About a year and a half ago, I made a list of western martial arts. Since then, I've found more and also wanted to give more information of each one as far as history, location, main ideas, etc. So, I've split up the regions into catergories, putting the Caribbean with Africa, consider most all of the Carribean arts are a result of the African diaspora. This will probably be the first of many versions, but here it is.
P.S. Does anyone think this post should be moved to General Martial Arts, as Africa doesn't really fit with western?
Neo-African Styles - Styles that aren’t native or traditional to Africa, but were developed recently from African martial art techniques and principles.
-Afrikan Kimarekani Kutia Kivuli Ngumi
African-American Shadow Boxing. Derived from Kwa Asilia Avita Sanaa. Used as somewhat a Revival for its predesescor and as tribute and as rembrence of the enslaved Africans
is a program opened as a workshop to teach African. It is based on Afro-Brazilian Dance, martial arts, culture, discipline, and philosphy.
Kamau Njia, which means “Way of the Silent Warrior” in Swahili, is based on instinctive movement, practical concepts, and sound principles. This is coupled with the ability to develop skills from an individual’s natural defensive and offensive movements. These skills are thoroughly enhanced through "real time" training scenarios against grabs, strikes, weapons, and ground attacks. Through these training scenarios, students are better prepared to function during the pressure and distress of violent attacks. Derived from a variety of martial arts methods. These include Ju Jitsu, Aiki Jitsu, Kempo, Boxing, Vee Jitsu, Law Enforcement Defensive Tactics, Filipino/Indonesian Martial Arts and African Dance.
-Kiungo Cha Mkono
(a.k.a. "Shackle Hands" and "The Shackle Hand Style") is an art developed by Master Nganga Mfundishi Tolo-Naa from traditional African arts. The hands are linked together based on the concept that two hands are better than one. It is also symbolic of Africans in slavery. It takes traditional blocks and strikes and combines into one action. This defense can be practical in application, but it is more flashy than anything. There are three levels, 1) hands joined at the wrist, 2) hands are separated, and 3) hands are crossed as the Egyptians are often depicted. The last being the highest level and symbolizes spiritual cultivation.
Kupigana Ngumi- Known as the "Essence of African Martial Arts," Kupigana Ngumi is a comprehensive term that is inclusive of all Afrikan Martial Arts systems. Recognized for its rhythmic dance like movements, Kupigana Ngumi was founded in the 60's by Shaha Mfundishi Massi and Nganga Mfundishi Taloo-Naa. Kupigana Ngumi Is a complete system designed around four areas of training they are: Cultural, Emotional, Mental and Fitness.
Mshindi Vita Saana- "Mshindi Vita Saana" is Kiswahili for "Champion War Art" or Victor('s) War Art. Mshindi Vita Saana is a system of self defense developed for and by people of African descent (African Americans.) Using an African frame of reference, Mshindi Vita Saana approaches self defense using rhythm, strategy, coordination and agility to highlight traditional and contemporary movements. At its core, Mshindi Vita Saana reflects the graceful elaborate polyrhythms found in African dance and music.
African Martial Arts- These arts are native to Africa
A North African martial art most commonly practiced as entertainment in Algeria. In this, two players fight using long sticks – the idea is to score points by outwitting and out-maneuvering your opponent.
This Angolan art's sole purpose is to immobilize the opponent. However, because of the high risk of injury, the modern objective is to only knock them down. A predecessor of Capoeira.
An Angolan art that supposedly involved punching that later contributed to the art of Capoeira.
An Angolan martial art and predecessor of Capoeira, this art is much like modern Slap Boxing, it consists of bash your opponent open-handed.
(or N’golo) An Angolan ritual martial art (used by the Bantu and Mucupis peoples) in which two males would fight in order to win a bride presented by the parents of the girl. The fight uses both hands and feet all to knock the opponent down. The winner would prove his bravery in order to recieve his wife. A predecessor of Capoeira.
An Angolan art that later contributed to the art of Capoeira.
a head bashing style of martial arts from Congo
A martial art of Congo in which the fighting techniques are based on that of a rooster's. Believed to be an predecessor of Capoeira.
a Martial art that later lead to the development of Kalenda.
(a.k.a. Kemetic Aha, Ahah, Kemet Mariama) Aha is a tricky form of boxing and grappling practiced by the Kemites. According to some sorces, it was practiced exclusively by Kemetic priests.
An ancient Egyptian boxing art still used today. The basis for Hikuta is the ancient art of Kuta. Today Hikuta is used for very modern reasons, mostly the defeat of criminals.
