Kuntao or kuntau (拳 道, Pe̍h-ōe-jī: kûn-thâu, Tagalog: kuntaw) is a Hokkien term for the martial arts of the Chinese community of Southeast Asia, specifically the Malay Archipelago. It is most commonly practiced in and associated with Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore.
Pe̍h-ōe-jī is an orthography used to write variants of Southern Min Chinese, particularly Taiwanese Hokkien and Amoy Hokkien. Developed by Western missionaries working among the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia in the 19th century and refined by missionaries working in Xiamen and Tainan, it uses a modified Latin alphabet and some diacritics to represent the spoken language. After initial success in Fujian, POJ became most widespread in Taiwan and, in the mid-20th century, there were over 100,000 people literate in POJ. A large amount of printed material, religious and secular, has been produced in the script, including Taiwan's first newspaper, the Taiwan Church News.
Tagalog is an Austronesian language spoken as a first language by a quarter of the population of the Philippines and as a second language by the majority. Its standardized form, officially named Filipino, is the national language of the Philippines, and is one of two official languages alongside English.
Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practiced for a number of reasons such as self-defense, military and law enforcement applications, competition, for physical, mental and spiritual development; as well as for entertainment or the preservation of a nation's intangible cultural heritage.
There are no standard hanzi for kuntao, but the most common reading is "way of the fist", from kun 拳 meaning fist and tao 道 meaning way. Less common readings may use the character kun 棍 meaning staff, or tou 头 meaning head, so that it could be translated as "way of the staff" or roughly "knowledge of fists". In Fujian and other southern areas, this term was originally used for Chinese martial arts in general and was synonymous with quanfa (拳法, Pe̍h-ōe-jī: kûn-hoat). The word is recorded in Classical Malay and Indonesian, making it the oldest known term for Chinese martial arts in those languages, before the modern adoption of the term kungfu. In English, and even in its modern Chinese usage, kuntao usually refers specifically to styles brought to Southeast Asia and often does not include other Chinese fighting systems.
Fujian is a province on the southeast coast of mainland China. Fujian is bordered by Zhejiang to the north, Jiangxi to the west, Guangdong to the south, and the Taiwan Strait to the east. The name Fujian came from the combination of Fuzhou and Jianzhou, two cities in Fujian, during the Tang dynasty. While its population is chiefly of Han origin, it is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse provinces in China.
Chinese martial arts, often named under the umbrella terms kung fu and wushu, are the several hundred fighting styles that have developed over the centuries in China. These fighting styles are often classified according to common traits, identified as "families", "sects" or "schools" of martial arts. Examples of such traits include Shaolinquan (少林拳) physical exercises involving Five Animals (五形) mimicry, or training methods inspired by Old Chinese philosophies, religions and legends. Styles that focus on qi manipulation are called internal, while others that concentrate on improving muscle and cardiovascular fitness are called "external". Geographical association, as in northern and "southern", is another popular classification method.
Indonesian is the official language of Indonesia. It is a standardized register of Malay, an Austronesian language that has been used as a lingua franca in the multilingual Indonesian archipelago for centuries. Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation in the world. Of its large population, the majority speak Indonesian, making it one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.
The presence of Chinese martial arts in the Malay Archipelago traces back to ancient contact between China and Southeast Asia. Donn F. Draeger goes so far as to call them the oldest major organised system of fighting in Indonesia, pre-dating structured teaching of silat.The Toraja, Batak, and Dayak cultures all show Chinese influence, and Chinese weapons are often depicted in ancient Sumatran art. Some pre-colonial Chinese temples in Indonesia display combative images characteristic of southern Chinese forms, and many techniques and weapons of silat are of Chinese origin. Many Peranakan families can still trace their clan history in the region as far back as the voyages of Admiral Zheng He, but most Southeast Asian Chinese were brought to the Malay Archipelago as working-class immigrants during the colonial era. In Indonesia in particular, every Chinese community had some form of kuntao, but were traditionally shrouded in secrecy. As recently as the 1970s, kuntao was often practiced secretly to avoid its techniques from being revealed to outsiders, both Chinese and non-Chinese. It was not openly displayed, and public demonstrations would hide the true forms. This changed during the latter of the 20th century, and kuntao is now taught commonly taught without secrecy. Kuntao was introduced to the US by Willem Reeders and Willem de Thouars in the 1960s.
Donald Frederick "Donn" Draeger was an internationally known teacher and practitioner of Japanese martial arts. He was the author of several important books on Asian martial arts, and was a pioneer of international judo in the United States and Japan. He also helped make the study of martial arts an acceptable topic of academic research.
