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Different Styles of the Martial Arts – Evala Wrestling

Wrestling Evala

Evala is a traditional competitive art from west Africa often practiced by the Kabye family in Togo. For the young men of the area, it is considered the penultimate feature in a ritual of passage to adulthood, including through mountain climbing, intensive mental and physical training, and circumcision. Those who fail in training are not initiated as adults. Fights take place every year at the Evala festival.

While wrestlers will be initiated regardless of whether or not they win, it is extremely important to win the fight – a loss is considered to embarrass the participant and his family. This encourages the fighter to train hard and focus on teaching his master.


Known as “Hausa boxing”, the Hausa people practice Dambe, who lives primarily in Nigeria, but is also prevalent in large groups across Chad, Ghana, Sudan, and Cameroon.

Brutal art that was mostly fighting in his fist, in the past there was a competing component called “Kokawa” – but many of the original combat movements are now lost. Accompanied by striking music, competitions consist of three rounds and take place on a smooth surface, baked with mud; the fighters create dust plumes while brawling.

Traditionally, participants wrap their dominant leg in a metal chain and tie their fist, known as the “spear,” in coarse twine. Fighters are taught to take a broad position, with their guard raised above their heads. They aim to use a single strike with the spear to their opponent, known as “killing.” The left hand, referred to as the “shield” is usually used to parry or block. Accurate house style kicks are also sometimes used. A mate is defeated when a fighter forces his opponent to touch the ground.

Fights usually occur during harvest time, when competitors – often farmers or butchers – come together and fight, throwing traditional loincloths. Art has a spiritual dimension and practitioners wear amulets, which they believe give them supernatural protection.

Dambe is starting to gain commercial interest and is often used to advertise products. With money now available for a number of rounds, fighters travel from far and wide to compete.

Fighting Nuba

Nuba fighting includes elements of combat and stick fighting, and is practiced by the Nuba people, who live in the hill country of Kurdufan in central Sudan. Competitions are regularly held between the male men of the neighboring communities, whose aim is to honor their village, rather than to achieve personal success. When at war, a fighter wins the game by throwing an opponent to the ground; peeling is not permitted and there are no submissions.

Tours are usually held after harvest to thank the spirit world for an abundant crop, accompanied by a feast.

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