Kuta was initially developed by the bodyguards of the ancient Pharoahs in Egypt as the most efficient and effective way to defend their king. Kuta remained top secret amongst the Asian rulers for over a thousand years until military soldiers found out the secrets. Today Kuta is the basis for the art of Hikuta
Supposedly almost the same as Tahteeb, except that the fighters use longer staffs. *NOTE: Other sources say Naboot isn’t a martial art, but the name of the staff used in Tahteeb.
Nuba wrestling, practiced for over 3,000 years, is one of the oldest forms of this ancient sport. The earliest known portrayal of Nubian wrestlers is found on a wall painting from the tomb of Tyanen, an Egyptian officer who died in 1410 B.C. While it is known that Egyptians recruited Nubian archers into their army, maybe this picture implies that Nubian wrestlers were also highly valued by the Egyptians. "Nubian" is a common term the Egyptians used to describe all brown- and black-skinned people living to the south. After studying the various wall paintings depicting Nubian wrestlers and comparing them to the myriad tribes in what is now modern-day Sudan, archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians have determined that the Nubas of southern Kordofan are most likely the descendants of the ancient Nubian wrestlers. Ancient Greek wrestling and Nuba wrestling are similar in style—the wrestlers are nude and score by takedowns (not pinning). These wrestlers can use their entire body, but modern Greco-Roman-style wrestling allows the competitors to use only their upper bodies for takedowns. Nuba wrestling, however, most likely predates Greek wrestling by several hundred years and has remained essentially unchanged for millennia.
A native grappling art of Egypt. According to one of our MartialTalk posters, Sebekkah requires much waist power in its movements.
Tahteeb is played mostly in the Northern regions of Egypt by tuff men young and old who enjoy the challenge of a good fight, also it is a great way to show machismo and rack up potential brides. Like Surma stickfighting of southern Sudan, Tahteeb is played only by men and can get very bloody when two opponents do not particularly like one another. When Tahteeb is played nicely one man will attack and the other will only defend and then vice versa, but when men do not like each other and they play together suddenly the rules change and the real rules are announced, there are no rules. Due to the fullcontact aspect of Tahteeb, parrying and blocking are essentials to survival when playing the game, striking is the norm and joint locking is almost unheard off.
An Egyptian martial art that is based on totem animal movements and spirit dances.
Testa, or Riesy, is a brutal Eritrean headbutting art. It may also include kicks, hand strikes, parries, grabs, etc. Hand, foot, and grabbing techniques are very intricate and are solely used in order to strike the opponent with the “Big Knuckle”, or head. A Testaman may even bite the opponent’s windpipe or groin out of pure desperation.
the stick fighting art of the Oromo people of Ethiopia
An Ethiopian martial art that is used as a way to convey cultural identity through a fighting system.
or Donga Stick Fighting, is a test of nerves and brute strength. The Donga of Ethiopia is fought to prove masculinity, settle personal vendettas, and most importantly, to win wives. The 50 or more men who participate in each tournament represent different villages. The contestants fight in heats, with the winners going on to the next round until the competition narrows to two finalists. The winner of the last bout wins the entire contest
Borey is from the Gambia it is a grappling art of the Mandiga; it consists of knees, headbutts, kicks and holds to break the neck, leg, collar bone and arm. There is a similar art in Senegal called Laamb.
Gambian Wrestling is an African martial art that is a deep-seated tradition and national sport. The warriors wear loincloths called "Juju's" and strut, dance, spar, and brag in challenge of noisy support from the drums. The fight continues until a contestant is brought to the ground. Punching, kicking, spitting and flinging sand in the eyes is all legal. After sundown, the atmosphere builds with excitment as the champions come out to fight. Note: May be the same as Borey.
A martial art of Guinea
Arguably the first of all weapon-based martial arts, Kayti represents the origins of all weaponry. Though centered in Africa (primarily Kenya), the roots come from all over Africa. Kayti is the predecessor to modern swordplay (from China) and the better known Islamic Kali (from Philippines).
The fighting techniques and disciplines of the Masai people of Kenya
The traditional boxing martial art of Madagascar
An Arab martial art of Morocco
Dambe, or Hausa Boxing, is a fist fighting system from Nigeria consisting of kicks, punches, knees and headbutts. Dambe is a savage method of empty hand combat and a testament to the creativity of African warriors.
