Nuba News


Article 1 - The African Origins of the Martial Arts Revealed!
Article 2 - The Origin of Karate.
Article 3 - Prince Amenemhat.

Article 4 - Restoring the image of Buddha
Article 5 -
The African Origin and Meaning of the "Belt"
Article 6
Article 7

The book that rewrote the history of the martial arts. 
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Article 1 - The African Origins of the Martial Arts Revealed!

The following article by Nijel BPG first appeared in The BKF Magazine, July 1999.REVISED   July 1, 2000.

NUBA WRESTLING™ - The African Origins of the Martial Arts Revealed!

by Nijel BPG

" The Nuba of Sudan, Africa practiced a form of martial arts wrestling over 2,800 years before Christ.  There are no other records in any corner of the world that can claim such a long, and unbroken martial arts tradition.  This form of martial arts, which included weapons as well as fortification, and certainly empty hand self-defense blossomed in 12th Dynasty Egypt.  Nuba Wrestling™ is the original martial art that all of Africa, Asia, and Europe later came to benefit from".
-excerpts from "Nuba Wrestling™: The Original Art"


   Millions of African-Americans, and Black people all over the world study Kung-Fu, Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Karate, or some other form of martial arts.  Many of them will tell you that it has transformed their lives.  Therefore books, videos, magazines, television and films will continue to portray the martial arts.  There are even comic book characters such as Karnak, the 1960's Marvel superhero and member of the mutant group known as the Inhumans.  Karnak is a martial arts master who is able to discern the stress point of any solid object, no matter how large, and shatter that object with one powerful, and well placed karate chop.

   As popular as the martial arts was and continues to be, less than one percent of Africans in diaspora, and only a slightly higher percentage of Asians, and Europeans are aware that the true origins of these magnificent arts are in fact African!  Many African teens who fantasized themselves becoming the powerful Karnak, will be surprised to learn that he was actually named after an ancient African temple in Egypt, and that the very name of his ancient discipline bespoke it's origin.  It is only recently that modern science and anthropology has agreed to admit that all human life shares a common point of origin in Africa.  It was a watershed day therefore, when the untold origins of the oldest martial arts on Earth were explored and documented in my 1990 book titled "Nuba Wrestling™: The Original Art".  While not in general circulation, it is heralded as a landmark publication because it was the first global acknowledgement of Africa as the birthplace of the martial arts and sciences.

   The entire scope of the African origins of the martial arts, and their related disciplines are too vast to cover in the scope of a single article.  I will present some key excerpts from my book as well as information that I will elaborate on in an upcoming publication.  What you are going to read will shed light on the who, what, and where, regarding the origins of the martial arts, as well as the influence this has had worldwide.  Later, I will reveal some startling clues as to why the sciences of the martial arts developed as they did, and why they must continue to evolve.

   In this year 2000 of the Olympic Games, there are many people who would argue that Greece, contains the oldest records of combative arts such as wrestling, boxing, and Pankration.  While the western world can easily identify with Greek art, literature, philosophy, sport, military arts and sciences, as well as other significant aspects of Greek thought such as astronomy, and mathematics, these aforementioned arts and sciences did not originate in Greece.  There is ample evidence and testimony by acclaimed philosophers and historians of ancient Greece such as Herodotus in 500 BCE, Pythagoras, Plato, and many others to support this fact.  Many of them were put to death for the knowledge they imported into Greece.  So significant was the source of Greek knowledge and culture, that the earliest inhabitants of the land derived their very name Greece from an ancient name for Africa, "Nigrecia"!

   The year was 776 B.C. at a time when Egypt was already ancient, that the Greeks began the practice of wrestling in honor of the African God Amon, whom they renamed Zeus.  the entire Greek pantheon of Gods and Goddesses are based on African deities that were simply renamed.  Despite all of this however, it is significant to our study that Greece provides one of the first instances of a martial art and religious tradition being combined in the west.  However, it was a tradition based on older African practices that the Greeks adopted, but never fully applied.

