The Martial Arts Of Africa And Oceania



hey guys,

I've been working on the ethnographic and cultural correlations on the martial arts styles around the world for the past 9 years. I've noticed you guys have done a great job on this message board posting infos on martial arts styles i've never came across before. I found several sites and reading material on african and oceanian martial arts from the maori of new zeland to the zulu of south africa. If interested i will post the name of some styles I encountered in my research.

thank you


Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Aug 28, 2001
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Terre Haute, IN
Please do, yes! At some point we'll have to pull all the many styles listed all over this board together into a single post.


Originally posted by arnisador

Please do, yes! At some point we'll have to pull all the many styles listed all over this board together into a single post.

you want it, you got it! Here is what I've got so far. Remember these informations were taken by various sites and books, feel free to add corrections and additional informations,


El Matreg

- Basula:
- Gabetula
- Ngolo:

"N'golo originated in Angola where it was developed as a right of passage for the male members of its society. Patterned after the movements of Zebra's in combat, two young male members would dance against each other to earn the right of marriage. It's plight followed its way to Brazil where it was transformed by African slaves into what is now called Capoeira Angola. Capoeira Angola was a martial art that was disguised as dance. It's primary purpose was to resist and over throw slavery".

- Njinga

- Gwindulumutu
- Kipura

- Kemet Mariama:

"Kemet Mariama which means, the black one. Gods gift was practiced 2800 years before our blessed Christ. This form of martial arts which includes Spiritial meditation, empty hands, weapons as well as fortification, blossomed in Kemet which is now known as Egypt. Mariama is a form of ground play. Not to be confused with grappling. The energies of Mariama are based on the Snake, Monkey and Cat which are commonly seen in Kemet ( Egyptian ) Culture. The ground play aspects of Kemet which are most commonly seen in the art are based on the snake. There are several different energies of the Snake. Mariama does not focus on fighting or grabbing its preditor but focuses on sensitivity and controlling energy the same way you would see an anaconda subduing a panther."

- Kuta/Hikuta (Professional Kuta):
- Naboot
- Sebekkha :
- Tahteeb:

"In upper Egypt (actually the highlands to the south), there is a centuries old martial art system using stick and swords, called tahteeb. In fact, it can be traced to the time of the Pharaoh, as drawings on the walls of the ancient tombs of kings from that era show figures practicing the art using kendo style postures. Nowadays, members of the Ikhwaan-al-Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood) practice it at their religious schools"

- Testa

-Donga Stick Fighting:

"The donga, is a male-only, stick sport which takes place from November until February (in between growing seasons). Each competitor carves their own six foot long stick to be used as a weapon with the only protection coming in the form of body paint. The event involves the top men of each village competing one on one, each trying to knock down his opponent. The rules are few and far between the main one being that you may only maim - not kill - your opponent. If an accidental fatality occurs, the killer and his family are banished from the village and all of their property is taken away from them. So what's the point of the donga? Simple ... manhood is proved, quarrels are resolved and honor is defended. When all is said and done however, the real reason for the fights lies elsewhere... "The tournament winner is borne on a platform of fighting sticks to a group of young women, who decide which of them will offer herself in marriage to the champion".

- Dula Meketa
- Re Efi Areh Ehsee

- Borreh

"Grappling art of the Mandinga tribe, it consists of knees, head butts, kicks and holds to break the neck, leg, collar bone and arm"

- Naban

- Maratabeen

- Dambe
- Gidigbo (Yoruba martial art)
- Igba Magba:

