Nations of Central Asia are very proud to be a land where many modern sports games originate and carefully preserve ancient traditions. Almost in every town and village one can find national wrestling clubs, while big celebrations in valleys and steps often accompanied by horse competitions or sheep fighting.
Modern sports also found their place in the region with local boxing and wrestling teams being one of the best in the world, while Uzbekistan is regarded as Asian football powerhouse and Kazakhstan is very strong in ice hockey, and both these countries can boast about their ski resorts.
Below we highlight just a few of traditional and modern sports experiences that you could experience traveling along Central Asia:
This ancient equestrian game is played by people all around Central Asia. Teams of horsemen compete to seize a goat carcass and bringing it to the other end of the big field. Of course, there are lot of pushing, tactical riding and harsh power, but punching, biting and hair pulling are prohibited. Some big matches involve up to hundred riders and thousands spectators with hefty prizes, like a brand new car.
You can see this spectacular sport either during annual World Nomadic Games in Kyrgystan or when attending one of the local games between village teams (request well beforehand is necessary).
Kuchqor Urush (Sheep fighting)
Well, it is more boxing, rather than fighting that associated with blood and other nasty consequences. Here two specially trained horn sheep are brought into middle of small circle, standing few meters from each other. On command of owners, they suddenly jump and head-punch trying to regain control and all over again, until one refuses to continue. Draw to be announced if after dozen of jumps, both sheep still ready to fight.
To see this unique experience you would need to be during Navruz festivities or one of the big celebrations in rural areas (request well beforehand is necessary).
Another ancient sport, representing the traditional belt-wrestling popular among all Turkik people. Nowadays, modern Uzbek kurash has clubs in many European countries and serves as good preparation for kids, before they join judo or other martial arts. In Uzbekistan, you can see old and young kurash-wrestling in bare field during traditional festivals or local celebrations. Fancy to see another, more secretive, Uzbek martial art of “qo’l san’at”?.. Ask us and we can arrange for Kurash demonstration and master-class!