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Ancient Tahtib Stick Fighting

One of the oldest recorded martial arts, Tahtib (Egyptian Arabic: تحطيب taḥṭīb) is an Egyptian martial art. This stick-fighting martial art was originally named fan a'nazaha wa-tahtib ("the art of being straight and honest through the use of stick"). The martial art, which is still practiced today, has origins in the Old Kingdom Period about 4000 years ago.


The oldest traces of tahtib were found on engravings from the archaeological site of Abusir, an extensive necropolis of the Old Kingdom period, located in the south-western suburbs of Cairo. On some of the reliefs of the Pyramid of Sahure (V dynasty, c. 2500 BC); the images and explanatory captions are particularly precise and accurate in their depiction of what seems to be military training using sticks. Tahtib, with archery and wrestling, was then among the three disciplines of warfare taught to soldiers.

Three of the 35 tombs of the Beni Hassan necropolis (XI-XII Dynasties, 1900 – 1700 BC) near the town of Minya, contain engravings showing scenes of tahtib. Similar engravings can be seen in the archaeological site of Tell el Amarna (XVIII Dynasty, 1350 BC), some 60 km south of Minya. The first evidence of the festive representation of tahtib can only be seen in the New Empire (1500 – 1000 BC), as shown by the engravings on the walls of Luxor and Saqqâra. It is believed that during the ensuing centuries, peasants and farmers from Upper Egypt gradually developed tahtib from a method of military training to a performance art. Early Christian writings mention tahtib as a leisure activity and a popular art performed by men during weddings and celebrations.