Kwitang Silat: a Combination of Chinese Martial Arts and Betawi Internal Power

Betawi is famous for its hometown of warriors or martial arts champions. Starting from the legend of the Pitung, the martial arts master from Marunda has remained in the hearts of the Betawi people throughout the ages to the legend of the Jampang. The history of martial arts in Betawi also records that the name of the Kwitang village came from a Chinese merchant, Kwe Tang Kiam who was famous for his martial arts prowess.

This story begins in the 17th century when a traveler from mainland China, Kwe Tang Kiam set foot on the land of Betawi. It is said that Kwe Tang Kiam has traveled to almost all corners of Indonesia. In one of the villages in Betawi, the wanderer who was also a drug dealer settled. Apart from being good at concocting medicines, he is also an expert in martial arts. In the area where he lived, Kwe Tang Kiam passed his martial arts knowledge to the people who lived around him.

The greatness of Kwe Tang Kiam's martial arts was recognized by the Betawi community at that time. The silat he teaches uses powerful moves similar to the Shaolin flow that combines the elements of energy, physical strength and speed. This is very different from the Betawi silat school, which emphasizes mysticism.

However, Kwe Tang Kiam acknowledged the greatness of Betawi silat mysticism after trying the power of knowledge of one of the Betawi champions named Bil Ali. Evidently, Bil Ali's white line of kanuragan science succeeded in defeating Kwe Tang Kiam. Until the end of his life Kwe Tang Kiam settled in this village and with his own consciousness he later embraced Islam. The village where he settled later became the Kwitang village, which is included in the Central Jakarta area.

Only for Family
One of the students of Kwe Tang Kim is the ancestor of the H. Moch Zaelani family who later became the heir to this martial arts in the Kwitang area. He then taught this martial art to his own family, namely, H Moch. Zakaria. However, because people's interest in learning this silat is so great, he also gave them the opportunity to participate in learning it.

Zaelani founded the Kwitang school of martial arts on September 27, 1948 to coincide with the PON I National Sports Week in Solo. It was during PON I that the All Indonesian Pencak Silat Association (IPSI) was inaugurated. At that time, the first IPSI chairman, Mr. Wongso Negoro, invited fighters from Kwitang to demonstrate their skills at the opening of the sports week.

Four years later, on September 27, 1952, when PON II was held in Jakarta, Zaelani officially founded the Kwitang Silat College under the name "PS Mustika Kwitang".

This school was then passed on to his grandson H. Moch Zakaria Abdulrachim. At PON II, Zakaria appeared as an athlete. At that time, pencak silat officially became one of the branches being competed. In the art number that was contested, Zakaria came out as the champion. In the next PON, Zakaria is always a scourge for his opponent. Together with Mustika Kwitang other fighters, he won various championships, such as the 1953 PON III in Medan, the IV PON in 1957 in Makassar, and the V PON in 1961 in Bandung. He consecutively emerged as the champion.

Almost Extinct
Through Zakaria's perseverance, PS Mustika Kwitang was getting more and more fragrant with the number of students reaching thousands of fighters spread across Jakarta, even to West Java, Central Java to North Sumatra. In its heyday, PS Mustika Kwitang gave birth to reliable fighters such as Diantoro Nur, Ganda, Ishak, Lubena, Yuyu and Latifah (female fighters).

He revealed that the secret of his success in nurturing his students came from a great motivation to pursue this ancestral sport. In addition, he also advised his students not to be too fanatical about school. They may adapt silat knowledge outside of school to enrich their silat knowledge.

In the 80s, Zakaria resigned and passed on his knowledge to his children. But unfortunately, his success in fostering a martial arts college was not followed by his heir. The development of the college which is already a name in the martial world is getting worse and even almost extinct.

The students of this college one by one began to decrease from thousands of people, only a few fighters still exist in developing this martial art. As a result, PS Mutstika Kwitang found it difficult to compete with other martial arts schools, including foreign martial arts.

Zakaria admits that the school he leads does not have supporters and sponsors. In addition, PS Mustika Kwitang only has a few cadres of coaches and the coaching system is inefficient. In this school, there is no clear and standard level to assess the ability of the students. The determination of the level until the appointment of the cadre of trainers is still determined by the professor.


“Manusia tanpa cita-cita adalah mati. Cita-cita tanpa kerja adalah mimpi. Idaman yang menjadi andalan adalah kebahagiaan.”
- Ali Sadikin -
Gubernur DKI Jakarta 1966 - 1977
“Emang rejeki kagak kemane, tapi kalo lo gak kemane-mane mana mau dapet rejeki.”
- H. Benyamin Sueb -
Seniman Betawi