' The Igbos believe that "A man is said to be a man only when he has efficiently and effectively handled trying situations" They also believe that a man should fight his aggressors be they human or spiritual, to the best of his ability. It is always a privilege for young men to have the courage to engage in a wrestling match. For one has the opportunity to distinguish themselves and to attain a statues in the community as a star, warrior or a distinguish wrestler. Throughout Igboland wrestling is an important sport. Wresting has been known to be used not just as a sport but for other purposes. At times, disputes are settled with this all-important sport. An extremely popular girl, who has had several approaches from suitors, may find it difficult to choose the one she will marry. What happens in this case, is that; a wrestling competition is arranged for all the suitors and whoever emerges victorious marries the girl. Inter-village wrestling competitions are not uncommon. Each village has its own wrestling ground, which is very soft and well looked after. The wrestlers are grouped according to their records of achievements. All the villagers are informed of any competitions, which usually are in the in the evenings. A ring is made and spectators sit around this ring. The chief, titled men, the boy providing the music and the wrestlers all sit inside the ring. Boys who have been specially trained provide a brand of music. The wrestlers squat and chat together. The competition is started by the two principal wrestlers from the two villages. Various techniques are employed and a wrestler can easily win the applause of the spectators with his adroit styles. Any competitor that is carried up and if his legs are no longer touching the ground is declared defeated. If it appears that no competitor is defeating the other, the wrestlers are said to be evenly matched. It's declared a draw and another set of wrestlers comes in. Meanwhile, the music provided by the boys' plays an important role on the occasion. It has been once described as heart stirring, capable of giving added strength to the weak. The total successes and failures of each team go to determine the result of the competition. The team that has the greatest number of' successes becomes the winner and the chief presents the prize, which can take any form".

- Korokoro


- B矇ri
- Borey
- Dioula
- Laamb:

" Traditional wrestling, also known as "Laamb" in Wolof, is a centuries-old sport in S矇n矇gal. In terms of form, it's more usually compared to the Greco-Roman style of wrestling; however, it is very typical of traditional, African wrestling. There are two forms of Laamb: the first allows the wrestlers to strike each other with their bare hands, which can be painful; the second is more acrobatic, and hitting is not permitted. When a wrestler's back touches the ground, the bout is over; he has lost. Laamb is as much a spiritual activity as it is physical; and wrestlers engage in various rites and rituals preparatory to fighting. No wrestler, regardless of his strength, physical, or technical abilities, will ever dare to enter the ring, muchless fight, without his "marabout" or JuJu Man, or without participating in his own pre-match ceremony. During the ceremony, the wrestler, accompanied by drummers and singers, dances around the arena; around his arms, legs, and waist are various kinds of juju or amulets the purpose of which is to protect him against evil spirits and the witchcraft of other fighters. It is this aspect of the sport which elevates a wrestling match beyond the level of ordinary spectator sport. Many people attend as much for the enjoyment of the ceremony as for the sport".

- N'oboro:

Back breaking, brutal wrestling , headbutting, elbowing, kneeing and stick fighting system. It has spawned many of the Diasporic systems in the West.

- Olva


- Impi/Zulu Impi (Zulu Stickfighting)
- Musangwa


- Nuba Stick Fighting:

"one of the Nuba tribes most well-known for stick fighting is the Moro. The Moro area, which is located half-way between Kadugli and Talodi, is occupied by the Moro tribe one of the largest tribes in the Nuba Mountains . The Moro people maintain and practice very ancient traditions as long as they live. There is no way that these traditions, as part of their ancestral heritage, be abandoned. 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 fight always begins by an invitation from one tribe to another. The invited tribe may detain the dispatched envoy just for provocation and excitement. The hosts have to make their way to fetch their messengers; and, thereafter, they engage in fighting. Another way of starting the competition is by symbolic provocation. For example, a man, aged 17 - 20 years old, may hold the hands of his rivals fianc矇e for a couple of minutes, or cut her bracelets made from beads. When a would-be her husband hears about this, he instantly declares the fight by tying a handkerchief or piece of cloth on his competitors house at night, so that the contending should begin in the next morning. The fight can be between two individual fighters from different villages, or between two villages themselves, fighting collectively.There are special arenas set aside for this fighting where every athlete arrives with his equipment. Though the sport may be potentially lethal, every fighter ties ribbons of thick cloths or torn blankets around his body to lessen the effects of the stick blows. Some contenders put hats made of seeds or even mud on their heads for protection, and the heads are decorated with butter as indication of great wealth. While the stick-fighting is performed, girls sing continually, praising one fighter as a bull, a leopard, an elephant or a lion; and, on the other hand, scolding the competitor as a coward, a hooligan and a womanizer. Since the sport can be fatal, the participants say their prayers before heading to the assigned squares just in case they may come back as dead bodies. These stick-fighters can be Christians, Muslims or followers of African noble spiritual beliefs. Before the beginning of the match, human circles are formed and, as a sign for starting the competition, the old or retired fighters initiate the game by skirmishes. If one of the fighters is badly hurt, he will be compensated with a symbolic reparation, such as cow."

