This video is so amazing. It features talented young Afrikan orphans from Malawi, who are training in Kung fu, like the Monks do in Asia. A superb and moving job their teacher is doing. Such a natural fit too, since Afrika gave birth to the fighting arts, and humanity as well for that matter. The African continent is rich in history and it is not surprising that it boasts some of the oldest martial arts in existence. Its varied landscape—the massive expanses of deserts, the lush green jungles, and the amazing vistas and fauna—is reflected in the diversity of its martial arts, which, along with those of the Middle East and central Asia, are arguably among the most captivating in the world.
Some of the earliest evidence of martial arts in Africa was discovered in the Beni Hasan tombs in Egypt, which date back to between 2040 and 1785 BCE, during the Middle Kingdom. In the tombs, archaeologists found paintings of wrestlers displaying techniques such as punching, kicking, throwing, and locking of their opponents’ joints. There is also evidence to suggest that ancient Egyptians performed stick fencing. The modern Egyptian stick fencing system of combat continues this legacy with its own methodology, weaponry and training procedures.
photo courtesy of www.shiaimagazine.net
Wrestling and grappling arts have long been and are still popular throughout Africa. These were traditionally associated with agricultural ceremonies and courtship rituals, most commonly in Nigeria, Sudan, Senegal, Cameroon, and the Gambia.Tribal fighting arts were originally practiced as a method of survival because, prior to colonization, the greatest confrontational danger to sub-Saharan Africans was the threat from other tribes. Tribal rivals were equally matched as hunters, gatherers, and fighters. One of the most renowned of the African warrior tribes was the Zulu of South Africa, who still represent South Africa’s largest ethnic group. Historically, their primary arts included the spear, shield, and club, and they made clever use of all three during strategic advancement.
African tribal weapons were designed for warfare and survival and, as such, were brutal. Historically, the Zulus initiated combat by first throwing their spears from a distance or charging at opponents with them, using their shield as a blocking device. When the use of a spear became impractical at close quarters, they would switch to a club. However, Shaka Zulu, the revolutionary leader of the Zulus during the early 19th century, changed indigenous warfare when he introduced the “iklwa,” a stabbing spear that proved highly effective in combat when combined with a tall shield. Another interesting weapon used by certain tribes was the bladed bracelet – a wrist bracelet with a sharpened outer edge.
A Masaai Warrior
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of early African martial arts was the reliance on memorizing attacking and defensive maneuvers by setting them to patterns of dance, accompanied by music. These artistic elements of African martial arts have also influenced other arts, such as Capoeira, the Brazilian dance- and music-based martial art, which was developed from older similar practices brought along by enslaved Africans.
Throughout Africa’s long history, martial arts have largely remained unchanged until relatively recently. From the mid-18th century, the European introduction of firearms in exchange for West African slaves threatened the continuation of traditional martial arts in Africa. The introduction of the gun changed the face of warfare entirely, leading to an emphasis on different battlefield skills. Furthermore, in the late 19th century, the Islamic colonization of many African countries led to the reduction of a lot of martial arts that contained what Islamic conquerors considered pagan or shamanic elements.
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Afrikan Martial: Arts Discovering the Warrior Within By Balogun Oyabode +a free 60 min Interview of the Author CD Hosted By Stic.man of dead prez