Singapore silat champion Sheik Ferdous reinvents himself to stay top
S'porean silat world champion, 23, has adopted a more offensive fighting style
Since becoming a silat world champion last December, Sheik Ferdous Sheik Alau'ddin has hardly been resting on his laurels.
The 23-year-old has been thinking of how to "shake things up"so that he can stay on top, after clinching the Class I (85-90kg) title at the World Pencak Silat Championships at the OCBC Arena six months ago.
Ferdous and his father, Singapore Silat Federation (Persisi) chief Sheik Alau'ddin, have been working on new kicking techniques and an alternative game plan.
Ferdous told The New Paper through a phone interview after the inaugural US Open Pencak Silat Tournament in Virginia yesterday that the new techniques have made him become a more well-rounded fighter.
"I used to be defensive and do counter-attacks but, now, I'm more forward and doing the kicks. It gives me confidence in being more versatile. I no longer stick to just one style of combat," said Ferdous, who also won an Asian Games silver medal last year.
"It makes me more unpredictable as a fighter. In the tournament, I was a lot more dominant. I need to retain my title and keep consistent because people have been studying my fighting style. To counter that, I have to be versatile."
Like several of his teammates, he took part in only one match at the US Open as their rivals from Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines and some from Uzbekistan had to pull out owing to visa issues.
Only athletes from the US, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and some from Uzbekistan participated.
Facing a weakened field, Singapore swept 16 golds, a silver and a bronze - with everyone from the 22-strong contingent leaving with a medal.
The Republic won gold in five of six artistic categories, and added 11 titles from the match categories, along with a silver and a bronze.
Ferdous defeated Abdulkareem Zenhom of the United States in the only match in the Senior Male I category to win the gold.
The spexScholar displayed an offensive combat style and tried out his newly mastered roundhouse kick, which he will be aiming to perfect at the July 25-28 Jakarta Open.
Ferdous had tried to be more adventurous at the Belgium Open two months ago, but strayed back to his defensive ways and finished third.
Sheik Alau'ddin, also his coach, said that the tournament exposure is important because "if they train and spar among friends, they don't want to hurt them".
"Now in tournaments, they won't hold back... they'll try it against opponents… Training and competition is different," he said. "In competition, it's about whether they dare and are hungry to do it."
The former two-time world champion was also delighted that the sport has reached the North American continent and believes that these tournaments, despite not being as competitive, provide his athletes with mental practice.
For example, in the Senior Female B category, Singapore's Siti Khadijah, 18, had to settle for silver after losing to America's Sumayyah Tobing, who is 10kg heavier. But Siti gained in terms of exposure.
Sheik Alau'ddin believes that his fighters are gearing up well for the Nov 30-Dec 11 SEA Games in the Philippines, but emphasised that it is more about the journey and not the results.
He said: "We are ready for any opponent because they've gone through hard training.
"There are a lot of factors that are subjective like judging, but the athletes are hungry to head to a higher level."