Article 1 - The African Origins of the
Martial Arts Revealed!
Article 2 - The Origin of
Article 3 - Prince Amenemhat.
- Restoring the image of Buddha
Article 5 -
The African Origin and Meaning of the "Belt"
The book that
rewrote the history of the martial arts.
In HOT demand since 1990!
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
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
"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
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
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
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.
Wrestling™ - The Original Art
Wrestling™- name and related images are trademarks of Nijart International.
© 2004-2005 • Nijart
International. All rights reserved.