History of Kurash

Kurash is an ancient type of upright jacket grappling which originated in the territory of modern Uzbekistan. According to the latest scientific research the age of Kurash is at least three and a half thousand years. Kurash is one of the oldest martial arts the people had ever practiced.

Kurash is an Uzbek word. It means – «reaching the goal with the just or fair way». Since its birth till recent times Kurash was used as a martial art and the public physical entertainment during major holidays, feasts and wedding parties. Kurash is mentioned in many historical sources.

Archaeological finds about Kurash

Almost 2500 years ago Herodotus, the ancient Greek philosopher and historian in his famous books called “Histories” says that Kurash is a common practice for people living in the territory where the modern Uzbekistan is located.

The legendary epos Alpomish created more than one millennium ago calls Kurash the favorite and wide spread martial art in Central Asia.

The great oriental scientist and the creator of the modern medicine science – Avicenna (Abu Ali Ibn Sina), who lived in the X century in Bukhara, writes that practicing Kurash is the best way to keep health of both body and spirit.

In the XIV century Timur, one of the most prominent statesmen in history used Kurash in his army for physical training and self defense. Its well known that the army of Timur conquered half of the world and never had been beaten.

Centuries passed by and Kurash has become one of the most popular and respected traditions of the people of Uzbekistan. Uzbeks say that Kurash is in their genes, in blood. Today there are more than two million Kurash players all over Uzbekistan.

For more than three millenniums Kurash was limited by the borders of Central Asia. Techniques, traditions, rules and philosophy of Kurash verbally were passed from generation to generation, from fathers to children. Till the very recent times nobody ever tried to systemize and generalize the heritage of Kurash. In contrary Kurash was used as a basis for another sport – in the beginning of the XX century Russians took throwing techniques of Kurash to create Sambo. .

It was created the new universal rules for Kurash, the rules which incorporated the best features of Kurash- thousands years old philosophy of courage and humanism with the tight requirements of the modern sport. He introduced to Kurash weight categories, gestures and terminology based on 13 Uzbek words, set a fixed duration of the bout, uniform for players and referees, and all other things without which a modern sport could not be imagined.

Kurash rules prohibit any actions on the floor. Action is allowed only in standing position – there is no groundwork, and only throws and leg sweeps can be used by players. Any techniques using armlock, chocking and kicking, as well as grips below the belt are strictly prohibited. All it makes Kurash a simple, friendly, interesting, dynamic and safe sport to practice.

Click here to see the rules in full

Starting from 1991, the year Uzbekistan became independent state, the first President of Uzbekistan His Excellency Islam Karimov, the initiator and inspirer of all historical changes in Uzbekistan, the man who made crucial contribution to Independence of Uzbekistan, formulated the goal to promote Kurash worldwide as a new international sport.

In 1992 President Karimov gave his ideas and visions on how to make the sport of Kurash an international one and, through this sport, introduce Uzbekistan, its history, traditions and philosophy worldwide.

Presidents’ visons were to be carried out by group of specialists and  the international propaganda and promotion of Kurash. They held several big tournaments in different parts of Uzbekistan using the new rules – the success was overwhelming. Sometimes the large stadiums could not accommodate all spectators. The group made presentations at various prestigious sport forums in South Korea, Canada, Japan, India, USA, Monaco and Russia.

In September 1998 the capital of Uzbekistan – Tashkent held the fist ever international Kurash tournament. Players from almost 30 countries of Asia, Europe and Pan America participated. Usually the Kurash event in Uzbekistan are held at the football stadiums. This tournament, which was for the Prize of the Uzbek President, was not an exception.

During this tournament Tashkent hosted another historical event. On September 6th 1998 representatives of 28 states of Asia, Europe and Pan America established the International Kurash Association – the official international sport organ representing Kurash in the world. Since that day September 6th is the official birthday of the new international sport – Kurash. Delegates of the first inaugural Congress ratified the Statutes of the new organization and the international rules of Kurash, elected the managing body of the IKA- the Directing committee. Islam Karimov, the president of Uzbekistan and one of the key person in the international promotion of Kurash was elected as the Honorary President for life, Komil Yusupov, at that time became the President of the IKA. The Directing Committee has 19 seats. The members are elected by the Congress of the IKA by majority vote, the office term is four years, and they could be re-elected.

Click here to see who is who in the IKA’s DC

Since the very beginning of its activity the IKA determined several strategic tasks to accomplish.

The first task – increasing the number of member countries as much as possible. From 1999 to 2003 the Association created its branched in the continents, one by one- Continental federations of Asia, Europe, Pan America, Africa and Oceania were created and affiliated to the IKA. Just in five years the IKA passed the way that cost other sports many decades. This is probably the fastest growth ever witnessed in the international sport. Today the IKA unites 140 national Kurash federations in Asia, Europe, Pan America, Africa and Oceania, and number of member states is growing every year.

