The Fighting Art of Pencak Silat and its Music

From Southeast Asian Village to Global Movement


Volume Editors: and
Fighting arts have their own beauty, internal philosophy, and are connected to cultural worlds in meaningful and important ways. Combining approaches from ethnomusicology, ethnochoreology, performance theory and anthropology, the distinguishing feature of this book is that it highlights the centrality of the pluripotent art form of pencak silat among Southeast Asian arts and its importance to a network of traditional and modern performing arts in Southeast Asia and beyond.
By doing so, important layers of local concepts on performing arts, ethics, society, spirituality, and personal life conduct are de-mystified. With a distinct change in the way we view Southeast Asia, this book provides a wealth of information about a complex of performing arts related to the so-called 'world of silat'.
An ancillary media companion website ( is part of this work. Login authorisation information is included in the book.
Contributors include: Bussakorn Binson, Jean-Marc de Grave, Gisa Jähnichen, Margaret Kartomi, Zahara Kamal, Indija Mahjoeddin, Ako Mashino, Paul H. Mason, Uwe U. Paetzold, Kirstin Pauka, Henry Spiller and Sean Williams.

Prices from (excl. shipping):

Add to Cart
Uwe U. Paetzold, Ph.D. (1998 University of Cologne) is lecturer at the Robert Schumann University of Music, Düsseldorf. He has published books, articles and video documentions on the music and performance cultures related to the Fighting Art pencak silat.

Paul H. Mason, Ph.D. (2012) is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Woolcock Institute,University of Sydney. From choreomusicology to cultural evolution, Paul has conducted a rich mixture of laboratory, field and archival research and published in leading academic journals.
"The Fighting Art of Pencak Silat and Its Music [2016] is a fine example of how martial arts studies can encompass musical (and choreographic) considerations alongside issues of culture, society, religion, ritual, media, politics, nationalism, identity, gender, and embodiment. One of the greatest strengths of this book is its broad-yet-deep approach, which is unlikely to have been possible as a single, double, or even triple-author monograph. The twelve contributors combine approaches from ethnomusicology, ethnochoreology, anthropology, and performance studies. They cover nearly the whole ‘world of silat’, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, southern Thailand, and overseas transplants. [...] The Fighting Art of Pencak Silat and Its Music would be a valuable resource for people with interests in martial arts as a blurred genre, as well as in the general topic area of Southeast Asian performing arts. [...] I heartily recommend this book."
– Colin P. McGuire, in Martial Arts Studies 3/2016 (DOI 10.18573/j. 2017.10100)

"The chapters will give the reader a deeper appreciation of the social context, historical development and aesthetic nuances of different genres of pencak silat and silat-inspired performance arts. The Fighting Art of Pencak Silat and Its Music will interest anthropologists, philosophers, cultural theorists, Southeast Asian scholars, and Indonesianists, not to mention musicians, dancers and other performance artists.
Ethnomusicologists and dance anthropologists in particular will find this volume an indispensable addition to their libraries. As a bonus, upon buying the book purchasers are given exclusive access to corresponding media materials available online. The book includes an abundance of colourful figures and photos, an impressive glossary and an index of names and terms to help the selective reader source relevant material. The editors have gone to great lengths to engage with scholars from a variety of language backgrounds and the diversity of the content reflects this. As a unique contribution to the study of music, martial arts, theatre, dance, and cultural life in Southeast Asia, this book should be applauded for its breadth of scholarship and depth of analysis."
– Alfira O’Sullivan, Artistic Director of Suara Indonesia Dance, Sydney, in Inside Indonesia 127 (Jan-Mar 2017).

"I could also see myself using this book to analyze different ways music and movement are used together— whether in dance or fighting arts or other practices. The book certainly achieves its goal of providing a wealth of information about the role of music in fighting-arts traditions in Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia, and of opening space for further explorations into the role of music in fighting-arts traditions more broadly. It also models what can be reaped from international, interdisciplinary scholarly collaboration."
– Christina Sunardi, University of Washington, in Asian Music, (Winter/Spring 2019).
All interested in cultural studies on performing arts of Southeast Asia in general, and pencak silat in particular. Besides scholars, the book also appeals strongly to fighting arts enthusiast worldwide.
  • Collapse
  • Expand