The martial arts of Central Asia



Central Asia has a long and complex geography, history and culture. It is currently composed of some former Russian republics such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan; even if culturally you can aggregate Xinjian (Uyghur territory that corresponds to about one fifth of China), Afghanistan and, above all Mongolia.

It is precisely from Mongolia, with Genghis Khan, that the unifying thrust, creator of the Turkish-Mongolian culture, capable of creating the greatest ancient empire ever existed.

The Turkish-Mongolian peoples are notoriously skilled warriors and hunters, honorable and fearless fighters well accustomed to the art of war. Genghis Khan managed to blend the various particular cultures without erasing them, so this warrior vein merged with the martial schools from China and with the ancient warrior substrate of the ancient kurgan peoples.

In more recent times, the Soviet Empire and Russia took possession of these territories by putting them in contact with their fighting-based martial school.

Martial arts in the former Russian republics

Many of the countries described above are of the former Russian republics . The Soviet system has always attached great importance to force and employed many resources from the outset by sending its best men to learn every possible martial art in the four corners of the world. This model had its discrete influence also on the Turkish-Mongolian peoples of Central Asia, already strong of their natural warrior attitude.

Although the Central Asian ethnic groups have specific genetic characteristics, such as poor limb length, many of them excel in boxing . However, all possible local arts are related to the most popular martial art: kurash, a fusion of all the various types of struggle, especially the Mongolian one (from which the Turkish one derives) and the Persian one.

The current styles of free struggle and sports struggle in general (including Japanese judo ) take their inspiration from these ancient Central Asian struggles and from the Greco-Roman one. Seen from the outside, the kurash resembles a cross between judo and wrestling, as its purpose is to project the opponent back to the ground with strength, speed and style, maintaining absolute control over it.

Martial arts: what they are and how they differ

Martial arts in Mongolia and Islamic countries

The birthplace of a conqueror like Genghis Khan could not fail to have a martial culture. The most important martial art in Mongolia is the Mongolian struggle (called bokh ), which already Genghis Khan himself practiced and encouraged among his troops.

The purpose of this kind of fight is to let the opponent touch the ground with the torso or the knees and it is allowed to cling to the zodog, a kind of very tight top that covers the shoulders but keeps uncovered in the chest. There is a legend at the origin of this garment: long ago a Mongolian woman disguised herself as a man and defeated all her opponents before revealing her identity and humiliating them. After this the wrestlers are required to show their chest in order to show that they are men.

The fight is very similar to sumo and the Olympic fight . Even countries of Islamic culture have contributed to the effectiveness of these fighting styles: the Pahlevani ("sport of heroes") is a training system for the ancient Persian warriors. This art is linked to a code of conduct and chivalrous rituals and is still practiced in many countries as a type of struggle in Arab countries.

Evolution of martial arts in Central Asia

In some central Asian caves frescoes on the theme of the fight dated 7000 BC have been found. Since then, the Central Asian struggle has branched all over the world and we can recognize his great-grandchildren in judo, wrestling, sambo, Greco-Roman wrestling, sumo, shuaijao and laamb, but also in the so-called traditional styles. or folklore .

Currently we can see many Central Asian masters in the training teams of many martial arts champions, both in terms of boxing and the aspect of the fight. In Italy, among the derivatives closest to the Central Asian struggles, it is possible to find sambo courses, martial art brought to the fore by some MMA champions such as Emilianenko Fedor, Andrei Arlovski, Oleg Taktarov and Khabib Nurmagomedov.

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