Afrikan Martial Arts Institute


Ancient Principles for Today’s Warrior

By Balogun Ojetade

Every tribe, or nation, in Afrika has its own complex and complete martial arts systems.  In whatever language they speak, Afrikans, traditionally, refer to their martial arts simply as “wrestling”.  The Afrikan concept of wrestling, however, is quite different from the Asian or Western concept of wrestling.

In the Afrikan martial arts, to “wrestle” means to put your opponent on his back, belly, or side in order to render him more vulnerable to a finishing technique.  This goal can be achieved by any means: strikes, throws, sweeps, joint-locks, or weapon attacks.  Thus, if you hit your opponent in the head with a club and he falls from the force of the blow, you have – by Afrikan standards – wrestled him.

How did it come to pass that the martial arts throughout the continent of Afrika would adopt this concept?  For the answer, let’s look at a story about the Yoruba prophet and master wrestler, Orunmila: Orunmila, who, among other things, was an undefeatable wrestler, traveled the continent of Afrika, teaching and studying spiritual, sociological and martial traditions.  Everywhere Orunmila went, he wrestled with – and defeated – the greatest fighters on the continent.  Orunmila would pick up a throwing technique in one village; a weapon disarm in another.  Orunmila’s opponents would ask him to teach them the techniques he defeated them with and he would teach them, which is in accord with Afrikan customs.  Eventually, the martial arts of Afrika began to possess a similar rhythm and to follow the same underlying wrestling strategy.

Another story, which teaches the tenets of Afrikan wrestling, is as follows:

There was a boy named Omobe (“rascal”, “troublesome child”) that had great physical ability and was trained to be a wrestler. As he grew older his wrestling abilities grew stronger and before long he was considered the greatest wrestler in the world. At his birth the local priest/diviner warned his parents to not allow Omobe to climb palm trees. But one day while his parents were away he decided to climb a palm tree any way. From high up he could peer into the spirit world and he noticed that several divinities had gathered for a fantastic wrestling match! Omobe immediately climbed down and made his way to the spirit world to test his own luck amongst a variety of spirits. He beat every opponent: Egungun (ancestors), Oriṣa (Forces of Nature) and all others lost at his hands. Finally he prepared to wrestle Olokun. While he summoned all of his physical strength, Olokun drew on her spiritual powers.

During the match Omobe attempted to throw Olokun to the ground, but instead Olokun ended up firmly attached to Omobe’s head. All attempts at removing Olokun from his head failed and Olokun declared Omobe’s head her permanent abode as a sign of Omobe’s arrogance and disrespect towards the other spirits. When Omobe returned home the local priest/diviner advised him to appease Olokun or die. So for seven days Omobe made sacrifice. On the last day Omobe was initiated as the first Olokun priest. After Omobe’s initiation into the priesthood, Olokun loosened her grip on Omobe’s life.

Amongst Afrikan traditionalists, the palm tree represents the ancestors and the elders.  Omobe climbed a palm tree even though he was not supposed to, which means he learned the higher levels of wrestling technique – and gained the ase (power) of the wrestler – through crafty means and then abandoned his teachers (he climbed down from the tree) and used what he had learned to fight those who taught him.  This act of arrogance and disrespect led him to fight against the Forces of Nature, themselves.  Finally, Olokun, the spirit of unfathomable wisdom and matron spirit of the descendants of Afrikans who were taken captive during the Transatlantic Slave Trade, defeated Omobe. This means, though Omobe had mastered the physical aspect of wrestling, his disrespect of – and disconnection from – the community and its spiritual support prevented him from learning the deeper wisdom found within the study and training of the martial arts.

It was not until Omobe devoted himself to the attaining of deep wisdom and respect for the Afrikan traditions as an Olokun priest, that he was able to save himself from an early death.

This story teaches us that in order to learn the depths of wisdom found in the Afrikan martial arts, reverence of one’s ancestors, respect for one’s elders and adherence to tradition is paramount.

Furthermore, the “deep wisdom” Omobe had to learn in order to redeem himself and to save his life, was the wisdom rooted in respect for, and understanding of, the “Aje”, which is the primal power of the female principle.

It was Olokun, a female Force of Nature, who defeated Omobe and threatened to take his life until Omobe became her priest.  Omobe was socialized by Olokun, which is in accord with Aje’s function as a biological, physical and spiritual force of creativity and social and political enforcement.

