Tag Archives: martial arts

Martial Arts for Black Kids

My almost four-year-old son is enjoying his second week of martial arts. It’s one of the few places and times that he is focused, disciplined and strives to try harder. In general, my son is boisterous and confident–and martial arts is a great way to channel that energy! Bruce Lee himself was a defiant, strong-willed kid, and he grew up to become a legend.

We need outlets for our Black children, and the opportunity to let their personalities shine. We cannot squash their strong-will and defiance–indeed, these are qualities that can prove to be beneficial when given the right conduit. The most courageous, impactful leaders did not arise from timid, perfect children. I am not a perfect parent, and I’m often exasperated and at my wit’s end with my headstrong boy. I’m glad martial arts can provide an avenue for self-discipline and focus.

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African Origins of Martial Arts

Last week, my preschooler son started kung fu classes in our small town. He is quite into martial arts, but we see predominately Asian people in kung fu movies and shows and I thought I could explain that yes, Black people do have a martial arts system. All civilizations developed their own combative systems, and guess what? African has ancient martial arts, as well. He just won’t hear about African Montu Arts, as readily.  Luckily, he has me for a mother.

Where human civilization began was in Africa, so the fighting combative systems originated in Africa by the earliest tribes of the Kemites and the Nubians. -Jonathan Bynoe

Jonathan goes into detail about the African origins of Montu Arts here and it’s quite interesting. Martial arts in Africa include: laamb (Senegal), dambe (Hausa tribe, Nigeria), tahtib (Egypt), Suri (Ethiopia) and Nguni (Zulu tribe). To be honest, dambe looks pretty brutal and no–I don’t want my only son partaking in dambe tournaments. It doesn’t hurt, however, that he’s aware of the ancient African martial arts and the culture around the different styles like stick fighting or wrestling in a becoming-a-man ceremony. Malcolm X did state that Black men need to be able to defend themselves, and what better way then with martial arts?

I personally chose martial arts for my son to teach him focus, respect and self-discipline. He is naturally good at it, but more importantly–he loves it. And I hope when he goes to his next class tomorrow, he is armed with the knowledge that not only do Black people have our own martial arts, we have strong origins in martial arts.