The Origin Of Running Amok

Running amok or a-muck originated from Malay word amuk.

Origins

Running amok or a-muck originated from Malaya (now presently known as Malaysia). It was discovered by the British in the 1800s when they  witnessed cases where armed Malay locals go out of control and into a murderous frenzy. Rudyard Kipling made this word popular through his colonial tales.

The reasons for those going into a violent rampage could be because of extreme rage, desperation or an unstable mind. A kris or machete welding individual running amok would kill or wound those around him till he himself gets killed by bystanders or until he commits suicide. This kind of violent rampage were always perpetrated by men, never by the women folk. Running amok  is very similar to the Norse act of going berserk.

Supernatural

Another possible reason for running amok is because of a demon possession. It was common in the olden days for Malay warriors to practice a spiritual form of martial arts where a supernatural energy(a jinn) takes over the physical body of the warrior. When that happens the person goes into a state of trance, becomes fearless and feels invincible. At times, this act backfires when an aggressive supernatural force takes over the person's body. This probably resulted in the person running amok. This form of dark art is still practiced in secrecy till this day even though it is banned in most Muslim countries in the Malay Archipelago..

Running amok may also happen with a group of men. A murderous rampage would result in a whole town would become chaotic. Everyone would scatter, go into hiding and hope that the local Sultan or leader will send warriors or soldiers to deal with the crazed lunatics.

Authentic Depiction of Running Amok

Below is a Malay film from the 1960s based on a popular legendary character in the 1400s. A seriously injured warrior, named Hang Jebat  runs amok and kills a mob of people who stood in his way. He declared that he would run amok over everyone before he dies of his wound. In this event unfortunately, nobody was able to stop Hang Jebat since he was one the greatest warrior of that time, only second to another great warrior Hang Tuah. Like a wounded lion, a wounded warrior running amok is twice as dangerous The action begins at 2:00 of the video. See how a big mob of people scramble for lives just because of one wounded man running amok!

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