What is Silat Perisai Diri? PDF Print E-mail

Perisai Diri or 'the shield of oneself' originated in Indonesia. It is part of a family of martial arts known as Pencak Silat, found in the Indonesian archipelagos.

Perisai Diri or PD has been in Australia for approximately 25 years. Perisai Diri can be trained effectively without acquiring injury due to its unique training methods. These methods aim to encourage friendship and minimise injury.


Keluarga Silat Nasional Indonesia Perisai-Diri, or Kelatnas PD, was officially founded on 2 July 1955 in the city of Surabaya by Raden Mas Soebandiman Dirdjoatmodjo.

R.M.S. Dirdjoatmodjo was born on 8 January 1913 in Yogyakarta. His father was Raden Mas Pakoe Soedirdjo of the Pakoe Alam family.

Periodically, a Pencak Silat expert was brought from Solo to teach the young men of the palace. However, because he was still only nine years old, Soebandiman was not permitted to participate in the lessons. Despite his age, Soebandiman's desire to learn Pencak Silat compelled him to spy on each lesson. He would later sneak out of the palace, collect the village children of his age and then mimic the lessons he had just seen. Thus, at the age of nine years, Soebandiman had already become a ‘little teacher'. These ‘lessons' continued, but resulted in his growing sense of frustration at the restrictions imposed by his family until he decided, while still quite young, to go out into the world.

Raden Mas Soebandiman Dirdjoatmodjo

Raden Mas Soebandiman Dirdjoatmodjo
Founder of Silat Perisai Diri

His steps led him to the region of Jombang, East Java. When he was satisfied with his studies at Jombang, he left there and headed to Solo. Following his studies in Solo he moved to the city of Semarang in an effort to satisfy his desire for knowledge of Pencak Silat.

After he felt that he had gained as much as he could in Semarang his urge to improve his understanding and abilities led him to Pondok Randu Guntung, near Semarang. On exhausting the avenues of study there he moved onto Kuningan in Cirebon to seek another teacher. A steel will, a spirit like a ‘banteng' bull, and a huge curiosity in the world around him combined with a feeling of being chosen to devote his life to studying the art of Pencak Silat motivated Soebandiman to continue his journey into remote regions of West Java, seeking teachers to satisfy his thirst for knowledge.

At this stage Soebandiman had studied the martial arts of twelve Silat experts or Pendekar, but even so he felt that the qualifications he had acquired were still lacking.

It was during this time of despair that the young Soebandiman travelled to the region of Banyumas. Here Soebandiman worked to consolidate the various streams of Pencak Silat he had studied into a unified form.

From the various streams of Pencak Silat, Soebandiman sought to identify the essence of effective martial art techniques, and to combine them into a more practical form. Even though he still felt that were deficiencies in the capacity of the traditional martial arts, notably, the speed, efficiency and simplicity of the movements.

It was in Banyumas that R.M.S. Dirdjoatmodjo opened his first Silat school, named EKO KALBU (EKO). Shortly after opening his school, Soebandiman realised that there was yet another teacher he could learn from, a teacher that would ultimately influence him greatly in his quest for knowledge of the martial arts.

R.M.S. Dirdjoatmodjo was introduced to a Master from China who lived in the Parakan region, named Yap Kie San. Shortly after meeting, Soebandiman was determined to have Master Yap Kie San as his teacher.Soebandiman stayed in Master Yap Kie San's house and helped with the household chores. Whilst working there for three months, Soebandiman was totally ignored, not even addressed. Each day on waking, Master Yap Kie San would step over Soebandiman as he slept in front of Master Yap Kie San's door.

Every time Soebandiman bolstered his courage to ask about studying under Master Yap Kie San, the answer was always, "Don't worry about studying Silat, you'll hurt yourself!" However, reminding himself that this might be a test given to determine his resolve, this answer made Soebandiman even more adamant to gain Master Yap Kie San's favour.

After a further month had passed, whilst accompanying the Master fishing, Soebandiman once again asked Master Yap Kie San to teach him. Finally Soebandiman was accepted as a pupil. Soebandiman was invited home and given his first lesson. Soebandiman's first lesson entailed entering a chicken-coop and assuming a horse stance. Soebandiman was told to hold the position until his Master returned, which was not until the end of the day.

