Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 19th 2017 Contents A24 people
guardian.co.tt Sunday, February 19, 2017
In stick fighting, the winner is the one who draws blood
•From Page A23
People 'mount' their sticks
Samuel said there was a "special
field" in the forest with a "bunch of
poui trees" where he gets the wood
to make his weapons.
"I make all my sticks and I keep
them. I also make sticks for people
and sell them for $100," he said.
Samuel said sometimes people
"mount their sticks" to give them
an added advantage in battle.
"People used to mount the stick
but they don't really do that again.
Long time they used to do that, they
used to bury the stick in a grave for
40 days and 40 nights and when that
stick hit you it could spoil you, rot-
ten your hand, and all kinda thing,"
"Stick fighting is a dangerous
game," he said.
Despite all the dangers involved,
Samuel said he still loves stick fight-
What he does not fancy, however,
is the politics involved in the official
stick fighting competitions.
"I don't really play competitions
any more, it is too much of robbery.
You see in an open gayelle when the
competition is finished I am in that,"
"It does not make sense (to par-
take in the competitions) because it is
like you are working with a boss and
he is treating you bad. It makes you
feel like you don't want to go through
with it any more. It is so long I have
left the competition," Samuel said.
"People love stick fighting, some-
times there are more people in the
stick fight than the calypso (com-
petitions) and they not paying us
proper money, we could get our death
and all kind of thing with that. We
could get damaged badly and they
are not treating us good. They are
taking stick men for dogs and that
not right," he said.
Following the stick fighting pre-
liminaries held in Moruga last week,
Samuel said he was able to "buss" his
opponents elbow in an open gayelle.
He used a fresh stick that night.
An "open gayelle" is an official
stick fighting competition that takes
Samuel said the official competi-
tion does not follow the traditions of
the original gayelle.
'Long time fighters
used to sing a lavway'
According to the traditional fash-
ion of stick fighting, when the drum-
ming starts one fighter would throw
his stick into the ring and the rival
would accept the challenge by jump-
ing in and waving his stick.
The two fighters would then taunt
each other before the start of the
The winner is the one who draws
blood from his opponent.
"Stick is not like how it was long
time. The stick didn't have all them
mike, ring master and all them thing.
It was only drum and men singing by
the rum shop," he said.
"The way it used to be is the fight-
ers would sing a lavway while they
march toward the gayelle for battle,"
Apart from that, Samuel said
whatever happened in the gayelle
stayed there and fighters did not
harbour any animosity.
"It didn't have this one want to
fight and this one want to shoot that
one after. Anything you did, you did
it in the gayelle and it stayed there,"
Samuel said stick fighting began
as an old African tradition brought
to this country by the slaves.
After Emancipation in 1834, stick
fighting developed and became as-
sociated with Carnival.
It was eventually banned in 1880
as it was frowned upon by the ruling
class because of its violent nature.
During the Canboulay Riots in
1881, however, stick fighters played a
part in physically defending the peo-
ple's rights to celebrate their Carnival
against the Colonial British Police.
It was reintroduced in 1937 under
controlled competitions and is one
of the traditional events in Carnival.
In the beginning, stick fighters also
used to wear costumes with mirrors
on the chest as well as a head tie.
Fighters compete in their regular
clothes nowadays, Samuel said.
Patrons at the semi-final at the
Arima Velodrome on Friday night
would have seen Samuel battling
in his traditional wear.
Jemmadeen Samuel competing in an open gayelle. PHOTOS: EDISON BOODOOSINGH
Jemmadeen Samuel and other stick fighters in the gayelle.
Links Archive February 18th 2017 February 20th 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page