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7 African Martial Arts You Probably Didn’t Know Existed

Oung Dambe boxers during a match. Photo by Jane Hahn

Oung Dambe boxers during a match. Photo by Jane Hahn


According to Slate, “Dambe was historically practiced by the Hausa butchers’ guild around harvest or festival time and was considered to be a test of bravery, a rite of passage for marriage, or preparation for war.” The west African boxing style is extremely popular in Nigeria, southern Niger and Chad, where boxers fight with one hand. The boxer’s strong hand is covered in a wrap and called the spear. The other hand is free and called the shield. Kicking allowed as well. Each match has three rounds and the boxers must knock their opponent out within that time frame.



Lutte Traditionnelle

Lutte Traditionnelle or traditional wrestling is a west African type of fighting that is commonly practiced in Nigeria, Senegal, Niger, Burkina Faso, Togo and Gambia. The goal of this form of wrestling is to get your opponent outside of a ring. They can also be knocked down.  The sport has different variations that include punching in some countries. As the sport has grown, there have become more international competitions.

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