10 African martial arts you should be watching and learning from

Finn Mitoma
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capoeira african martial arts

African martial arts are a unique form of self-defense and combat sports, utilizing centuries of tradition, culture, and origin to create powerful martial practices. From the classical South African art of stick fighting, known as kumite, to the historic wrestling of Lesotho, African martial arts have influenced, evolved, and been adopted by many cultures worldwide.

In this blog post, we will explore the different martial arts of Africa, looking at their significant influence, history, and origins. We will also look at different styles, their philosophical basis, their meaning, and the modern developments of these martial arts. Finally, we will look at the potential of these arts in today’s world and the significance of their importance in the modern martial arts community. So, let’s dive in and explore African martial arts together!

1. Capoeira

Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music. It has its roots in the traditions of enslaved Africans brought to Brazil, which is still seen throughout the country today. It is a mix of martial arts, including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and Karate, and it also includes elements of acrobatics and music. The movements are meant to be fluid, and practitioners often move continuously and gracefully. The music is traditionally played with percussion, but other instruments may also be used. Capoeira is a great way to stay in shape while having fun and learning self-defense.

2. Dambe

This Nigerian martial art is focused on boxing. It is a traditional fight style with a unique approach. The technique incorporates punches, kicks, and throws and uses the hands, feet, and head to strike the opponent. The fighter must defend himself against two attackers at once, the traditional Dambe being a one-on-one fight between two opponents. Dambe uses a distinctive stance and a wide range of techniques to attack and defend. It is also a popular form of entertainment among the Hausa people in Northern Nigeria and is still practiced in many parts of the country.

3. Engolo

Engolo (or NGolo) represents traditional combat rituals observed by ethnic groups living in the vicinity of the Cunene River in southern Angola. These martial arts styles involve executing a range of kicks, evasions, sweeps, and other intricate movements, focusing on inverted positions, such as those achieved with one or two feet off the ground. Engolo is also a form of physical conditioning, with practitioners putting their bodies through rigorous training to develop their strength and speed.

4. Kpikpi

Kpikpi is a Ghanaian martial art that is focused on defense and striking. It was developed by the Akan people of Ghana as a means of self-defense and combat. The art uses open-hand and weapons-based techniques and incorporates a variety of footwork to evade and counterattack. Kpikpi practitioners are known for their agility, speed, and powerful strikes, making it a practical martial art for self-defense. The art also strongly emphasizes discipline and physical and mental conditioning, making it an excellent choice for those looking for an intense workout and a way to stay in shape.

5. Moraingy

Moraingy is a traditional Malagasy martial art from Madagascar. It combines combat, self-defense, and physical conditioning into one powerful practice. The art teaches practitioners to use the natural environment to their advantage, using trees, grass, and sand to create obstacles that can be used to surprise and evade opponents. As a traditional art, Moraingy contains elements of Malagasy culture and spirituality, with practitioners focusing on self-development and combat. It is a highly effective form of self-defense and is an important part of Malagasy martial arts history.

6. Murabya

Murabya is a popular martial art from Somalia that combines elements of wrestling and boxing. It originated in Somalia but is now practiced in many countries worldwide. The two main components of Murabya are grappling and striking, with the focus on combining the two. The main movements in Murabya include throws, takedowns, locks, and strikes. It is a very versatile martial art suitable for both beginners and experienced martial artists. Murabya is an excellent way to stay in shape and build self-defense capabilities. It is also a great way to build confidence and develop discipline.

7. Soukeha

Soukeha is a traditional Senegalese martial art that has been practiced for generations. It revolves around weapon-based combat, focusing mainly on swords and spears. It is a close combat style emphasizing agility, speed, and coordination. Practitioners must also have a good understanding of the physics and trajectory of their weapons. Its strategies are designed to overpower opponents quickly, and it is well known for its solid defensive techniques. Soukeha is a highly effective form of self-defense and is still practiced today.

8. Tinku

Tinku is a Bolivian martial art that combines boxing and wrestling. It is a traditional dance-like martial art form to evaluate the strength and courage of the participants. The participants wear traditional costumes, with the men wearing slacks and the women wearing a skirt. The bouts are regulated by a referee, who decides the winner and loser. This martial art form is popular among the peasants and agricultural community in Bolivia and is traditionally practiced during festivals or celebrations.

9. Tahtib

Tahtib is a traditional martial art native to Egypt and Sudan. It is a type of stick fighting practiced for centuries and is still popular today. The aim of martial art is to defeat an opponent using a combination of strikes, thrusts, and blocks with a stick. It can be practiced casually or competitively and has been adapted to fit different contexts, such as educational and fitness settings. This martial art is a great way to practice agility, coordination, and self-defense skills. Practitioners of Tahtib also develop mental strength, discipline, and spiritual growth. Because of its long history and versatility, Tahtib is an engaging martial art to learn, practice, and master.

10. Yaw-Yan

Yaw-Yan is an exciting Filipino martial art combining kickboxing and Muay Thai elements. Originating from the Philippines in the 1970s, Yaw-Yan is a relatively new martial art that has become extremely popular recently. This martial art focuses on quick strikes and powerful kicks, and practitioners use their hands, feet, knees, and elbows to attack their opponents. Yaw-Yan has become a popular martial art among Filipino martial arts enthusiasts and is also gaining popularity in other countries.

In conclusion, African martial arts have a rich history and are still practiced worldwide. They have been used in various ways throughout history, from warfare to hunting, self-defense, and showmanship. Despite their diverse origins and practices, African martial arts share common elements, such as focusing on the body as a weapon, emphasizing technique over force, and efficiency and effectiveness. African martial arts are an essential part of African culture and continue to inspire and influence martial arts around the world.

Finn Mitoma

Founder @ The Combative

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