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updated on: May 23 2017

Tahtib - African Martial Art

Tahtib-African Martial Arts

Tahtib is a martial art that incorporates traditional forms of stick fighting and defence with aesthetic flair, in a dance that imitates a fight (though in many cases, imitation leads to reality). Bouts, and even training sessions, are typically accompanied by music played on a drum and pipe.

Believed to have originated in the Middle East or Northern Africa (most likely in Egypt), it has survived through many centuries as an equivalent to the western martial art of Fencing. In fact, archaeologists have discovered that Egyptian hieroglyphics of antiquity mention Tahtib as a martial art taught to the military. Since Tahtib is performed by many throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa, the martial art has adapted to fit the culture and society in which the practitioner lives. For one practitioner, Tahtib may be purely for self defence, while for another, it may have been transformed into a dance form of cultural significance.

Tahtib can be performed while on horseback or not. The stick used when on horseback is approximately 12 feet long (144 inches or 365.76 centimeters), and is much longer than the Naboot. Naboot is the stick used when not on horseback. The Naboot is approximately 4 feet long (48 inches or 121.92 centimeters). Practitioners learn practical techniques and movements for self defence. Performing these while on horseback is vital, though mimicking horse riding actions can be done if no horse is present.

Women and Tahtib

Men dominate Tahtib, however women may also practice this martial art by omitting violent fighting.