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Ancient Egyptian martial art 'tahtib' becomes modern art sensation in Cairo

''Tahtib'' martial art instructor trains his students in Cairo, Egypt.   -  
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Photo captured from AFP video.


The ‘’tahtib’’ is an ancient Egyptian martial art dating back 5,000 years ago. The ‘’stick fighting’’ has become a modern martial art here.

Stakeholders see the arts as an improved sports version of a multi-millennial art.

In traditional tahtib, popular in Egypt's rural south, two men perform a dance while wielding bamboo-like rods, in a face-off somewhat resembling a fencing duel.

In Cairo's upmarket eastern suburb of Rehab, a leisure park welcomes the first enthusiastic Egyptian instructors and their students.

"If we (go) back to the roots, it (tahtib) is a sport, it is a military weapon, it is a long stick they use it, the ancient Egyptians, in the fight, in medium-range fight, there is (are) three ranges in the fight: the long-range fight, it is a bow and arrow, medium-range is the tahtib", said tahtib trainer, Nasser Refai.

Nasser Refai, 44, a physical education teacher and one of the trainers, said the Egyptian fighting style inherited from the time of the pharaohs was a "treasure".

Enthusiasts are eying an Olympic status.

"We dream that this sport to (will) be in the Olympics. It is about the spread of the sports, we are trying to make (train) more coaches, more instructors course. The country is supposed to help to put it, like I said before, in schools or in colleges", he added.

Unlike traditional ''tahtib'', women can participate in its modern version. Zainab Hussein Anwar is training for the martial arts, and she's determined to make her mark.

"I haven't seen any sport practiced by men alone that can't be practiced by women or girls, I am completely against this idea. I have trained in many men's sports and I completely reject this idea. That is why I was determined to come here (to tahtib training). Despite my parents not accepting my attendance to training, I was determined to do so", the tahtib student said.

In 2016, the UN cultural agency UNESCO listed the martial art as "intangible cultural heritage of humanity".

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