Blue and red puzzle mats, photos of young students, and decorative Qur'anic verses dress the newly opened Silat martial arts studio in Ashburn, Virginia. Senior Instructors Terra Kurnia and Abdul-Malik Ahmad open the class with a short prayer in Arabic and then teach silat moves in the Indonesian language. Students uniformed in red and white move gracefully across the mat in a predefined set of movements called 'Jurus.'
A growing number of people in the Washington DC area are learning Pencak Silat – a unique style of martial arts developed in the Muslim countries of South-East Asia such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei.
The Al-Azhar school of Pencak Silat has been steadily growing for the last several years. Established in 1970 at the Embassy of Indonesia in Wasshington DC, the school is now in its fourth generation of black belt instructors and now has two full-time locations – Bethesda, Maryland and Ashburn, Virginia. The Ashburn branch caters almost entirely to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society's (ADAMS) community members. This new location is within walking distance of the ADAMS Ashburn branch. The Bethesda branch is taught by Senior Instructor Wona Sumantri and has adult and youth classes open to the public.
"Our goal was to provide a professional facility for our community members." says Terra Kurnia, Senior Instructor. "With mats, punching bags, etc. our students can train harder and safer."
Silat students train regularly for tournaments and competitions. On October 21st, eleven members of Al-Azhar Silat competed at the annual Battle of Baltimore World Championships. This 'open' tournament gathers competitors from multiple styles (Karate, TaeKwondo, Kungfu, etc.) to compete in forms, traditional weapons, and sparring. Al-Azhar Silat team members placed first, second, and third in weapons, forms, and sparring.
Al-Azhar school is looking to compete in several upcoming tournaments, including the Muslim-organized UMMAA tournament planned for December 25th, 2012. Ahmad is also planning on competing again at the World Silat tournament in Chiang Mai, Thailand in November of this year, God willing.
For more information, see www.silatva.com.