WILLIAMSBURG — Over 9,500 miles from the Historic Triangle, on the other side of the world, a group of travelers with the Williamsburg Dojo are taking in the sights of Malaysia.
Two of them, Chris Conley and Morgan Foster, are preparing to compete in the world championships of Pencak Silat.
Pencak Silat is a specific class of martial arts that originates from Indonesia but has spread over time throughout Malaysia, Singapore, and other parts of the world. It is a traditional martial arts style that incorporates striking and grappling, as well as weaponry through the use of different styles of blades.
“Silat is a broad term for the indigenous fighting style of Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore,” said the Owner of Williamsburg Dojo, Chris Robinson, in an interview with WYDaily. “So, in this part of the world, it’s a big, big deal. We’re trying to get it to the Olympics, and it’s featured in a lot of the latest movies, like John Wick 3. So it’s known around the world, but not really known around the U.S.”
Competitors from at least 30 countries will participate.
“We’re going to spend the next couple of days tuning our fighters, and getting them used to the fighting styles of the main competitors that we’re fighting against,” said Robinson. “So we’ve got international coaches at a high level and were staying at the hotel and at the company conference center to work on the physical conditioning a little bit, but primarily fighting tactics. So that’s five or six days.”
While the fighting style originated to help those who lived in the southeast Asian jungles survive day-to-day threats and challenges, the modern-day competition is a combination of two different variables.
“It has two different aspects. It has fighting, and then you have the artistic,” said Robinson. “Kind of like in Karate or Kungfu, you have the fighting but then you have the movement and the emotion which shows balance and power, stamina, and artistic expression.”
Robinson discovered Silat about 15 years ago and he knew that he found something special. He soon began teaching Silat and the school has grown organically ever since.
The Williamsburg Dojo recently moved to its new facility, which is about 5,000 square feet, complete with a meditation room, massage therapy room, and a cardio and weight room. The organization has grown to around 150 students.
The Williamsburg Dojo will be joined by other athletes from Colorado, Boston, Maryland and Chicago. In total, there are about 20 in the group representing the U.S. attending the international competition.
For more information and updates, check out Williamsburg Dojo’s Facebook page.