Is Bois! The National Stickfighting Competition starts with its preliminaries tomorrow in Moruga at the St Mary’s Village Basketball Court from 3 pm to 9 pm. Stickfighting is an annual part of the TT Carnival calendar.
The tradition dates back to the days of slavery when men would duel with sticks (bois) in the centre of rings or gayelles.
In TT there are two types of stickfighting tradition: kalinda and gatka.
The kalinda which is the form that is observed in National Stickfight Competition. Kalinda is based on martial traditions that can be found in Central and West Africa and also among the Oromo people of Ethiopia. Gatka is a combat training style developed by Sikhs and brought to Trinidad by indentured labourers from Southern Asia (Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, according to the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and The Arts’ Facebook page.
Variations of kalinda exist from community to community. Different training styles exist and these are based on the style passed on from generation to generation.
The gayelle is the space where the battle between two stickfighters takes place.
The fighter who draws first blood is declared the victor. The fight is accompanied by a dance knows as “carray”.
An important part of the gayelle is the music. The chantwell leads the call and response lavway.
Every village has its own chantwell who sings the praises of their champion stickfighter or knows the right song that will bring out the fighter’s warrior spirit. The chantwell is the “forefather” of the calypsonian.
The semi-finals will be held on February 2 at the Arima Velodrome, Arima from 2 pm to 8 pm and the finals on February 7 at the Paddock, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.