Loveland, Colorado.