Those who practice martial arts styles Aikido and Pencak Silat find both to be less about the “martial” aspect of the art, and more about generating community and bringing awareness to Japanese and Indonesian culture.
“I believe that Aikido spreads a kind of Japanese culture throughout the world,” said Stephen O’Hara, the founder of Fort Collins Aikikai. “I went to Norway and Sweden for vacation and while I was there, I visited an Aikido school and trained with people there who I’ve met through a seminar in Hawaii. It’s a worldwide organization, yet we maintain the Japanese tradition.”
O’Hara said he considers Aikido as his “zen” and encompasses the Aloha spirit, which is “the coordination of mind and heart within each person, and encompasses the traits of kindness, harmony, pleasantness, honesty and perseverance.”
“There are all these benefits such as self defense, coordination and balance, but for me, it’s about stress relief and the Aloha spirit,” O’Hara said. “There’s this homogenous culture from Japan that’s in Aikido where Aikido maintains its traditional roots even though it’s spread to different countries in the world. I would say the same is true with Pencak Silat, that Pencak Silat is a window to Indonesian culture.”
Guru Daniel Prasetya, the main instructor of Inner Wave Pencak Silat, also believes that the importance of Pencak Silat is to share the Indonesian culture and to grasp onto humanity.
“The key of Pencak Silat is to keep a human as a real human,” Prasetya said. “I believe that most times now, a lot of people see that humans are not real humans anymore. It is important to bring back humanity and the identity of a human that people may forget.”
Morgan Brownlee, one of the performers in the martial arts demonstration, has been attending Inner Wave Pencak Silat for about a year.
“Pencak Silat is so important to me because it’s so much based on family and such a great support system,” Brownlee said. “When you get your yellow belt you get to choose someone to be your mentor, so they’re kind of like an older brother or sister. It’s really nice to have that sense of community.”
Aubrey Miller, also a performer in the martial arts demo, has been attending Inner Wave Pencak Silat for about two years.
“At first, I was looking for something for self defense to feel more empowered as a person and to protect my family if need be,” Miller said. “However, when I started coming more often, it started to change my whole life and my way of thinking through things so it was pretty awesome. I really like the family and having that community, so it’s just really been a great experience and great impact on my life.”
Collegian Reporter Amanda Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @amanduhh3003.