Mepantigan – Balinese Martial Art

There are many kinds of martial arts in Indonesia, and so does in Bali. Lately, besides the Pencak Silat, there is a traditional martial art developed in Bali. It is called “Mepantigan”. Basically, mepantigan means to throw or to knock something down. The traditional martial art concentrates on locking and throwing the enemy. It combines some self-defenses, such as taekwondo, silat, capoeira, kickboxing, and judo, and includes various elements of Balinese culture, such as Balinese music, dance, and costumes. Those are the factors that make this self defending martial art a hauling sport, and it has now been prepared as one of the most attractive and interesting Bali tourism attraction.

Mepantigan is a combination of art and sport that founded and developed by Putu Witsen Widjaya. According to him, the martial art can make its practitioners gain physical fitness, release stress, and learn valuable lessons of comradeship and sportsmanship, because mepantigan emphasizes emotion and spiritual intelligence. He also believes that Mepantigan can develop characteristic and avoid violence while cultivating compassion. The uniqueness of mepantigan is its location or arena, which take place in wet and muddy fields. Often, muddy rice fields and beach are also being used to hold the fight. There are three levels of mepantigan: beginner, intermediate, and advance.

Before the Mepantigan begins, a priest will first lead the participants to pray to Dewi Sri, the Goddess of Prosperity. In an open space, it is then played while supervised by some referees. One game is played in two rounds and one round is held for three minutes. Punching, Kicking, biting, or hitting vital parts of the opponent’s body is forbidden. Two topless fighters then come onto the muddy field. Before the fight, they must first perform the preliminary demonstration of the martial art. After the pre-demo there will be an instruction from the referee and they will begin to try to tackle down each other. Both of the fighters and their supporters should wear Balinese traditional uniform. To show respect and supportive manner, fighters should hug and bow to each other before and after the show. The winner and the loser are decided based on the score of the fighters which is determined by juries. Based on the rule, martial art demonstration earns one point, successfully locking the opponent earns two points, effectively throwing the opponent earns three points, and aggressiveness and politeness earns four points. Mepantigan can be performed by all ages. Every fighter is accompanied by a coach and paramedics that will always be around the arena.

During and after the fight, some artists will perform Balinese dance and music. The dance will deliver the drama about Kebo Iwa, a legendary giant warrior in Bali. The drama usually represents the story of Kebo Iwa in 14th Century who by himself had trained some war soldiers the art of Mepantigan techniques for his willingness to die for the Indonesia archipelago.


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