Buzkashi

»Posted by on Sep 15, 2019 in General | Comments Off on Buzkashi

Buzkashi

The national sport of Afghanistan involves horses, riders, and a headless goat! Started as far back as 2000 years ago, its competitors enter to show off the horses and their riding skills. It is a violent and dangerous as the riders, or chapandaz as they are known, and the horses can sustain serious injuries. This is not a sport for the fainthearted and takes a lifetime of training to become a champion. Starting at a young age and with lots of exercises, a chapandaz may get onto the field, but only the best of the best get to touch the goat carcass. Likewise, the horses need years of training before getting to compete.

Buzkashi is played by Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and strangely enough, the USA. Rules vary from country to country, but the USA has refined the sport, and a sheepskin covered ball is used in place of the goat, and the participants must go through the ball through a hoop to score. The ball has to be passed three times between the team players before a “goal” can be scored. In the past, there were not many rules, but a player could not whip the opponent or unsaddle him. Riders wear heavy clothing as padding with helmets as headgear. Boots have high heels to lock onto the saddle so the rider can lean off the horse to grab the goat.

The wealthy and riders own horses are hired but can choose any horse they want from the owner’s string. The goat or calf used in the Buzkashi is beheaded, gutted, and two limbs are removed. What is left is soaked in cold water for a day to toughen it. Players are allowed to tuck the carcass under their legs to free up their hands for control of the horses. When played in Kabul. The team has ten riders, but only five are allowed on the field in each half. At half time the next five riders take to the ground. There is a referee who ensures the rules are adhered to.

Different Countries

In Kyrgyzstan, the rules and the field size differ. Each team has twelve players and can replace the four players on the field at any time, and the same applies to the horses. The game is played over 60 minutes divided into three periods with two ten minute breaks. The players must drop the carcass in the opposing team’s goal to score. Here each individual must play for himself as there are no teams. On occasions, there may be many players on the field at a time.

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Turkish Wrestling

»Posted by on Sep 6, 2019 in MMA | Comments Off on Turkish Wrestling

Turkish Wrestling

Turkey has one of the strangest sports to hit the dirt! Wrestlers, well-oiled with olive oil applied by their opponents, dressed in knee-length shorts, made from water buffalo hide, and are allowed to put their hands down their opponents’ pants (Kispet). This gives him the advantage of having something. Initially, the olive oil was used as an insect repellent and was not washed off before a fight, and this then became traditional, even although more efficient insecticides became available.

Edirne’s Yearly Gathering

Every year contestants and spectators gather in Edirne, this year being the 658th year that this contest took place, and which lasts six days. It is time for celebrations, entertainment, including belly dancing, and traditional dance, song and music. The event has been held in Edirne since 1346 when it was the capital of Turkey and is the most extended surviving sport in the world. Other countries also enjoy wrestling, such as parts of Greece, Eastern Macedonia, and Thrace. Before the tenth-century, wrestlers were naked, and it was only with the advent of Islam that contestants were required to “cover-up”.

Yagli Gures

Yagli Gures (oiled wrestling) was first practised in the days of the Persians possible as far back as 1000BC. These days there is a substantial prize, the winner being awarded +- 100 000 Us Dollars, and if the winner can win three years in a row, he receives a 14ct Gold Belt. Businesses can also sponsor champions, adding to their winnings. In the early days when wrestling was just for fun, two competitors fought from early morning through the day, until midnight, and both died was exhaustion. Most top wrestlers train an apprentice who will ultimately take over from his master when the master retires.

Rules

Each match is limited to 40 minutes, and, if there is no winner, a further seven minutes is fought, and the winner is selected on points. In lessor categories, the contest lasts thirty minutes, and if there is no winner, a further seven minutes is allowed, and the contestant scoring the last point, known as the Golden Point, wins.

Before 1975, some matches could go on for two days until there was a winner. On the final day of the sports, the country’s President attends the games and presents the prize to the ultimate winner. The most excellent winner in the history of the competition was Alico, who held the title for 27 years.

