Canarian Stick Fighting > Juego del Palo Canario
The game of Palo Canario ("Juego del Palo") is
a martial art that is practiced between two
players who go into battle using sticks without
actually making contact with the body of the
adversary. The origin of the game was a method
of warfare used by early settlers to ward off
invaders and was not intended for leisure.
The Canarian stick fighting (Juego del Palo
Canario) is a combat with sticks between two
players who indicate, (marcan) and defend
retained strikes avoiding hurting each other.
According to the history books, the sources of
this game are the games and combats
practiced by the pre-hispanic inhabitants of the
Canary Islands (Guanches). Maybe this practice
was the best way these natives had to prepare
themselves for war. As a matter of fact there are
many chronicles from the times of the conquer
of the Islands that show the hard and difficult
combats that the Spaniards had to fight against
the “Guanches”, showing clearly the mastery of
the sticks by the Canarian. The use of the stick
was hidden after the conquer of the Islands due
to the laws that forbid the carry and use of
sticks, because of that, the art was only practice
illegally, in rural areas and by members of the
some families. These families of the mountains
have maintained the use of the stick during
centuries. There are still some old masters that
remember stories of their grandparents fighting
with sticks to defend their lands, , their animals,
or simply to show their abilities. Some years
ago, it was very common to see fights with
sticks between members of different families in
the parties of the countryside. There could be a
fight anywhere, but one of the favorite places
was the parties. Someone challenging any
other caused these fights, and sometimes the
reason was fighting for a woman. Many people
thought that if there wasn’t a fight it was not a
true party.
Sport Traditions
are very
deep-rooted in the
Canary Islands
"Autochthonous Sports in Gran Canaria!"
With the beginning of the Spanish
Civil War and the dictatorship, this
popular art was forbidden again,
and forgotten by many. Again, only
some families maintained the
knowledge of the art. Every family
clan developed a personal and
particular style of using the stick.
Some were specialized in long
distance range, some used it in
the short distance, and others
used it as a defense against
edged weapons. Nowadays there
are different styles, Deniz, Verga,
Garafiano, Morales, Vidal,
Conejero, Quintero, and Acosta
style.  Each style shows different
techniques that can be identified
very easily. This diversity of styles
and technical richness is part of
the greatness of the martial culture
of the Canary Islands.

Many of you could think that “stick
play” is just a game or a sport and
that the name is because the two
fighters just indicate (marcan) their
strikes. To indicate the strike does
not mean going slowly or without
strength. A master of “Juego del
palo” has great ability and
precision and can knockout many
fighters specialized in a Bo. This is
a gentlemen art in which the
players look for physical control to
avoid hurting each other.

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