Silat is a collective word for a class of indigenous martial arts from the geo-cultural area of Southeast Asia, more precisely in the Indonesian Archipelago, a region known locally as Nusantara. It is traditionally practised in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, portions of the Philippines, southern part of Thailand and central part of Vietnam. There are hundreds of different styles (aliran) and schools (perguruan) but they tend to focus either on strikes, joint manipulation, weaponry, or some combination thereof.
The Toraja are an ethnic group indigenous to a mountainous region of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Their population is approximately 1,100,000, of whom 450,000 live in the regency of Tana Toraja. Most of the population is Christian, and others are Muslim or have local animist beliefs known as aluk. The Indonesian government has recognised this animistic belief as Aluk To Dolo.
Both northern and southern Chinese martial arts are represented in kuntao, but the majority of systems originate from the same southern states as the Southeast Asian Chinese communities who practice them. Fujian, Shandong, Kongfu and Guangdong styles dominate. Some systems were directly imported from China and underwent little or no changes, such as Pakua (baguazhang or eight-trigram palm) and Peh-ho (baihequan or white crane fist). Among the most common of these are Saolim (Shaolinquan), Ngochokun (wuzuquan or Five Ancestors fist), and Thaikek (taiji). Other styles may be a conglomeration of several different schoolsresulting from the supposition that they had to adapt to the Southeast Asian weapons and environment. The sanchian form is a common fundamental to all major styles of kuntao.
Shandong is a coastal province of the People's Republic of China, and is part of the East China region.
Guangdong is a province in South China, on the South China Sea coast. Guangdong surpassed Henan and Shandong to become the most populous province in China in January 2005, registering 79.1 million permanent residents and 31 million migrants who lived in the province for at least six months of the year; the total population was 104,303,132 in the 2010 census, accounting for 7.79 percent of Mainland China's population. This also makes it the most populous first-level administrative subdivision of any country outside of South Asia, as its population is surpassed only by those of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the Indian states of Bihar, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. The provincial capital Guangzhou and economic hub Shenzhen are among the most populous and important cities in China. The population increase since the census has been modest, the province registering 108,500,000 people in 2015. Most of the historical Guangdong Province is administered by the People's Republic of China (PRC). However, the archipelagos of Pratas in the South China Sea are controlled by the Republic of China, and were previously part of Guangdong Province before the Chinese Civil War.
Baguazhang is one of the three main Chinese martial arts of the Wudang school, the other two being Taijiquan and Xing Yi Quan. It is more broadly grouped as an internal practice. Bāguà zhǎng literally means "eight trigram palm," referring to the trigrams of the I Ching (Yijing), one of the canons of Taoism.
Kuntao in Jakarta is predominantly of Fujian extraction, characterized by their frontal and right stances (right foot advanced). All Fujian stances are based on observations of not just animals but also humans, such as a newborn baby or a drunken man. Unlike the low stances of other systems, Fujian forms primarily switch between the ting and pa stance, both of which are designed to feel natural with normally-spaced placement of the feet and legs. Shandong styles - practiced across Java and Madura - are Saolim derivatives, identified by their positioning of the thumb atop the clenched fist, as well as their left stances. Their techniques include high kicks, rolling, leaping, and both short and long arm movements. Styles of Kongfu origin (not to be confused with the misunderstood term kungfu ) are known for their rigidity and static postures. Guangdong styles are fast and energetic, employing flailing arm motions, subtle hand movements, and semiclenched formations for parrying and blocking.
Jakarta, officially the Special Capital Region of Jakarta, is the current capital and largest city of Indonesia. Located on the northwest coast of the world's most populous island, Java, it is the centre of economics, culture and politics of Indonesia, with a population of 10,075,310 as of 2014. Jakarta metropolitan area has an area of 6,392 square kilometers, which is known as Jabodetabek. It is the world's second largest urban agglomeration with a population of 30,214,303 as of 2010. Jakarta is predicted to reach 35.6 million people by 2030 to become the world's biggest megacity. Jakarta's business opportunities, as well as its potential to offer a higher standard of living, attract migrants from across the Indonesian archipelago, combining many communities and cultures.
Java is an island of Indonesia, bordered by the Indian Ocean on the south and the Java Sea on the north. With a population of over 141 million or 145 million, Java is the home to 56.7 percent of the Indonesian population and is the world's most populous island. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is located on its northwestern coast. Much of Indonesian history took place on Java. It was the centre of powerful Hindu-Buddhist empires, the Islamic sultanates, and the core of the colonial Dutch East Indies. Java was also the center of the Indonesian struggle for independence during the 1930s and 1940s. Java dominates Indonesia politically, economically and culturally. Four of Indonesia's eight UNESCO world heritage sites are located in Java: Ujung Kulon National Park, Borobudur Temple, Prambanan Temple, and Sangiran Early Man Site.