   All present day scholars of what is commonly known as Greco-Roman wrestling attribute the origins of their sport to illustrations discovered on the walls of tombs at a region of ancient Egypt called Mahez, which as been renamed "Beni Hasan", or "hill of the son of the Hasan family".  Although considered just a sport today, these illustrations point to a well developed science that actually developed in Nubia, but reached the zenith of expression in Egypt.

   At Beni Hasan, in four separate tombs, there are hundreds of paintings on limestone walls that for the most part, have since decayed.  The paintings are of African martial artists using a variety of wrestling holds and locks.  The illustrations total well over 500 individual pairs of wrestlers who are executing hundreds of sophisticated techniques.  These images are mainly recorded in the tombs of governors, or princes by the names of Baqet III, his son Khety, and his son Amenemhat.  They all reigned in Mahez during the 11th and 12th Dynasties.  Illustrations were also found in the well known tomb of Prince Khemenhotep!!.  The paintings feature pairs of fighters who are wrestling, as well as illustrations of warriors using other forms of unarmed combat that employ kicking and punching techniques.  There are scenes of martial artists using weapons such as a lance, short sticks, daggers, staffs, and bow and arrows.  There are even scenes of warriors utilizing military technology such as a testudo, which is a shielding device used during the siege of a castle.  The earliest representation of a castle in the world can be found illustrated on an incense holder that originates from Nubia, the "mother civilization" of Egypt.  Several paintings of castles in the Mahez tombs predates what we believe about the birth of castles, fortifications and medieval technology from Europe's Middle Ages.  All total, these paintings in Africa represent the most ancient, and prolific depiction of martial arts on Earth.

   Besides the accounts of ancient Greek historians themselves, information confirming the Greek's access to Egyptian arts and sciences were recorded by 17th and 18th century Europeans in Egypt such as Edme F. Jomard, James Burton, Jean Champollion, Robert Hay, and others.  The most complete and often referred to archeological study of the Mahez tombs were compiled by the Englishman Percy Newberry.  Working for the Archaeological Survey of Egypt between 1890 and 1892, Newberry carried out "excavations" at Beni Hasan.  The results were published in a two volume work as the First and Second Memoirs of the ASE (Percy E. Newberry, Beni Hasan, Part I [London, 1893] and Beni Hasan, Part II [London, 1893].  He states that graffiti on the walls that were written in Greek further proves that the Greeks were frequent visitors to the tombs in ancient times.

   During European colonial expansion, and the advent of the Atlantic slave trade, Africans could never be credited with the development of the martial arts because while Europe was so called "excavating" icons, treasures, as well as people from the African continent, they were also hard at work covering up Africa's contributions to the world, and instead promoted the notion of African inferiority.

   A case in point is a popular international magazine whose 1941 article about life in ancient Egypt included portions of a scene from the tomb belonging to Prince Baqet III.  However, the caption under the illustration wrote that., "By contrasting body colors of the Egyptian athlete and his negro opponent the ancient sports artist made clear the holds, many of which are identical with those used today".  Are you aware of the picture that forms in your mind with the words "Egyptian athlete and his negro opponent"?  It was only in the 1890's when Newberry himself copied these figures from the walls of Prince Baqet's tomb.  It was his decision to draw one figure in outline, and fill the other figure in black.  To the observer, I suppose it could be interpreted to mean a black and white wrestler.  However, in Newberry's own words he leaves no room for misinterpretation.  He stated that, "The match is between two Egyptians, both coloured the same tine in the original, but for the sake of distinctness in the Plate, one of each pair has been drawn in outline".  The colors of these Egyptians as painted by the original African artist were brown, and dark red.  If further proof was needed, author Elliot Elisofon published actual photographs in a Life magazine article in 1960 of the now decayed, and indeciphrable tomb paintings.  Both wrestling martial arts figures are in fact, African.