War, defense and anything associated with Ogun, the Warrior Spirit of the Yoruba, is also associated with Aje.

It is recognition of – and respect for – the power of the female that gives the Afrikan warrior the authority to defend and to take life.  An illustration of this is the application of martial arts technique.  In the Afrikan martial arts, we say “Footwork drives the technique”.  Footwork, or the Element of Air in Afrikan martial arts, is female.  It is the power of the female, manifested in footwork, which allows us to effectively apply our martial arts techniques.



The martial arts of Afrika follow Five Basic Principles, which are the principles that govern traditional Afrikan life:


In Afrikan societies, there are four elements, which are considered the vital materials found in every living creature on Earth.  These four elements are:

Earth – The element of Earth represents the stances in the Afrikan martial arts.  Within the Earth Element are Three Foundations:

·       WoodHigh, narrow stances. Wood stances are extremely mobile and are used for fast, upright fighting and self-defense.

·       Stone – Low, wide stances. Stone stances are extremely stable and are used for grappling and for fighting with a weapon.

·       Metal – Low, narrow stances.  Metal stances are extremely malleable and are used for grappling and ground-fighting.

Air – The element of Air represents the footwork and movements in the Afrikan martial arts.  A practitioner of the Afrikan martial arts can move like a gentle breeze, a gale wind, or a whirlwind.

Fire – The element of Fire represents the masculine energy and techniques in the Afrikan martial arts.  Fire techniques are forceful, penetrating and explosive.

Water – The element of Water represents the feminine energy and techniques in the Afrikan martial arts.  Water techniques are yielding, encircling and deceptively powerful.


Like the Afrikan drum, the techniques in the Afrikan martial arts are polyrhythmic; meaning a practitioner of the Afrikan martial arts seeks to touch his opponent in two or more places at once.  An offense and a defense are usually applied simultaneously, or the offense
is the defense.


The principle of The Unbroken Circle is also referred to as “Call and Response”.  A practitioner of the Afrikan martial arts seeks to blend with, and adapt to, the actions and rhythms of his partner or opponent, creating a never ending circle.  A practitioner of the Afrikan martial arts does not meet force with force, but rather takes his opponent’s force and uses it against him.


The Afrikan martial arts simplify self-defense by dealing not with a specific attack, but with the
angle of the attack.  The Afrikan martial arts recognize that there are only fifteen angles an opponent can attack from, so instead of being concerned with the infinite variations of attacks, the Afrikan martial arts deal with finite angles.  The Afrikan martial arts further simplify combat by teaching that every block is a strike and every strike is a block.  Thus, when an Afrikan martial artist learns an offensive technique, he has, in effect learned a defensive technique.


The Afrikan martial arts stress economy of motion.  The idea is: “If it’s there, use it.”  Thus, if you strike an assailant in the chin with an uppercut, you should continue that upward motion and hit him in the throat with an upward elbow, because after the punch, your elbow is in perfect position to strike your opponent.


We have looked at the strategy of wrestling, as well as the Five Basic Principles, both of which are inherent in the Afrikan martial arts.  Now, let’s examine Egbe Ogun, a comprehensive, synergistic system of the Afrikan martial arts, which is growing increasingly popular in the United States due to its efficient and effective techniques and the dynamic teaching methods of its instructors.

Let’s first look at the meaning of the phrase “Egbe Ogun”:


In the lands of the Yoruba speaking people of Afrika – which encompasses Western Nigeria, as well as parts of Togo and Benin – each city and town has a number of societies called “egbe”.   Each egbe preserves the wisdom and technology of various social and ceremonial functions within the community.  Each egbe also serves as a craft guild and is closely associated with a force of nature.   Farmers belong to Egbe Orisa Oko; market women belong to Egbe Oya; woodcarvers, blacksmiths, surgeons, barbers, hunters, warriors and those who facilitate male passage rites belong to Egbe Ogun.

The Yoruba word for the physical heart – the organ that regulates the flow of blood through the body – is called “okan”,  In traditional Afrikan societies, there is a basic concept that what appears in the physical world is always supported by its counterpart in the spiritual world.  It is believed that within the okan is a spiritual heart, or power center, which regulates the flow of emotions.  This spiritual heart is called “egbe”.

