Wrestling, World Nomad Games

There are many different types of wrestling across Central Asia and the Caucasus, though they have many similarities. Many take place on a mat with a defined ring, and the goal of each wrestler is to make his opponent touch the mat with his back or shoulder. Some of the main differences between regional styles include the clothing that the wrestlers wear and what sorts of moves are allowed. A gyulesh match, typical for Azerbaijan, starts with wrestlers walking up and down along the edges of the mat, swinging their arms and doing somersaults to the accompaniment of traditional instruments. Another type of wrestling, mas wrestling, is popular around the world. Wrestlers sit on the ground, place their feet against a board between them, and grab hold of a stick and try to either pull it from their opponent’s hands, or pull their opponent over the board in the middle. Wrestling of course builds an athlete’s strength, but also develops dexterity, coordination, and strategy. When people were still living a mainly nomadic lifestyle, all of these were characteristics essential for survival in harsh climates and against enemies.

At the 2016 Nomad Games, wrestling was the most popular sport among athletes, with wrestlers coming from around the world to compete. Matches filled the stands, with shouts from the crowd mingling with yells from victorious athletes.