Before the final match is contested the organisers (the municipality) holds an auction and the highest bidder becomes the “Aga” for the next year’s tournament when he is able to preside over the games, welcome guests and invites them for dinner and generally oversees the games, even to the extent of cancelling fights, adjudicating over the arguments and intervening wherever he chooses. In 2018 Seyfettin Selim won the auction with a bid of 113000 Euros, so he was the Aga for the 2019 celebrations.

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Fencing as a Martial Art

»Posted by on Sep 1, 2019 in General | Comments Off on Fencing as a Martial Art

Fencing as a Martial Art

The story of swords goes back to before recorded history when the first civilizations had swords of several types. In the Medinat Habu temple built to honour the god Amon, which was erected by the pharaoh Ramses 111, carved in relief, one finds scenes of swordsmen practising their swordplay using swords with padded tips so that there were no injuries. They carried shields and had masks on their faces and had padding covering their vulnerable parts. Many ancient civilizations used swords such as Babylonia, Greece, the Persians and the Romans.

Bronze and Iron

The metal sword developed in the Bronze Age, taking over from primitive stone weapons and the armies that had the secret were soon defeating their enemies. When iron was discovered, and blacksmith’s learned to work it into hard blades, bronze swords became obsolete as the harder iron made short work of the softer bronze. Both were milestones in the advancement of Mankind, hence the name of those eras as the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.

The Romans developed their swords. The soldiers and gladiators were taught in schools dedicated to the art of sword fighting, but in training, wooden weapons were used. When Rome’s dominance of the world started crumbling, swords were still the weapons of choice. In the middle ages, training in the art became fragmented, and instructors developed them owns styles. The swords became heavier to enable the penetration of full body armour and were still preferred over firearms which were challenging to reload under pressure when unsavoury types started joining the schools to better their skills; these were put to good use by robbers, thieves, etc.

The armour worn by the nobility and the Knights became more substantial with the sole idea of penetrating the opponent’s armour. The soldier’s mobility became compromised by his heavy armour as his movements were restricted. In 1286 King Edward 1 started persecuting instructors, but the schools carried on regardless. Henry V111, however, licensed instructors to teach the skills of the cutting sword. The sword, however, had evolved into the rapier – a thin, lightweight weapon with no cutting edge but it did have a very sharp point. The blade slowly replaced the swords of those days. The Italians took fencing to another level where speed and skill outfought the heavy and cumbersome cutting sword.

Rapiers

Rapiers became less popular as fashions changed, and the long fencing sword did not match the clothing of the day. In fencing, the fighters became far more skilful due to the lightness of the weapon. Attacks were made with the point of the sword, and dextrous moves were taught to block the opponent. By the mid-1800s, the art of fencing was at its zenith, but in a fight or battle, firearms became the weapon of choice. Although the sword was replaced on the battlefield, it remains a popular sport and features in the Olympic Games.

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Alternative Marshall Arts

»Posted by on Aug 22, 2019 in General | Comments Off on Alternative Marshall Arts

Alternative Marshall Arts

Tai Chi is an ancient exercise form used by the Chinese in training. When Tai Chi began is unknown, but it could be 1500 years ago. It is popular today and is practised by millions of people all over the world daily as breathing is the primary deciding factor in Tai Chi. No longer considered a martial art, it is a way to exercise and includes breathing, as mentioned, visual training and restrained movements. All these are practised together as a unit. It is applied to natural body movements, and its relaxation and breathing lead to a healthy, durable, and long life.

The philosophy is that everything consists of opposing forces and these work together as a whole. To explain this, left has a right, and an up has an opposing down. The opposites are Yin and Yang, white and black. Exhale and inhale, release and store, expand and contract. Give and take and offence and defence. Together these form the Yin and Yang sign. There is no specific style and as long as the theories adhere to this in considered Tai Chi. For the beginner, the ancient terminology is difficult to understand, but as the learner becomes more proficient, the easier it is to grasp the meaning.

There is no written history of Tai Chi, but there are legends and fables. In the 13th century, Zhang San Feng was said to be behind the creation of Tai Chi. He is said to have witnessed a fight between a crane and a snake and from these deductions he formulated the exercises. This art was passed on from teacher to student and so on to the Chen family who still maintains the beginnings were in their village.