In Malaysia, the word kuntao is currently most common in Sarawak but the art itself is widely practiced throughout the country. Both the internal and external systems are well-represented. Most are of Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka, or Yunnan origin (the latter known in Malay as Lian Yunan). Among the oldest are southern Saolim and the three major internal schools (neijia), all of which strongly influenced local silat. Luohanquan (Arhat fist) and Yang-style Thaikek dominate. The Chuga Siulam (Chu family Shaolin or phoenix-eye fist) school of Penang is the lineage-holder of the discipline and traces directly back to the art's founders. Wengchun (Wing Chun) has become increasingly popular since the early 20th century. Five Ancestors Fist is practiced mainly in the south and is known locally as Gochoh. It is the most pervasive style of kuntao in Singapore and the Philippines, though Thaikek is also commonly practiced. Singapore is known for both Hainanese styles as well as Cantonese Hunggakun, particularly the Tiger And Crane form.
Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia. The federal constitutional monarchy consists of 13 states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two similarly sized regions, Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia. Peninsular Malaysia shares a land and maritime border with Thailand and maritime borders with Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia. East Malaysia shares land and maritime borders with Brunei and Indonesia and a maritime border with the Philippines and Vietnam. Kuala Lumpur is the national capital and largest city while Putrajaya is the seat of federal government. With a population of over 30 million, Malaysia is the world's 44th most populous country. The southernmost point of continental Eurasia, Tanjung Piai, is in Malaysia. In the tropics, Malaysia is one of 17 megadiverse countries, with large numbers of endemic species.
Sarawak is a state of Malaysia. The largest among the 13 states, with an area almost equal to that of Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak is located in northwest Borneo Island, and is bordered by the Malaysian state of Sabah to the northeast, Kalimantan to the south, and Brunei in the north. The capital city, Kuching, is the largest city in Sarawak, the economic centre of the state, and the seat of the Sarawak state government. Other cities and towns in Sarawak include Miri, Sibu, and Bintulu. As of the 2015 census, the population of Sarawak was 2,636,000. Sarawak has an equatorial climate with tropical rainforests and abundant animal and plant species. It has several prominent cave systems at Gunung Mulu National Park. Rajang River is the longest river in Malaysia; Bakun Dam, one of the largest dams in Southeast Asia, is located on one of its tributaries, the Balui River. Mount Murud is the highest point in Sarawak.
Neijia is a term in Chinese martial arts, grouping those styles that practice neijing, usually translated as internal martial arts, occupied with spiritual, mental or qi-related aspects, as opposed to an "external" approach focused on physiological aspects. The distinction dates to the 17th century, but its modern application is due to publications by Sun Lutang, dating to the period of 1915 to 1928. Neijing is developed by using neigong, or "internal exercises," as opposed to "external exercises",
Kuntao in Sarawak (spelled locally as kuntau) was disseminated by Sino-Iban and adopted by the wider Iban people. Masters are addressed as guro and the training area is an outdoor space called kelang. Kuntau remains guarded by secrecy today, seldom shown to the public and rarely taught outside the community. Though traditionally passed within the family, kuntau has dwindled in popularity among the young. There are currently only 24 kelang statewide and 14 styles remain. This includes Lang Nginau, Tepis Memaloh, and Sinding Ujan Panas. The styles known as Spring 12 and Spring 24 closely resemble Wing Chun. As with Lian Padukan, they trace back to a Chinese man from Yunnan. In 2017 the National Iban Kuntau Association (Nika) was formed to preserve Iban kuntau, and has approved selected patterns to be displayed to the public.
Kuntao in the Philippines is spelled as kuntaw and schools usually trace their lineage to a Buddhist monk named Darmon (based on the Bodhidharma legend) who fled China for Indonesia during the 13th century Mongol invasion. Ngochokun and Pakuazen (baguazhang) are prominent while Thaikek is mainly practiced as a health exercise. Both kuntaw and silat additionally exist as a dance-like Filipino performance art, while the combative aspect was passed down privately from parent to child. A notable example of this was Great Grandmaster Carlito A. Lanada, Sr. who inherited the art of Kuntaw Lima-lima from his grandfather Yong Iban and opened it to the public. It incorporates 43 forms, 86 basics, and arnis sticks as its primary weapon.
