The Twenty Rules of Silat Zulfikari by Mushtaq Ali

Mushtaq & I at a SNDSTL 
[Secret Non-Disclosed Silat Training Location =]

Here is a good post entry I thought you would benefit from. Mushtaq Ali shares his "Twenty Rules of Silat Zulfikari." Although told in a lighthearted way, they are some seriously good principles of warriorship! Enjoy!

If you would like to read more of Mushtaq's insights check out his blog. The Traceless Warrior

The Twenty Rules of Silat Zulfikari 
by Mushtaq Ali

While these rules started out a bit "tongue in cheek", (someone asked me about the philosophical basis of Silat, I replied "I hit you". The rest, as they say, was history). So, for the edification of my students, and the amusement of my readers, I present to you

The Rules
(with commentary)

1. I hit you

"We are but a simple people."

It is good to always remember that the point of the exercise is to deliver energy in the form of destabilize shock to one's opponent. This may be in the form of a strike with the hand, elbow, knee, or the whole planet. It may also be in the form of a strike with the mind, using words, body language and such, but in combat things need to be kept simple, so "I hit you".

2. I don't get hit

Not getting hit means that your structure is good, and it also means that you can absorb and shed the shock your opponent tries to give you. Not getting hit also means that your intent is to protect yourself.

3. When in doubt, I hit

Rather than ruminating indecisively, deal with the situation. Do not be in denial about what is going on. Strike with the spirit, strike with the mind, strike with the body.

4. Centerline is MINE!

While there is the obvious meaning to this statement, keeping your structure so that you protect and control "centerline" between you and your opponent, there is a deeper meaning to this. Centerline is where you define it.

5. While we are on the subject, so is everything else

Own your whole space, utilize everything.

6. It's all in the Jurus

A juru is a series of bio-mechanical exercises grouped together in a closed kinetic chain. They contain the motions and teach the principles from which technique can be spontaneously generated. Jurus become more useful when one learns to open the chain.

7. My __fill in the blank____ are ___fill in the blank____ until they aren't

Don't get stuck in thinking that rules are anything more than guidelines, know when to break the rules to your best advantage.

8. Elbows DOWN!

Maintain good structure throughout your movement. Make sure that you are using proper power generation, don't give your opponent openings. Oh yes, and keep your elbows down.

9. If it goes physical, I WILL be the one who walks away.

Keep your priorities straight. If you have to act, do so with commitment. Not protecting yourself from someone who is trying to hurt you is a sin against yourself.

10. It ends NOW!

When you have to become physical, do so in a way that ends the confrontation in the quickest appropriate manner. Do not leave anything for later, don't win just this fight, win in such a way that you are not making future trouble for yourself. This could mean anything from NOT gloating over a victory to making sure your opponent knows that looking for a rematch is foolish.

11. How badly I hurt you depends on how much of a physical threat you offered me

Use only the degree of force necessary to the situation. If you are dealing with a drunk friend who is just getting a little out of line, breaking his arm is usually not what is needed. If you are attacked by a man with a knife, acting as if this is not a life or death encounter will get you killed.

12. I am so dangerous I can afford to be polite, reasonable and mellow.

Only the weak, the insecure and those who live in fear need to "woof" or show everyone how tough and dangerous they are. Always treat others with respect, strive to understand all points of view, never let yourself be controlled by negative emotion.

13. Gravity is my friend, on the other hand, it doesn't like you very much.

Use gravity to help power your movement and make your work easier by being supple, help your opponent to work against gravity by making his structure more dense. When appropriate hit your opponent with the ground.

14. I not only have the right to think at all times, but the responsibility to do so.

When you look around this planet, all the human problems you see may just be caused in large part by this one thing, giving over ones responsibility to think for themselves. If you're given the ability to do great damage to your fellows, then you MUST take responsibility and never let yourselves be controlled by unconscious memes.

There is an old saying, "If you make yourself into a donkey, there will always be someone willing to ride you."

15. When it feels too easy, then I am doing it right.

Good Silat is not about effort and strain, it is about integrating breath, movement and structure in such a way that what you do happens with an "effortless" flow.

16. Effective Silat means moving in four dimensions.

While some martial arts rely on two dimensions, forward and back, right and left, good Silat will use all dimensions of space, changing levels, taking the most useful vectors in relation to the opponent. Good Silat also uses time.

17. The strongest lever is the screw.

This is of course basic physics.

18. A screw moves circles through time and space.

If you don't understand this you are not doing good Silat.

19. Make sure your opponent is 'Screwed'.

Draw your opponent into the natural spirals of your movement. Use what the internal arts call "reeling silk energy", which is what is described in rule 18.

20. It's ALL Kebatinan

Kebatinan means "inner" or "secret" teachings. This rule was first articulated when a student asked, "so when do we start learning the Kebatinan (secret stuff)" To which I replied "It's ALL Kebatinan". Silat Zulfikari hides all its "secrets" in plain sight, in other words, you learn the "secrets" from the beginning. There is enough mystery in a "simple" strike that you can spend your life exploring it and never reach the end of new discoveries.

Written by Mushtaq Ali
 Traceless Warrior Blog


  1. dont mean to ask so many questions but you have no pics of students or videos of silat. where are you located and do you teach in the states?
    how does your Sufism play into your silat?
    what type of silat is your system based on?

  2. Studentoflearning~

    [Among many things] I am a Krav Maga instructor in Grand Rapids MI []. However, I practice other combative approaches as well, one of which is silat. If you would like to know about the article or training in silat specifically, you should direct your question to the person who originally wrote the article; The Traceless Warrior himself. You can visit his blogsite and contact him. I'm sure he would be happy to answer any of your questions:

    Let me know if you have any other questions.



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