History

Cimande “Buhun” or “Wiwitan”

The Sundanese people of West Java, Indonesia are considered to be the oldest race of people on Earth. Indeed, the oldest human remains ever found was on the island of Java, now termed “The Java Man”. The Sundanese people’s original religion that is said to be at least 15,000 years old is called “Buhun”. During the reign of the first Sundanese Kings: King Salaka Nagara in the 1st Century to King Pajajaran in the 17th Century, “Buhun” was the religion of the Sundanese people. Buhun is accepting of all other religions and has elements very similar to most. After the spread of Islam and Buddhism, other off-shoots of Buhun formed in West Java, Central Java and even Bali. The King of Central Java originally came from Sunda, thus Kejawen, which also adds elements of Islam and Buddhism, is a newer adaption of the the original Buhun beliefs. The oldest Cimande practiced in West Java is normally referrd to as “Ulin Sunda”. Sometimes it may be called “Cimande Buhun”. The religion practiced in Cimande Tarik Kolot today is called “Jangjawokan” and is a mixture of “Buhun” and “Islam”.

Buhun is based on the “Trinity” called “Tri Tangtu” which is the unity of:

  • GUSTI – God, the creator of the universe (whatever you call the higher power)
  • NISKALA – All spiritual entities in the universe (used as your energy)
  • SEKALA – All physical beings in the universe (humans, animals, trees, etc)

The unity of Gusti, Niskala and Sekala are symbolized by the triangle and are encompassed in every Jurus Jurus and Lankah practiced in original and traditional Cimande. There are traditional mantras that are used before the training begins that I will give here freely for those students who are interested in the original “Cimande Buhun” or “Ulin Sunda” ways!

*Say this mantra before training to Attract the powers of the universe: TRI TANGTU

BAYU SABDA HEDAP

*Say this mantra before training to Gain the powers of the universe: TRI TANGTU

HURIP KARSA GUSTI HIRUP KERSA ABDI AMPAT KALIMA PANCAR

*You may also use this second mantra for meditation to gain powers from the universe for both martial arts and healing. Recite at least 33x at around midnight just before going to bed and after you wake in the morning.

Another belief that is very prominent in Buhun and popular throughout Java and Bali is the belief in the 4 natural elements and the 4 spiritual brothers or sisters that are a part of every single one of us. These are part of the Niskala aspect in Buhun and are part of the Trinity of Tri Tangtu. They are referred to by either:

AMPAT KALIMA PANCAR AMPAT LANKAH or

MARMARTI KANGKANG KAWAH ADI ARI ARI RASA

This history is the oldest known history in Sunda and does not correlate with the offical history of Cimande and Embah Kahir that is listed below, but it is well known by the Sundanese people and any of the Javanese that practice the Old Style Cimande.

More to come…


Embah Kahir and Cimande

[Source: Passage from the book, Learning Silat, page 10, by Mr. R Asikin, Bandung, August 1975 and authorized by H. Suhari Sapari, The General Leader of PPSI “The Indonesian Self Defense Association” of West Java, and the IPSI, Ikatan Pencak Silat Indonesia]

He was the master of “Cimande”, clan. He introduced the “Cimande” fighting system to the West Javanese. He called his clan “Cimande” for the place where he lived had a river called the Cimande River. He lived in a small village called the “Congreg” near the town of Bogor in West Java, around, 1780.

Embah Kahir had many students in many places like: Bogor, Jakarta, Banten, Bandung, and else where in West Java. In 1773, he fought against a fighter from Macao in Cianjur, a small town in West Java. It was witnessed by the chief of the district of Cianjur called the Prince of Kornel.

His very well known student was “Bapak Sera”, who had many students in Depok, Bogor, Jakarta, Tangerang, and Banten.

Embah Kahir’s five students who spread Cimande in Bandung were: Bapak Endut, Ocod, Otoy, Komar, and Oyot.

