African Stickfighting Methods

South African Underground Stick-Fighting

Intonga stick fighting is a martial art that has been practiced in southern Africa for centuries. Each combatant is armed with two long sticks, one of which is used for defense and the other to attack. In several townships around Cape Town, stick fighting is making a comeback, and earning some people some money.

Trans World Sport feature on the traditional South African sport of Nguni Stick Fighting. A former boyhood past time of Nelson Mandela. Some broadcasters felt it was too violent for TV.

A demonstration of Zulu stick fighting that we saw as part of the village tour at DumaZulu, near Hluhluwe, South Africa.

The Suri

The Suri, also known as the Surma is a population numbering around 20 thousand that live in Southwestern Ethiopian by the Sudanese Border.
The Suri, along with the Mursi and Meen all speak languages that belong to the Surmic language family under the larger Nilo-Saharan language phylum. The Suri, Mursi, and Meen are sometimes all referred to collectively as Surma numbering collectively around 80 Thousand.

Cattle Culture

Cattle are enormously important to the Suri. They bring status; when two Suri meet they’ll ask each other how many cows they have. Cows are a store of wealth to be traded, and a source of milk and blood. Bleeding a cow is more efficient than slaughtering it for meat, and blood can be drawn during the dry season when there’s less milk. An animal can be bled once a month, from the jugular. The animals aren’t generally sold or killed for meat, though they are slaughtered for certain ceremonies. They are treated with reverence. Fires are lit to keep them warm and to protect against insect bites, they are covered with ash. Every boy is given a young bull to look after, and his friends call him the name of his bull. The Suri sing songs in praise of their cattle, and mourn them when they die.

Stick Fighting

A sport and ritual the Suri take extremely seriously is stick fighting. In many cases, its a way for young men to prove themselves to the young women. The fights are held between Suri villages and the fights begin with 20 to 30 people on each side. Of these 20 to 30 people, all get a chance to fight one on one against someone from the other side. During these fights there are referees present to make sure all rules are being followed. Many stick fights end within the first couple of hits.

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