   In many cases, the western world took from, never credited, but in fact often discredited their ancient Kemetic roots.  In the case of the martial arts, they were probably never provided with the keys to unlock the knowledge of the more important spiritual applications.  It is like bootlegging a software program without the instructions to run it.  Although you may eventually figure it out on your own, no one would know that program as well as the programmer.  To the early Greeks, wrestling, and the related arts such as Pankration, were simple sport to them.  It was sport then, as it still is today.

   The more salient aspects of Kemetic thought such as the science of Maat, encouraged justice, truth, righteousness, and correct actions to direct the spiritual forces that would be encountered with the intense study of the physical martial sciences.  There are also the teachings of the Seven Principles of the great Egyptian Tehuti, or Hermes as he was called by the Greeks.  These teachings and sciences, along with meditation, breath control, concentration and the correct application of the martial arts, would lead to the release of powerful inner forces, represented by the ureaus serpent in Kemet, and the kundalini as it was known to the sister civilization in India.  In the west, spiritual aspects were neglected, not understood, and in some cases, withheld altogether.  Much of the written records of Egypt that were later deposited in the libraries such as the one in Alexandria were destroyed.  Because of this lack of true understanding the Greeks developed a "love of wisdom" or philosophy, which encourages ideas and speculation more than action.  The African genius Imhotep (known to the Greeks as Asclepius), was the multi-talented student of Tehuti.  He said, "For the Greeks have empty speeches...that are energetic only in what they demonstrate, and this is the philosophy of the Greeks, an inane foolosophy of speeches.  We (the Egyptians), by contrast, use not speeches but sounds that are full of action".

   The modern interpretation of the martial arts owe their origins to the African martial arts tradition and can be found in the histories of the aboriginal Ainu of Japan, the eymology of the word karate, and the history of the Buddha, to name a few.  For example, Buddha's background and principles of thought can be traced to the Black people in India known as Dravidians.  They inherited India's older Black civilization known as the Harappan civilization, which existed from around 4,000 BCE and was the contemporary of Nubia prior to the first Egyptian dynasty.  In the centuries that followed, the Dravidians of India experienced a cultural and religious invasion from the north (circa 1,500 B.C.) by Indo-Europeans who called themselves Aryans.  After centuries of conflict as recorded in the epic Mahabarta, the Aryans prevailed.  They absorbed much of the arts, sciences, and religious deities of the indigenous Indian population and in its place, established the caste based faith of Hinduism.

   In 520 A.D., a monk named Bodhidharma left southern India for China to re-define and spread the teachings of the counter religion to Hinduism called Buddhism.  Buddhism was a religion founded on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama who taught the Four Noble Truths to enlightenment.  While often portrayed as Asian, the Buddha was a Black man.  Sir Godfrey Higgins, an 18th century English scholar of ancient culture produced a two volume work published in 1836 titled "Anacalypsis; An Inquiry into the Origins of Languages, Nations, and Religions".  His research reveals in the following passage that, "In the most ancient temples scattered throughout Asia, where his worship is yet continued, he is found black as jet, with the flat face, thick lips, and curly hair of the Negro."  Today we awake to the facts that Buddha's tightly curled knots of hair, and elongated ear lobes are unmistakable African cultural traditions.  They are not "snails" that protect his holiness from the rays of the sun, nor are his extended ear lobes "a sign of wisdom", as some scholars and early martial arts instructors used to teach.

   At a temple known as Shaolin in China, Bodhidharma prescribed a set of exercises and movements to keep the monks healthy, and awake during meditation.  These movements, and breathing exercises became known as the 18 Hands of Lo Han, and formed the basis of Chinese Shaolin Kung-Fu and later, Japanese karate (although it must be noted that the indigenous Ainu on the island of present day Hokkaido, Japan contributed significantly in the transmission of the martial arts to those islands).  Buddhist philosophy, which is derived from ancient Kemet, maintained that the exercises and the self-defense skills were designed to preserve the body.  this is true, because once the body was preserved it could be mastered, and utilized to unlock the spiritual centers within, and provide a path way towards the liberation of the soul without.

