Silat spread within the Malay community before the presence of external influences. For example, an official Silat weapon, a 2000 year-old copper kris was found in Mekong, Vietnam. Silat and its warriors became important in order to defend kingdoms like Melayu Champa, Kedah Tua, Kamboja, Langkasuka, Bruas that encompassed the Peninsula. It is not easy to trace back the history of pencak silat because written documentation is limited and oral information handed down from the gurus cannot fully answer all the riddles. But some gurus believe that our Malay ancestors created and used pencak silat as self-defense technique already in prehistoric times. Mariun Sudirohadiprodo, a renowned Indonesian pencak silat guru, for example claims that the animal’s character was an inspirational source in the creation of pencak silat techniques and styles.
At the time, the ferocity of wild animals threatened the life of prehistoric people in the Malay archipelago. Being the wild animals their natural enemy, Malay ancestors had to pay attention to the animals’ moves and adopt similar movements as self-defense techniques. They copied the movements of tigers, eagles, snacks, crocodiles, monkeys, scorpions and dragons. Gradually pencak silat styles were developed out of these observations such as the tiger and white eagle styles.
The seventh century was the beginning of the Malay Srivijaya civilization in Palembang, Sumatra and the influence of silat from the mainland Malay society was consolidated and gradually refined into the specialized property of sultans and warriors during the Srivijaya empires. When Islam was spread throughout the archipelago in the fourteenth century, it was taught alongside with silat. Besides as a combative art silat then became a spiritual training.