Running Blades and Flashing Steel: Knife Fighting in the African Diaspora

Laughlin 1

Sunday July 23, 2023 - 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm

Knife fighting is a brutal and ugly affair… In the past, in many cultures elevated knife fighting into an elegant dance of deception and death governed by unwritten rules, etiquette, and a sense of honor. During the Transatlantic Slave Trade enslaved Africans brought with them their warrior traditions that interacted with the fighting traditions of Europe and the Americas to create many unique cultural arts that range from boxing, wrestling, stick and machete fencing as well as fighting with the knife or razor. At one time fighting with knives, razors, and sticks were a common practice in Capoeira but when the art became legalized many of the weapons techniques were abandoned in favor of developing the body. Remnants of knife play can be discerned in the jogo de mao, the intricate hand movements used to confuse, distract, and harass an opponent. In this class we will investigate the art of the knife as a subset within Capoeira (Brazil) and compare and contrast with more established bladed traditions such as Esgrima con machete (Colombia) and Garrote Larense (Venezuela) which we will use to decode and reconstruct knife play based on the bladed hand.



General Programming