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The Way of Traditional Persian Wrestling Styles

Persian traditional wrestling styles are numerous. They are divided into two main groups: The styles in which lifting and throwing the opponent is considered as a victory provided that no part of the executing wrestler's body touches the ground. The styles in which the main factor for victory is pinning the opponent or bringing his entire back to the ground. These styles are also divided into three different categories: a) Fall is sufficient to win. b) Fall is not sufficient to win. But the wrestler should also touch the ground with his arm or shoulder. In some versions the entire back of the opponent should touch the ground and the length of the shoulder must be entirely contingent with the ground. c) There are also some styles in which the opponent's knee or arm touching the ground will result in losing the bout. In some styles application of special local costumes or tools is a necessity. In addition to folkloric costumes, special tools such as belt, shawl belt, or a lengthy intense tissue wrapped around the waist, like a cord or a big belt, are applied in most of the styles. Another way to categorize Persian traditional wrestling is accentuating on the quality of the bout. In some styles offensive and defensive holds or actions and maneuvers or struggles are definitive. They enjoy combat features and the arm and leg attacks are applied. Again there are styles in which special ceremonies take place before the bout. These ceremonies vary from warmup to religious demonstration and God worship. In some styles special folkloric musical instruments are played to let everyone know of the event of the specific

traditional wrestling. Penalties: 1) Grabbing the opponent's hair. 2) Catching the opponent's costume. 3) Grabbing any part of the face. 4) Grabbing the genitals. 5) Inflicting pressure by stepping on the opponent's leg. 6) Causing injury to the opponent's body by the finger nails. Zurkhaneh Traditional Wrestling (Koshti Pahlevani): The most accredited and widely recognized Persian traditional sport is the Zurkhaneh sports (KoshtiPahlevani) that is widely practiced at national level in different cities and villages. History of this famous sport dates back to many centuries before. It is not possible to entirely introduce Zurkhaneh traditional sport and its different features from such a bird-eye-view and in a brief article like this. We hopefully expect that Persian Ancient-Traditional Wrestling Federation (Roosta Sport)-IZSF (International Zurkhaneh Sports Federation), the competent sport authority in this regard, takes all necessary actions to further introduce the glorious traditional sport branches of Zurkhaneh by performing deep scientific research and investigation on the history and gradual completion process upon passage of many centuries. Its great impact and effects on human life can be demonstrated by introducing the veterans practicing this sport, different titles they have achieved, the humanitarian

services the followers of this fair sport have always rendered to the society as a whole to achieve the Almighty God's satisfaction & the ethical values concerned should be comprehensively dealt with in their newly designed internet web site. Ba-Choukheh style : Bachoukheh traditional style is widespread all around the large eastern province of Khorassan specially in Qochan, Bojnord, Esfaraien, Fariman, and Chenaran. This style is practiced on wedding ceremonies and other occasions. The wrestlers wear special costumes which are as follows: Special trousers which must not be longer than the wrestlers knees. If the wrestlers can not manage to prepare such trousers, they wear their local trousers by shortening it up to the knees. A special jacket named, " Choukheh" which is longer than an ordinary coat. This costume is without sleeves. Choukheh is usually woven from hard local cotton or wool. A long tissue, "Shawl" which is applied as a belt. Its dimension is 150 X 30 cm. During the competition special musical instruments, Dohol and Sorna, are played to let everyone know of the Bachoukheh competition. The name of this style, "Bachoukheh", is derived from a local Kurdish costume. This style is the most accredited type of the Iranian traditional wrestling with a very long history dating back to the foundation of the glorious Iranian civilization. This sport has now paved its way to further progress beyond the territory of Khorasan Province. With the effective support of the competent authorities, the glorious traditional sport "Bachoukheh", comprising great national, religious and ethical values that was inherited to our generation from our predecessors, has largely

