ALOR STAR: After a long time of trying, the Indian martial art of silambam has gained some recognition – it will be a demonstration sport in Sukma Negri Sembilan 2004 and a medal sport in Kedah in 2006.
Although silambam has only recently come to the fore unlike martial arts like taekwondo, judo, karate, wushu and silat which are contested in multi-sports games like the Olympics, Asian Games, SEA Games and even the European Games and Commonwealth Games, this ancient Indian art has been around for a long time.
Silambam has its origins in southern India and has been in existence for more than five thousand years.
An exponent uses a staff about five to six feet in length and one-and-a-half inch in diameter to either defend against or attack his enemy by twisting, turning and rolling the weapon using his wrists and body movement.
Silambam expanded in Asia about a thousand years ago and Indian migrants introduced the sport to Malaysians around the 14th century.
The Malaysian Silambam Association was formed 1976 through the efforts of Mahaguru S. Arumugam and Datuk V. L. Kanthan. The sport now has a membership of more than 20,000 throughout the nation with 250 branches covering every state except Kelantan, Terengganu and Sarawak.
The first national championships was held in 1989 at Stadium Negara but since then, it has been an irregular event, having been held in 1992, 1993, 1998, 2000, 2001 and this year.
A. Visvalingam, secretary-general of the Malaysian Silambam Association, said the acceptance of silambam as a demonstration sport in Sukma augurs well for the sport.
And he has big dreams. “We want to see the sport making its way to the Olympic Games one day,” he said.
“South-east Asian countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore and Mynmar already have their own associations. Even countries like Germany, Australia, France, Switzerland, Canada, South Korea, China and Spain have formed their associations.
“Malaysia took part in an international competition in Germany a few years ago,” he said.