Kurash is a form of upright jacket wrestling native to Uzbekistan, practiced since ancient times. It is a Turkic wrestling art, related to the Turkish yağlı güreş and the Tatar Köräş. It is an event in the Asian Games.
Kurash is an ancient type of upright jacket grappling which originated in the territory of modern Uzbekistan. According to the latest scientific research the age of Kurash is at least three and a half thousand years. Kurash is one of the oldest martial arts the people had ever practiced.
Kurash is an Uzbek word. It means – "reaching the goal with the just or fair way". Since its birth till recent times Kurash was used as a martial art and the public physical entertainment during major holidays, feasts and wedding parties. Kurash is mentioned in many historical sources.
Almost 2500 years ago Herodotus, the ancient Greek philosopher and historian in his famous books called “Histories” says that Kurash is a common practice for people living in the territory where the modern Uzbekistan is located.
The legendary epos Alpomish created more than one millennium ago calls Kurash the favorite and wide spread martial art in Central Asia.
The great oriental scientist and the creator of the modern medicine science – Avicenna (Abu Ali Ibn Sina), who lived in the X century in Bukhara, writes that practicing Kurash is the best way to keep health of both body and spirit.
In the XIV century Timur, one of the most prominent statesmen in history used Kurash in his army for physical training and self defense. Its well known that the army of Timur conquered half of the world and never had been beaten.
Centuries passed by and Kurash has become one of the most popular and respected traditions of the people of Uzbekistan. Uzbeks say that Kurash is in their genes, in blood. Today there are more than two million Kurash players all over Uzbekistan.
For more than three millenniums Kurash was limited by the borders of Central Asia. Techniques, traditions, rules and philosophy of Kurash verbally were passed from generation to generation, from fathers to children. Till the very recent times nobody ever tried to systemize and generalize the heritage of Kurash. In contrary Kurash was used as a basis for another sport – in the beginning of the XX century Russians took throwing techniques of Kurash to create Sambo. And only in 1980 Komil Yusupov, the widely known master of Kurash, Judo and Sambo from Uzbekistan started that kind of research on Kurash. It took him ten years to create the new universal rules for Kurash, the rules which incorporated the best features of Kurash- thousands years old philosophy of courage and humanism with the tight requirements of the modern sport. He introduced to Kurash weight categories, gestures and terminology based on 13 Uzbek words, set a fixed duration of the bout, uniform for players and referees, and all other things without which a modern sport could not be imagined.
Kurash rules prohibit any actions on the floor. Action is allowed only in standing position – there is no groundwork, and only throws and leg sweeps can be used by players. Any techniques using armlock, chocking and kicking, as well as grips below the belt are strictly prohibited. All it makes Kurash a simple, friendly, interesting, dynamic and safe sport to practice.
With creation of the Komil Yusupov’s rules, the second life of Kurash began – now Kurash became a sport. The national sport of the Uzbek people. Which could become an international one.
By 1991 Uzbekistan became the independent country. The first President of the new Uzbekistan – Islam Karimov while meeting Komil Yusupov in 1992 fully supported his idea to make the sport of Kurash an international one and through this sport introduce Uzbekistan, its history, traditions and philosophy to the world.
After that meeting using the support of the Uzbek president, the group of activists of Kurash led by Mr. Yusupov started the international propaganda and promotion of Kurash. They held several big tournaments in different parts of Uzbekistan using the new rules – the success was overwhelming. Sometimes the large stadiums could not accommodate all spectators. The group made presentations at various prestigious sport forums in South Korea, Canada, Japan, India, USA, Monaco and Russia. And the goal was soon reached.
In September 1998 the capital of Uzbekistan – Tashkent held the fist ever international Kurash tournament. Players from almost 30 countries of Asia, Europe and Pan America participated. Usually the Kurash event in Uzbekistan are held at the football stadiums. This tournament, which was for the Prize of the Uzbek President, was not an exception.
During this tournament Tashkent hosted another historical event. On September 6th 1998 representatives of 28 states of Asia, Europe and Pan America established the International Kurash Association – the official international sport organ representing Kurash in the world. Since that day September 6th is the official birthday of the new international sport – Kurash. Delegates of the first inaugural Congress ratified the Statutes of the new organization and the international rules of Kurash, elected the managing body of the IKA- the Directing committee. Islam Karimov, the president of Uzbekistan and one of the key person in the international promotion of Kurash was elected as the Honorary President for life, Komil Yusupov, the author of the Kurash rules, became the President of the IKA. The Directing Committee has 17 seats. The members are elected by the Congress of the IKA by majority vote, the office term is four year, and they could be re-elected.
Competitors, one wearing a green jacket and the other a blue jacket, try to throw each other to the ground. If thrown to the back, victory is declared. If thrown onto the side, points are awarded. If thrown to the belly, buttocks or weakly onto the side, a lesser point is given. The action is stopped by the referee and restarted in the standing position in bounds if either of the contestants goes down to one knee or out of bounds. Competitors are not allowed to grab the opponent's pants, but are otherwise free to grip as they please.
Turkish güreş, Uzbek kuraş and Tatar köreş are the same word in different Turkish dialects. It originally means martial art. The word exist in all Turkish dailects almost without exception, basically refers to martial arts similar to wrestling.
This Central Asian sport developed thousands of years ago as a form of training for fighting, for both self-defence and war. This is reflected in the rules, where clothing is required which mimics armour or battle-garb, and where grips on the trousers and ground fighting are banned, since bending over low or going to the ground make a fighter vulnerable to weapon thrusts. The emphasis on standing fighting develops strong balance and quick footwork, which help greatly when fighting with weapons.
Upright grappling was an integral part of ancient and medieval warfare because most hand to hand weapons needed several feet of space to be effective to deliver their blows, such as swords and spears. Once within this range, the warriors were obliged to grapple with each other. The first one thrown to the ground would, by falling down, create enough space for the sword or spear of the thrower or another soldier to do its work, and therefore the fallen fighter would be at great risk of death. This is why falling to the ground is considered a decisive loss in almost all traditional wrestling styles around the globe, including Kurash.
FURTHER REFEREEING TERMINOLOGY
- TAIZIM - bow
- KURASH - wrestle
- TOUKHTANG - stop/break
- BEKOR - non scoring throw
- VAKT - end of bout
- TENG - equal scores