Martial arts were first developed in India, Thailand, Korea, Japan, and China. There are many different types of martial arts today, including karate-do (Japanese), Chinese martial arts (called Tai Chi), Western martial arts, and Indonesian styles like Pencak Silat.

Many martial arts have also developed in Indonesia, but not as many are well known internationally as Silat.

What is Silat?

Silat, also known as Pencak Silat, is a martial art that has branched out from the traditional Indonesian fighting styles of various other countries.

The word “silat” derives from the Malay word “singgir,” which means to ward off or deflect an attack. Today, Silat is used for self-defense, the protection of loved ones and the community, and as a form of spiritual training.

Silat is a traditional South-East Asian martial art (notably Indonesian, Malaysian, and Singaporean). It is widely held to have been the predecessor of many forms of Southeast Asian martial arts (notably Karate) and the ancestor of Chinese martial arts.

Traditional Silat emphasizes fluidity over formality. It has numerous approaches, with the majority focusing on raw physical power that can be used for both offensive and defensive purposes.

Silat techniques are typically non-linear, involving movement on the X, Y, and Z axes. Many of the forms can cross over into empty-handed applications.

Silat is not a contact sport and is believed by many practitioners to be dangerous, especially in “complementary” contact combat scenarios.

Silat training will help you to develop agility, movement, and explosiveness. Silat is believed to be a great way to build confidence, self-esteem, and self-defense.

What is Karate?

Karate (a Japanese word: literally “empty hand”) denotes a modern martial art and self-defense system that was developed in what is now Okinawa.

Karate is a striking art using punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes with hands and feet, open-handed techniques such as knife-hands or spear-hands, and pressure point strikes known as “kata” (literally: forms).

Karate was developed in Okinawa, over a thousand years ago. It was developed from indigenous fighting methods called “te” (hand), “bo” (staff), and “kyo”/”kumi” (empty hand).

It is an empty-handed martial art that utilizes fists, palms, elbows, knees, and feet. This art is primarily used for self-defense and in competitions.

The main ideology of the art is based on the concept of “tomoe nage,” which means “Trip of the elbow.” “Tomoe Nage” is a grappling technique that uses an opponent’s elbow as a lever to throw them to the ground or to move them toward a direction.

It can be performed with both left and right elbows, and different stances can be used, including in an upright position or with some degree of bend in either direction.

The main concept of Karate is the use of a full range of motion and the principle of “Yoko Shin” (“striking downwards with power”); in other words, a blow executed while falling.

Although it is an elegant system, Karate is a very combative art that lacks internal training, which according to some teachers, is considered to be the most important phase.

This, along with its emphasis on endurance training, makes it less attractive for modern practitioners who wish to focus more on technique, speed, and precision in combat sports.

Differences between Silat vs. Karate

  • Silat is a traditional martial art that has been passed down from generation to generation. Karate has been developed from the ground up to respond to the modern world. Its development was rapid, and it remains a fast-growing sport, but quite different in its structure and principles compared to traditional Silat styles.
  • Physical training is central to Silat, whereas it is not the case with Karate.
  • Silat tends to make use of a wider range of technical movements than Karate.
  • Silat utilizes both offensive and defensive techniques. It is designed to keep the practitioner safe while inflicting the most damage possible on their opponent.
  • On the other hand, Karate is a self-defense martial art that primarily emphasizes offense while maintaining an organized and tight defense.
  • Silat may be dangerous even when used in complementary combat situations. On the other hand, Karate is generally considered to be a sport in which both the practitioner and the opponent respect each other’s autonomy and safety. The emphasis is not so much on inflicting pain on your opponent but rather on technical precision, i.e., making your techniques work within certain limitations such as Rules.

Similarities between Silat vs. Karate

  • Silat and Karate both utilize a wide variety of technical movements and stances.
  • Both arts are fast and powerful.
  • Both can defend people when an attack is made.
  • Both martial arts can be used to help you in a fight and escape from it, both being defensive and offensive at the same time.
  • The combination of movements and stances in both systems allows them to be used in an improvised way against an opponent, even when the combat situations change too quickly for formalized techniques.

What to choose? Silat or Karate

Silat and Karate are great martial art systems and offer you the chance to become a better fighter using your body’s natural weapons.

They are both effective, but Silat may be more appropriate for more situations. Silat is designed to be fast, powerful, and dangerous, while Karate is a modern and efficient self-defense system emphasizing technique.

Which one should you take? That’s up to you.

They both have their pros and cons depending on the situation. If you want to be prepared for anything, then Silat is probably a great choice for you!


Karate and Silat have both their pros and cons and their advocates and detractors. You have to decide which style will be the most appropriate for your needs. It is best to try a little from each style and choose which one you prefer.

Either way, you will end up learning an exciting system that can be used for self-defense or even as a sport.

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