   In modern times, similar paths to fulfillment, and spiritual enlightenment have been traveled by well known fighters, both in and out of temples, churches, or mosques.  For example, if you study the lives of martial arts masters such as Ed Parker, Bruce Lee, Muhammad Ali, and George Forman, you will see that a spiritual quest has refocused their lives.  Ed Parker and Bruce Lee became profoundly spiritual in the later years of their studies.  Muhammad Ali embraced Islam, and George Forman became a minister.  These are not mere coincidences.  This is the inevitable direction every serious martial artist, will eventually have to take.  They may follow different paths towards liberation, but they will all find themselves on the same road that was paved for them in Africa over 3,000 years before Christ.

   Going back to the tombs at Mahez during the 11th and 12th Dynasties, the medu-neter on the walls of the tombs reveal much about the religious, and military backgrounds of the four leaders.  Text that accompany Prince Amenemhat's tomb, for example, reveals that he was known to the public by such civic titles as "Regulator of the two thrones" (governor), and "superintendent of the two pools of sport".  His military title was "Chief Captain of the host of Mahez".  Prince Amenemhat is recorded to have had a standing army of 600 well trained warriors who were successful in many battles.  Hi was a benevolent man and much loved by his people.

   Perhaps Amenemhat's most significant titles are his religious ones.  They included "priest", "chief lector", and "regulator of rank, or succession in the temple"!  It is astonishing to visualize an African martial arts master and priest such as Prince Amenemhat, conferring rank in a temple centuries before such scenes appear in Asia.  Today, modern martial artists achieve rank with a belt.  Students progress from a white belt to a black belt which is seen as the height of mastery.  Even then, there are several degrees of black belts a warrior earns as one moves up in rank.  The earliest recorded practice of warriors putting on a "belt" before a workout can be found in Africa.  The first two paintings on the East wall of the tomb of Baqet III depicts two fighters who ritualistically tie a belt around their waists before they square off to begin sparring.  The hanging ends of the belt familiar to modern martial arts are clearly depicted here.

   In our century, when the legendary Black Karate Federation™ (BKF™) warriors Steve Muhammad (formerly known as Steve Sanders) and Donnie Williams fought on the tournament circuit in the early 1970's these black belt warriors were two of the fiercest competitors ever.  Over the years, their growth through the martial arts has led them to become known by other titles, as was Amenemhat in 12th Dynasty Egypt.

   Kenpo Grandmaster Donnie Williams who was also known by his civic title as a "law enforcement officer" is currently teaching a form of discipline that he has termed "Christian Karate".  Grandmaster Williams is known by the title of "Bishop" for a church he has founded, and ministered to for the past 15 years.

   Kenpo Grandmaster Steve Sanders, in addition to also having been known by his civic title of "law enforcement officer", has chosen the spiritual path of Islam, and has taken the name Muhammad.  Grandmaster Steve Muhammad delivers his martial arts instruction and discipline backed by the moral and spiritual principles of the Islamic faith.  As instructors, both men have produced an impressive roster of champions and both exemplify the continuation of a tradition that goes back farther than recorded history.  Consider as well the fact that the BKF™ patch and logo depicts a cobra..  To the Africans in Egypt and the Indus Valley, the serpent symbolically represents the rising up of a latent spiritual force or power as expressed through the body.

   In addition to traditions, the African origins of the martial arts and the way they transform lives can be found in the very "names" of some of the disciplines themselves, such as "Pankration" and "karate".  As modern day martial artists, you may have been taught that in the Japanese language, "Karate-Do" translates to mean "empty hand way".  "Kara" means "empty", and "te" translates to mean "hand".  The word "Do" (in Chinese it is "dow", or "tao") means "way".  This is correct.  However, let us look at a far older use for this term karate.  When you break the word karate down you get the most ancient Egyptian words of "ka", "ra", and "te".

