Tahtib: Modern Avatar of the Ancient Egyptian Martial Art Form!


Bollyoz.com’s new segment Spotlight on "World's Intangible Cultural Heritage"will bring each week a story about the tradition and culture from the different part of the world.

This week we have an interesting martial art dance form from Egypt called Tahtib…. Thanks to Ade Boulad, who is one of the leading teacher and practitioner of Tahtib and is here to share his experience regarding Tahtib.

Tahtib is a Stick game, much like India’s very own lathi khela or lathi naatch… where traditionally the males would showcase their martial/acrobatic skills with lathi (stick)… Similarly, in Tahtib the stick fight has been developed as a game in its modern interpretation, which requires many codified techniques and styles.

It has been 5000 years since the art of the Egyptian battle-staff was first used in Ancient Egypt, and for 2000 years has been a symbol of social cohesion in Upper Egypt. Along with wrestling and archery, the Egyptian battle staff formed part of the core disciplines of martial arts in Ancient Egypt. The use of the Egyptian battle staff has evolved over centuries into an integration of a game with both martial and festive components, mainly practiced during social events such as weddings in villages of Upper and Middle Egypt, known as Tahtib.

On next March 26th in Paris, Adel Boulad, founder of ModernTahtib and author of the eponym book, will lead 16 jousters and 7 musicians to demonstrate the Egyptian Battle Staff at the largest International Festival of Martial Arts. This event will take place in front of 15 000 martial arts specialists and fans. Thus, it confirms the integration of Modern in the community of sports and education, particularly in France.

Now, with Modern Tahtib (MT), an update of this ancient practice, Adel Boulad brings a modern method to safeguard the traditional practice by transposing it, as an educative sport, from the dust of the vanishing villages, to the urban world everywhere in the world.

MT is currently developing in Europe, as an education mean, with new sections in Paris area, in London, in the Paris University, in Tchek Republic and throug international courses. As in LOUVRE museum in 2012, MT has been longly demonstrated at the BRITISH MUSEUM Great Court on last December 11th, 2015 , ref the eight videos « Modern Tahtib Egypte Soul » currently downloaded on youtube and Facebook MODERN TAHTIB.

MT has also been used with impact since 2001 in leadership and team building workshops for international companies’ management teams.

How it works.

The most characteristic and defining feature of Modern Tahtib is the 1.30m long rattan stick. At the beginning a circle is marked out, where there ‘duels’ take place, and the jousters take turns in deflecting blows from the opponent using a set of specific movements to defend the body and head. The winner of joust is the one who manages to (lightly) touch with the stick his opponent’s head once or body three times.

It is practiced to music provided by drummers and traditional musicians, providing rhythm, and the audience keep time by clapping with the beat. The audience’s other crucial role is ensuring a peaceful spirit and that the rules are respected.

The sport aims to promote the shared pleasure of combat and rhythm, with the principles of mutual respect and self-discipline. As one of our students noted “When I hold the stick, I develop self-respect and the respect of the other”.

The turning point.

Dr Adel Boulad is the creator of Modern Tahtib. He was born in Egypt in 1951, PhD in Physics in Paris in 1976, before addressing professional challenges in Hi Tech industry, then in the form of Executive Coaching.Throughout his life he has developed expertise in various Martial Arts before coming to know and appreciate the techniques displayed in ancient Egyptian practices. In developing the sport as it is today, he has had toaddress the challenges of transforming an ancient martial art, from rural practice in Upper Egypt, into an urban and international sport.

He has ensured that Modern Tahtib has remained loyal to its original values, particularly respect between combatants.

At its heart, Modern Tahtib comprises specific methods of training with new components, particularly:

1. Seven ‘progression steps’,

2. MT Course addressing stick mastering, body reinforcement, anchoring steps, martial techniques, codified jousts, free jousting, combat, and series.

3. Eight codified series each containing the basics and secrets of the art, i.e. types of body stance and defense moves, attack techniques, feints, and attitudes.

4. The style of dress is now more modern and convenient, comprising standard sportswear and a three-side Egyptian belt representing the style of dress in the Vth dynasty (-2600 B.C.)

5. Crucially, women are now included as part of the discipline. After 5000 years of being sidelined, the women involved thus far in the project have distinguished themselves as hugely motivated and skilled in training and performance-jousts.

The stick jousting and the rhythm of Modern Tahtib amplify and enhance the usual benefits of martial arts.

Modern Tahtib (MT) is the result of forty-five years of martial arts practice, seven years development, particularly in the main provinces of Upper Egypt. It has been taught in Cairo and Paris secondary schools, also in the martial arts and dance European networks. The skills taught in the classes have been used by Dr Boulad to promote self-confidence, awareness and respect. He has also been using it since 2001 as a development tool in hisexecutive leadership workshops for large and international companies.

The method has been formalized by the founder in the bilingual book (FR, EN) Modern Tahtib.

Watch the first of the eight videos from the British Museum event shooting, which has been kindly provided to Bollyoz.com by Ade Boulad (we will showcase one Tahtib video each week on our site and FB page :) )

N° 1 ENGAGING

To build up agility in jousting, jousters practice short sequences of 2-5 movements called codified techniques. One of the codified sequence is called “Mossolofa”. It includes three basic attacks and defense. The three attacks are vertical attack, 45° lateral attacks (right and left). The three defenses are avoidance, Sadda (blockage) and Khalfeya (back protection). The practice of Mossolofa with the support of drummers boosts energy and engaging spirit.


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