In the world of the Malay Silat, the keris (a wavy bladed dagger or knife) is the principal form of weapon for defense and offence. It is a deadly weapon unique to the Malay world, and in the centuries past, it was the dreaded weapon of the Malays, and normally carried around by the adult men especially for self-defense purpose.Those were the days when carrying a keris is a normal thing, akin, in the western world, to the days of the cowboys when carrying pistols are normal and rife.
In the old days, a keris once taken out of its sheath must "eat" or taste blood, as they say, and if not the enemy’s, one’s own blood. So, it is not a plaything -- it is a deadly weapon to be respected.
Normally the handle of a keris has elaborate carvings as the hilt and the normal creature carving is birdlike called the jawa demam. The blade of the keris is wavy and has different number of waves depending on the owner’s criteria.
From the structure of the handle, we can see that the keris is used only to be held in one hand. It cannot, and is not meant to be held by two hands unlike the big swords of the western world.
The usage of the keris is therefore in consonant with the silat movements where the hand is used in combat with or without the keris in hand. A keris in hand would however be an added advantage.
The sheath (or home) of the keris is also an art form and a beauty to behold. It is normally made of wood with silver or iron coverings at its mouth, and mostly with carved designs.
One of the most famous kerises that has been recorded in the Malay history books is named "Taming Sari". It is said that with this keris, Hang Tuah became invulnerable or invincible, and he defeated all opponents with this keris in his hand.
During his battle with Hang Jebat, the Taming Sari was in fact in the possession of Hang Jebat, as he had taken it during Hang Tuah’s exile. Hang Tuah was only able to defeat and killed Hang Jebat only after he had tricked Hang Jebat into exchanging their kerises.
Multi-purpose instruments like the Sai became especially useful, since an opponent's weapon could be blocked and/or trapped with one Sai with the other could be used to deliver a thrust to an open vulnerable area of the body. Three sai were often carried, with one placed behind the back in the belt, where it could serve as a replacement for a hand-held sai that was thrown at an opponent.
Spears are either called Tombak in the Javanese world or Lembing in the Malay Peninsular culture. The spear is probably older than the Keris. Some argue the Keris blade was originally a spear head mounted on a short hilt. For instance, Vajrayana flagstaff points from the old Javanese kingdoms have a distinctive Keris shape.
One of the earliest weapons fashioned by human beings and their ancestors, it is still used for hunting and fishing, and its influences can still be seen in contemporary military arsenals as the rifle-mounted bayonet.
Spears can be used as both melee and ballistic weapons. Spears used primarily for thrusting may be used with either one or two hands and tend to have heavier and sturdier designs than those intended exclusively for throwing.
The karambit is characterized by a sharply curved, usually double-edged, blade, which, when the knife is properly held, extends from the bottom of the hand, with the point of the blade facing forward. In Southeast Asia karambits are encountered with varying blade lengths and both with and without a retention ring for the index finger on the end of the handle opposite the blade. However, in addition to being held blade facing forward and extending down from the fist it may also be held blade to front extending from the top of the hand