    "Ka" in the ancient Kemetic, or Egyptian language has a double meaning dealing with the spiritual, and the physical.  Ka in the Kemetic language means the "vital energy of the soul", or the "soul".  The Ka is often described  simply as a "body double" which does not convey it's understanding as soul, or subtle vital energy.  The Egyptian idea of a vital energy, Ka, is very much like "li" in Japanese, and "chi" in Chinese.  Another definition of Ka in the Kemetic language is "body", or more precisely, "the dead, or empty body", as in the mummy.

   "Ra", or "res" in the Kemetic language means "to wake up", "to rise up", "to keep awake", or "to watch".  Ra is also the name given to the Sun (as in the Egyptian Sun God Ra) which re-news itself by circling to re-appear.  In fact, you can find the prefix "re" in many words in the English dictionary that points to their Kemetic origins.  "Why would Egyptian words show up in the English language?", you may wonder.  This is because the early settlers of a European land revered the African/Egyptian symbol of the cross known as the Ankh.  They named their land "Ankhland", which over time became "England".

  "Te" or "t" in the Kemetic language means hand.  In the ancient Kemetic writing system the symbol for "Te" is     which means "out of, to go out; to emit; to give; to set; to place". Do not overlook the fact that the medu-neter (otherwise known as heiroglyph, a Greek term meaning "writings of the Gods") for "te" is an illustration of a hand, and that in Japanese the word "te" is also their word for hand.

   The most compelling evidence for the direct interaction between Egypt and Japan are found in a wonderfully detailed painting on the walls of the tomb of Prince Khemenhotep II from the 12th Dynasty.  It depicts a group who were known as the Aamu.  Eight men, four women, and three children are depicted.  They are led by the royal scribe Neferhotep who is holding a papyrus roll that announces a total of 37 Aamu who arive bringing kohl, or eye paint as a tribute to Prince Khemenhotep II.  The Aamu are described as Asiatics.  they are light complexioned people, wearing clothes of bright patterns of colors.  The men are all heavily bearded.  These Aamu visitors are not depicted as bound captives, but instead carry weapons such as the bow and arrow, throwing sticks, and clubs.  The aamu are the ancient ancestors of the indigenous people of modern Japan known as the Ainu.

   In the language of the Ainu, their name means "human".  In their daily lives, they prayed to and performed various ceremonies to the gods whom they call "kamuy" (the ancient Egyptians refereed to themselves as "kamau").  The Ainu aboriginal of Japan are heavily bearded, and have thick wavy hair.  Their brightly colored clothes are almost identical in pattern to the clothes worn by the Aamu in ancient Egypt.  The language of the modern Ainu reveals further connections to Kemet.  The Ainu word "reka" means to raise livestock.  The word "resu" means to raise a child.  Words like "rik", and "riki" means "to go up", "to ascend", and "high".  We have already explored the Egyptian term and concept "Ra", "re", and "res".  The Ainu word "tek" means "hand".  Also worthy of note is the Ainu word "yukara" (yu-ka-ra) which originally meant "to imitate" or "to mimic".  The yukara was said to represent epic poems believed to be the voice of the gods who were describing their own ceremonies.  the Ainu always told these yukara in the first person and would always end with the words "so said the god".

   As we understand the term "karate-Do" in the modern sense to mean "empty hand way", in the original Kemetic language the terms "ka", "ra", and "te" , along with the existing philosophies of Maat and the process of raising the kundalini, translates more accurately to reflect the concept of the liberation of the spirit from the body.  For the ancient Egyptians, this led to enlightenment and resurrection.  The Greeks, whom we know studied these arts and sciences in Egypt, named their martial art "Pankration" (pan-kra-tion) which they define as pan, meaning "all" and krat (ka-r-t) meaning "powers".

