:Dambe, also known as Kokawa is a form of boxing associated with the Hausa people of West Africa. Historically, Dambe included a wrestling component, known as Kokawa, but today it is essentially a striking art. The tradition is dominated by Hausa butcher caste groups, and over the last century evolved from clans of butchers traveling to farm villages at harvest time, integrating a fighting challenge by the outsiders into local harvest festival entertainment. It was also traditionally practised as a way for men to get ready for war, and many of the techniques and terminology allude to warfare. Today, companies of boxers travel, performing outdoor matches accompanied by ceremony and drumming, throughout the traditional Hausa homelands of northern Nigeria, southern Niger and southwestern Chad. The name "Dambe" derives from the Hausa word for "boxing", and appears in languages like Bole as Dembe. Boxers are called by the Hausa word "daæmaænga"Historically, Dambe was a Hausa martial sport that took place at the village level. Matches were held on festival occasions, and the art was the special province of members of the butchers' guild. Originally a means of practicing military skills (Carambe, e-mail, 5/19/05), today guild members use the game as a means of demonstrating masculinity, accruing personal prestige, and bringing honor to one's family and village (Powe 20). While the art in contemporary practice would seem to have little applicability to field combat, beyond developing physical strength and instilling courage in competitors, certain elements of the modern game allude to a more combative ancestry.
For example, Dambe uses only the dominant hand to strike, while the "weaker" hand is extended toward the opponent and used to ward off blows. Hence, the lead hand represents a shield. In fact, the dominant hand is referred to as "spear," while the other is labeled the "shield." [EN2] Grasping and grappling is used to permit a strike with the more powerful hand, which in turn may represent what one does when one's shield is broken. In addition, Dambe competitions are held between groups ("armies") who meet in dueling pairs on a symbolic battlefield, and the metaphor of warfare is apparent in the continuing use of the term "killing" to signify the strike that leads to winning a match.
Individual Dambe matches consist of a series of combats between individual pairs of opponents who, Powe notes, are customarily evenly matched in size. However, as there are no weight classes in the sense of European style boxing, contemporary professional Dambe matches may legally pit "bantamweights" (118 pounds) against "heavyweights" (190 lbs. and above) (Carambe, e-mail, 5-26-05).
Dambe boxers can strike anywhere on the body with the fist, head, or feet. As noted above, only one fist (whether the right or left depends on the fighter's dominant hand) is used to strike. This hand, balled into a fist, is wrapped in a length of cloth called a kara over which is bound a knotted cord called a zare. Powe alludes to a tradition of sometimes dipping this knotted cord in ground glass (22).
As the opponents stand in a knees-flexed ready position, the bound hand is extended well to the rear in preparation for delivering clubbing blows to the opponent. The front hand is held fingers spread with the palm facing the opponent as a "shield" (cf. Powe 20). This hand may be used to grab and hold the opponent's head in preparation for a strike (Carambe, interview 5-24-05). Likewise, in his description of a modern match, Uthman Abubakar writes of the Dambe player standing, "with the open fist [the shielding hand] shaking mischievously to grab the wrist or hook the fingers of his opponent."
Traditionally, the lead leg (the left in the case of a right-handed boxer) was wrapped by a chain extending from ankle to knee. Known as akayau, this could be used as a weapon when kicking. Nonetheless, kicks could be executed with either foot. Although the use of the akayau has been abandoned in contemporary Dambe boxing, Carambe notes that there is still a preferred kicking leg that is often wrapped in cloth for protection.
Although specific descriptions of the kicking repertoire do not exist in the ethnographic literature, Powe does mention the fighter Dan Cana ("Son of China"), so-called because "he likes to kick as in karate" (31). Carambe, a former competitor in the Korean martial art of taekwondo (Nigerian National Taekwondo Championships 1992, 1993, and 1994) provides support for this. He compares the modern kicking style to the Korean art's front, side, crescent, and axe kicks. He adds, however, that Dambe combatants rarely use the roundhouse kick (interview 5-19-05).
The goal in Dambe is to deliver a single "fatal" blow (kwab daya), meaning one that causes the opponent's hand or knee to touch the ground (or, even better, knocks him flat to the ground) (Powe 20). In keeping with the idea of a "fatal" blow, this latter is called "killing" the opponent (Abubakar). The concept of the single "killing" blow that "has been maintained in all forms of modern Dambe and [is one of the elements that] makes the art distinct from western boxing" (Carambe, e-mail 5-18-05).
Matches are scheduled for three rounds. A round ends when there is a long period of inactivity, a boxer's hand binding becomes loose, or either fighter "voluntarily breaks his fighting stance" (Powe 20). In traditional boxing, matches take place in the cleared dandali ("battlefield", or arena, Powe 18), meaning a cleared space inside a village, surrounded by a circle of spectators.
As is a general rule with African martial events, percussive music accompanies Dambe bouts. In this case, there is a battery of Hausa drums consisting of the primary kalangu (double-membraned, hourglass-shaped, drums hung from the shoulder of the drummer) and secondary drums, notably the smaller kuntuku. The drums are employed to play the take (individualized summons for the boxers). The following lyrics recorded by Powe (31) are representative
Description on the Abilities and Inner Workings of the Style
The primary weapon is the strong-side fist. The strong-side fist, known as the spear, is wrapped in a piece of cloth covered by tightly knotted cord. Some boxers dip their spear in sticky resin mixed with bits of broken glass. The lead hand, called the shield, is held with the open palm facing toward the opponent. The lead hand can be used to grab or hold as required.The user channels and focuses his chakra mainly on his two hands and two legs and tie them with piece of clothes embedded with sharp broken glass tiles and use it to attack the opponent or enemy.
Shōben Style:Glass Fist
Description:The user channels his chakra around his body and focuses it on his two fist he then ties his both hands with piece of clothes embedded with broken tiles of glass and when in short distance with the opponent strikes him several times causing the opponent to lose balance and fall.
Can only be done twice in a battle
Must have thunder bolt permission to use.
Shōben Style:Glass leg strike
Description:The user channels his chakra around his body and focuses it on his two feet and ties pieces and rags of clothes embedded with broken glass tiles around their leg and jump taking an downward stance with their hands on the ground and their legs facing upwards.The user then strikes the opponent in a repeated direction hitting his leg on the opponent abdomen and chest with his leg covered in glass striking and cutting the opponent on contact or impact.
Must have thunder bolt permission to use.
Additional effects and Restrictions
Must have Mastered Ninjutsu
Must be sanin or higher
The fighting style can not be used for more than 3 turns.
No s ranks can be used for a single turn once fighting style is off.