by Mr Norbert Amefu
The term Wrestling is an Old English word that originated some time before 1100 A.D. It is perhaps the oldest word still used in English Language to describe hand to hand combat. Wrestling has become a sports or contest in which two (2) unarmed individuals struggle hand to hand with each attempting to unbalance the other.
It is one of the oldest known forms of Martial Arts. As Cultures strived to survive, Wrestling became an intrinsic part of many Cultures as a practical form of self-defense. Physical techniques which are embodying the style of wrestling are clinching, holding, locking and leverage.
In Ghana, Wrestling is being practiced in the Northern and Southern part of the Country. In the North of Ghana it is part of their traditional dance called “Vaguago” Combat dancing and those leaving in the south around the coastal areas, the Anglo in the Volta Region, Ga-Dangme in the Greater Accra Region “Capital” and the Fanti in the western Region which they practice on the beaches.
- Ghana Map
- NORTHERN WRESTLING
In the Northern part of Ghana, the tribe in the upper east called “Gurune” practice the traditional wrestling called “Mierea / Vaguago” in the local language. This came to being when young men who were sent to graze and clean the cattle’s in the fields and grazing lands, meet their fellow shepherds from other clans. Usually after grazing the cattle, they call them to contest by dragging each animal afar, singing songs and mentioning their clan names while the animals fight by head collision.
- Cattle wrestling
After the cattle`s fight, the shepherds take turn to wrestle each other, these fights continue until one person wins, then as time pass it became an inter-community wrestling and the one who flogs everybody becomes the superior with the ultimate prize being the leader of the youth in the community.
- Wrestling “Mierea / Voguago”
FUNERAL: When an elderly person dies in the community, his burial is followed by war dance that looks like wrestling, with all the young men in the community gathering at the funeral grounds amidst drumming, singing and dancing. The young men form a circle and one will be in the middle, they will be singing and drumming for him to choose his opponent to wrestle with. The strongest will be the leader of the young men in the community.
MARRIAGE: When a young woman is of age to get married, the father of the young woman calls on the young and able men in the community. They gather to wrestle and the winner gets the bride to marry.
- Wrestling for bride
Wrestling in ancient times was also used to protect themselves and their properties from other intruders, to determine power and leadership, defend against attack of wild animals during hunting and initiating warriors, either with bare hands or weapons.
- SOUTHERN WRESTLING
Wrestling is practiced in the southern part of Ghana, around the coastal areas, the Anglo in the Volta Region (Kame tete), Ga-Dangme in the “Capital Accra” (Abotri) and the Fanti in the western Region(Akotoku). The folks wrestle at the beaches.
This came about when the fisher folks come back from fishing and settle their boats. They then take turns singing and drumming while working on their nets. The folks then wrestle with one another on the beach. Wrestling became an activity that was challenging, competitive, physically demanding and serve to promote discipline, group solidarity and good communal living as well as teach life-long skills, build up self-esteem and heroism among the youth of these communities.
- Beach wrestling “Abotri / Kame tete”
- TRADITIONAL BELIEVES
Wrestlers believe in the traditional gods of our ancestors, they fortify themselves by doing combination of rituals like grioting, chanting, dancing and symbolic incantations, putting on amulets to give them strength to overpower their opponent.
- Amulets on wrestlers
- STATE OF TRADITIONAL WRESTLING IN GHANA.
The Ghana Traditional Wrestling Association operates under the aegis of the National Sports Authority and is actively represented in six (6) Regions as stated earlier, namely Upper East, Northern, Volta, Accra, Central and western.
The Ghana Traditional Wrestling Association aims to develop and promote competitive wrestling in Ghana, we seek to promote wrestling through an effective and rewarding but less expensive approach to youth empowerment in less endowed and traditional communities.
Before the advent of colonization up until the 1960`s, African Wrestling commonly known as Traditional Wrestling was the prevalent leisure activity among the youth in the coastal as well as the northern Regions of Ghana.
