BLACK MARTIAL ARTS SERIES: SENEGALESE WRESTLING
The popular ways in which “wrestling” is used are often about the sports entertainment form of professional wrestling and amateur and wrestling styles shown during the Olympic Games, high school, and collegiate competition. The way African/Afrikan martial arts are often discussed is mostly focused on strike-oriented styles from the Americas’ branch of the diaspora.
Lutte Traditionnelle is a grappling system of West Africa in the folk wrestling family tree that includes styles like judo, catch, collar-elbow, sumo, various forms of belt and jacket wrestling, and oil wrestling. Similar to any other traditional martial art, the sport goes by different names depending on the country or region. In Senegal Lutte Traditionally goes by Laamb (in reference to the drum played during matches), Njom (attributable to when wrestlers spit water from their mouths), or other names in reference to the particular cultural context.
The focus of the style, when applied to athletic competition, is to get your opponent out of a ring, from a standing base, or to all fours. This means balance, momentum, and speed are super important for the throws and sweeps. Within Senegalese wrestling, punches can be used.
POPULARITY OF SENEGALESE WRESTLING
Fights in Dambe, a popular Senegalese fan base sport has been televised on national television for centuries. Fighters, as well as fighters’ ring names, vary depending on weight class. Well-known faces include Bombardier (Serigne Ousmane Dia) who goes by the name Yékini.