(This class is Currently taught privately)
WHAT IS GUAZABARA? Guazábara™ is a 21st century weapons based martial art system with origins in the pre-Columbian Caribbean islands. Introduced as a modern martial art by Maestro Edgardo Pérez, Guazábara™ is a dynamic weapons based fighting system that is genuinely unparalleled. Its conception and development are rooted in the study of the Caribbean Taino Indians and their combat tactics. In fact, the word Guazábara means “war or combat” in the Taino language.
The art of Guazábara™ is a hybrid fighting system that combines elements of the Puerto Rican Taino Manaya (Axe), Macana (war club) fighting and the Jibaro combat machete.
In 1493, When the Spanish first set foot on the island of Boriken (known today as Puerto Rico) they were greeted by the good hearted indigenous people who dwelled there known as Taino, which literally translates as "The Peaceful Ones". The Taino welcomed these strange visitors with kindness and patience. But for all the kindness that was showed them the Spanish returned their generosity by stealing their land and their way of life. Beaten, dismembered, stolen from their lands and enslaved, these peaceful people reminded the invaders that they were also warriors.
Men and women such as Jumacao, Agueybanax the Brave, Yuaraibo, Anacaona, Enriquillo and Guarionex fought the Spanish heralding battles with the war cry “guazabara.” The Taino developed a specific method of combat using the macana (war club) and *machete to fight the Toledo swords of the Spanish.
Although Taino indigenous peoples were known for their peaceful nature, they were also warriors who fought to protect their nation. Particularly, Puerto Rican Tainos were the most warlike because of their proximity to the fierce Carib Indians who occupied the islands of the Lesser Antilles and Vieques.
This section was taken from the 1903-04 25th Annual Report of the U.S. Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.
“One statement of Oviedo that should be emphasized as separating the Borinquen Indians from the three other Greater Antilles is that they were more given to war and more adept in the use of Carib weapons, a characteristic that can be traced either to contact with the Carib or to a greater proportion of Carib blood, for the aborigines of ²Porto Rico were more closely related to the Carib then were the Tainan people of Cuba and Haiti.”
Section: Pre-Columbian Population. pg. 26
Indeed, the indigenous name of Puerto Rico is Borikén, which means “the land of the valiant and noble lord”. Historical records clearly indicate that Tainos preferred to fight in close quarters and attacked first to gain a tactical advantage. Often times these attacks were heralded with the war cry "GUAZABARA"! Accounts of man-to-man combat detail that Tainos were exceptional and tenacious fighters. During the conquest of the Caribbean, the Taino believed the outsiders to be gods, once it was realized that they were human beings, like themselves, these warriors valiantly fought the outsiders with their inferior weapons, but ultimately, were defeated due to overwhelming force and decease brought by the outsiders. Nevertheless, their warrior spirit and close quarter battle tactics remain as relevant today as they did 500 years ago.
Defeated, the Taino resorted to guerilla warfare or low intensity conflict while combining forces with the Carib and escaped African slaves. New weapons were utilized, including the machete. They developed a specific method of combat using the machete to fight the Spanish blades. Since many of the conquistadors were excellent “esgrimadores” (fencers) and because the machete was made of inferior metal that could not withstand a direct assault from a sword, these warriors learned to move within the invader's circle (close the distance) and neutralize its power.
The Puerto Rican Jibaro, which means “people of the forest” in the Taino language, perfected the use of the machete as a weapon. In their continued resistance against Spanish colonial tyranny, Jibaro freedom fighters employed Taino machete tactics and guerilla fighting collectively earning them the nom de guerre of macheterosor machete fighters. Eventually, many Jibaros would go on to use these machete tactics in challenge matches and would adhere to the old custom of binding their hand or leg to one another with a cord of up to three feet long. Today, the Jibaro are the mountain folk of the island and are considered the quintessential Puerto Ricans, proud of their land, their culture and their never-ending desire to help their fellow man.
Maestro Pérez intends Guazábara™ to be a tribute not only to his Taino and Jibaro ancestors, but also to the memory of all the Borinquen and African warriors that bravely fought together to persevere. He humbly offers the art of Guazabara™ to the People of Puerto Rico and World Community.
1-HISTORICAL NOTE: Please keep in mind that after 1898 Puerto Rico was incorrectly spelled Porto Rico in all official documentation. U.S. Congress officially changed it back to Puerto Rico on May 17, 1932.
2-HISTORICAL NOTE: The Machete is not indigenous to Puerto Rico, it was introduced at the time of first European contact.
THE AFRICAN INFLUENCE
The introduction of the African slaves into the islands resulted in some distinct changes in the Taino fighting system. The first was that many of the Spanish soldiers would not involve themselves in direct conflicts with the Taino. They instead preferred to have their African slaves or Native "Mansos" (tame Indian's or Indian's who fought on the side of the Spanish) do the fighting for them. The slaves were not equipped with swords and frequently fought with weapons that were as crude as those employed by the Taino. This resulted in direct combat, and the Taino could move in on the slave aggressors without worrying about avoiding a blade.
Many of the Spanish who inhabited the coastal regions of Puerto Rico avoided the inner part of the island due to the concentration of free hostile Taino that inhabited the jungle-dense mountains. African slaves would flee into this area preferring death in an unknown land to bondage. This was the second influence in early Guazabara history. Some of the slaves who escaped and avoided capture found their way to the hidden Taino encampments and were immediately accepted into the tribes. The Taino believed that aiding the escapees would add to their own population and reduce the amount of slaves that were willing to fight for the Spanish. The Taino referred to these men and women as Cimmaron. These warriors would be referred to by the Spanish as Black Taino's. The Cimmaron may have directly contributed to bringing Kalenda stick fighting from Africa to the Caribbean, this type of fighting spread to the lower Antilles and later to the mainland.
It is unknown what African tribe contributed the most to Guazabara, but it may have been those from the Congo region such as the Mandinga, Mende, Dohomey or Yoruba as their food, language and religion (Santeria) had the strongest influence over the Caribbean Islands and its people.
THE JIBARO PERFECT THE ART
As with all contact between the Europeans and the indigenous people of the Americas there was no happy ending. The Taino continued to struggle and suffer at the hands of the Spanish until there were very little of the Taino left; and the conflict became futile.
However, the Taino did not become extinct as indicated by many European records. They were simply reclassified as non-white; and some would eventually be known as Jibaro, which means "People of the Forest" in Taino language. The Jibaro were the poor mountain people of the island and the backbone of the Puerto Rican culture. In their continuous struggle with the Spanish, they employed Guazabara tactics and guerilla fighting earning the name “macheteros” (machete fighters) from the Spanish. In the latter part of the 19th Century, by means of the Spanish-American War, the Spanish were finally forced from Boriken.
Since the Spanish were no longer a threat, the Jibaro machete fighters perfected the use of the weapon into an art form. Guazabara was utilized in challenge matches to settle disputes between local Jibaros. Many Jibaro would adhere to the old Taino custom in binding their hands or legs to each other with a cord up to 3-feet long to fight in a very close circle.
Guazábara™ is now recognized as an official martial art by organizations all over the world.
WASHINGTON, USA: Meghan & David Ventura
FLORIDA, USA: Sensei Frank Perez
NORTHERN SPAIN: Mr. Criso Lopez Lozano
SOUTHERN SPAIN: Soke German Dominguez
THE WORLD GUAZABARA FEDERATION
The Federation was originally designed to keep track of all the members training in Guazabara both at DTI and other martial arts locations.
Today, Federation membership is mandatory and is used to track the training and progress of all federation members. The membership must be maintained and the members must remain in good standing.