A kind of Wrestling practiced by the Yoruba of Western Nigeria
A martial art native to Nigeria
A ritual martial art intertwined with the Korokoro dance of Nigeria.
A stick fighting art of Réunion.
A native style of wrestling from Senegal
The art of Borey is also native to Senegal, and (in the Senegal style) consists of punching, kicking, headbutting, grappling, and joint locks
a native martial art of Senegal
Laamb (a.k.a. "Senegalese wrestling") is a wrestling art that takes place in Senegal. Before the event the beating of the drums along with the mellow voices of the singers will alert everyone that it's about to start. The crowd would gather around a sandy pit and watch several bouts before the final bout of 2 champions. The fighters would wear "wrappers" around their waist, which would be provided by their fiances or female relatives, and the rest of their body will be naked. The winner must knock his opponent's knees, shoulder, or back to the sand. Strikes and slaps are allowed nowadays.
-Mkazo Ncha Shikana
African pressure point grappling. Most commonly practiced in Senegal.
A stick fighting art from Senegal
A native style of wrestling from Senegal
an ancestral esoteric warrior system practiced by the Zulu and Xhosa tribes of South Africa. The system emphasizes strong combative techniques and ethical philosophy. It is used as an initiation into the “warrior-priest caste” of the two tribes.
A martial art of South Africa. It consists of punching, headbutting, earslaps, and knees.
-Nguni Stick Fighting
Stick-fighting in Nguni-speaking areas of South Africa has an educational role, it teaches young members of society social values, gender roles, the worthy nature and respectability of physical endeavors. Zulu and Xhosa boys begin learning at an early age the utilitarian function of sport, sharpening physical skills and mental attitudes necessary for hunting game and combat. The rise of stick-fighting as a physical contest created a stage for young boys to assert themselves within a specific age-group, achieve a social identity in competition with others, and, possibly, achieve a degree of 'independence' unavailable to the common person.
-Zulu Stick Fighting
(or Zulu Impi) Long past its days of glory, stick fighting is no longer a common practice among the Zulu people, and practitioners struggle to validate its existence in these days of political turmoil, acculturation, and modernisation. Nonetheless, stick fighting appears to assist in upholding the traditional social system by perpetuating socially accepted modes of male behaviour and ideals. Stick fighting, as a cultural tradition, therefore continues to fulfil its traditional didactic function in some Zulu communities.
-Nuba Stick Fighting
Rarely practiced today, traditional Nuba Stick fights are most commonly practiced among the Moro tribe. The stick-fighting is a contest conducted by, as the name indicates, a stick and a shield between two contestants, This sport is always carried out at the end of autumn and the beginning of harvest, and it is completely forbidden during the cultivation season, in case it puts the youths off their work. Stick fighting is part of the ceremonies that follow the harvest, in which thanks is given to God for providing a good harvest. It is embedded in the spiritual traditions of the people.
The ancestor of the ancient Nubian Wrestling; practiced by the Nuba tribe. “Wrestling is more than just a sport to the Nubas—it is a seminal part of their culture with both social and religious purposes. Boys prepare for manhood through wrestling competitions. Successful wrestlers achieve a higher status that follows them through life. Wrestling also has connections with fertility rites, ancestral worship, and animistic beliefs. It is so intertwined with all aspects of Nuba culture, it is feared that if the Nuba were to lose wrestling, it might cause them to lose other customs.”- National Geographic
A native wrestling art of Sudan
Evala is a wrestling sport practiced by the Kabye people of northern Togo. In wrestling competitions, boys try to prove there manhood by winning an Evala wrestling match and is used as an intiation ceremony
A native wrestling martial art of Togo
Unknown Country of Origin
An art that is very similar to Capoeira, as it is one of its many predecessors
Caribbean Arts- These arts were developed by the African slaves of the Caribbean
Mani, a fighting-dance martial art, grew in 19th century among slaves of sugar plantations in Cuba. Only the men take part in it. The dancer in the circle does movements simulating fight, and chooses a protagonist among the others men of the circle. Then the elected "adversary" comes in the circle, and, in harmony with the other dancer, executes a choregraphy of movements, beetween fight and dance.
The walking stick, Koko Makuku, was in fashion in Curaçao in the early 20th century. In addition to being used as a walking stick, the "koko makaku" was also used as a defensive weapon and for cultural and sports activities. Among these were stick-dancing, stick-fighting and the tambú game 'blood for the drum', thus reports René Rosalia in his contribution to the 'third seminar on Latin-American and Caribbean folklore', which took place in Curaçao in 1990. Stick-fighting, performed during tambú feasts, is also mentioned by father Paul Brenneker in his series "Sambubu".