developed and progressed. The athletes have participated in the scenes of different competitions and championships to gain honor for the country. This type of a traditional sport has also had a great contribution in promotion and development of Irans free style wrestling, judo , and kurash sports as well. On the 14th of Farvardin (the first month of the Iranian solar calendar beginning with spring), the National Championship of Bachoukheh is organized in CheshmehZinal Khan of Isfraien. The championship is warmly welcomed in presence of thousands of enthusiastic spectators and fans. A special feature of Bachoukheh style is that "bridge" is not applied. If the bout is not concluded in the official time, after a rest, the bout is continued in the extra time. If a wrestler touches the ground with his shoulder or entire back, He will be declared as the loser. The elders and veterans usually judge the competition. In accordance with the folks and traditions, a sheep is awarded to the winner. Rules and regulations of Bachoukheh style in Khorassan Province: The following weight categories are applied in this style: 65, 75, 85, and +85 kg. without any tolerances. Competition time for 65, 75, 85 Kg. weight categories is six minutes, and for +85 kg. is eight minutes. In case of a draw after the official time, there is an extension of three minutes and winning the first point will result in victory. If after the extra time, there is still a draw, the two wrestlers are weighed and the wrestler who weighs less will be declared as the winner.

Penalties: -Passivity -Holding the opponent's leg below the knees -To harm the opponent and fleeing from the field

Points: Par terre position I point Warning 1 point Gileh-Mardi Style: Another important traditional wrestling style is Gileh-Mardi with an old history. This style is largely practiced in the two northern Iranian Provinces along the Caspian Sea. The history of this style dates back to the era of pre-Mongol attack to Iran. Gileh-Mardi enjoys special ceremonies and demonstrations. The opening ceremonies begin with special religious rituals and God worship. Some of these ceremonies include stepping towards Mecca and standing in its direction, kissing the ground, looking and jumping upwards that means approaching the almighty God. At present, Gileh-Mardi style is usually practiced on the occasions of wedding ceremonies. Its practice in public areas starts from June to September when harvesting the rice fields, i.e. shali-kari is completed. The competition is usually held in a leveled and soft ground.

They illustrate all around the field. It usually starts in the evening and may end up after mid-night. During the competition special musical instruments are played. At first all wrestlers line up in a column and do special God worship . After the ceremonies of worship, each wrestler gets out of the queue and walks or jumps around the field so that everybody can see him and he himself can also get acquainted with the spectators. Weight and time is not important in this style. The elders and veterans usually judge the competition. During the opening ceremonies first the novices, cadets, and junior athletes wrestle and then the famous wrestlers appear in the field. At first a wrestler walks in the field and asks for an opponent. Another wrestler appears from another direction of the field. The two wrestler approach, and contact each other by touching their hands (jegal). If the first wrestler does not want in anyway to fight against the opponent or thinks that the opponent is not in his class or dignity, or he can not to fight against him, he leaves the field. The wrestlers with half-bent bodies approach each other waving their hands or their fists. In case they need a rest, they clap their hands. Throwing fists towards each other is customary, is among the techniques, and the opponent must be ready to counter attack. Bringing the opponent to the ground in any form will be regarded as the victory. In this style, if a wrestler touches the ground with a knee or even a hand's finger, he will lose the match. The cadet wrestlers are called " tangouleh" and the junior wrestlers are called, "noucheh".

The prize is called "Baram", and can be a sheep, a cow, tissue, or cash prize. The wrestlers' dresses include long trousers that become tighter on the ankles. The trousers are specially painted and are called, "laspareh". Wearing shirts is not customary. The wrestler whose opponents do not appear on the scene, or the one who wins them all will be honored by receiving the title "Pahlavan". Loucho Style : Loucho is practiced in the countryside of Amol, Babol and Ghaemshahr in Mazanderan. Loucho itself is a long wooden stick with approximate length of 3 meters. Its diameter is 6 to 12 centimeters. The cash prize is fastened to Loucho. The Loucho is raised in the venue of the competition and is covered by a special mark or tissue that is the symbol of the competition. Loucho is organized during the leisure time of the villagers in one-day, a few days, or sometimes two weeks. Beforehand, Loucho was arranged during the religious eves, national occasions, wedding ceremonies, after harvesting the rice fields or during the local markets. Organizers are usually the elders and veterans. They indicate the time and venue of the competition. They invite the athletes from all neighboring villages. At the opening ceremonies, they play local musical instruments to let everybody know of the event. cash prizes are provided with the assistance of the villagers. At least three referees who are usually veterans judge the Lucho competition. The referee or referees who work in the

