BLACK PANTHER MONTH: BALOGUN OJETADE, MASTER OF WEST AFRICAN MARTIAL ARTS (MF GALAXY 155) – 2018 February 12
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This is Black Panther Month on MF GALAXY and with all the excitement surging about the Marvel movie about the Wakanda super-genius, superhero, super-fighter, the time is right to go beyond fictional African martials arts and discover authentic, deadly African martial arts from across the continent and across history.
Most people in the West think of the phrase “martial arts” as referring to East Asian fighting systems such as kung fu, karate, and tae kwon do, without realising that “martial arts” means any combat system. And certainly every culture in the world produced its own combat systems or its people would have been assimilated or annihilated.
So it really should not be a surprise that the African continent, home to humanity and birthplace of civilisation, should have scores of martials arts, ranging from the wrestling, sword systems, and stick fighting of Ancient Egypt, to the range of West African fighting arts, and that’s where we begin today.
Balogun Ojetade is a fascinating man with a remarkable history. The African-American playwright, filmmaker, and Steamfunk novelist is also a master of martials arts from Yoruba civilisation, an area covering Togo, Benin, and part of Nigeria. He runs the international African Martial Arts Institute whose headquarters are in Atlanta.
The school features a trio of West African systems he groups under the name Egbe Ogun, and seeks to promote African histories and cultures though demonstrations, lectures, workshops, classes, films, plays, and music. Egbe Ogun is a formidable system, and its experts are more than capable of meeting fighters from any other art head-on.
On January 18, 2018 Balogun Ojetade spoke with me by Skype from his home in Atlanta. We discussed:
- His own remarkable origin story of being introduced to West African martial arts
- The body movement that is at the core of all martial arts whether its practitioners know it or not
- Why students can and should be taught to fight with knives as soon as possible
- How his educational approach differs from the typical mode of East Asian fighting schools, and
- How Egbe Ogun fits into the Africentric culture of Atlanta, despite how the public school system in that city attempts to stop students from identifying with their West African heritage
To hear nearly half-an-hour of patrons-only bonus content from our conversation, visit mfgalaxy.org to click on the Patreon link to become a sponsor for a dollar or more per week.
By funding MF GALAXY, you get access to all extended editions of the show including this one with West African martial arts master Balogun Ojetade discussing:
- What any martial artist who wants to survive needs to know about martial arts uniforms
- The only way to know if a martial artist is actually effective
- The degree to which the community embraces his work, and
- What Ojetade did when a Brazilian jujitsu fighter barged into the Afrikan Martial Arts Institute and challenged him in front of all his students
Twitter @Baba_BalogunThe Yoruba martial art of Gidigbo 7 African Martial Arts You Probably Didn’t Know Existed
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