Pencak silat in Western writings sometimes spelled "pentjak silat" or phonetically as "penchak silat" is an umbrella term for a class of related Indonesian martial arts. In neighbouring countries the term usually refers to professional competitive silat. It is a full-body fighting form incorporating strikes, grappling and throwing in addition to weaponry. Every part of the body is used and subject to attack. Pencak silat was practiced not only for physical defense but also for psychological ends. Pencak silat (by different names) is part of a common Malay culture spanning Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, and the Philippines. "Silat Melayu" is a common term for the types of silat in the Southeast Asia peninsular consisting of Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei and Singapore. "Bersilat" is used in Malaysia. "Pasilat" is a term sometimes used in the Phillipines. Often the shortened version of "silat" suffices. It is sometimes said that "pencak" relates to the traditional dances and "silat" to the self defence aspects (for instance the Minangkabau of West Sumatra); but this may perhaps be over simplistic and by no means universally adopted.
Pencak Silat Technique: Pencak silat could be called a generic term for all the different styles of Indonesian martial arts. Because of this it's difficult to define what exactly the standard techniques of pencak silat are. However, a few core principles will give you insight into how pencak silat works. Silat varies greatly depending on the region any particular style originated from. It is estimated that there are 150 different forms of pencak silat. These differ more or less from one another, but can be characterized by region. Silat from the west region of Java is characterized mostly by hand and arm techniques utilizing mostly fists, elbows and brutal arm bars. Central Javanese silat is a more standard martial art in that it generally consists of a combination of hand/arm techniques and leg techniques. Kicks in silat are often similar to kicks in kung fu or Thai boxing. Silat from eastern Java, Bali and Madura is more elaborate. It features similar hand and foot techniques to central Javanese silat. However, it also has an arsenal of throwing techniques that are not unlike those found in judo or aikido. Sumatran silat is a direct fighting style with arm and leg techniques.
Governing bodies: The leading organization of pencak silat in Indonesia is Ikatan Pencak Silat Indonesia (Pencak Silat Association of Indonesia). The liaison body for international pencak silat is the International Pencak Silat Association or PERSILAT (Persekutuan Pencak Silat Antara Bangsa).
International competitions: The major international competition is Pencak Silat World Championship, organised by PERSILAT. This competition takes place every 2 or 3 years period. More than 30 national teams competed in recent tournaments in Jakarta (2010), Chiang Rai (2012) and Phuket (2015).
Pencak silat can appear a bit mysterious at first. Its weapons are exotic and there are so many different forms of it, it can seem a bit confusing. However at its core, silat is a no-nonsense hard style of Asian martial arts. Unlike many other hard styles however, it does contain the central idea of "giving in" to an attack and letting your enemy's own energy defeat him. This makes it a rather enlightened and sophisticated fighting style.