Here's the deal:

For a long time I thought that the concept of martial arts was born in Asia, especially with kung fu shaolin.

I can't tell you how surprised I was to learn that the oldest type of martial arts was in Africa!

The first signs of martial arts appeared in Nubia, on stelae that represented Nubian wrestling. Since that time, martial arts have been modernized, and are present all over the world, in different styles.

Today, I am going to talk to you about 4 styles of African martial arts.

1- The Dambe

Dambe is a martial art of the Hausa people from West Africa. Competitors in a typical match aim to subdue each other into total submission mostly within three rounds. It often results in serious bodily injuries for the challengers such as broken jaws and ribs. The primary weapon is the strong-side fist. The strong-side fist, known as the spear, is wrapped in a piece of cloth covered by tightly knotted cord. Some boxers would dip their spear in sticky resin mixed with bits of broken glass. This, however, became an illegal practice. The lead hand, called the shield, is held with the open palm facing toward the opponent. The lead hand can be used to grab or hold as required.

The lead leg is often wrapped in a chain, and the chain-wrapped leg is then used for both offense and defense. The unwrapped back leg can also be used to kick. Because wrestling used to be allowed, and the goal of the game is to cause the opponent to fall down which is referred to as killed and the winner is the person that knocks down the opponent, kicks are more common than they used to be.

2- The Laamb

There is a multitude of wrestling styles in Africa. But in this article I am going to talk to you about the Laamb.

Laamb is the Wolof word for wrestling. Also named Senegalese wrestling, it is a type of folk wrestling traditionally performed by the Serer people and now a national sport in Senegal and parts of The Gambia, and is part of a larger West African form of traditional wrestling.

The Senegalese form traditionally allows blows with the hands, the only one of the West African traditions to do so. As a larger confederation and championship around laamb has developed since the 1990s, Senegalese fighters now practice both forms, called officially "Lutte Traditionnelle sans frappe" (for the international version) and "Lutte Traditionnelle avec frappe" for the striking version.

3- The Ngolo

Engolo or NGolo is a performance of ritual combat by various ethnic groups around the Cunene River in southern Angola. The style of fighting involves various kicks, dodges, and leg sweeps, with an emphasis on inverted positions, i.e. with one or more hands on the ground. The first mention of Engolo in literature was made by Albano Neves e Sousa in a set of drawings demonstrating various techniques and their similarities to the Afro-Brazilian art form of Capoeira in the 1960s. Engolo is one of several African martial arts of the African Diaspora in the Americas.

4- The Musangwe

Musangwe is a ruthless and brutal form of fighting practiced in many countries across Africa. It is unknown when this style of fighting first originated. However many sources close to the style claim it has been practiced since the 1800’s. Musangwe includes fighters from a range of different age categories. The youngest of these is known as Mambibi and features fighters as young as nine. This is one of the reasons Musangwe is such a deadly style of fighting. It is not only fought through adulthood but also between teenagers and even kids.What is most dangerous about this fighting category is that it features children between nine and twelve. The bouts, in which fighters wear no protection other than their ordinary clothing, instil respect and pride in the fighters.

And there you have it: four martial arts, straight from Africa.

But you know what? Another style of martial arts exists, very powerful and extremely deadly. And this one comme straight from the world of Muntu...

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And remember: Knowledge is power.