Ancient Egyptian Stick Fighting
Analysis and Reconstruction of the Sport
Written by Jonathan Wayne Riddle © 2003
Excerpt from the full article.
Little Analysis has been done on Ancient Egyptian Stick Fighting. It has been addressed by authors in the study of sports history. The analysis has never been done by someone who has experience or expertise in fencing or stick fighting. Most of these books on Ancient Egyptian sports history cover a great deal on wrestling. There are more materials left by the ancient Egyptians on this subject, but even with limited information analysis can be done. Several assumptions have to be made those assumptions can be proven wrong with new evidence.
Origins of Ancient Egyptian Stick Fighting
The Egyptians, modern and ancient, were accomplished in stick fighting. In both modern and ancient times stick fighting has been a martial art. Stick fighting has at least some aspects of martial arts in them as well as ceremonial. Ancient Egyptians performed stick fighting as a tribute to the pharaoh. Stick fighting was also performed between Ancient Egyptian and Ancient Nubians as well. Stick fighting is common in the African culture and in the Middle Eastern culture. Stick fighting is found through out the region in different forms, with different systems of rules. One common element is that the game used to teach skills important to a warrior, such as speed, strength and courage. The ancient Egyptian trained for war. Just as with the Greeks they also had athletic games.
They had several combat sports, such as boxing, wrestling, horsemanship, knife throwing, archery and stick fighting. The weapons and equipment that would have been seen on the battle field was the sword, a knife, or dagger, a hand axe and shield with some armor, such as helmet and greaves. The kopesh or Egyptian sickle-sword was commonly used. After studying different drawings, looking at the design and materials of the Kopesh, the Kopesh was not a thrust, but a cutting weapon. Bronze is not a very strong material and will bend when a lot of force is applied. The ideal or best target on the body would be the head and neck.
Several drawings show the Pharaoh hold the head in place by the hair of the enemy. The kopesh held up high aiming for the neck or the head. The cutting action was more of a chopping motion and not a pushing or a drawing motion. Bronze does not hold an edge very well. The weight of the weapon could have been a factor. Thebes, Egypt, c. 1350 B.C.E.