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Folk combat

Africa and Pacific

African wrestling
Western African wrestling style Mbapatte (Ieg)
Two women wrestle in a village in Guinea Bisau, photo by Hugo Bernatzik
Illustration from "The World Encyclopedia of Wrstling" by A.C.Mandzyak and O.L.Artemenko

Русская версия

Europe

Asia

Аmerica


Борьба туарегских девушек
Arras: Fighting women

African wrestling

West-African wrestling

Polynesian boxing

Polinesian boxing

Papuan female warrior

Papuas

Africa

Etienne Dinet. Wrestling of Algerian bathers

Etienne Dinet. Wrestling of Algerian bathers

African wresling

Festive wrestling in an African village

Wrestling in Senegal

Senegalese wrestling


Ritual wrestling in Namibia

Ritual wrestling with an amulet in Namibia

Ritual wrestling existed (and exists) in some tribal societies. There are African tribes, where pubescent girls often wrestled as part of their ritual initiation into mature womanhood.

Among the Diola tribe of Gambia adolescent boys and girls wrestled (but not against one another) and the male champion often married the female champion. In other tribes, such as Yala of Nigeria and the Njabi of the Congo, men and women wrestled one another.

The most known female ritual wrestlers live among North West African tribes like Tuaregs, a Berber tribe preserving some matriarchal traditions. Wrestling matches between girls were a part of the Tuaregs culture; families took pride in their daughters' skill and strength. By the way, rape was almost unheard of among the Tuaregs.

The traveler Dave Thompson wrote in 1999 about women in Mali: “I have never seen a people who are in better physical shape than I have seen in Mali. Driving through villages, overweight woman abound, and since they are far from sedentary I can only imagine their caloric intake must be quite large. The average Malian woman would beat 98% of the men I know back home in arm wrestling and push ups. A majority of the Malian woman would beat their husband at arm wrestling as well."

In Congo, especially in Igbo tribes, women's wrestling was quite prevalent. The Igbo women would wrestle women from other villages to be considered more desirable for marriage (similar to men). These villages, which allowed women to wrestle, held the women in a stronger and freer position in society.

Traditions to have wrestling matches in front of crowds exist in many parts of Africa but they are especially popular in Senegal.

In the southern regions of Africa (particularly in Namibia) nomadic tribe women have ritual wrestling matches with amulets, forcing losers to kiss them.



Canary wrestling (Lucha canaria - Spanish) is an ancient and still very popular form of wrestling practiced throughout the Canary Islands (Spain territory located off West Africa). Lucha canaria is a highly popular sport (individual and team) for both men and women. Each team consists of twelve wrestlers that fight individual bouts in a sand covered circular ring. The basic principle of the contest is to upset the balance of the opponent making him/her touch the ground first with any part of his/her body aside from the feet.

Pacific islands

In the Pacific islands, in the middle of the ocean expanse women wrestled and boxed too and did that quite similar to European, Asian and African women.

After the "huna" religion had been introduced into Hawaii the martial art associated with this religion "lua" spread all over the islands. (Lua means "to pit [in battle]" or "two" e.g., duality; the idea was to balance healing and hurting, good and evil.) As a result, hand-to-hand combat practice became quite common in Hawaii, so working-class, both men and women, boxed and wrestled. There were no set rules in these latter games, which were known collectively as "mokomoko". Accordingly, players slapped palms upon agreeing to terms or to signify a draw.

At the beginning of the 16th century Portugese navigator Fernandes de Quiros visited the Tuamotus Archipelago, and observes its Polynesian inhabitants wrestling. Both men and women wrestled, and there were sometimes mixed bouts. The audience defined the ring by standing around the participants. The wrestling was freestyle, and hair pulling was allowed.

When James Cooke discovered southern Pacific islands he was shocked by a sight of female fist fight. He also testified the tradition of mix wrestling where native women wrestled against men.

In the 19 century British explorers reported female pugilism in the Friendly Islands. In 1805, another British traveler named John Turnbull saw Polynesian female pugilists "hanging on each other’s necks like bulldogs, tearing their hair, bumping the stomach of the other, both with their hands and feet; in a word, neglecting no means of victory." While such tactics didn’t surprise Turnbull much, the aftermath did. Following a fall, the fighters stood, and "after adjusting their hair, would tenderly embrace, and be as good friends as ever."

Papuan in New Guinea inhabitants were notable for fierce disposition. Until quite recent times cannibalism was accustomed on the island. Objects of attacks for food were residents of neighboring settlements and both men and women participated in the raids. This is also a king of folk combat activity with women as active participants…

Polynesian wrestling
Polynesian wrestling

African wrestling


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Последнее обновление: 10 сентября, 2004г.

Last updated: September 10, 2004ã.


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