‘Vital for young Ibans to learn Kuntau’

Mundaw (seated back row, fourth left), flanked by Lo on his left and Churchill, joins other Kuntau practitioners and military personnel in a group photo after the work party at the Jalan Semeba ‘kelang’. Also seated on the back row are Mabong (left) and Sidi (second right).

KUCHING: There is a need to revive the Iban traditional martial art of Kuntau so that more members of the community, especially the youngsters, would know about it.

According to First Division Infantry Commander Major General Datuk Stephen Mundaw, there are still not many people who know the existence of this martial art.

“Therefore, it is a huge responsibility for us to cultivate and nurture this martial art into our community, towards preserving, protecting and promoting it in this modern age.

“We must do it – if we don’t, nobody else will. On this, I assure you that you would have the full support from us at the First Division Infantry,” he said during a ‘gotong-royong’ (work party) at the Iban Kuntau ‘kelang’ – or ‘training arena’ in Iban – at Jalan Semeba here yesterday.

Mundaw also said in terms of the martial art’s development, the First Division would be open to cooperate with relevant bodies such as Sarawak Iban Kuntau Association (Sikar) and Sarawak Dayak Iban Association Academy (Asadia) in programmes such as training their military personnel in Kuntau.

Mundaw, who is also Sikar advisor, remarked: “If there is a need to conduct training at our camps, we can accommodate it.”

Meanwhile, Batu Kitang assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang pledged an allocation of RM5,000 for Sikar and also assured the association that he would accommodate the construction of proper roads leading to the Jalan Semeba ‘kelang’ via the Rural Transformation Programme (RTP) funds for the constituency.

He then called on the people to continue supporting the Barisan Nasional (BN)-led government to ensure uninterrupted development of infrastructure and amenities in the area.

Separately, Sikar president Churchill Edward Drem said the registration drive for new members is ongoing, adding that the association is open only to the Ibans for the time being.

To sign up, each member needs to fill out the form and submit it to Sikar together with a RM15 life membership fee and another RM5 for administrative fee.

Sikar was set up in 2015, following popular demand to preserve the martial art and also the wish by many quarters for Kuntau Iban to be recognised as a regulated and competitive sport.

In the olden days, the ‘kelang’ would only be set up secluded places surrounded by greenery. Back then, the masters of the art called ‘Guro’ preferred to teach their charges at these isolated places in the jungle. Till today, this martial art is still associated with mysticism and secrecy.

Earlier yesterday, a ‘miring’ (seeking for blessings) ceremony was held at the training centre, performed by Lemambang Johnical Ragai Lang.

Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia) president Sidi Munan, Asadia head Mabong Uggang and Sikar ‘Guro’ Patrict Tuat also joined the ‘gotong-royong’.

Source: The Borneo Post

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