The word egbe is also translated as “society” or “collective”.  In this context, the meaning is similar to the English expression: “the heart of the group”.

The dual meaning of the word egbe suggests that the spiritual force that supports the heart of an individual also supports the hearts of the community.

In Egbe Ogun, students are taught to draw spiritual power – which is regulated by the egbe – into the body through various power centers that control the constant flow of energy between self and world.  These power centers are called “awuje”.  The awuje draw on a form of energy called “ase”, which is the dynamic energy that brings Creation into being.


“Ogun” is the Yoruba word used to describe the forces of nature that have the unique function of removing all obstacles that block the path of physical, mental and spiritual evolution.  These forces – Ogun – are regarded as the Warrior Spirit.  It is the function of Ogun, as a warrior, to clear away the obstacles that exist along the road towards attaining balanced character (iwa rere).  In Egbe Ogun, it is understood that these obstacles may be either internal or external.

Ogun represents aggression, which is an integral part of the dynamics of nature.  This aggression is linked to the will to survive, which exists in all species on Earth.

As part of the socialization process, the aggression associated with the Warrior Spirit remains a necessary aspect of survival.

This socialization process is based on the relationship between the forces of nature called Ogun and the forces of nature called “Obatala”, the spirit of peace, laughter, patience, intelligence, cleanliness and morality.  It is the function of Obatala to determine when and how the Warrior Spirit is to manifest.  Those warriors who maintain their martial arts discipline learn to access – and to suppress – the powers represented by Ogun.  The dynamic, aggressive element of Ogun is kept in balance by the principles of justice and equality.


We have examined the concept of “Egbe” and the concept of “Ogun”.  Now let’s look deeper into the synergy of these two concepts, manifested as the martial art Egbe Ogun.

In Yorubaland, the word “Ijala”, on one level, means “warrior”.  “Ijala” is a contraction of the word “ija”, which means “to fight” and the word “ala”, which means “White Cloth”.  The symbol of the white cloth is associated with Obatala, which means “King of the White Cloth”.  One of the functions of Obatala is to maintain ethical standards within society.  The word “Ijala” suggests that the essence of the warrior is aligned with moral principles and the ideals that are at the foundation of spiritual transformation.

Ijala are also the poems chanted by Warriors in honor of Ogun.  These poems (Ijala Ogun) are the source of today’s rap and hip-hop movement.

On a deeper level, Ijala translates to mean “warrior skills guided by White Cloth”.  This indicates that the Forces in nature that guide life on Earth form the foundation of the fighting techniques in Egbe Ogun.

In Egbe Ogun, Warriors learn to connect to the inner self (“Ori Inu”).  It is through this connection that the student of Egbe Ogun can invoke the forces that give added power (ase) to acquired – and inherent – fighting skills.

The integration of ase (power) and iwa rere (balanced character) is the responsibility and goal of every Afrikan Warrior.  It is said of those who achieve this state of oneness with power and character (Ogun and Obatala):  “Ijalagun molu”, or “Those who integrate the power of Ogun and Obatala never lose.”


Natural Warrior


“Answer the War Horn or Perish”