center of the field are called mianmaj. After the opening ceremonies, and asking for an opponent by one of the wrestlers, each wrestler tries to bring the whole body or some parts of his opponent's body to the ground. A wrestler who feels subjected to danger claps his two hands which means stopping the competition. Wrestlers can not go out of the field. In this style hitting or knocking the opponent is regarded as a penalty. The winner will collect all of the prizes already fastened to the Lucho stick, and hand carry the Lucho itself to his village as a symbol of victory. Turkamani Style : Turkamani or Kurash is a popular and widely practiced style in Turkman areas namely Gonbad-Kavoos, Bandar Turkaman, Agh-ghola, GomishTappeh or Gomishan. Kurash is usually practiced on wedding and other occasions. The weight and time factor are not considered and speed is more important than strength. Before the competition, the announcer informs everyone of the event, and invites the athletes to take part in the competitions. The competition field is usually a soft ground. The spectators and fans make a circle around the competition field. They sit, and wrestlers of numerous areas stay in different parts of the field. The elders, veterans and experts gather, and choose a referee to judge the competition. The referee invites the wrestlers to the field. He announces the prize called bayragh. Bayragh is usually cash money or several meters of tissue. An athlete enters the field, and asks for an

opponent. His opponent enters the field from another direction, and declares his preparedness to fight. The referee asks both athletes to wrestle in center of the field. He gives a shawl belt to each wrestler. Each wrestler has to tighten his shawl belt under close supervision of the referee. The wrestlers' initial position is grasping each other's shawl belt from the back. The wrestlers start the bout after receiving the referee's signal. A wrestler will loose the bout if his hand or knee touches the ground. Different leg attacks are applied in this style. Wrestling with Shawl : Wrestling with shawl is another style practiced in Mazanderan Province namely in Behshahr. It is practiced at the beginning of spring season and on wedding occasions. On the date of competition, the invited villagers from different villages gather in a soft levelled field that is covered with soil or lawn. Lots of flowers, fruits, and cone shaped sugar called kaleh ghand are brought before the competition. Supervision and arrangement of the competition are among the duties of a veteran. The supervisor receives the prizes, i.e. sheep, cow, tissue, cash money, etc. from the local sponsors and hands them over to the winner. Shawl belts are used by both wrestlers. The shawl is tightly tightened around the wrestler's waist, and its remainder is wrapped as a circle around his high right or left hip that is held by his opponent at the beginning of the bout. The winner will be the wrestler who can bring his opponent's entire back or knee to the ground.

Kamarbandi Wrestling Style : This folkloric wrestling style is practiced in Isfahan Province, specially in the countryside of Faridan where it is very popular. The villagers gather on sunny winter days during their leisure time. All neighbors gather in the sunny spots and closely follow the competition. The athletes wrestle on soft paved hills. In this style the time and weight factors are not considered, and a bout may even take a few hours. The two wrestlers fasten their belts and start their struggle. The wrestler who can lift and throw his opponent to the ground will be the winner. Ashirma Wrestling style : Ashirma is another traditional wrestling style practiced around Khoy in East Azarbaijan Province. The competition is arranged in an open area on a soft ground. During warming-up and the opening ceremonies special local musical instruments are played to let everyone know of the Ashirma. In this style the weight factor is not considered. A veteran judges the entire bout. The two wrestlers fasten their belts after warm-up. The judge examines their belts to assure that they are tightly fastened. The wrestler who first grasps his opponent's belt, lifts and throws him on the floor will be the winner. In the process of the competition, the religious interests and faith in ethical values is demonstrated in form of God Worship.

Hands under- hand up wrestling style ( Dast-zhir, Dast-Bala) : This wrestling style with a history of one thousand years is practiced in the villages around Ilam province. The two wrestlers stand in front of each other. The first wrestler puts his hand under his opponents hand. He puts his other hand on the shoulder of the opponent. The second wrestler does the same. After receiving the judges signal, the wrestlers begin the bout. The winner is the wrestler who brings his opponent's entire back to the ground. As customary in all other traditional wrestling styles, the winner is awarded with cash prizes or prizes such as a sheep or tribal costumes. Maghli Wrestling Style : This style is practiced in Shahr-e-kord of Chahar-Mahal & Bakhtiari Province, and is usually carried out between the members of the two tribes on wedding ceremonies. The winner is awarded a sheep. The competition will be on a soft field covered by soil or natural lawn. The two wrestlers stand against each other in a defensive or offensive position. The wrestlers put their hands on each other's shoulders. In this style the wrestling techniques such as waist lock and leg attacks are widely practiced. Bringing the opponent's entire back to the ground is considered as victory. Baghal-Be-Baghal wrestling Style : This style is practiced in some villages of Qazvin Province. It is usually held on wedding ceremonies. The villagers follow the event with great enthusiasm and interest. The local veterans judge the competition.