- Toubata

- Sousa

- Evala
- Zvaha



- Koonomon Togip Baip :

"An Aboriginal martial art, almost lost to history, is being revived in Victoria. The fighting art, called "Koonomon togip baip" in the Wurundjeri language, includes moves that mimic those of Australian animals such as kangaroos, emus and wedge-tailed eagles. Chris Hume, a member of the Yorta Yorta tribe, said white settlement almost wiped out any memories of the indigenous Australian martial art. Martial arts, once thought to be the preserve of Asian countries, were common throughout the world, Mr Hume said. Mr Hume was alerted to the existence of an indigenous Australian martial art by Darrell Stosegan, a martial arts fanatic, who noticed Aboriginal dances seemed to include martial arts moves. But in Victoria it was more a wrestling style of fighting that included kangaroo, kite hawk and wedge-tailed eagle moves. Another move, common throughout Australia, was based on fishing where the fighter struck out with one arm (casting the line) and then followed up with a series of blows to the stomach (reeling the line in). Originally, the martial art would have been used to settle disputes between neighboring tribes that could not resolve their differences through talking."

- Pou Taiaha


- Mau (Maori Martial Art)
- Mau Rakau (Maori Weaponry)

"In pre-European Maori society, the use of weaponry was an art form requiring skill, dexterity, agility and concentration. This art form is practised today by an increasing number of Maori men and women as a discipline - similar to that of a martial art such as Kendo.There is a range of Maori Weaponry all of which are based on the spear and the club shapes. Examples of spears include the taiaha, the pouwhenua and the tewhatewha. Examples of clubs include the patu, the kotiate, the mere and the wahaika. Weaponry is often decorated with carving, lashing and feathers. In combat the feathers served not only a decorative purpose but also helped to distract the opponent as they fluttered and moved. The short hand-held weapons required considerable skill and dexterity for close arm combat.Today, such weaponry are presented as gifts to honour people who have demonstrated courage or achievement in a particular field. Maori people present them at occasions such as graduations to symbolically acknowledge the facing of challenges in life."

- Pahi a Mau Mau (traditional Maori Grappling)
- Tueiatanga

I hope this is not an information overdose, but hey what is knowledge if you can't share it? I also agree with Arnisador, we should post the styles of every country in the world in one single post as a reference point for everyone. I hope this list heleped a bit, again I will try to post some links for everyone's reference from now on.


Hu Ren Qianzai Long

:eek: I'll have to add this to my list eek:

Thanks a bunch!:) :asian:

Hu Ren Qianzai Long

Originally posted by arnisador

Please do, yes! At some point we'll have to pull all the many styles listed all over this board together into a single post.

I'm already working on it! If you look in each section I have a threads about the styles (Chinese styles, japanese styles, filipino styles, western styles, indochinese styles, korean styles, and russian styles;and i'll post the lists when they're completed ). So, all I need is some help from you guys about the martial arts, and then, leave it to me to make the list:) :asian:


Very awsome list. THank You!Just to add, the movie "Whale rider" had some nice examples of Mau Rakau techniques using the staff. There is also another Polynesian art called "Lua" which is a method of Bone Breaking by Hawaiians. Very Similar to Maori Grappling (as both peoples have a common origon and language) A lot of the Katas of the art were done by Hula. If you ever seen male/female hula you know what I mean.

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