Click here to see all IKA members

The second task is holding championships and tournaments.

The first historical world senior championship was held in May 1999 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Here Kurash set another record – the championships was attended by delegations from 48 countries of Asia, Africa, Europe and Pan America. The championship was held among senior males in three weight categories.

List of all world senior champions here

The successful organization of the championships demonstrated the seriousness of intentions of the IKA and Uzbekistan to promote this sport. Since than world Kurash championships were held in Antalya (Turkey) in 2000, in Budapest (Hungary) in 2001, in Erevan (Armenia) in 2002, in Tashkent (Uzbekistan) in 2005, in Ulanbaataar (Mongolia) in 2007, in Alushta (Urkaine) in 2009. World Junior championships were held in Tver (Russia) in 2000 and 2001, in Shahrisabz (Uzbekistan) in 2004, in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) in 2006, in Istanbul (Turkey) in 2008, in New Delhi (India) in 2010. Annually each of five continental federations organizes continental senior and junior championships.

Besides world and continental championships the IKA in cooperation with continental and national federation hold many different international tournaments and cup in different parts of the world. Here are just some of them – since the year 2000 the British Kurash Association holds annually the Islam Karimov international tournament dedicated to the Honorary President of the IKA. Since 2004 Greece organizes the Islam Karimov international tournaments as well. Iran since 2002 organizes the international Puria Vali tournaments. Turkey since 2003 organizes annual international Bosphorus tournament. Termez, Tashkent, Shahrisabz and Nukus regularly host large international tournaments with money prize. Besides that many tournaments are organized by Israel, Sri Lanka, Bolivia, New Zealand, RSA, Greece and other countries.

Today the IKA annually holds about two hundred different scale events – world senior or junior championships, five continental championships among seniors and juniors, international and regional tournaments and cups.

The third task – international cooperation.

The IKA’s main aim is promotion and development of Kurash in as many countries as possible, with further affiliation to the Summer Olympics. Since 1998 the president and other officials of the IKA do their best to achieve this aim. The cooperation and friendly relations are established with leaders of different states and respected international organizations. The President of the IKA met with IOC President Doctor Rogge, IOC Executive committee members Mario Vazques Rana, Vitaly Smirnov, Segrey Bubka, leader of the Indian National Congress party Sonia Gandhi, SportAccord (formerly GAISF, General Association of International Sport Organization officials), ministers of sport and national Olympic committee presidents of different countries.

The IKA is the member of the World Anti Doping Agency since 2010.

Learn more about meetings and negotiations on Kurash promotion

January 24, 2003 is a historical date for Kurash. It is a day of the official recognition of Kurash by the Olympic Council of Asia – the continental division of the IOC. It happened at the 22nd General Assembly of this organization held in Kuwait. The recognized sport status gives Kurash the right to be included to the program of the Asian Games which is the continental model of Summer Olympics. In December 2006 Doha, Qatar hosted the 15th Asian Summer Games, and for the first time in history Kurash demonstration competitions were officially held in the program of these Games. In 2009 Kurash competitions were officially held in programs of two Asian Games — 1st Asian Martial Arts Games (Bangkok, Thailand) and 3rd Asian Indoor Games (Hanoi, Vietnam).

Today Kurash is an official sport in the competition programs of three different Asian Games — Asian Summer Games, Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, and Asian Beach Games.

In 2002 the IKA established its top award – the Golden Order of the IKA. It is awarded to the country leaders, politicians, celebrities for their contribution to promotion of Kurash. The first one was awarded to the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov in 2002. Two years later Sonia Gandhi, leader of the Indian Congress Party received the order. In 2005 in Lausanne at the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee IOC President Mr. Jacques Rogge was awarded with the Golden Order of the IKA. In 2006 the President of the OCA Sheikh Ahmad Al Sabah Al Fahad and ANOC President Mr. Mario Vazquez Rana received fourth and fifth Orders.

Full list of Golden Order holders

Kurash is an ancient national martial art with roots going back to many thousand years. It is the essence of traditions and philosophy of the Uzbek people – humanism and courage, respect to opponent and ability to go till the aim is reached. Kurash is one of the youngest international sports, practiced today all over the world – from Bolivia, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Fiji and New Zealand to South Africa, Mauritius, Ireland, India and Japan.

It is friendly, attractive, safe and rapidly developing sport. It is the synergy of philosophy and traditions of millenniums with the dynamically developing modern world.

The world of Kurash is open to everyone.

Welcome to the world of Kurash!

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