When the wrestlers are training or warming up special musical instruments are played to let everyone know the competition is taking place. The villagers sit around a circle in the competition venue and the wrestlers start the bout in the center of this circle. The young wrestlers wear traditional costumes. The two wrestlers enter the field. They approach each other. The wrestlers must be quite alert to step backward or forward quickly otherwise the careless wrestler will be cheated, and attacked by his opponent. The wrestlers may also hit each other on some parts of their bodies. After this preparation, the wrestlers will start their actual struggle by making use of a good situation to grab any part of the opponent's body. The winner is always the wrestler who can bring his opponent's entire back to the ground and roll himself on his chest. Desert Wrestling ( Kaviri) : Kaviri is another traditional wrestling style that is widely practiced in Kerman Province. The wrestlers wear normal clothing, and start the bout after fastening their belt. The veterans and the elders judge the competition. This style is very similar to free style wrestling, but there are no weight and time factors. An important hold or action is the leng-e-kaviri, i.e. a kind of a leg attack. The winner is always the wrestler who can bring his opponent's entire back to the ground. Zouran-Patouleh : As a local traditional wrestling style Zouran is usually arranged on natural lawn or on a soft field in Kurdestan Province. The wrestlers wear local costume, and stand in different guards against each other. They grasp the shawl belt of each other by two hands and start moving around to overthrow the opponents equilibrium, and to pin him. During the bout each wrestler can put his foot between his

opponent's feet and lock him (Pashghol) and by inflicting pressure on his chest, can throw, and lift his opponent to pin him in such a way that his entire back touches the ground. Zouran-Machkeh : This style is very near to "Zouran Patouleh". The wrestlers stand against each other, and grab each other's arm by both hands. Each wrestler tries to inflict strength and to pin his opponent. During the bout each wrestler can put his foot between his opponent's feet to lock him. Dasteh-Baghal Style : Dasteh-Baghal style is widespread in Arsanjan in Fars Province where it is very popular. In this style the wrestlers who are approximately in the same weight groups wrestle against each other. The weight tolerance may not be more than 5 kg. In this style a loss or victory in a sole bout is not sufficient, and the wrestlers must wrestler against each other three times to declare the winner of the bout by considering the highest result of a bout. At the beginning of the bout the wrestlers kiss the ground and by resorting to Ali, the first Imam of the Shiite Moslems, and by kissing each other's face. The spectators encourage the wrestlers by "Salavat", i.e. the religious motto of the Moslems to Mohammad, the Messenger of God. The wrestlers wear long white shirts, black pajamas, "givehs" that are local comfortable shoes, and their shawl belts.

Penalties: Grabbing the hair of the opponent. Catching the opponent's costume. Grabbing any part of the face. Grabbing the genitals. Inflicting pressure by stepping on the opponent's leg. Causing injury on the opponent's body by nails. Catch-Gardan : This style is currently practised in the countryside of Zabol in Sistan & Baluchestan Province. The two wrestlers enter the field wearing their local costumes and shawl belts, and begin the bout. The wrestler who pins his opponent will be the winner. The factors of time and weight are not considered, and a bout may take many hours. The winner is usually awarded a sheep. Under-up style wrestling (Zhir-o-Bal) : This traditional wrestling style is practiced in the Kurdish regions, " Kalhor", Gilan-e-Gharb, Islam Abad-e-Gharb in the western part of Kermanshah, and it is very similar to thegreco-roman style. The competition is held in an open area. The spectators make a circle around the wrestlers. The two wrestlers stand in front of each other. The wrestlers put their hands under their opponent's arm. The wrestlers' other hand is in the hand to hand position. The judge is usually an elder or a veteran. After receiving the judges signal, the wrestlers start the bout. Holding legs

