The movements of Silat Tuo encompass the martial arts, traditional dance and theater, and natural wellness methods of the Minangkabau people of West Sumatra, Indonesia. The term Silek traditionally refers to the martial art systems of Silat, of which the ISF focuses on the 6 oldest styles of Silat, namely Silat Tuo Minangkabau, Silat Harimau, Silat Sterlak, Silat Lintau, Silat Satria Muda and Seni Silat Haqq.
The movements of Silat are used in traditional ceremonies and ceremonial dances, often in the format of Silat play between two people. In addition, Silat Randai, the specific theater-in-the-round style unique to West Sumatra, employs the movements of Silat in presenting the plot of the play. While the themes of Randai can vary, most often they cover Minang folktales and include family interactions and adat traditions.
The movements of Silat, especially in its traditional dance forms, are often accompanied by a traditional Indonesian orchestra, or Gamelan. While there are many forms of Gamelan throughout Indonesia, the West Sumatran Gamelan is known for its double-reed (sarunai) and end-blown (saluang) flutes, as well as its talempong gong ensemble.
Furthermore, Silat Tuo is just one aspect of the Natural Healing Methods of the Minang community. Indonesian herbalism, jamu, is practiced by many throughout the country on a daily basis. In addition to herbal remedies, the meditative movements and breathing modalities of Silat contribute to the overall health and wellness of the Minang people.
In West Sumatra, the traditions of Silat are taught to children from an early age, as they are considered to be the pusaka, cultural heritage, of the Minang, carrying the baraka, or blessings, from the elders of the community to the younger generation. In addition, women practitioners of Silat are known to excel in its movements.