Sumo Wrestling

Sumo wrestling has been a favourite sport of the Imperial Japanese family through the centuries, and the first professional wrestling began in the 1600s. Because of its long history (believed to be over 2000 years), it has become Japans national sport. Sumo wrestlers must be very heavy to compete in this sport, and their diet consists of up to 20 000 calories daily. A mass of 150kgs is not uncommon among the wrestlers. They follow a strict diet to achieve and maintain these heavyweights, and they must adhere to their eating patterns. They start the day with a meal at 11:30 am. This consists of a mixed pot of stew with seaweed stock with chicken, fish and prawns etc. and with tofu and vegetables as the main ingredients. Senior wrestlers must consume several bowls of this stew combined with rice at each meal.

All wrestlers belong to the same “stables” and to be accepted into these schools’ applicants must be no smaller than 1.73 meters and at least 75kg and must have shown earlier skills at the school and in tournaments. Originally Sumo wrestling was a harvest ritual enacted about 2000 years ago and was used in conjunction with prayers. As it became more popular, it evolved into a sport.

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Movies about Martial Arts

»Posted by on Aug 15, 2019 in General | Comments Off on Movies about Martial Arts

Movies about Martial Arts

The popularity of the martial arts has leapt ahead with the advent of movies with fight scenes and warfare. The most popular have been those with Bruce Lee as the main star. Bruce was born in the USA in 1940. During his younger years, he had minor parts in various films and, in total, he acted in about seventeen movies, and four TV shows and Bruce became the epitome of martial art actors. Initially taught the martial arts by his father, Bruce studied further under various masters until he was eighteen.

Fist of Fury

In this movie, Chen (Bruce Lee) starts working at a factory and promises his family to stay out of confrontation, which might lead to fighting. When some members of his family disappear, he must break his promise and take on the villain. He fights students of master Suzuki of the Japanese dojo, and in an epic fight, he beats all the students using his skills with the nunchaku. The master then attacks Chen with a samurai sword which Chen takes off him and kills him.

Enter the Dragon

This is Bruce’s last movie before his death in 1973. He must infiltrate a gang involved in drugs and slavery. The contest becomes personal when he realises that the group were the cause of his sister taking her own life. Enter the Dragon is considered the highest martial arts film ever produced. The final scene is in a hall of mirrors which Bruce must smash to find and kill his enemy. Other actors who have played a part in the popularisation of the martial arts must include Chuck Norris. Some of his movies are Hellbound and Invasion USA.

Hellbound

In this movie, Chuck takes the part of Frank Shatter with Calvin Jackson (Calvin Levels), two detectives in Chicago who are investigating the murder of a Rabbi. The investigation takes them to Israel where they deduce that the baddy is Prosatanis, the Devils sidekick. He, Prosatanis, has attempted to take over the world previously, but he was stopped by King Richard the Lionheart who smashed his source of power, his wand. King Richard then banishes him to an underground dungeon. His accidental release sets him off again on his mission to dominate the world, but first, he must collect together the pieces of the wand. The detectives must stop him once and for all.

Invasion USA

This movie starts in the swamps of the south of the USA. It features gunfights to satisfy the most bloodthirsty fans. This is a typical 1980’s cold war film in which the communists try to invade the USA via Cuba. His, Norris’s, ability with his machine gun plays out numerous shooting scenes, and there are enough bombs and explosions to stop an invasion! Also depicted is the attempt to bomb a bus and an epic fight out in a shopping mall.

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History of Martial Arts, USA

»Posted by on Aug 12, 2019 in MMA | Comments Off on History of Martial Arts, USA

History of Martial Arts, USA

The history of Martial Arts in the USA does not go very far back in time. In 1948 the first association of the arts was started. The United States Karate Association was inaugurated in 1948 when karate was brought back by army personnel after the Second World War.

The first exhibition/competition was staged at the University of Chicago in 1963. With the help of Theodore Roosevelt, instructors were brought out from the East, Japan in particular. The USA armed forces soon recognised the value of the arts and Judo was introduced to the USA Air Force as part of the personnel’s training in unarmed combat.