As in the old times practically every man went out with a stick, the development of the game of sticks was obvious, according to Brenneker. "The game of sticks was not bound to seasons or festivities and in former days it used to be played on Sundays, at approximately 4 o'clock in the afternoon. It was a game of skills. Each of two men held his stick at the ends, approached the other and danced and jumped around to the rhythm of the singing and clapping of hands of the spectators. A drummer would beat time. The men were supposed to defend their own head with their stick and simultaneously make efforts to strike the opponent with it on his head. They manipulated the sticks masterfully. If one of them saw an opportunity to deal a blow to the other on his head, he would be the winner. If the loser bled from his head wound, the bystanders would shout: "sanger pa tambú" (blood for the drum). The loser had to let some blood flow on the skin of the drum." This was made from a wine or rum barrel.
(or Bénolin) a stick fighting art of Guadeloupe.
(or Mayolé) Mayolet is a stick fighting martial art from Guadoloupe. It was developed from Danmyé.
(or Sovayan) a stick fighting art that was created developed in Guadeloupe
A Haitian martial art developed by the African slaves residing there. Developed for the same reasons as Machet’e and Capoeira
A martial art developed by the maroons of Jamaica. Bangaran is taught from generation to generation.
A Jamaican martial art developed by African Slaves out of a burning desire for freedom.
-Danmyé (a.k.a. "Ladja") is the first martial art to ever be practiced in Martinique. Some slaves from Senegal and elsewhere, that were on there way to the island of Gorée created a fighting art inspired by the initiation ceremony of "N’golo", which symbolized the passing from adolescence to adulthood and included a confrontation which took the form of a fight. Fights were practiced in festivals, village fairs, and appointed fights until 1947, when the authorities banned Danmyé. There are many places to practice: in pitts, in front of a bank during a carnival, and bèlè events (what ever that is). The wrestler has to get the upperhand of his opponent while respecting the drummer's pace. A fighter can win by referee's ruling afte a decision blow, one of fighter being hit more than the other (amount of points in a 2-minute fight), lifting your opponent off the ground, or being immobilized on the ground (Kakan). It combines strikes with wrestling and grappling skills. The wrestlers determine the fightin space by dancing around in a ring to the rhythm of the drum, known as the introductory stage of the fight. The wrestler then draws an invisible circle which represents a magic space and any person entering the circle is an opponent. However, all strikes must be restrained and given without intending to hit. They can only be given to drive the opponent to refuse a hand-to-hand fight. The wrestler has to hit and move in harmony with the rhythm or the guilty party would be disqualified. The main goal is to score more points than the opponent does and hit without being hit.
(or Kalinda) It is believed that kalinda began around 1860 when the freed slaves organized themselves into competing bands and held performances. Men, women and children gathered to sing, dance and be entertained by stick fights. The aim of each stick fighter was to deliver a blow that would hit the opponent on the body - any part above the waist - hard enough to fell him to the ground. Blows were usually aimed at the head and damage to the skull was a very common occurrence in stick fighting. The rules of the game were few. Hitting “under the belt” or striking a player when he fell or was forced to kneel was an infringement. Again, as long as a player's skull was cut he had to retire and drain the blood into the "blood hole", a hollow made for this purpose in the ground in the center of the fighting ring. The stick used was between three and four feet long and was about seven-eighths of an inch in diameter. It was made of cog-wood, the wood of the yellow poui tree or even the sour guava.
-Trinidad Stick Fighting
(a.k.a. 'Bois' or 'Sticklick') is an art from Carriacou. It was confined to two communiteis, Mt. Desire and La Resource. A conch shell is blown to call the drummers and the batonniers to the ring. There are many stances the main is to hold it with 2 hands in front of your face for defense and let swing down to which ever way you need. The object is to strike your opponet while moving away artistically to make them look foolish. It is a serious full contact art that can open gashes on the head and chest. Music is very important in most African arts and this is no exception. When the contestants get in the ring, different songs are played on the drums to help the contestants along.
African Diasporic Arts of South America -These arts were developed by the African slaves of South America
Used by Africans of bigger stature, the object of Bate Coxe was to knock the opponent down using collisions of the thigh. Bets were made of money or even women. A predecessor of Capoeira
(a.k.a. Capoeira Batuque) Batuque is supposedly much like Capoeira (and one it's many predecessors), but much more dance-influenced. Much emphasis on kicking.