With the pressures of urbanization and introduction of several other forms of leisure and entertainment, Wrestling gradually lost its appeal and virtually went extinct in many communities in Ghana, not so in other ECOWAS STATES.
African Traditional Wrestling was reborn in Ghana in 2010 as a leisure activity in four (4) Traditional Communities in Ghana,in 2012 wrestlers were selected from those Regions to represent Ghana in the ECOWAS Games held in Accra – Ghana in 2012 the same year. Following that, Ghana Traditional Wrestling Association was formed to boost wrestling in Ghana.
We have since participated in many other Tournaments organized by the ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Center, namely Niamey, Niger, Senegal, Dakar etc.
- Wrestling Competition in Ghana
The Association is affiliated to the West African Wrestling Body, United World Wrestling, and African Continental Wrestling Body and about to be affiliated with The World Martial Arts Union.
- MODERN WRESTLING
Today`s wrestling disciplines are broken down into two (2) categories, International Wrestling and Folk Wrestling. According to the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles, there are five (5) current International Wrestling styles throughout the world.
- INTERNATIONAL WRESTLING
- Greco Roman Wrestling
- Freestyle Wrestling
- Grappling Wrestling
- Beach Wrestling
- FOLK WRESTLING
There are many folk wrestling styles as they are National Traditions because folk wrestling describes a traditional form of wrestling unique to a culture or geographic region of the world. Folk wrestling styles are not yet recognized internationally.
- WRESTLING ARENA
The wrestling arena is an enclosure where wrestling competitions are organized. The competition platform which measures (20) meters is composed of (3) parts.
- The circular combat area / competition surface of (11) meters.
- The surrounding circular band or border of (1.5) meters breadth called the protection surface or safety area. Both areas are covered with sand, haystack, form rubber, mat etc. The two surfaces are differentiated by a clearly visible colored line.
- The waiting area (corner) shall be located at (1) meters away from the protection surface in front of each stand.
- Wrestling Arena
- WEIGHT CATEGORY
Competitors shall be paired according to their weight category and we have the open weight category
- JUNIOR CATEGORY= 60kg / 70kg / 80kg / 90kg / 100kg
- SENIOR CATEGORY = 66kg / 76kg / 85kg / 100kg / 120kg
- OPEN WEIGHT CATEGORY = The minimum weight allowed is 80kg
- WRESTLERS UNIFORM
Wrestlers shall report in the combat area or competition surface in short knickers or loincloth according to the tradition of their countries, stripped to the waist and barefooted with nails of the hands and feet cut to the lowest level. The team`s uniform shall be of the same color, the wearing of objects likely to injure the wrestler or his opponent is strictly forbidden during the fight.
- African Wrestlers
The referees are three (3) in each match, one (1) center referee and two (2)side referees, they shall be in white sleeve, a pair of trousers and light laced shoes.
- DURATION OF FIGHT
The duration of fight is six (6) minutes, divided into three (3) periods of two (2) minutes each with a pause of one (1) minute rest between the three (3) periods.
- TECHNIQUES USED
- The technique is exclusively the standing type (standing technique) in other words, any action undertaken after the effective fall of the opponent is forbidden.
- An attack with the two knees on the ground is forbidden.
- Resting on one hand against the ground during an attack or counter attack is allowed.
- The technique requires the direct and active use of the arms on the entire body of the opponent.
- FORBBIDEN ACTS
- All actions or holds on the body of the opponent aimed at causing any injury are banned.
- Pulling and twisting of arms, wrists, ankles, fingers and toes.
- Holding of genital organs
- Holding or pulling of ears and hair
- Putting fingers in the eyes, nose or ears of the opponent.
- Punching, elbowing, head-butting, kicking with the knee.
- It is strictly forbidden to voluntarily interrupt the fight except the blow of whistle by the referee.
- SCORING SYSTEM
- By throwing an opponent – 5 point
- By abandonment of match – 4 point
- By disqualification – 3 point
- By walk over – 2 point