Millennia of mutual exchange has at times blurred the line between kuntao and silat. Some schools may use the terms almost interchangeably as in Bali. Others incorporate both words in their name, as with Silat Kuntau Tekpi. In the most extreme cases, a particular lineage is passed down within the indigenous Southeast Asian community until it loses any outward Chinese reference. This has sometimes been intentional, particularly after the Chinese Communist Revolution. Between 1949 and the mid-80s, some schools were rebranded as silat to distance themselves from Maoist China. Additionally, the establishment of Indonesia's silat governing body IPSI in 1948 was a motivating factor for martial arts schools to be recognized by the association if they're considered silat. The rise of racism in more recent decades has further resulted in alterations to oral traditions and histories, de-emphasising their inception as the product of Chinese culture. The following are examples of such revision. All are characteristically Chinese in their techniques, tactics, and medicinal practices.
From the Betawi word jingkrik meaning agile, legend traces Cingkrik to a monkey style of kuntao created by a woman who based the techniques on a group of monkeys she witnessed fighting. In the early 1900s this kuntao eventually reached a man in Rawa Belong named Kong Maing who further developed it after a monkey stole his walking stick and evaded all his attempts at retrieval. The modern revision credits Kong Maing entirely, ignoring its kuntao background.
Beksi was created in the 1800s by a Tionghoa Peranakan named Lie Cheng Hok, who took both Chinese and native Indonesians as disciples. His successor was a Betawi and it has been passed down in Tangerang ever since. According to the revision, Lie Cheng Hok himself was a student of a mysterious cave-dwelling hermit named Ki Jidan, who is now widely considered the progenitor.
Unlike most recent revisions, the dispute over Mustika Kwitang has existed for several decades. All agree that it began with a sparring match between a Tionghoa martial artist named Kwee Tang Kiam and a (traditionally unnamed) Betawi herbalist in the 17th century. The loser would become the winner's student, but who won is a topic of contention. Some say Kwee Tang Kiam was the logical victor as the style still carries his name. Others say he lost and married the local man's daughter. As the art was passed down within the family, they continued to use the Kwitang name.
A white crane system founded in Bogor by Subu Rahardja in 1945. Rahardja learned Fujian White Crane from his uncle Liem Kim Bouw before synthesising it with four other arts, primarily styles of silat. The resulting creation is so heavily Chinese-based that it took years before it was accepted by IPSI.
A family of about 22 styles centered mainly in Johor, Malaysia. They are remarkably similar to Wing Chun with which they share a common origin in Yunnan, China during the 1700s. The most prominent style is Lian Padukan, itself a derivative of Buah Pukul from the Mersing district of Johor. It is said to have been introduced by a Hui man who made a name for himself fighting in the docklands of 1920s Singapore and Johor. Confusion over the Hui identity has led to revisionists replacing the founder's Chinese heritage with an Arab one.
Spelled as kuntaw in the Philippines, the Chinese origin of kuntao is rarely denied, but it has often become associated with the Filipino Muslim community of Indonesian or Borneo descent. The term is sometimes mistakenly translated as "sacred strike" from kunsagrado hataw.
The vast array of weaponry found in China is naturally reflected in kuntao, the most famous examples being the sword, sabre, staff, spear and butterfly knives. Listed below are some of the weapons used in traditional styles of kuntao. Pronunciation and spelling vary according to dialect and transliteration system used. The Mandarin word-forms are given in parentheses.
Silat Melayu, literally meaning "Malay silat", is a blanket term for silat styles of the Malay people. The term was originally used in reference to the native silat of Riau in Indonesia, but today it is more commonly used for the systems created in the Indochinese peninsula, particularly Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei and Vietnam. In modern usage, the term is most often used to differentiate the Malaysian styles from Indonesian pencak silat. English-language writings sometimes mistakenly refer to silat Melayu as bersilat but this is actually a verb form of the noun silat, literally meaning "to do silat".
Hung Ga (洪家), Hung Kuen (洪拳), or Hung Ga Kuen (洪家拳) is a southern Chinese martial art belonging to the southern shaolin styles. It is associated with the Cantonese folk hero Wong Fei Hung, a Hung Ga master.
Five Ancestors Fist is a Southern Chinese martial art that consists of principles and techniques from five styles:
Pendekar, pandikar or pandeka in silek is a Malay word used to refer to or address a warrior who masters the martial arts, particularly silat. Not all masters carry the honorary title; it must be either officially bestowed by royalty or unofficially by commonfolk. The latter is most common today, especially outside Southeast Asia. In modern usage, the title is often adopted by the founder of a new style and is used much like the term grandmaster.