As there were many martial arts instructors in Hawaii, which became a state of the USA in1959, their teachings soon spread to the other States. When Robert Trias, a combatant in the USA Naval Reserve, learnt the art, he was based in the Solomon Islands. This is where Tung Gee Hsiang, a Chinese missionary of Buddhism, taught Okinawan Shuri-Te karate. He and Trias started the first karate training facility in the USA. In 1959, Bruce Lee’s skills in unarmed fighting and acting featured in films about the martial arts and brought them to the American public, generating immense interest.

The purpose of martial arts is to teach individuals in personal defence and attack when in a combat situation. Although it is difficult to assess the number of schools and students in the USA because of “back yard” schools, it is believed that there are 16000 dojos and nearly four million students. Most Asian schools have strict religious philosophies such as Buddhism, Daoism and Shinto. Methods of training include group training or katas practised by individuals or pairs.

Types of Moves

  • Striking: Punching, including kicking, hitting with knees, elbows and hands.
  • Grappling: Throwing, locking in the joints, and pinning the head, among others.
  • Weapons: There are many different types of weapons used. Some of these include swords, spears, axes, sickles, clubs or sticks, bows and arrows, and blowguns, to name a few.

Kickboxing

Kickboxing is a product of three martial art forms, karate, boxing and Thailand’s Muay Thai. The first World Championships were held in 1974 and has developed into an accepted martial art, but it still has not been approved by the International Olympics Committee.

When kickboxing gained popularity in the ‘70s, most fighters came from a karate background and had trouble with following through with their blows as karate exponents were taught to pull back on their punches. The sport requires a tremendous amount of fitness if opponents want to last the full ten rounds.

Competition

There are many kickboxing associations around the world, and each has its own rules and regulations. Therefore there can be no fair international competitions as some associations allow clinches and kneeing and others don’t.

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Swords Throughout History

»Posted by on Aug 4, 2019 in Fighter | Comments Off on Swords Throughout History

Swords Throughout History

Swords have been used for attack and defence throughout written history, as well as in some of the Mixed Martial Arts. Blades came in many shapes and sizes designed to suit the fighting style of the swordsman. Originally cast in bronze, which was soft and needed constant sharpening, this metal was replaced after hundreds of years of use, by iron and steel as the superior metal.

The Khopesh

The khopesh is an early example of a bronze sword used by the Egyptians which was far superior to any other material used before. It was curved in the form of a sickle with less curvature, but the sharpened blade was on the outer edge. It also had a secure hook on the end of the module, although it is not sure what the use of this was as it did not lend itself to stabbing the enemy and withdrawing the blade. It also featured as a ceremonial accoutrement. It was at its best in close combat situations, and the shape lent itself to slashing. Pharaoh Tutankhamun had two khopeshes entombed with him for his journey to the afterlife.

The Kukri

For many centuries this was the weapon of choice of the Gurkhas of Nepal. The short blade was sharpened on the inside curve of the blade which lent itself to close combat where it was able to cut off limbs (and even heads) with ease. It first came to the attention of the British in the early 1800s. The British Army quickly appreciated the speed and usefulness in battle, and the Gurkhas were incorporated into the British forces as a brigade. They became a feared force and excelled themselves in the Second World War and today, are loyal to the Queen of England.

The Ulfberht

In the eighth century when the Vikings were invading Europe and the British Isles, in the quest for women, booty and farmlands, their sword, the Albert, instilled fear in those places that they invaded. The steel used to forge the blades was from high carbon, making the sword superior to any other sword carried by their foes. Only in the 1800s did anyone equal the steel manufactured by the Viking blacksmiths.

The Katana

This sword is arguably the most beautiful and useful fighting blade in history. In Japan’s fighting history this weapon was used by the Sumari class of fighters who followed the Bushido Code and served the Emperor and their Lords. The strength, lightness and sharpness were legendary, and swordsmiths took great pride in their craft. The skill of the Samurai in the use of the Katana has developed into a recognized martial art.

The Ixwa

This was developed by Shaka Zulu in Southern Africa in the early 19th century as a close combat stabbing sword. This weapon made the Zulu’s invincible, and the enemy feared them throughout Southern Africa. The blade was about 300mm long with a 600mm shaft. It was not designed to throw and when the enemy had pitched their spears, the Zulus moving in and attacked with impunity.

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