   A more accurate definition that I have arrived at regarding the term "karate" is that Karate, in the original sense of the word means, "The way to bring forth, or draw out the power, or essence of the spirit".  The ancient Egyptians knew that the spiritual body was much more powerful than the limited physical body.  Their entire society and culture were devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and spiritual enlightenment.  Could it be that like yoga, the study and movements of the martial arts were originally intended to be used as keys to unlock the latent potential within us, so that the spirit could rise up?  If so, the few hundred years of modern martial arts practice that is marked by crass commercialism, may have very little to do with a tradition that is many thousands of years older.  It could mean that the martial arts today are certainly not being practiced for the purpose they were intended.

   What further supports a spiritual agenda for the practice of  ka-ra-te is the fact that in the ancient Kemetic language, ka-ra-te, not surprisingly, can also be written with the same meaning as "karast" (ka-res-t), or "Christ", which means the anointed one, or the "risen".  Did Jesus's spirit not rise up, from a dead body to become the Christ?  Is this not what we call the "res"u-rection, or rising from the dead?  Stop and think.

   Look at the reference to Jacob in Genesis 32:22.  It is a reference to the mart6ial arts!  Jacob wrestled (w-"res-t"-led) with a man (his lower nature).  He wrestled with this man for one full day.  Jacob "rose up" and was victorious.  He reached the place called "pineal" (the symbolic "Third Eye" of wisdom) and had his name changed from Jacob to Israel to reflect his complete "in"-sight to the Kemetic principles represented by the female principle Isis (Is), the male principle Ra (Ra), and the divine El (El is the Hebrew word for God).

   For Jesus, whom many believe studied in Egypt during his "lost years", it is not difficult to imagine him as a skilled spiritual warrior, a martial artist on his way to self mastery to becoming the Risen, the Christ.  The life of Jesus parallels that of another crucified savior and resembles closely in words and deeds.  He is a dark Black figure whose name literally means "The Black One".  I am speaking of the Black (not powder blue) warrior from India, who became deified.  His colorful life and epic battles against the invading Aryans are recorded in the Bhagavad Gita.  He is none other than the illuminated master, Krisha.

   Every age produces ascended masters such as Krishna, or benevolent warrior priests such as Prince Amenemhat of ancient Kemet.  It is almost certain that during our modern era, the martial sciences in the west will lead a few practitioners, if not more, to similar levels of insight and achievement.  In Africa today, despite her many problems, there can still be found masters and warrior priests of high spiritual orders among the Dogon of Mali, the Ife of Nigeria, the Zulu of South Africa, and other African people.  The traditional martial arts are still being practiced.

   The Mesakin and Kao Nuba people of present day Sudan still have a mandate that requires every young man to enter into martial arts training.  These arts have much more to do with the development, and continuation of a spiritual tradition than anything else.  Iowa State wrestling coach Bobby Douglas, who claims direct lineage to the Nuba of Sudan confirmed in  recent interview that, "Even today, wrestling is still a part of the religion (re-ligion) of the Nuba".

   As humanity evolves from an age of belief and speculation, to embrace a future that demands knowledge and application, the most fortunate inheritors of these glorious arts will be the generation to come.  From among their ranks we may find martial artists, who will dare to rise above the philosophical and ego based approach to the study of the martial arts and instead, understand and apply the sciences as they were formulated in Africa many centuries ago.  To prepare for this however, one must b ready and willing to take up this challenge.  Like that spiritual warrior Jacob, we must prepare to wrestle with, and overcome our most formidable opponent...ourselves.

   The words of wisdom from the ancient African Tehuti that are found in The Kybalion are more important today than ever before.  They reaffirm our mission in this game of life.  Tehuti said:

    But the Masters, knowing the rules of the game, rise above the plane of material life,
    and placing themselves in touch with the higher powers of their nature,
    dominate their own moods, characters, qualities, and polarity
    as well as the environment surrounding them and thus become movers in the game,
    instead of Pawns - Causes instead of Effects. 

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