Chángquán refers to a family of external martial arts styles from northern China.
White Crane Style is a Southern Chinese martial art that originated in Fujian (福建) province. According to oral tradition, the style was developed by Fang Qīniáng, a female martial artist. It is associated with traditional fighting techniques, including long range, but is most similar to close-quarter or hand-to-hand combat. It is most recognizable by the way the fighter imitates a bird's pecking or flapping of wings. While some white crane styles make use of traditional weapons, others have discontinued the use of weaponry.
Pencak 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.
Wushu, or Chinese Kungfu, is a hard and soft and complete martial art, as well as a full-contact sport. It has a long history in reference to Chinese martial arts. It was developed in 1949 in an effort to standardize the practice of traditional Chinese martial arts, yet attempts to structure the various decentralized martial arts traditions date back earlier, when the Central Guoshu Institute was established at Nanking in 1928.
The Liu Seong System is one of the many styles of Kuntao, which are hybrid martial arts systems derived from the cultures of Chinese Indonesia. The Liu Seong system was brought to America, from Indonesia, by Willem A. Reeders (1917-1990).
Footwork is a martial arts and combat sports term for the general usage of the legs and feet in stand-up fighting. Footwork involves keeping balance, closing or furthering the distance, controlling spatial positioning, and/or creating additional momentum for strikes.
Betawi people or Betawis, are an Austronesian ethnic group native to the city of Jakarta and its immediate outskirts, as such often described as the native inhabitants of the city. They are the descendants of the people who inhabited Batavia from the 17th century onwards.
Sports in Indonesia are popular from both the participation and spectating aspect. Some popular sports in Indonesia are badminton, football, and the native Indonesian martial art Pencak Silat. Badminton is arguably Indonesia's most successful sport. Indonesia has won gold medals in badminton in every Olympic Games since the sport was first introduced to the Olympics in 1992 except in 2012 Summer Olympics. Indonesia is regularly a participating in Thomas Cup, Uber Cup, and Sudirman Cup Badminton championships. Indonesia is regularly participating in regional multi-events sport, such as Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games, and Olympic Games. In Southeast Asia, Indonesia is one of the major sport powerhouses in the region by winning the Southeast Asian Games 10 times since 1977.
Pangalay is the traditional "fingernail" dance of the Tausūg people of the Sulu Archipelago and Sabah. The dance also means offering from its Indianized Sanskrit origin pang-alay. Mangalay, which also means dance, is very similar to classical Balinese and Thai dances.
Bakti Negara is a style of pencak silat from Bali. It is firmly rooted in old Balinese Hinduism and philosophies of Indonesia. The name means "national devotion", from the Sanskrit words bhakti (devotion) and nagara (country). It is the most widely practiced martial art in Bali and the most well-known style of Balinese silat, to the point that the system is commonly referred to simply as pencak Bali or kuntao Bali.
Listed here are the weapons of silat. The most common are the machete, staff, kris, sickle, spear, and kerambit. Because Southeast Asian society was traditionally based around agriculture, many of these weapons were originally farming tools.
Indonesian martial arts refers to the variety of fighting systems native to or developed in the archipelago of Indonesia, both the age-old traditional arts, and the more recently developed hybrid combatives. In the Indonesian language the term bela-diri is used to mean martial art, and in essence the Indonesian fighting arts are meant as one's defence against perceived threat and assault. Other than physical training, they often include spiritual aspects to cultivate inner strength, inner peace and higher psychological ends.
Beksi Silat is one of the most popular traditional martial arts of the Betawinese. This kuntao-silat hybrid style was originally developed in Kampung Dadap, a village in Kosambi district of Tangerang Regency, Banten Province, Indonesia. The founder of this style combined elements of his ancestral Chinese martial arts with the silat knowledge he received from his Betawi teachers. The style spread through his disciples to the coastal Betawinese and the Benteng Chinese around Kampung Dadap. Eventually, the silat style also reached Petukangan Selatan in South Jakarta and Batujaya in Tangerang.
Perguruan Silat Mustika Kwitang, or simply called Kwitang silat, is a Betawinese silat style. It was originally developed in the Kwitang village, which is now part of the Senen subdistrict in Central Jakarta, Indonesia. This style is a hybrid martial arts, developed by combining the local silat with the Chinese-influenced kuntao. The Mustika Kwitang Silat School was founded in 1945 by H. Muhammad Djaelani, who previously studied the martial arts from his own family.