Desch Obi explores a cultural continuity originating in Africa and that is as old as early slave settlements in South America and as contemporary as hip-hop culture in this thorough survey of the history of African martial arts techniques. He maps the translation of numerous physical combat techniques across three continents and several centuries to illustrate how these practices evolved over time and are still recognizable in American culture today. Some of these art traditions were part of African military training while others were for self-defense and personal discipline. Desch Obi, himself a practitioner of mgba wrestling and engolo kick-fighting, also explores the spiritual dimensions of these combat arts.Grounded in historical and cultural anthropological methodologies, Desch Obi's investigation traces the influence of well-delineated African traditions on long-observed but misunderstood African and African American cultural activities in North America, Brazil, and the Caribbean. He links the Brazilian martial art capoeira to reports of slave activities recorded in colonial and antebellum North America. Likewise, Desch Obi locates images of the African stick-fighting techniques of kalenda in slave depictions. His study takes on more modern subjects when he links movements from this same wellspring of traditions to break dancing and clown dancing techniques that have peppered urban culture in recent decades. Throughout the study Desch Obi examines the ties between physical mastery of these arts and changing perceptions of honor.
Fighting for Honor
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