Kuntao is considered to be an extremely popular Southeast Asian martial art form in the “Malay archipelago”. This “weapon” based martial art form is said to have originated from Indonesia, and is extremely popular in countries such as Malaysia, Philippines, and Singapore. Furthermore, the term “Kuntao” according to the “Chinese characters” (i.e. Hanzi) literally means “way of the fist”. In addition, some communities in Bali do not differentiate between the Silat form of combat and Kuntao.
a. History/origin of Kuntao:
According to cultural history of the Malay Archipelago, there existed Chinese martial art forms in Indonesia for centuries. It was using elements belonging to the Chinese form of combat that the Indonesian “silat” and “kuntao” were created. Furthermore, it was during the colonial rule of the Dutch that many Southeast Asian Chinese were brought to Indonesia as slaves. Now, every Chinese family that lived in the country was supposed to have known “kuntao”. However, they practiced it in privately and did not display it in public. Apparently, it was right until the 1970’s that this form of martial art was practiced secretly due to fear of exposing it to outsiders. Currently, though it is now practiced openly and is extremely popular in the Java and Sumatra islands.
b. Weapon used in the Kuntao:
There are many weapons used in this form of martial art, and they are as follows:
- Kiam: Also known as “jian” is a straight double edged sword.
- Tou: Also known as “dao” is a single edge blade. In addition, it may be referred to as a sabre.
- Toya: Also known as “gun” is basically pole made up of either wood or iron.
- Chio: Also known as “qiang” is a form of spear comprising of horsehair attached to the blade.
- Taichiu: Is basically a short handle trident.
- Kwan-tou: Also known as “Guan Dao” is a single edged halberd.
- Hongkiam-kek: Is basically a crescent moon spear.
- Hwa-kek: Basically is a pole arm possessing two crescent shape blades.
- Sangkau: Also known as “shuanggou” are hook swords.
- Sanh-Chat: Also called “sanjie-gun” is a staff which is divided into three sections of equal length.
- Liang-Chat: Referred to as “Liangjie gun” is basically a chain stick divided into two sections.
- Kwai: Also known as “guai” is type of crutch that is generally paired.
- Suk Piao: Also known as “sheng biao” is a rope to which a metal dart is attached.
c. Technique involved in the Kuntao and training availability:
In terms of technique, the fighter basically makes use of what is known as the “Fujian stance” that involves the use of the right foot. In addition, moves such as high kicks, rolling, leaping, and short and long arm movements are mainly used in this martial art form. Furthermore, a wide range of weapons such as swords, sabre, staff, spear, and butterfly knives are also used in this form of combat. As for training centers/schools, there are a number of them available especially in Indonesia for those interested in learning this “weapon” based martial art form.
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