Stick fighting is a Zulu traditional game that has been there for years. It was played by two opponents, who play it out for pleasure or serious fights like martial arts.
Arguments between Zulu men were resolved by stick fighting. Stick fighting has became defunct, people nowadays brandish guns to settle their arguments which leads to death when an opponent is shot dead.
Sticks for fighting are crafted using certain type of a tree trunk. A tree get barked to craft those sticks using special chisels. Crafting of those sticks, requires a person who able to work with wood.
Sticks are meticulous designed to reflect outstanding patterns. Dimensions of sticks are not equal, a stick to whip is shorter than the one to shield yourself. Shot one called “isikhwili” and the long one called “ubhoko.” If you wish to carry a cow shield, long stick is inserted through a shield to intensify your protection.
When fighting with bare sticks without a shield, knuckles are not beaten. A cow shield can be used to protect your knuckles or the rest of your body.
Stick fighting was famous among men only, but a women who grew up among herdboys would learn some techniques of stick fighting. A man who has been flogged by a women, was regarded as dire coward.
A skillful fighter uses his techniques to protect his head and the rest of body. Stick fighting is perilous even death may occur as a result. Stick fighting was played for pleasure at almost all Zulu traditional ceremonies except funerals. A person who defeated all other men and boys in the area, would gain himself fame and the title of being a master in stick fighting.
Like martial arts, stick fighting takes a great deal of self dedication and attention to play it. Respect and love are the main traits of Zulu culture.
When one of the fighting warriors got hurt badly and blood oozes from his wound, another fellow opponent would go and wash his wound in the river, that was a token to show that they were playing without any grudges.
Stick fighting became redundant over the years in Zululand – South Africa when people became civilized to adopt another cultures.
Compiled by: Sizwe Mkhize.