RBG kids
“If we are to prevail as a people, we must return to our Afrikan sanity. Where
we are, with what we have, at this moment, we must organize around the
heterosexual sanity of our Ancestors and the universal interpretation of
reality. A euroversal one which makes an incompleted alien’s way everyone’s
premier aspiration will not do. It would be like a people who are “free to
chase stars [being] satisfied with chasing a ball.” We must return home if we
are to be Afrikan. But this is wholly a heterosexual journey because “Afrika
can only be reborn through the cooperation between a man and a woman; not
through a man and a man or a woman and a woman.” Homosexuality has no place in
this rebirth. Our warriors must again become warriors of righteous substance.
They must know who they are and not fear retaliation from our “sworn enemies.”
The confused among us should pose no threat to our mission either. There is no
excuse for us not protecting those who do not want to be consumed. Innocents
must be sheltered from this sea of insanity. We must not allow those in the
community who feel powerless or are innocent or ignorant, or both, to become
victimized and consumed by the madness of yurugu’s insatiable sexual appetites.
This is the warrior’s role. We are here to protect our people from disorder,
chaos and anything else which contradicts universal order. We are here to
uproot all that which is evil from within our consciousness and community. Know
that in war there are no civilians. What this means here is even more critical
for our salvation as a people. Unlike in our traditions when the warrior class
was limited to specific age groups who were best physically able, no one who is
conscious of the assault and aware of their ancestral responsibilities to build
and sustain an Afrikan reality wherever Afrikans are found is exempt from these
warrior responsibilities. We all have work on this frontline. You solve a
problem through creating and carrying out a solution, not endlessly complaining
and debating about it. WE HAVE GOT TO STOP TALKING AND START DOING! How much
information does one have to have read or heard in order to compel oneself to
act? We cannot act as if angrily mumbling under our breath about what is wrong
will suffice. We have been empowered by the Creator with will, reason and
mobility. Therefore, we must not only think about what is wrong. We must
intentionally act against it. One of the main problems, for many who claim an
Afrikan center and actually want to do the work, is the belief that we can
create an Afrikan world within this european one. They operate on the principle
that truth will correct itself and that if we just hold on to our Afrikan
understanding that everything, in its own time, will correct itself. For them,
all we need do now is hold on. Time has consistently shown this wishful
thinking wrong. We should know Yurugu by now. Personally, I would prefer to
be hated by the makers and defenders of this absurd reality and have my
Ancestors’ approval than be validated by our destroyers and feel my Ancestors’
wrath. We have been warned. Answer the war horn, or perish.”

Mwalimu K. Bomani Baruti
Yurugu’s Eunuchs

Bobby Seale- Black Women are Revolutionaries

“The way we see it,the sister is also a revolutionary,and she has to be able to defend herself,just like we do. She has to learn to shoot just like we do. Because the pigs in the system don’t care that she’s a sister,they brutalize her just the same.”

Amos Wilson- Wholistic Self Concept

The individual of Afrikan descent who may be designated as demonstrating a
wholistic self-concept is one who exhibits the following characteristics:

– He has consciously and unconsciously rejected White racist stereotypes of
Afrikan people as fact.
– He does not reactionarily define himself but proactively defines himself in
terms of his Afrikan culture, heritage and reality, and in terms of the reality
of his personal and social experiences and expectations. Thus he defines
himself in ways which permits him to assume an authentic, coherent, cohesive
Afrikan and human identity.
– He builds his identity on both intrinsic and extrinsic factors; on his
association with Afrikan-centered persons and those who respect his Afrikanness;
on consumption and cultural symbolic displays which uplift him and his people
and maintain their mental and physical health and welfare; on pro-social
behavior and dress.
– He develops and appropriately transforms his attitudes, associations,
perceptions, ways of defining himself and the world which permit him to directly
comprehend and confront reality and to take personal responsibility for helping
to rectify his, and his people’s problems as well as problems common to
– He is ‘centered,’ balanced between a wholesome drive for self-preservation and
continuing positive evolution and a wholesome drive for group preservation and
evolution. His love of self and group are synonymous and he maintains a healthy
sense of social interest, responsibility, and priorities. He recognizes that
his personal health and powers are finally dependent on the health and power of
his ethnic group. The priorities of his ethnic group come first. He is
dedicated to the liberation of his people from bondage of all types.
– He is motivated by his self-determined needs based on accurate, realistic,
self-examination; self-knowledge and self-acceptance; on self-actualization,
task-oriented problem-solving drives to resolve conflicts which bedevil him and
his ethnic group.
– He is realistically self-confident. He does not doubt his capacity nor that
of his people to equal or surpass the accomplishments of others. He feels that
his talents are best displayed and utilized in the service of his people and
against domination by other people.
– He realizes knowledge of truth and the continuing, joyous pursuit of knowledge
are liberating. He is deeply aware that Afrikan peoples have the longest
scholarly and intellectual tradition, that scholarship and intellection are
Afrikan traditions and inherently Afrikan. When he practices mathematics,
science, philosophy, etc., he celebrates the best of Afrikan tradition and
through such practices maintains Afrikan cultural identity and consciousness.
He recognizes that there is nothing foreign or alien about his pursuit of the
highest level of cognitive competence of which he is capable.
– He avidly seeks self-knowledge, knowledge of his and other cultural groups;
knowledge of the world and of reality in general. He seeks to be productive and
contributive. He continues to integrate into his personality and self-concept
an honest knowledge and self of ethnicity. The infrastructure of his personal
and social identities consist of a resolute and unassailable sense of ethnic
pride, ethnic and human connectedness.”

