Conditioning for Life


Fitness trends come and go. Here’s your chance to learn a centuries-old method that has helped people from all walks of life stay flexible, healthy, and resistant to injury: SENAMAN TUA – THE ANCIENT POWERFUL EXERCISES Senaman Tua (or “ST”) are the ancient Malay exercises forming part of a complete martial arts education.

ST workouts will not only strengthen the muscles but in turn strengthen brainpower because of the increased inhalation of oxygen. Senaman Tua increases strength in the muscles and joints of the body through effective breathing and movement.

Many of the exercises were actually extracted from the Malay Martial arts practice called Seni Silat or Pencak Silat. Formerly, this knowledge was a closely guarded secret by the malays and only recently revealed to the public by Guru Azlan Ghanie. Some people would term Senaman Tua the Yoga of the Malays.

Below is the text of an article on Senaman Tua written by Guro Jeff Davidson for a Malaysian martial arts magazine:

In the past 10 years, a system of exercise known as Pilates has taken the United States by storm. An interesting fact about Pilates is that it was developed as a way of rehabilitating injured soldiers. It is touted as a low-impact strengthening programme, that will give you functional strength instead of the bulky musculature that comes from lifting weights. Although this seems to be a very novel concept here in the west, many of us - new to Silat Melayu - are surprised to find an equally effective method from Malaysia: Senaman Tua . In the three years that I have been practicing and teaching Silat, I find Senaman Tua to be a challenging, necessary, and overly rewarding aspect of training. In my opinion, western students of Silat Melayu, have great difficulty being on the receiving end of buah kuncian.

We just aren’t used to being put into these locks, and with our broad (stiff) shoulders, well...let’s just say that we’re especially prone to injury. Learning to relax and go with the flow is difficult, more so with a beginning student applying the lock, who may tend to go a bit too hard and fast in the first place. I have always told my students that Senaman Tua is like a ‘yoga’ to preserve and strengthen the joints. After three years, I have at least 50% greater range of motion in my wrists, shoulders and elbows. I have also been able to rehabilitate an old knee injury almost completely. In fact, I have several students that have come with chronic joint issues that are able to fully participate in the physical training after a month of Senaman Tua .

So, if we are seeing such dramatic results in cases where the person already has an injury, how much more important is this as a protective measure for those who are not injured? Another interesting example is a student of mine who competes in long-distance marathons. He is fit, limber, eats right, and is generally the very picture of good health. Last year I took him through a Senaman Tua session for about 45 minutes. By his own account, he needed to rest for 3 days afterwards - during which time his body expelled a copious amount of toxins (mostly in the form of mucous). He reported that unlike the feeling of being ‘winded’ from running, Senaman Tua left him feeling as though his internal organs had been exercised!

Following are some testimonials from students of Senaman Tua:

Dear Guro Davidson,

I have to say that Senaman Tua  has had a great impact on my joints - in a positive way. When you think in terms of most other martial arts and sports in general, the knee is always one of the first things to give as you get older. Knee problems can become like an old transmission that is breaking down.

A few weeks ago one of your newer students very enthusiastically put me in a kuncian during training. I did not realize the danger until I went to move my foot in order to relieve the pressure of the lock. It took my mind a few seconds to realize that although my foot was not moving, my knee was nevertheless twisting as if it were. I gave a loud (but very manly) scream that was heard throughout the training hall. I could feel the ligaments in my knee twisting very unnaturally. I would compare it to thinking you had been shot.

I reacted to the tearing of my knee as if it was destroyed. But I suddenly began to realize that the pain was rapidly subsiding. I was even able to get up after a few minutes and walk around. Within 3 days I was 95% and by the end of the week I was ready to go for my next private lesson - which I would not miss for the world.

I really appreciate the benefit that Senaman Tua  has had on my joints because I have twisted my knee like that in the past and it took me well over a month to recover.

Your student,



Hey Guru,

I just want to send you a big Thank You for teaching Senaman Tua to me.

When you asked me how my knee was doing this week you almost caught me by surprise because I hadn't thought of my knee in many weeks. This is the exact same knee that I was sure was going to need surgery and the many months of rehab that go with surgery earlier this summer. The reason I no longer had my knee problems at the forefront of my mind is that it was 100% back to normal. I can only attribute this to the Senaman Tua  exercises you showed me.

I am a bit ashamed to admit this now, but when I originally called you weeks ago to let you know I was going to have to quit training for awhile due to me hobbling around on a very painful knee that I had injured, and you told me to come in anyway because 'you just might be able to help my knee', sad to say but I was extremely skeptical.

I had no doubts about your abilities to cause people injuries, but I had never heard you mention any ability to heal people, and besides, I had already visited a Doctor who just gave me pain pills and told me to make an appointment with a Orthopedic Surgeon for my knee. But since it would be almost three weeks before I was able to get an appointment with the Surgeon, I figured I had nothing to lose by seeing whatever it was you were going to show me.

When I saw the exercises you suggested I do, I thought they were a combination of some odd yoga mixed in with some Physical Therapy exercises, definitely nothing I had ever seen before. I took your suggestion and started doing these exercises every other day, and to my surprise, after the first week my knee was much improved.

I appreciate that our classes for the next couple of weeks were Senaman Tua  classes and not Kalibecause the combo of practicing on my own and coming in for the classes eliminated any limping completely by the third week, and after the seventh week, any trace of the knee problem was completely eliminated. Had I gone through with the surgery, the seven week point would have probably just been the transition from crutches to a cane.

So thanks again for the gift of these exercises that I have continued to do a couple of times a week for prevention of joint injuries.

--Your grateful student


My name is Christopher K., and I am a humble student of Guro Jeff Davidson in the Filipino and Malaysian martial arts. Lately I had been experiencing some knee and joint stability issues, and thus approached Guro for some advice. At this point, I was introduced to Senaman Tua  – the so-called “Old Exercises.” Guro Davidson related the history and effectiveness of Senaman Tua  and how much it has helped him.

After learning a basic routine, I have found Senaman Tua  to be extremely challenging yet almost profound in what it targets and accomplishes. Through the lower, core, and upper-body exercises I feel my fascia and tendon strength improving. Stability and sensitivity are also increasing. All of this in a martial arts/fitness context.

I have a good amount of experience in running and weight-lifting, and I believe they are important for general fitness and muscle stamina. Yet I now believe that Senaman Tua  is even more important for the joint fascia and stability needed for greater physical sensitivity and martial prowessSenaman Tua  is the exercise regimen needed to prevent injury and to excel in movement. Even when compared to Yoga, I find it way more useful and beneficial.

Thanks for Senaman Tua!

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