At other times Soebandiman was told to practice movements in the chicken-coop, every time he felt tired and decided to stop for a rest, Master Yap Kie San would suddenly appear and scold his student, forcing him to repeat his exercises again.

Master Yap Kie San noticed a capacity in Soebandiman not common in most, and agreed to pass on all his knowledge to his dedicated student. As a consequence, Soebandiman's commitment to training was all consuming as his lessons became increasingly difficult and demanding. Soebandiman's training regime under Master Yap Kie San lasted 14 years. It was as a student of Master Yap Kie San that R.M.S. Dirdjoatmodjo was longest under instruction. On completion of his studies under Master Yap Kie San, Soebandiman's wanderings continued to add maturity to his understanding of the world, especially to that of the martial arts.

Once again Soebandiman sought to consolidate his knowledge of the various streams of Pencak Silat under a common banner, this time basing his efforts on how to learn Silat without injury. The result of R.M.S. Dirdjoatmodjo's efforts was the birth of the technique and training system of Silat Perisai-Diri, characterised as being practical, with techniques that adhered to the natural movement of the human body, resulting in a system of self-defence that was simple in application whilst maintaining its effectiveness.

It was in the city of Surabaya that R.M.S. Dirdjoatmodjo, or Pak Dirdjo, settled and subsequently founded Keluarga Silat Nasional Indonesia Perisai-Diri on 2 July 1955, with the assistance of Pak Imam Ramelan.

In 1970 he retired and continued to hold the post of IPSI Advisor East Java and "sesepuh P.B.IPSI" in Jakarta.

Pak Dirdjo, the founder and "Guru Besar" of Keluarga Silat Nasional Indonesia Perisai-Diri passed away at dawn, 9 May 1983, leaving an invaluable legacy.

PD in Australia

Silat National Perisai Diri Australia branch was officially started in 1979 at Brisbane by Don Muharum. Don had trained silat PD in the Bandung region of Central Java where he had obtained the level of Red Stripe. He then traveled to Australia to start a branch of Silat PD outside of Indonesia.

On arriving in Australia, Don introduced the new martial art to Australia, Silat Perisiai Diri, and commenced to build the framework of the Australian Branch. His teaching methods and knowledge were such that he inspired many people to follow Perisiai Diri and the Australian Branch grew from there.

At the end of 1985 the first group trip from the Australian Branch to Indonesia was organised and this was followed by another trip in 1986. These two trips established the acceptance of the Australian branch by Indonesia and paved the way for the future of Perisai Diri Australia as we know it today. The close ties of friendship formed have been srengthened over the years by many other trips both from Australia to Indonesia and by visits of representatives os Silat National Perisai Diri Indonesia to Australia.

Under the current leadership of the Dewan Komisariat, Perisai Diri has spread around Australia, with classes all down the eastern seaboard, as well as in South Australia and Western Australia.

Philosophy of PD

"Pandai Silat Tanpa Cedera"

Through Perisai Diri you can achieve effective technique without injury. This makes it ideal for children to learn as there is very little chance of injury. There is not much point to learning a fighting art that harms yourself as well as your opponent. Through the teaching method Serang Hindar, students learn the correct body position or 'pancer' to be, as an enemy attacks. The pancer determines the ability to attack or avoid an opponent.

"Asah, Asih, Asuh"

The principles of training PD are 'Asah, Asih, Asuh'. As a family we must follow these prinicples for the benefit fo PD. Asah is to sharpen, like a sword. Asih is to love each other, with this love there is no bad intentions towards one another. And Asuh is to take care of each other, as to not get harmed by the sharpness of each other.

Technique and Training

Training Methodology

As PD proposes to train effective technique without injury we have developed a unique method of exercising reflexes whilst maintaining good technique. This method is called Serang Hindar. This method is unique in how it teaches the PD exponent to use body movement in order to position the body out of harms way, thus placing themselves in an ideal position to counter attack. This stays true to the PD motto "Pandai Silat Tanpa Cedera" to train effective technique without injury.