There were three other students who came from Bogor to Bandung and taught Cimande, namely: Bapak Bidong, Mailin and Bapak Abo.


The Myth of Maempo Cimande

[Source: Interview with Bapak Rifai, Guru Pencak Silat Cimande Panca Sakti in Jakarta, 1993]

Not far from the Mande river shore was a family of a merchant by the name of Kahir who lived in peace and calm. One day his wife went toward the river to run her daily errants such as washing laundry, cleaning food materials and relieving herself. When the wife was washing laundry she saw a school of monkeys across the stream, picking up “kupak” fruit along the river shore. Not too long after that a tiger appeared at the same place. Feeling that the presence of the tiger was very disturbing, the monkeys screamed and made loud noises, as loud as they could. Kahir’s wife was alerted and wondered what would happen next. The tiger roared furiously and charged towards the monkeys with its strong paws, but the little monkeys, not showing any fear at all, dodged the tiger and striked back by biting on the tiger’s stomach. The tiger struggled and striked back, but his attacks did not prevail over the monkeys. On the other hand the other monkeys, using branch sticks, they tried to divert the tiger’s attention and made him even more angry and jumped on them again. But at the same time the monkeys dodged the attack and bit on him again.

Ibu Kahir was carefully watching this moments by moments, she comprehended every movements which appeared to be as a fighting technique. As a result, she didn’t finish her job in time, she arrived home late and did not prepare lunch yet. Her delay in preparing lunch made Mr. Kahir very upset at her and he didn’t want to understand her, though she tried her best to explain. He got so upset and that he tried to slap her on the face. She dodged and escaped the slapping. Her husband got even more upset and lost control over himself. Blow by blow he tried to land on his wife, but none were able to touch her. She always managed to dodge the blows. Panthing and out of breath, Mr. Kahir asked his wife :”where did you learn to play poho?” (poho means to perform “deceiving moves”, or “maempo” for short). The wife explained to her husband that her delay was due to her return from the river, after having watching an interesting fight between the tiger and the monkeys.

After that Mr. Kahir dilligently asked his wife how those swift moves were done, and his wife showed him some samples. Mr Kahir would recall those fighting moves and it is now known by the name “jurus kelid pamonyet” (dodging monkey style). The monkeys attacking by using branches is known as “jurus pepedangan” (sword move) and striking of the tiger with both of its strong paws is known as “jurus pamacan” (tiger style). Because the tiger’s position when charging against the monkeys was with both rear legs in squatting position and the monkeys were using low stance position, thus the basic moves for Cimande is first – jurus kelid (dodging moves), starting from the tiger’s sitting position and the next step is standing low (low stance) monkey style. The maempo teknik was continuously developed by Mr. Kahir and the locals called it by the name of maempo Cimande.


The Life of Guru Kahir

[Short essay quoted from Gema Pencak Silat Vol 3 no. 1:18-19]

Kahir lived in a village of Cogreg, Bogor. He became a feared pendekar around the year 1760 which was when he first introduced to his students the maempo Cimande moves. His students then spread it out to other regions like Batavia, Bekasi, Karawang, Cikampek, Cianjur, Bandung, Garut, Tasikmalaya, Sumedang, Ciamis, Kuningan, and Cirebon.When he was living in Cogreg, Bogor, Kahir used to travel far, leaving his hometown for trading horses. There has been many attempts to rob him, but he was able to overcome them all because of his skills in playing maempo. In Batavia he was able to get acquainted with other silat pendekar(s) from Minangkabau and Cina – masters in the world of silat, and he traded experiences with them. His meeting with other silat pendekar gave him an idea to broaden his horizon by accepting other cultures into his own. When doing business in Cianjur, he met with the 4th city mayor of Cianjur, Raden Adipati Wiratanudatar (1776-1813).

