For ‘Black Panther’, cast trained in Malay martial arts of ‘silat’

Chadwick Boseman poses at the premiere of 'Black Panther' in Los Angeles January 29, 2018. — Reuters pic
Chadwick Boseman poses at the premiere of 'Black Panther' in Los Angeles January 29, 2018. — Reuters pic

PETALING JAYA, Feb 21 — To prepare for their astounding fight scenes in the box-office hit Black Panther based on the Marvel comic title, its cast had trained in several martial arts.

One of them was the Malay martial arts silat, according to lead actor Chadwick Boseman, who plays T’Challa the titular hero.

In a report by Singapore’s Straits Times, Boseman said the lethal discipline, native to the Malay archipelago where Malaysia is, came about as a result of research for fight scenes, which drew on martial art styles from different continents.

“A lot of thought went into the choreography, which incorporates capoeira (Brazil), Dambe boxing (West Africa), Senegalese wrestling, Zulu stick-fighting and mixtures of Asian styles like muay thai and harimau silat [sic], to create the fictional heritage of Wakanda,” he reportedly said.

Silat Harimau is one among the hundreds of silat styles, said to resemble the movements of tigers — with its low-stance and use of leaps and kicks.

Boseman posted a clip to his Instagram last May where he is seen getting into shape practicing moves similar to silat.


His co-star, Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, also adopted a fighting style influenced by silat for her character Nakia.

It was a mixture of moves from judo, jiu-jitsu, and silat that helped create the War Dog of Wakanda, she said in an article on the Marvel website.

She had cited the athletic background of director Ryan Coogler who helped perfect the style.

“He has the mind of a fighter in a way that I really need. Sometimes, I’m like: ‘I don’t know what a fighter would do?’,” she said, explaining the process of getting into character.

“So to have someone who has that instinct has been very very helpful.

“I’m learning all these cool skills and I get to jump higher than I thought I could jump. I get to roll backwards which I thought I would never do after the age of eight? So it’s been fun,” she added.

Black Panther, which opened in Malaysia on February 15, is being lauded a “game-changer” by Hollywood critics who are celebrating the Marvel classic for its highly-diverse cast.

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