Vision for United States Gayong Federation (USGF)
The United States Gayong Federation is comprised of members from all walks of life. All races, religions, colors can be found in USGF. This great variety in membership makes USGF a unique group of Gayong practitioners.
International groups training in Silat Seni Gayong face challenges unique to Malaysia and to each other. “International” applies to Gayong outside of SE Asia. The “International” part of Gayong gets a little complicated. We international Gayong students share some commonalities and many differences. We have different languages, cultures, each unique to our particular country. What we have in common is Gayong.
International Silat Seni Gayong groups face many challenges that most Malaysian students will not face. We have to learn Malaysian Culture to understand Gayong. We can learn the techniques without learning about Gayong, but that leaves our techniques hollow and without character. If I learn Kacip Emas here, first I must know what the heck Kacip is. That word is usually translated into English as “scissors.” Having been to Malaysia I know this not to be entirely true. The “kacip” is a tool for cutting betel nut. When you see it, you understand why this technique is called “Kacip Emas.” Two forearms one under the throat, one on the back of the neck, hands clasped together choking the victim. Ah…. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Areca_nut
How would I understand the culture behind this technique had I not seen the “kacip” myself? International students have lots to learn outside of technique when we learn Gayong. Malay culture is foreign to us, we did not grow up in the culture, and so we have to learn about Malaysia and Malay culture. My Cikgu has lived here in the United States for decades, but he will not understand United States culture the way I understand United States culture. I grew up here; it is part of who I am. He did not grow up here so he has to learn about it.
Cikgu Sam is Malaysian. He was born and lived in Malaysia coming here to the United States for college and ultimately continuing to live here. As Cikgu Sam has taught students over the years, he has taught us as a Malaysian teaching Americans. He has to show us the technique, explain the Malay culture behind the technique, and answer a thousand questions from curious students like me.
As I have learned Gayong and started teaching, I face a different challenge than him. I am American, female, non-Muslim. How do I teach Gayong to others? I have to teach the technique, explain the Malay culture behind the technique, as I understand it, and answer questions. Sounds the same, eh? The difference is Cikgu Sam just knows the answers to the questions because he is Malay. I have to translate the Malay culture into something that a new American student would understand while keeping true to Gayong.
International Silat Seni Gayong must evolve into something else. We cannot be the same Gayong as Malaysia. We have to exist independently of Malaysia. Why? Because we will, no matter how hard we try, ever be Malaysian. For Gayong to not only exist but thrive outside of Malaysia, the Gayong must be absorbed by the people of that country. For Gayong to thrive in the United States, American students must make Gayong our own. We have to be able to teach and spread Gayong on our own. Right now, most International Gayong is headed by a Malaysian teacher. When will happen when those Cikgu are gone? Will that Gayong wither and blow away or will the roots that were planted by that Malaysian teacher take hold, survive and ultimately grow strong? We are working on building strong Gayong here, so we will continue to be strong and true to Gayong with American instructors.
This is the challenge faced by the United States Gayong Federation. We are independent of Malaysia. We have to be, we are different, we are not Malaysia. We look to Malaysia, we support all Gayong in Malaysia, we remain in communication with Malaysia, and we remain United States Gayong Federation. We work hard to develop and train quality instructors that understand not only the techniques, but the culture of Malaysia and how that intermingles with American culture to create something new and unique in Gayong.
We work hard for our Gayong here, so in turn, we have come to love Gayong, to cherish it, to protect it. We want to keep it safe here, and make sure that we are doing the best we can to grow Gayong on foreign soil to coincide with Dato Meor Rahman’s vision. There is a globe on the Gayong logo for a reason. Dato wanted Gayong to spread around the world. If he wanted it to remain in Malaysia, only for Malays he would have put the map of Malaysia on the Gayong logo, not the world. We, the United States Gayong Federation, are doing our best to help Dato’s vision be realized. We exist because Dato wanted us to exist; he wanted Gayong permanently in other countries. For that vision to remain alive, we Americans, have to absorb Gayong and make it our own and keep it close to our hearts.