Tahtib Grading System
Being a traditional Martial Art which has existed longer than records can prove, Tahtib does not have a traditional grading system like other Martial Arts.
The word Tahtib signifies the art form of using sticks as a display of human power and prowess. In ancient times it was frequently used to exert power during conflicts amongst men. It is the oldest known style of martial arts from Egypt to survive. Tahtib dancing routines were developed from the time of the pharoahs. The murals and paintings within temples allowed generations of men to learn these arts.
Naturally as time goes by, modifications and differing interpretations are asserted so that the lessons and moves can be passed through generations. The ancient Egyptians have led us to believe that there were a simple set of rules to begin with. Tahtib was a competition between men and it tested endurance and skills. Skills are based on dodging and targetting certain body areas such as the head.
The standard stick can also be called Asaya, Asa, Shoum or Nabboot. Other Egyptian martial arts systems used daggers and sharp tools but practice would still involve small sticks. The sticks can be up to 12 feet in length for horse stepping (tahtib from horseback). The blows exchanged from horseback usually occur when two men charge at each other and then continue in a spiral shape whilst continuously fighting. The skill is to open the opponent’s defence whilst not losing one’s own defence.
The movements of combat by horse and foot are displayed in the dance ceremonies. The tahvol (bass drum) and mizmar (shrill pipe) form the music for Tahtib. The tahvol is a double-sided drum with a shoulder strap. It lies on the drummers front side is played with double sticks. The basic beat is a slow four count. The right hand stick is heavier and has a a hooked head. This is said to create a deep sound that forms the heartbeat of the rhythm. The left hand uses a lighter stick which beasts the edge of the drum more rapidly and produces a higher pitched sound.