He then decided to move to Cianjur and lived in Kamurang vilage. Raden Adipati Wiratanudatar knew that Kahir is skillful in playing maempo and he asked him to teach him and his family, all regional and security officers. In order to prove Kahir’s his skills, the mayor challenged him to a fight against a Chinese master of Kuntao Macao in alun-alun (park) Cianjur. Kahir won the fight and made himself more popular among the people in Cianjur region. In 1815 Kahir came back to Bogor, he begat 5 “sons” which are Endut, Ocod, Otang, Komar and Oyot. By his 5 sons was Cimande widely spread throughout the land of Pasundan (Western Java). Meanwhile in Bogor, Cimande was successed by his student, Ace, who died in Tarik Kolot. His descendants have become the elders of pencaksilat Cimande Tarik Kolot Kebon Jeruk Hilir. The beginning of the 19th century was when Cimande reached it’s glorious moments in West Java, that Kahir’s typical clothing of “sontok” or “pangsi” shorts (very loose/baggy shorts) with “kampret” shirt has become the model uniform of pencak silat until present.

In 1825 Kahir died and his fighting art is continuously developing and widely accepted by people of West Java. His training methods was developed by his pupil such as Sera’ and Ciwaringin style which along the way made some changes in the moves such as done by Haji Abdul Rosid. However, the changes is not too much different than the basic maempo Cimande moves. Today Cimande has developed and widely spread unto different corners around the world. The problem has been that Kahir did not put his teaching in writings, but oral tradition which is not systematic. In the village of Cimande, maempo Cimande is not in an organized form. From one family to another, the Cimande is passed down from one generation to another in an unorganized manner that it produced many students and branched many schools, legaly as well as illegally, not familiar with one another. At least Cimande has become the basic for other silat moves that later developed and branched out world widely.


The life of Pak Kahir

(Courtesy of Eric Chatelier) From a historical novel Pangeran Sundanese Kornel
written by Raden Memed Sastrahadiprawira

The paragraph below gives a clear description of Abah Kahir (also known as Embah, or Ayah Eyang Kahir) the legendary creator of Pencak Silat Cimande. Of all the styles of Pencak Silat from Indonesia, Cimande is perhaps the most well known, oldest and most influential.

There are a number of versions on the life of Abah Kahir dealing with the origins of Cimande, sources of inspiration, and lineage. According to a popular version in the community of Pencak Silat Banten, Abah Kahir was a Badui, an ethnic group inhabiting the mountainous regions of southwestern Banten. According to legend, the Baduis are descendants of the soldiers (Ind.: bala Tentara) of Ratu Pucuk Umum, the last king of the Hindu kingdom of Pajajaran who was at the time the location of the current Bogor.

When Ratu Pucuk Umum abdicated before the Muslim armies led by Molan Yusup (Banten regent 1570-1580) in 1579, a concession was granted by the court stating that the king would be spared if they agreed to isolate themselves in this region. The tradition of the martial arts of Pajajaran was preserved and transmitted through the ages.

According to this version, Abah Kahir, who was from the Badui region of Cikeusik, was known as an expert in Badui Ulin (Silat Badui). His reputation soon spread beyond the Badui territory and several Pencak Silat exponents dared to test his skill. These challengers all died at the hands of Abah Kahir. The fact that blood had defiled the sacred land of Baduis was considered to be serious misconduct according to traditional laws. Among the Badui such misconduct could not remain unpunished. The elders decided to banish Abah Kahir from the Badui land.

To ensure that such incidents would not happen again, Abah Kahir adopted a code of silence during his sojourns regarding the Badui and their martial arts. It is said that this code of silence still exists in the present day.

Leaving his native land, Abah Kahir worked as a porter for a Chinese merchant. The merchant was a hard man, who was also a practitioner of Chinese Kuntao. One day Abah Kahir decided to take a rest from his work. The Chinese merchant became furious and ordered him to return to work immediately. The altercation quickly escalated into a fight which resulted in the death of Chinese merchant.