is not authorized. Inserting one's foot between the opponent's feet or executing any hold or action through the legs is forbidden. The winner is the wrestler who can lift or inflict pressure on his opponent's waist leading to his fall. As customary in all other traditional wrestling styles, the winner is awarded with cash prizes or such things as a sheep or a cow. The spectators may also give special cash prizes to the winner. Check-Chisht Style : Check-Chisht is another popular traditional style practiced in Nour, Noushahr, and Kajour. At the beginning of the competition local musical instruments are played to inform everyone about the event. The competition is held in an open area. The spectators make a circle around the wrestlers. First, a wrestler walks around the field and performs special religious rituals in the form of jumping up and down. He will then ask for an opponent. His opponent enters the field. They shake hands, walk around the circle, and perform special God worship in the form of jumping up and down. The wrestlers shake hand once again, and a veteran gives the signal to start. The wrestlers change their levels, wave hands from both sides, and throw their hands or fists towards each other. They approach each other, and take different offensive and defensive positions. Sometimes they grasp each other's hand, and try to perform special holds or actions. In case a wrestler needs to rest, he claps. This signal is usually before their full struggle. Pinning an opponent is not customarily a victory, but lifting and throwing him from the ground will lead to victory. The winner asks for other opponents as long as he can continue.

Kamari Style : This style is very old. It was usually held on weddings, festivities, leisure time, and after harvesting on winter nights. The wrestlers were usually Ghezel-Bash Turks. An athlete entered the field, performed special maneuvers, and asked for an opponent. If an opponent was available, they wrestled. Time and weight were not considered in this style. Both wrestlers used shawl belts. Each wrestler had to tighten his shawl belt under the special supervision of two referees who were usually veterans. The wrestlers grasped each other's shawl belt from the backside, and started the bout after receiving the referee's signal. If a wrestler touched the ground with one or two shoulders, he would have lost the bout. Attacks were only authorized on the upper part of the body. Prizes such as a sheep or a cow were delivered to the winner by the organizers. After a few rounds if there was a draw both wrestlers received the prizes. Lashgarkeshi style : Although Lashgarkeshi was regarded as a group game, but in fact it was a special ceremony to organize group wrestling in Yazd Province. This game was usually held on holidays. On holidays, about 40 to 50 youngsters usually less than 20 years old gathered from each region to wrestle. The youngsters of each region accompanied their own coach or wrestling supervisor. The supervisors were usually the authorized veterans enjoying good physical and ethical conditions. The wrestlers made a circle around the field. The wrestlers of each region formed half of this circle. The two coaches stood in the center of the field, and asked their most elite novices to wrestle against each other. The two

coaches judged the bout. The bout took place in the standing position, and the winner was the wrestler who could lift, throw his opponent, and pin him by using a special hold. The winner stood in his place to wrestle with any other probable opponents whose number sometimes reached to 10. The region that could collect more team points was regarded as the winner. The same competition was held within one week then. Lori Style : This style is currently practiced by different tribes in Lorestan Province. Its local name is (Dast-e-Zir-Bala) or (Safoneh). It enjoys a very long history. The wrestlers wear local costumes without shoes. At the opening ceremonies, special musical instruments are played to inform everyone about the event. In this style, none of the wrestlers are authorized to execute a hold by grabbing the opponent's leg by hand. The hands are only used for executing holds on the opponent's hands, and the legs are used for executing holds on the opponent's leg. The wrestlers can grab each other dress during the bout. In case no result is obtained in the official time, the bout is continued without any rest. Jang or Jouran : In Lori or Bakhtiari language Jang or Jouran means war. This style is currently practiced in the villages of Aligoudarz. After the Mongolian attack, this style was introduced as a self-defense sport between the tribes. The competition field is a piece of land with an approximate area of 20 x 20 meters depending on the number of the

black tribal black camps (Siah-Chador) and the spectators or fans attending the competition. The competition is usually held in front of the Siah-Chador or tribal black camps. The spectators arrive on the date and time already fixed. Two wrestlers who are in the same weight categories enter the center of the field. They wear local costumes. After shaking hands, their hands make a circle around their waists. They lock each other's hands in right and left directions. After taking this initial position, they start strength activities on each other's shoulders, sides, or waists. They can either put their heads on each other's shoulders or move them. This bout may take one hour. The winner is a wrestler who can pin his opponent. The spectators usually encourage the wrestlers. A sheep is awarded to the winner of the bout.


Khashayar Sarrafi Wrestling Strength-Conditioning Coach University of Chicago Physical Education & Athletics NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY Sports Performance & Athletics Master Trainer-Wrestling Strength & Conditioning Instructor Director of Strength-Conditioning Shanghai University-Sports Research Center Director Zurkhaneh & Psychology of Movement in Pahlevani Wrestling Studies College of Physical Education House of Wrestling Head Coach IZSF-Scientific & Cultural Executive Committee Member USA Zurkhaneh Studies Representative USA Pahlevani Wrestling Team Director