Teknik Asli

The 'teknik asli' are the orginal techniques of Perisai Diri . These techniques adopt the attitude of certain animals and human forms. The aim of adopting a different attitude is not to become or 'act' like that animal but to fight in such spirit. Quite simply, man is man, animal is animal, one merely learns from the direct environment and applies these learnings to the human body. The techniques include Mliwis, Kuntul, Garuda, Harimau, Naga, Satria, Pendeta and Putri.

Teknik Burung Mliwis—Burung Mliwis refers to a sea bird called heron. It has long legs and often lifts one of its leg when relaxing. Since the bird is light, it moves easily when looking for its food. Whilst training this technique, a PD exponent will learn more about their own body weight and how to utilise it so they can move fast and light, much like the bird. The weapon of this technique is the top of fingers or the back of the wrist. Mliwis attacks the weak areas of the eyes, nose and groin.

Teknik Burung Kuntul—This technique still utilises a bird style, but one which moves faster and more powerful than Mliwis. This technique also uses legs to attack. This technique does not punch, yet strikes rapidly to te target and back to the orginal position. The targets for attacking are normally to eyes, neck and knee. The attacks from this technique come from the side in order to enhance the power, speed and accuracy of the technique.

Teknik Burung Garuda—Technique Garuda adopts the attitude similar to the Golden Eagle, the king of birds. The eagle is fast and powerful with large talons used to grab its prey whilst hunting. Once again this technique uses more power than the other two. The attack comes in the form of a slice using the outer part of the forearm, from wrist to elbow. The target of attack include the neck, chest, head and groin.

Teknik Harimau—Harimau uses the spirit of the Tiger. Like the tiger this technique has the flexibility of a cat and endurance. The power of a Tiger is somewhat greater to that of a bird. The Tiger is a wild animal thus so is its technique. The attacks are unforgiving, involving tearing, crashing and ripping. The aim of the technique is to damage the opponent by attacking the face,neck, groin, chest and back.

Teknik Naga—Naga is the Dragon. This technique utilises the body movement in a spin similar to moving its body through water. Naga has the strongest power among animal techniques. The attack mostly downward strikes, using side of hands by hitting the enemy's neck, upper shoulder and legs. Sometimes it can also throw the enemy's by lifting the body while spinning.

Teknik Satria—The first human technique learned is Satria. Satria is the knight or the patriot. This is a person of good endurance, power, skillful and just. Satria technique has more skill and confidence due to the power of attack that it posesses. This technique destroys the opponent without avoidance. The target of attack with this techniques is the head area, chest, legs, groin, body side and back. This technique may also refuse an opponents attack by targeting the opponents joints.

Teknik Pendeta—Pendeta refers to the technique of the priest. This person acts by following his heart. Pendeta is someone who is wise and forgiving. This technique does not destroy an enemys attack while avoiding. The target of the attack is the head, back, groin and joints. By learning this technique someone will also learn how to control the emotions, because this technique is a bridge in learning the highest technique of Perisai Diri.

Teknik Putri—This is the highest technique in Perisai Diri. Putri means Princess in English. The movements of Putri may be deceptive, with high speed. The technique is smooth and soft yet with such technical precision to destroy an opponent. This technique may borrow energy from the opponents attack to utilise in a counter attack on the enemy. Thus the enemy defeats themself.

Ranking System

Dasar I—At the beginning level of Perisai Diri you are taught basic body movement, class ettiquette and the culture and history of Perisai Diri. As you progress through basic level 1, you will travel through white belt, white-green belt and green belt.

Dasar II—As you progress through the latter stage of basics, you gain a greater understanding for anatomical movement and self defense. Your progress through this level you will achieve, green-blue belt, blue belt and blue-red belt.

Calon Keluarga—As Calon Keluarga or "Cakel" you are a candidate to enter the Keluarga of Silat Nasional Perisai Diri. At this level you will learn the Minangkabau Technique.

The other levels of Perisai Diri are shown by the stripe on the badge of the practitioners chest:

Tingkat Putih 
Tingkat Putih-Hijau
Tingkat Hijau
Tingkat Hijau-Biru
Tingkat Biru
Tingkat Biru-Merah
Tingkat Merah
Tingkat Merah-Kuning

Following these levels are the levels of Pendekar or Grandmaster.