sábado, janeiro 29, 2005

Cajado e varapau

O texto abaixo foi retirado do site Electronic Journals of Martial Arts and Sciences. Aqui fica apenas um pouco do texto completo. Para lerem o texto completo podem ir para aqui.

"Jogo do Pau ("the stick game," or "stick-fencing") is a fighting style employing a simple staff, approximately the height of the player, in techniques of attack and defence. In the generic sense, stick fighting has been practised throughout the world and was refined as a practical technique in some European countries such as Portugal, France. England (quarter-staff) and also in the majority of Eastern countries, including India, China, Japan (bo-jutsu), Thailand, Vietnam and Afghanistan. In the latter nations that still preserve their medieval customs of combat, any tourist who ventures a little into the interior of the country can witness bloody individual combats, including inter-clan rivalries fought with staves.

Human beings have always had to fight to survive and humans have always employed tools. The simple stick was almost certainly among the first tools to be turned to martial purposes, as an instrument of attack and defence against animals. As societies evolved from the nomadic hunting and food gathering stage, conflicts arose; competition over resources, etc. boiled over into personal combat, and people created series of specific movements, attacks and defences, with their utilitarian sticks. The specific nature of these actions depended on geographic conditions, as well as cultural and other factors. This new fighting technique varied not only by country, but also by the length of the stick or staff most commonly employed. Few stick fighting methods were developed for staves over two metres in length.

Afghan and Indian forms of stick-fighting included training and combat with a wide variety of wooden weapons, of different lengths and timbers. Other forms, such as the English quarter-staff, probably so-called because the fighter gripped his weapon with his right hand one-quarter of the way along its length, employed robust hardwood staves. The quarter-staff was two meters long, requiring management with both hands; as with the Portuguese Jogo do Pau, it doubled as a sport and as a combat system.

However, the different techniques used for the diverse lengths of staff are very similar both throughout Asian countries, largely inspired by the Indian style, and in the majority of the Occidental countries, such as England and France. The various stick fighting styles and the combative matrix that they are part of (generally in the rural areas) each have a characteristic tone. This seems to be the result of deep cultural trends that define the degree to which agonistic aggression is related to a fundamentally ludic or "sporting" approach. The great difference between the Occidental and the Asian styles lies in the mentality with that they practise their techniques.

In Portugal one very rich technique was developed, adapted to a type of wood known as o varapau or cajado. As with the development of staff weapons in other countries, the pau was also part of the normal equipment of the field-worker, used as a walking stick or hiking staff and as an elementary weapon of self-defence itself against the aggression of people and animals.

As a defensive or offensive weapon, the stick is a so simple in form that few ethnologies include it in the category of "hand-held weapons". However, a good stick player is not afraid to face any adversary who uses these other weapons. The question is whether formalised stick fighting represents a specialised aspect of the use of the staff as a utilitarian tool, or if, contrarily, the utilitarian usage is simply an expansion of the "staff as weapon."

In the North of Portugal (all over Minho), the staff was used by young men patrolling their lands, by travellers, and by shepherds in the high mountain ranges. A variety of lengths and grips were employed. The staff grip would be shortened while ascending steep terrain, however when descending, the grip would often be lengthened. Thus the staff was often used as a walking stick, and even to vault over shallow streams. The shepherd perched on a steep slope and the merchant in the fair would lean on their staves, thus alleviating strain on their legs. Also the cow-herd used the staff to direct cattle, and, when necessary, to drive away wolves, as much in his own defence as in that of the cattle entrusted to his care. "The stick was only released from the hand when one went to talk with his sweetheart; then the stick was left at the door, to indicate that others had no business there." Moreover, in these lands the staff was the weapon par excellence, deciding the daily conflicts that sprang from rivalries between villages, love affairs, disputes over irrigation systems, and so-on.

Every boy felt himself to be a young man when he could fight with a stick and went with his friends on patrol: it was considered as fine a thing as being a knight armed for battle.

Who in Portugal did not hear tell of the stick-fights at fairs (not only in the North, but all across the country), where entire villages were consumed in bloody, mortal combats?