As a result of this incident, Abah Kahir was left with the feeling that through his lack of self-control, he had literally killed his livelihood. He vowed that from this moment, he would use his art only to serve humanity. It was shortly after this event that the term maenpo was created to refer to the Pencak Silat of the Sunda region.

Abah Kahir blamed himself because of its lack of self-control, he realized he had killed the source of his” livelihood “. He therefore sware that from this moment, he would use his art only to serve humanity. As Wessi pointed out, the Badui “Code of Conduct” has symbolic importance in Sundanese culture as a sort of Moral Compass. Owing to their isolation from the modern world and the minimal influence of Islam in this era, the Badui have maintained traditions that are no longer found elsewhere in West Java and therefore are regarded as more pure, or authentic. In the same vein, the Kingdom of Pajajaran is often mentioned as a symbol of pure Sundanese culture. There is even a belief which holds after his death a Sundanese becomes a “resident of Pajajaran” in the form of a tiger.

Mas Jud and Cimande/Sera Kombinasi

Mas Jud practiced a form of Spriituality or religion Called “Abangan”. After Mas Juds death, his family, including his wife and sons continue to teach Cimande/Sera Kombinasi to selective students and spread the teachings of Abangan to those who wish to learn. Here is a brief description and overview of the system known as “Abangan”:

Abangan (Javanese “red”) is a term used to describe the rural Javanese Muslims whose Islam is blended syncretistically with older animist and Hindu-Buddhist beliefs. The term has entered Indonesian usage and is now considered pejorative, implying laxness in belief. These complex of beliefs are now more commonly called Kejawen (“Javanism”). Abangan belief centers on spirits, magic, and the ceremonial feast or slametan. Most spirits are malicious beings who intervene in human affairs on their own initiative, whereas magic involves the direct control of supernatural forces by a sorcerer or dukun. The skills of a dukun include treating disease, preventing accidents or injury, controlling natural phenomena, and both casting and lifting spells. The slametan is a feast offered to the immediate (male) community and accompanied by incense and prayer to mark a special occasion, to placate the spirits, and to confer on participants and their families a state of being slamet, or healthy and calm. Geertz distinguished abangan beliefs from the similarly syncretistic Javanese aristocratic priyayi tradition, but most observers now use the term priyayi to indicate aristocratic status and culture in general and regard it as part of the broader abangan or Kejawen category.

The abangan stand in contrast to the santri, considered more pious Muslims, and both are referred to as aliran (streams) in Javanese society. They became one of the bases for political organization after Indonesian independence, the Partai Nasional Indonesia initially having a strong abangan base. During the 1950s, the Partai Komunis Indonesia won increasing abangan support, because the party espoused the interests of the rural poor. Many abangan were therefore among the victims of the anti-Communist massacres of 1965–1966, in which perhaps half a million people died. Ironically, however, President Suharto (b. 1921, reigned 1967–1998) was abangan in upbringing and strongly supported abangan beliefs in his early years in office. Abangan belief was the responsibility of the powerful Department of Education and Culture and in the early 1980s came close to receiving recognition as “belief” distinct from “religion.”

Since 1950, the Indonesian state had provided massive support for religion by constructing places of worship, maintaining Islamic universities, and paying the salaries of religious officials. The Department of Religion was generally dominated by orthodox Muslims who regarded abangan belief as heterodox and lax and therefore ensured that no funds went to abangan purposes. A passage in the Indonesian constitution, which refers to religion and belief as if they were separate phenomena, however, gave the government a legal basis for regarding belief as part of culture and therefore for supporting it through the Department of Education and Culture, in which abangan Javanese tended to be more influential. Nevertheless, from the late 1980s, official support for abangan practice weakened as Suharto’s New Order began to cultivate orthodox Islam.

Traditionally, abangan belief was not at all organized, but from the late colonial period formal organizations began to emerge, generally centered on mystical practice (kebatinan, “innerness”). The largest of these, including Pangestu and Subud, also have a following outside Java.

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