An unlikely olympic martial art?

Posted on June 13, 2011

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A brutal, fast-paced martial art, Kurash is the national sport of Uzbekistan and may one day become an Olympic event. But, most people would struggle to find Uzbeksitan on a map – will this sport change that?

The short answer is: it’s difficult to tell, because although Kurash is gaining popularity it is a sport which also has foundations in Turkey amongst other places.

Oh, and if you are still wondering where Uzbekistan is, it’s here —->

To get an idea of what Kurash is like, imagine the close-quarter bout of strength seen in wrestling, and mix that with explosive judo throws and you’re pretty close.

Watching at the 9th annual IX Islam Karimov Kurash Tournament at London’s Soccerdome, the turnover of games was epic, leaving very few gaps between fights.

Many competitors had turned up for their first ever attempt in Kurash Association rules, but an elite group also travelled all the way from Uzbekistan to take part.

An international event

Competitors from all around the world met to fight, but off the mats they were happy to share tips and their experiences.

The Uzbek fighters looked fearsome opponants, but were otherwise continuously smiling, taking every opportunity they could to strike up conversation.

Spine chilling slams

It is amazing that there were only a couple of injuries as a result of the competition, including one man with a possible dislocated shoulder.

Cheers of support burst from the spectators every time a move such as this was performed to perfection.

Like a duck to water

For some, such as Nick Collins (pictured), the transition from other martial arts to Kurash did not appear to be too difficult.

‘Kurash is all about attack. There is no time to think defensively.’

‘As soon as you adopt that new approach the rest comes naturally.’

Nick went on to win his category even though this was his very first time competing under the Kurash Association rules.

The delegation from Uzbekistan seems positive on the chances for Kurash to make the leap to the world olympic stage. But for that to happen, Kurash will need to make an even larger splash at the same venue next year as the turnout was still dwarfed by those taking part in multi-discipline martial arts and judo.

Still, it may be worth watching out for because, in the words of Uzbek delegation President, Komil Yusupov, ‘In the history of sport Kurash is unique in becoming so popular in such a short space of time’

Click here to see more on Not On The Wires.

And here to see my photos on the BBC Website.

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