Art > Carnival

Stick Fighting

Stick-fighter | Photograph Courtesy Noel Norton

Written by Geoffrey MacLean

Stick-fighting, it is said, was practiced in Trinidad as early as the late 1700’s. This was a ritual dating back to the times of slavery where men would duel with sticks or “bois” in gayelles or rings. ┬áTo the accompaniment of drumming and singing, often in patois, the stick-fighters would use their skills in dance-like motions to defend themselves from their adversaries. The prize was the accolades resulting from the wounding and sometimes death of opponents.

Stick-fighting was banned in 1880 in response to the Canboulay Riots. In 1937 stick-fighting was re-introduced in controlled competitions. Today, stick-fighting gayelles all over Trinidad and Tobago form an important attraction as part of the annual Carnival celebrations.

More sites in Carnival