Insights and Training Tips from Tactical Arts


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Learn to be Effective when Practicing Pencak Silat Technique

Learn to be Effective when Practicing Pencak Silat Technique

It’s about mastering the details.

Although I love the act of training itself, I don’t do it just for fun.  I train because I really want to be able to apply what I learn.  Likewise, I owe it to my students at Tactical Arts to make sure I am not just entertaining them, but I am really teaching them how to apply the techniques we study in class.  Sometimes this is easy with something like a basic strike, other times it may require more involved training methods.  This is often the case with a complex technique from Pencak Silat Mande Muda.

Pencak Silat offers some novel techniques that range from the simple punch to the throat, which takes only a few seconds to learn, to a complex takedown that leaves you wondering what the hell happened.  The key factor in training the later is in the depth of study.  You have to thoroughly examine the technique, refine your application of it, and learn its weaknesses to really understand it.

Below are a few suggestions that will help in your study of Pencak Silat (or any other martial art, really).  I use this approach when I am training myself.


Completely Examine the Technique


Understand the mechanics of the technique & know the intent behind it.  By asking the questions below, you will be able to break down what you are learning in order to really understand it.


What is the technique designed to do?   Is it a strike, a throw, a trip, an off-balancing maneuver?   What is the expected outcome?  Should the opponent fall forward, fall backwards or just blink.  By knowing these details you will have direction when practicing.

What is the specific purpose of the technique?  Is it a stun or a finishing attack?  Is it designed to totally break an opponent or just to setup another technique?  Why use the technique?  Find out more about the specifics of the technique.  This will help you understand more about the intent of the technique, better tune your body mechanics, and know when to use it.

How is the technique performed?  Do I have to commit all my force or just a little.  What mechanics are needed to make it happen? Is it all arms, or do you use the hips.  Is the force circular, shearing or direct?  Is there a contrary force?  Know all the mechanics and specifics of applying the technique so you can get it right.

When would conditions be best for this technique to be used?  Is it best if the opponent is light on his feet or grounded with a wide stance?  Does the person have to be leaning forward or standing upright for the technique to be applied successfully.  You need to know what to look for to be able to find an opportunity to use it.


Master the Subtleties


Find the ideal position for leverage.  Try applying the technique from slightly different angles to find the place where you have the best leverage and best access to the intended target or control point.  Ask your partner to give you feedback.  Examine how slight changes in joint angles can make or break a technique.  Observe how the movement of one joint affects other joints on the same limb. Work though the variations of all of these to find the ideal circumstances for applying the technique.

Make sure you have the right balance to apply it properly.  Adjust your balance to see how you need to distribute your weight to apply the technique right. Do you need more weight forward to pin the opponent with a knee or should you withdraw your weight to avoid exposing your head?  Can you be pulled down if you are not grounded and low?  Test it out.

See if changes in your grip position, foot placement or posture make a difference. Controlling the wrist, forearm or elbow can all be useful, but each technique is different.  Find the best place to hold for each technique.  Adjust your angle and foot placement.  Sweeps are often easier from particular angles, while shin compressions are easier from others.  Sometimes the effectiveness of a technique can be greatly affected by just lowering your center of gravity.  It may change how force is applied to a joint or it may give you more leverage.  Try controlling slightly different areas on the arms, adjust your feet to more to the front, side or rear of your opponent, and see how your posture can change your ability to apply the technique well.


Train for the Weaknesses in the Technique


Troubleshoot your technique to see where it can fall apart.  Look at what possible counters an opponent, whether trained or untrained, may try.  Knowing these will help you adjust your application to close any open windows. You will discover what key moments, during the application of your technique, may contain an opportunity for your opponent.  Use this knowledge to be ready with your recounter.  This will help you be much stronger in your application and less susceptible to being countered by your opponent.

Look for the technical logic in related drills.  Is there a related series of techniques similar to the technique you are training?  Are there any answers in the series?  Sometimes they may not be taught outright, but a series may contain counters to the possible problems that can occur when a technique is used.  You may discover reasons that a technique is performed a certain way.  Challenge why any part of the technique is necessary, and don’t stop until you have an answer.  Use this knowledge to define your focus when training.




If you breakdown each technique and train to know the critical factors behind it, you will have the best chance of success when using it.  You will know the pros and cons of the technique and when you should apply it.  You will know how to make it work, and you will be ready for any counter your opponent may deliver.

To be really good at Pencak Silat, you don’t always need to learn a lot of new techniques, but you do need to dissect and deeply examine the ones you have.


If you are interested in Indonesian martial arts, consider joining the Tactical Arts Academy Pencak Silat Program.  You will learn practical locks, breaks, takedowns and throws.  You will also be exposed to the exotic side of the arts for a more rich cultural experience.

Click the button below to learn more about the program and sign up for a free visit.  You’ll learn more about Tactical Arts, you’ll have the opportunity to watch our classes in action, and you’ll discover if our training is right for you.

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