Amos N. Wilson

Mwalimu Baruti- Pan Afrikan Survival

Things that need to be done for a Pan Afrikan survival. This  calls for vision supporting a large collection
of changes in the conditions, interactions and concrete possibilities of Afrikan
people worldwide. In no certain order, they include:
1) the social and cultural reconnection of Afrikan people with each other
2) the development of a military capable of defending both the Afrikan
continent against any aggressor and Afrikan people wherever they may reside on
the face of this planet, as well as having the authority to maintain national
(continent wide) order
3) one representative umbrella government overseeing the affairs and interests
of Afrikans globally with its command center in Afrika
4) the removal of divisive and artificial political boundaries from the
Afrikan continent
5) the removal of the presence and power of nonAfrikan people from our
6) global citizenship for all Afrikan people, i.e., Afrikan people should be
allowed to freely travel wherever Afrikan people are, especially across the
Continent and to and from the Diaspora and the Continent without the hindrances
of a system of visas that work to make physical contact between individuals in
different countries and states difficult
7) a fully functioning transportation system with the capacity to readily move
Afrikan people and resources wherever we and they need to go on the Continent
and around the world at will and independent of other people’s land, sea and air
8) a political apparatus mobilized to realize nonnegotiated reparations in
every form (financial, business technology and facilities, ourstorical
artifacts, kwk) from wherever they have been transported, hoarded and profited
from around the world
9) the actual material, institutional, infrastructural, technological and
retaliatory reparations commensurate with the spiritual, genetic, social,
cultural and resource damage done to Afrikans by europeans (Old and New), Arabs
and Asians
10) the large-scale promotion and institutionalization of the lifestyle,
ritual, language and material aspects of our indigenous traditions and an
international educational institution, system and pedagogy that is able to
incorporate both the appropriate, nonculturally contaminated, contemporary
technology and the moral and ethical values and ways of thinking and doing of
our people into a functional and proper education for our youth
11) the creation of a de-europeanizing, re-educating, ReAfrikanization
evaluation and correction or removal agency whose mission it is to determine the
severity and correctability of each individual’s mentacide in order to assess
how Afrikans returning to our countries and communities should be spiritually,
psychologically and physically processed in order to best protect our spaces
from internal discord
12) the establishment of an internal and external (international) information
gathering agency designed to assist us in making informed decisions about
threats to Afrikan security, and able and authorized to deploy agents whose
loyalty to the Afrikan nation is beyond reproach to gather said information
13) the removal of our land from foreign “ownership,” control and occupation
and a return of this land to the control of and equitable distribution by the
state, tribe and clan. The massive reintroduction of non-cash crop farming
technologies in the schools and fields. The nationalization of the industries
that can best produce those necessities that are essential for the survival
(e.g., food, clothing, transportation, infrastructure, building materials, kwk)
of the people
14) the development of a fair, nonjudgmental, people’s social welfare system
solvent enough to handle the difficult and debilitating conditions people find
themselves in and are affected by which are either the result of new situations
and events or the outcome of our foreign invasion, destruction and exploitation,
or both; that is, until these problems become manageable through the state,
tribe and clan, having returned to their former levels of benevolent efficiency
15) the removal of the prison system as a punitive instrument and its
replacement with strong corporeal moral law and rehabilitative, compensatory,
service-oriented system of corrections.
It should be evident from our current state of affairs that this collection of
initiatives is nothing more than minimal requirements. Much, much more will be
needed to build and sustain an empowered, global Afrikan nation.
Each of these conditions serves the interests of all Afrikan people, whether
most of us recognize it or not. At this time, considering their lethargy and
treasonous record of service to our community, negroes’ and lost souls’
recognition of the critical importance of these conditions is irrelevant. What
is of utmost importance is that those committed Afrikan warrior scholars who are
and will be doing the work understand how vital all of these conditions are for
the vindication and ascendency of our people.

Mwalimu K. Bomani Baruti
Notes Toward Higher Ideals in Afrikan Intellectual Liberation