Join Date: Dec 2004
I figured that I'm not taking archival pics, so I'll just use the good old flash and quickly snap some pics of how to hold a pistol-gripped keris.
The elbow of the grip is held pushed against the centre of the palm. This is crucial to providing strong support for thrusting, but not for slashing. But Bugis kerises were never meant to be slashers.
The thumb and the 1st finger are used to pinch the picetan. The ganja rests against the base of the 1st finger, providing more support for a strong thrust. The thumb and 1st finger also provide very fine point control -- you can fine tune where your keris is pointing very easily.
The remaining 3 fingers wraps round the rest of the grip to provide a firm grip. The wrist remains at a comfortable and natural position. The blade is parallel to the ground, allowing it slide more easily between ribs, rather than getting caught by 2 ribs when held perpendicular to the ground.
When the fingers are wrapped in to form a fist, you would have noticed that it forms a 'L'-shaped hollow, as defined by the bend of the thumb. That's what we mean by the pistol grip being one of the earliest studies in human ergonomics. The L-shaped pistol grip moulds into the hollow of the fist.
Finally, what I want to say is that -- please stop talking about the use of keris in a war. Its a weapon of last resort in a war.
In non-war situations, most people would only carry their kerises around, and if they need to defend themselves, the keris is what comes in handy. Also, the keris is advantageous in certain situations -- e.g. in an enclosed area where a sword or spear cannot be wielded effectively. The keris also had a bad reputation for being an assassins weapon because it is easily concealed and can deliver fatal thrusts in very close quarters.
There are kerises for fighting, there are kerises for showing-off, there are kerises for casting a curse on your most hated enemies, there are kerises made to execute people, there are kerises given by father to son, there are kerises made for tourists, there are kerises made to signify a nation, there are kerises made to commemorate a significant event, there are kerises that can protect the owner, there are kerises made to represent the authority of a Raja, Sultan or Agung, there are kerises made as works of art, there are kerises... and there are kerises...