Indonesia is a land of spice islands. Their history has always been that of competing tribes and peoples. They also have a history of invasion by foreign powers. The many indonesian martial arts styles evolved under both. Most martial arts from Indonesia are tribal arts intended for the entire village to use. Because of the nature of tribal warfare (and the prevalence of cannibalistic tribes), the martial arts tend to be designed with weapons in mind and both as and against multiple armed opponents. Very little “sportsmanship” is applied when fighting someone you intend on eating.
Another group of events defining how the indonesian martial arts fighting arts evolved is the tendency of everyone around you to invade. Indonesia has been claimed by (among others) the Chinese, the Japanese, and the Dutch. In fact, the phrase “run Amok” refers to Indonesian warriors tying off pressure points, grabbing a knife, and walking down the street killing every foreigner they saw. Today in the west, many of the best known indonesian martial arts players are Dutch-Indo.
There is also in Indonesia a strong history of Immigration, and many Chinese have moved there. The Chinese Kung-Fu styles were blended with the native indonesian martial arts styles and form the basis of the hybrid Kuntao Silat styles.
Most recently Islam is becoming the predominant religion of the region. And we are beginning to see it’s influences on the indonesian martial arts still popular in Indonesia.