Silat genes rule in this family

Silat genes rule in this family
Silat world champion Sheik Farhan Sheik Alau'ddin was taught discipline by his father Sheik Alau'ddin Yacoob Marican and mother Sa'adiah Sanuse.

New silat world champion Sheik Farhan Sheik Alau'ddin's father is Sheik Alau'ddin Yacoob Marican, a two-time silat world champion Recently crowned silat world champion Sheik Farhan Sheik Alau'ddin, 17, was exposed to the sport as a toddler by his father, two-time silat world champion Sheik Alau'ddin Yacoob Marican, 47.

In fact, in this family of two global champions, all six children, who range in age from seven to 21, took up silat from the age of two or three.

Mr Sheik Alau'ddin, the Singapore Silat Federation's chief executive officer, says his influence over his children, who have all participated in international silat contests, is "partly by force".

"If I go to train, I take them all along. On Sundays, we have six hours of training at Jalan Besar Community Club," says the silat champion, who frowns on the interest his children have shown in football, lest they "forget about silat".

He adds that he wants to "pass on" the Grasio Sports Silat School that he founded in 1997 to his children.

He and his wife, draughtswoman Sa'adiah Sanuse, 49, shed tears of joy when Farhan, the fourth of their children, won the Pencak Silat World Championships Class J (90 to 95kg) final in Phuket, Thailand, last month.

Two of Farhan's siblings also won medals at the same competition. Sheik Ferdous, 18, finished runner-up in the men's artistic doubles (with Shakir Juanda), while Nur Shafiqa, 21, won a bronze as part of the women's team.

For his part, Farhan, a Nanyang Polytechnic student, says his father has always been supportive.

"When no one believes in us, he's always there to support me and my siblings, always giving us opportunities to succeed," he says.

He admits, though, there is a long way to go if he wants to step out of his father's shadow.

"Most of the newspapers still mention my dad's achievements. The only way is to surpass his achievements."

What is your parenting style like?

Mr Sheik Alau'ddin: Firm and a bit aggressive if they're naughty. If they're not, I keep quiet. Sometimes the children like to fight and tease one another.

Madam Sa'adiah: For me, it's like every parent wants her children to excel in their studies. I'm working, but I check on them, how their studies are progressing. We want them to talk to us about their decisions, for example, after O levels.

We also want family bonding - that's a priority for me.

Farhan: My parents used to be stricter before the two youngest ones, Sheik Fayz, 11, and Nur Shaqira, seven, arrived. The elder siblings will look through the homework of the two youngest and check them if they misbehave. The two youngest very rarely get beaten. Maybe my parents are tired from work.

What was Farhan like as a child?

Madam Sa'adiah: He was quieter, he liked to do his own thing. Once in a while, he joined in family games like Monopoly.

Mr Sheik Alau'ddin: I was quite firm and aggressive in terms of silat, wanting them to train, to push harder. Maybe too much. But today, he's a champion. Farhan doesn't complain.

Now I understand my kids better. They have their own lives and studies. I also need them to support me, not financially, but in what I am doing for silat. I'm pushing for more silat competitions and more acceptance in all areas. For example, sometimes people think silat is for only Malays.

Farhan: I like to keep to myself. I also want to be successful in something, this is what my father has given me. I want to make my parents proud.

Which parent are you closer to?

Farhan: My mother because she is less strict. In primary school, I would ask her to sign any papers from school.

Madam Sa'adiah: The kids understand that my husband is always busy and often not in town, sometimes missing events such as graduation awards presentations. I will support them in such things.

How did you discipline your children?

Mr Sheik Alau'ddin: When I call their name, they know that something is wrong. I would smack them on the bottom if they were naughty, for example, if they didn't listen to their mother, their school results were not good or they didn't do their homework. Farhan was not a problematic child, though.

Madam Sa'adiah: I pinched them, because I don't have big hands to beat, usually when they quarrelled. If I didn't know who was in the right or wrong, I pinched everyone or smacked them on the hand to be fair.

What are your views on caning?

Mr Sheik Alau'ddin: What I did with my kids was I took out the cane and showed it to them. They would run away. It's just a show to threaten or to smack the cushion, not to cane the children. They sometimes threw the cane in the dustbin.

Farhan: I don't remember being caned, but I was scared of the cane.

What are your family values?

Madam Sa'adiah: Respect. We tell them to respect the grandparents and parents.

Mr Sheik Alau'ddin: I can be a friend to Farhan, but respect is respect. They can't raise their voice at us, for example.

Farhan: Family comes first. If we have planned a family outing, don't have other appointments.

If the parent-child roles were reversed, what would you do differently?

Farhan: I'd do everything the same. The way they brought me up was good in terms of discipline. If I have examinations, it was time to study. There was no need for my parents to remind me.

Mr Sheik Alau'ddin: I would follow what my parents want for me as a child. When I won my first national gold medal in 1984, I had secretly learnt silat without my mother knowing it. She was scared of me getting injured. When I came home with the gold medal, she cried.

Madam Sa'adiah: I wouldn't change anything. The bonding that we have shows that the children are on the right path. They listen to us and care for our wellbeing.

This article was first published on Feb 1, 2015.
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