Ömer Tarkan Tuzcuoğullari, Kamil Boğaç İskender


Horseback wrestling is an indispensable combat game played at the festivals, feasts, sports events and assemblies of the Turkic Republics of Central Asia. A popular sport in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, it requires substantial physical strength and will to fight. Its local names include Oodaryş and Audaryspak, pronounced “er-enish”. The present study aims to make a contribution to the wider recognition and embrace of this sport, which is relatively unknown in Turkey, and to help it gain a solid place among traditional Turkish games. Given the rarity of the printed sources on this matter, the study employed interviews to support and complement literature survey. The input gathered were categorized and coded, followed by the analysis stage culminating in the final version of the text. Horseback wrestling was found to be a traditional game played in weddings and festivals in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in particular. In this context, the game is played without any time or space limitation, and continues till one of the players is able to bring the other down through wrestling on horseback. Today, however, a rather professional offshoot is established, where athletes in 4 weight classes compete on an individual as well as team basis, subject to time and space limits, as well as a scoring mechanism, with the scores often determining the winner. Horseback wrestling is essentially a game to prepare for combat, based on the skills to command the horse and overpower as well as neutralize the opponent without using any weapons. In time, a set of rules were developed to govern the game format; yet it still is a traditional sport true in its nature. Even though horse breeding and training as well as associated subcultures had somewhat withered away among Turkish peoples who embraced a more sedentary lifestyle in Anatolia, the Traditional Sports Federation of Turkey has an open perspective for such endeavors, and is expanding its activities. We believe the present study will be useful in this context. 


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