The Indonesian martial art of pentjak silat is little known outside its country of origin. Practitioners of the art attribute historic victories against Holland and Japan to pentjak silat’s mystical practice of channeling tenaga dalam (the Indonesian version of Chinese chi kung).
Several legends dictate that women created the art. For example, Bima founded the silat style known as Bima Sakti. Another version says Rama Sukana used monkey movements to avoid being beaten up by her husband—techniques she learned by watching monkeys fight while washing clothes on the island of Bawean.
Although the term pentjak silat was chosen in 1948 to be a unifying term to describe Indonesian martial arts as a whole, the art itself is thought to have originated sometime during the Malay empire of Srivijaya (600s-1200s). The art was later refined during the Majaphit empire (1293-1527).