Baranta!

2018.12.06

The Hungarians have their own traditional Martial Art, consisting of a lot of different single disciplines.

Spear fighting during a competition
Spear fighting during a competition

Archery, sabre fighting, bullwhip cracking

Nearly every culture developed their own unique style of fighting over time. But not every culture was able to preserve their knowledge up until today.

The German Longswords is very special in this and really well known (from what I've heard most people doing sword fighting around the world do it the German way) because there are so many written down references and explanations about it - as far as I know there are more than 50 different books about the historical German ways of fencing from the Middle Ages.

The Hungarians, too, have their own Martial Arts, some of them made them one of the most-widely feared fighting forces in all of Europe during the Middle Ages. And in the last few years people tried to get these fighting techniques back to life, again, too.

Because there are quite a few very different disciplines the whole Hungarian Martial Art system is simply called Baranta.

An exciting difference

In Europe swordfighting was a privilege mostly practiced by the nobility. The different fighting techniques that are trained in Baranta were created by the working people, though - and thus the weapons here in Baranta are held with (for me) interchanged hands.

The thought behind this is that the working people want their stronger hand at the very end of their weapon, so they have more strenght in what they are doing, even if it makes them a little less mobile.

To counteract this loss of mobility all the techniques are trained with both hands - this gets especially interesting with the short spear, the sabre and the bullwhip, because after a while you can swing two weapons at once, one in each hand.

A multitude of disciplines

What intrigued me most about Baranta (because of course I couldn't resist joining one of the groups) is the amount of different disciplines they offer and train.

In the summer we train archery outside, but not just simply standing and shooting on a solid aim, but both switching between weapons like the bow and a sabre while running and then shooting, shooting while moving or jumping in general and - with enough protectors, masks, and specially designed arrows - shooting each other. Included in this training is also learning how to roll and fall while holding a bow, which is something we train mostly just after warm-up.

Limited to the training in the summer, too, because there is not enough room in the gyms in winter, is the bullwhip cracking. On the one hand the loud cracking sounds super impressive, but you can also disarm your opponent with a well-aimed attack with the whip. I can personally confirm that this actually works.

Another disciplin only trained outside is throwing axes, knifes and sharp metal crosses.

With the beginning of November training takes place indoors, because it gets dark too early. The disciplines in the gyms are sabre and sword fighting, spear fighting with long and short spears and - which makes me exceptionally happy - wrestling.

In wrestling we not only train different techniques but spend the second half of the training in free fights, usually one on one until one surrenders or touches the ground with both hands, sometimes in groups against each other. A fight with an opponent of similar strenght can take 15 to 20 minutes, sometimes even longer.

Thanks to my Baranta group I now also have a group of like-minded people around my age with whom I can also go out or to the cinema after the training.