Dambe: the Nigerian combat sport

Originally published at: Dambe: the Nigerian combat sport | Boing Boing


Was this the inspiration for that Star Trek episode “Code of Honor” that was discussed here a few days ago? Just add the spikes for a more ‘Mad Max’ look.

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This, from the film, Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, is one of the most brutal looking forms of combat I’ve seen. Just the thought of having to stand your ground while your opponent winds up to smack you on the temple. The punching begins at around 3:05; before that, you get the end of the opponents’ Dis Battle.

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I haven’t watched the video yet (though I’m totally gonna, this looks awesome) but I did want to take slight issue with some of @dnealy’s commentary…

I am not entirely sure what you’re trying to say here but these are awfully broad statements to make in such a pat way. Are you equating “real combat” with what’s effective in MMA? Or something else?

In any case, what’s most effective in actual violent situations is hugely dependent on the goals and the context of the violence. Is it social or asocial? Is your goal to escape or to subdue, or something else? What sorts of asymmetries exist between the combatants? Is it one-on-one or a group encounter?

I am far from a martial arts expert but I know that, for instance, regardless of how effective BJJ is in the octagon, most of the time it’s definitely not the best choice against, say, a mugger.

In any case, combat styles generally don’t survive hundreds or thousands of years without finding success (or having found success, at some point in its history) in actual violent encounters. Which isn’t to say that there’s not BS out there in martial arts land, nor that once-valid styles can’t become mixed with BS, but you can’t say that X is more or less effective than Y without understanding the purpose of style X and style Y, how they’re intended to be used, and what the scenario in question is.


Well said. Fencing is much more effective than boxing … in a society where you are expected to have a rapier or a smallsword on you at all times while out and about.


“While some disciplines lean more towards balletic movements and elegance, other cultures focus on brutal brawling traditions. Ironically enough, the martial arts from the latter category tend to be more applicable to real violence than the choreography of more traditional Eastern martial arts.”

OK, I give up. Where’s the irony here?

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Well, we’ve been conditioned by martial arts films to believe that traditional Eastern martial arts are invincible. Hence the prominence of Kung fu films as a genre.

The irony stems from the fact that they’re the least effective. I suppose I could’ve elucidated that more, but I assumed it was obvious.

However, you know what happens when you assume…I guess I wasn’t clear enough. My bad, bro.


When I say “real combat,” I mean a fistfight. Obviously, fighting a mugger would be a different arrangement because they usually tend to have weapons.

In unarmed combat, we know which styles work and which techniques don’t. If you know the basics of boxing, BJJ, or wrestling, you’ll probably win like 75% of the time.

Weapons present another idea entirely. However, your point about martial arts being situational is 100% valid.

There’s only one answer: An MMA league with weapons. Then we’ll really see what’s what. Dg


Is there a dance form connected with this martial art?

That’s common, especially in occupied places where locals want to hide that they’re practicing martial arts.


For example, Brazilian Capoeira:

It’s the ones where their dance just happens to involve sticks that you really have to watch out.

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I simply don’t get the “sport” aspect of trying to physically injure another person. The social and cultural aspects are a different story as is movie violence, but as a human, I don’t understand actually trying to actually hurt somebody else.

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There have been plans for something like that. Haven’t heard anything about it for several years, though, so it seems momentum was lost.

It would have been fascinating to see, I agree.

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This can be formulated as a rule that will rarely steer you wrong: never pick a fight with someone with cauliflower ears.

If someone is just coming from their Tae Kwon Do or Aikido lesson, you can rest easy unless you’re a piece of thin wood or were already susceptible to throwing yourself to the ground repeatedly.

I was watching a self-defence video (I’m too much of a wus to attend an actual self-defence class), and the guy giving the lessons (Beau of the 5th Column) stressed that, if your opponent is armed with a knife, you have to accept that you are going to get cut. I found this quite enlightening.

Yeah, a Morris Side can really fuck you up; sticks and hob-nail boots.

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Not just sticks, swords, too.

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