ZULU STICK FIGHTING


Zulu Stick Fighting is a fighting art that comes from the Zule tribe in Africa. At the age of 16, a boys father takes him into the forest to cut his own fighting sticks (izinduku). Decorations are put on there for aesthetic purposes and to identify member from different sides of the region. The sticks were stored on the roof of the house and were caried for self-defense. A man usually owns several pairs and chooses which pair to use based on the occasion. For war, there are a number of different sticks available. There is the Iklwa (short stabbing spear), Isisila Senkonjane (swallow-tail axe), Isizenze Axe (used by commoners), and the Isijula (long spear).

There are 2 sticks and the offensive stick is the Induku. It is a strong stick of wood, without a knob, carved smooth. The circumference increases from top to bottom and is generally about 88 centimeters long (though it may vary depending on the individuals strength and size). A piece of cowhide can be tied around one end to secure the fighters grip and a cow's tail can be tied around the bottom to hide the sharp point. Though the sharp point is mean to stabbing, it is not appropriate during an honorable fight. The Ubhoko is the blocking stick. It is a long, smooth stick that tapers down to a sharp point. It is manuevered with the writs of the left hand to protect the body from incoming strikes. It is normally around 165 centimeters longs (meant to block for the body from head to toe), will depend from combatant to combatant. Though it could be used for a stabbing weapon or other strikes, protocol demands it be used strictly for defense. The Umsila, a short stick, is also held in the left hand with the ubhoko. It used to hold up the small shield that protects the left hand. The shield is usually from 55 - 63 centimeters long and 31 to 33 wide. A cushion is placed inside the shield for security of the left hand.

Inyanga (herbalists) and/or Isangoma (diviners) would sprinkle charms (a.k.a. "Intelezi") on the fighters and their weapons before the battle to help counter evil. They are called cleansing rituals and they also help to strenghten the warriors. Some Intelezi are said to cause dizziness, strokes, or impair the vision of an opponent. Some times menstrual blood or snake venom (medicine relating to snake venom is called Isibiba) are used as Intelezi because they deemed a dangerously potent stratagem.

Stick fighting helps young boys learn about roles intradtional society. Younger boys will practice while tending herds, while older boys and young men spar at public ceremonies and festivals. The sparring differs from a real fight and is called Ukungcweka. In sparring you don't aim for the head and don't uses a shield. If you hit your opponent's hand, it is a foul. IF any of the fighters drop their stick or fall down, the fight stops until that is adjusted. It is an undesirable strait for females to stick fight, if they do (especially during their menstrual cycle) misfortune is said to fall upon them.