Capoeira was created by African slaves, in Brazil, approximately 400 yrs. ago as a martial art. Capoeira possesses a very unique style that brings together beauty and power, developing mental balance, physical conditioning, self-defense, music and a profound sense of art, all at once. Capoeira can be done by anyone of any age or size. More than a martial art, Capoeira is also a social event filled with tradition and history.
The one thing that stands out for someone witnessing a Capoeira game for the first time is the music. The music and lyrics play a big part in the way the game or jogo will be conducted. Different rythms call for a different speed and type of game. The lyrics which are traditionally in Brazilian Portuguese, also dictate game characteristics.
The next thing that strikes observers about Capoeira is that the movements of the players are very different from any other type of martial art. A circle or roda is formed with the muscicians at the foot of it known as the pe da roda. This is where the players usually enter the roda with a cartwheel or some other type of move. Once in the roda the players (Capoeiristas) move and interact/react in various combinations of acrobatic and poetic moves. Capoeira has two forms, Capoeira Angola and Capoeira Regional. Angola is the original form. Angola is slower paced with subtle yet cunning moves and much longer games. The moves are slower, apparently relaxed and close to the ground. Regional is faster paced with more dynamic, acrobatic yet much shorter games. Regional is a newer form of Capoeira spawned from Angola. The players stay mainly erect and throw faster attacks, with more Jumps
-Luta do Bode
A headbutting martial art used by the Africans in Brazil. The goal is to knock the opponents head till the death. For this reason, the art is little used today. A predecessor of Capoeira
Susa is an art very similar (and may be a style of) Capoeira that is practiced by the Saramaccan and Ndyuka diasporic people of Suriname
An Afro-Venezuelan martial art
African Diasporic Arts of North America -These arts were developed by the African slaves of North America
United States of America
In order to understand how an African martial art came to be in the Prison system in the evolved gloriously mutated manifestation known as “Jail House Rock” one needs to understand the political, economic and racially charged environment of the United States before and principally after the great “Civil War”.
During the African Holocaust of slavery many African warriors were captured and with them came their traditional fighting arts. For obvious reasons most of the arts went underground or died out but not all of them. For example "Boxing" matches pitting African slaves between different plantations were popular as well as cockfighting and dog fights. The Europeans have been practicing the African art of “Boxing” for millenniums every since the Greeks adopted it from ancient Kemet (Egypt). Stick fighting to a very limited degree and the art of kicking and knocking were sometimes permitted. Exploiting the slave loophole in the Thirteenth Amendment the former slave states began utilizing the penal system to re-institute Slavery visa via the Black Codes. It is during this time period that African martial arts left over from slavery began to creep into the penal system. Here are some examples of the Black Codes. African caught without “visible means of support” could be made “indentured servants” to a white employer by the courts of law with penal imprisonment being his punishment if he left his new “slave master”. Excessive fines were levied against Africans for minor offenses and then the courts would turn around sentence these Africans to work for planters who would pay their fines. African orphans were turned over to white slave masters to work for free until they reached adulthood. To make matters worse those Africans who tried to migrate to other states to escape the new slavery functioning under the guise of penal conviction were forced to “post bonds or be declared vagrants, subject to arrest”. It is in this hostile racist environment that African martial systems that had survived the original slavery entered the penal system of the United States via ex-slaves and mutated into various styles at different prisons. Since the African language had long been forbidden and forgotten new regional names were developed to reference the art. Some of them are Jail-House-Rock, Closing Gates, 52, 42, Strato, PK, Mount Meg, Comstock, Gorilla, BarnYard etc. Due to the contemporary politics of the United States and the profitable running of prisons by private corporations this lethal art continues to thrive as a functional necessity of modern African Americans.
-Kicking and Knocking
A fearsome kicking and head-butting art developed by the African slaves.
-Kwa Asilia Avita Sanaa
Kwa Asilia Avita Sanaa is a deadly fighting art that can be used as an educational system, a competitive sport, and a form of self-enlightenment. Although Kwa Asilia Avita Sanaa attempts to remain consistant with the fighting systems of ancient African warriors, it does not emphasize the traditional methods of guerrilla warfare (Ambush, Assassination, and stealth). Instead emphasis is placed on internal development, meditation, breath control, and healing which includes medical gymnastic (self-defense techniques).
I could find no information on the following arts:
Batonique (May be the Same as Batuque)
MgBwa (may be the same as Igba Magba)
If you have any suggestions, corrections, or additions, please post them.