The Egyptian Art of Tahtib; From Martial Art to Folk Dance

Via Egyptian Geographic

Kickboxing originated in Japan, Muay Thai originated in Thailand, while Capoeria and Jiu-Jitsu originated in Brazil. As a mixed martial arts enthusiast, I was intrigued to explore what kinds of martial arts originated in the Arab world, and I found something very interesting, the Egyptian art of Tahtib! Which is basically an Egyptian martial art that focuses on stick fighting.

Via Daily News Egypt

We’ve all seen it in movies about Upper Egypt, mostly as a form of folk dance, however, there is much more to Tahtib than what we see in movies. The complete name of Tahtib is “Fan A’Nazaha Wa-Tahtib” which translates to the “art of being straight and honest through the use of a stick”. Nowadays, the word encompasses both the martial art and the folk dance.

The martial art itself could be traced back to ancient Egypt; many drawings of young people fencing with sticks have been found on the walls of temples. The oldest traces were found on engravings from an archaeological site at Abusir, an extensive necropolis of the Old Kingdom period located near the south-western suburbs of Cairo. The art of Tahtib was designated by UNESCO as part of Egypt’s Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2016.

The 2500 BC drawings of Tahtib, shows that with archery and wrestling were then among the three disciplines of warfare taught to soldiers in ancient Egypt. However, there is evidence of the festive representation of Tahtib that can be seen in the New Empire (1500 – 1000 BC).

Via Wikipedia

Over the years, men stopped using Tahtib as a form of fighting and it became more of a folk dance, yet it is still seen as an expression of their muscularity, strength, and intelligence when it comes to anticipating their opponent’s next move. It is still practiced regularly in Upper Egypt, and is also used as a form of entertainment during events and celebrations. A Nubian version is now being performed for tourists in Aswan!

There are some attempts to revive the art of Tahtib, modernizing it, and exploring it again as a martial art. There is a YouTube Channel called Modern Tahtib that has tons of videos that show different techniques and skills. Adel Boulad is one of the people who are leading the modernization and preservation of the sport, trying to safeguard this heritage and to develop it into a different form that is suitable to the modern Egyptian society.

WE SAID THIS: Do you think that more Egyptians need to explore this historical form of art?