Haraz Road

5) Ba Chukhe Wrestling and Koresh wrestling (Traditional wrestling arts of Khorasan)

On 22 August 2013, my father and I travelled to Bojnord, Khorasan.  We got up early in the morning to travel by car.  I was very excited as I knew we would take the same road, the famous Haraz Road, which we had used to take when I was a child from Tehran to the north and to Mashad.  I remember those days when I could not fall sleep.  We hit the road early in the morning and no matter how much our parents tried to calm us down, I could not get any sleep.  We normally took that road during summer time to go to the north of Iran to spend our holidays at the Caspian Sea.  And then at times, we continued our road to Gorgan, Shahpasand, Bojnord, Quchan and then Mashad to see our relatives.  What a long journey of over 900 kilometers for a child.  Baack then, I could not fall asleep because the whole night, my mind was full of all those upcoming events, games and nice things we would be expecting. I was mesmerized by the mere thought of how the waves of the Caspian Sea would engulf my body in a question of a day . . . Then I was back, this time after years of living abroad.  Back in my home country with my father with a car. My mother prepared some food as usual and some snacks which we placed in the trunk of the car.  The same road, the same nature, the same procedure. It felt unreal.  As if all those years of hearing English, Spanish, German and French were turned into dust and I could only hear Persian around me. It seemed as if I was placed into a time machine and headed back to a time where I could be a child again.  Where I could go back to the memories of my childhood, where everyone spoke Persian. When I could feel home. When I felt safe. 

Haraz Road close to Golestan Province

But this time, it was a different time.  As an adult, I was too concentrated on the goals of my journey. I had been classifying and documenting different traditional wrestling arts of Iran.  I was aware that that would be an important step in documenting those important arts and present them to the international community next to Razmafzar which encompasses historical martial arts of Iran. We hit the road when it was dark.  The beautiful streets of Tehran were sleeping.  One could hardly see any car.  I was wondering what happened to all those cars which made one of the heaviest traffic in the world. The big trees.  I saw some crows flying over the tall trees in Vali Asr Valley.  I could see some teahouses which were open at 4 o'clock.  How much I wished I could drink a glass of hot tea.  Although I knew that I could not raise that issue up.  We were heading to the north and had to get on the right road before it was light.  We finally arrived at the intersection of the Haraz Road. It looked dry in the beginning but I know that it would be green soon.  All those nice trees indicating that one was approaching the breathtaking beauty of northern provinces of Iran in Mazandaran and Golestan.

My father in the restaurant

Around lunchtime we reached a small city close to Gorgan and went to hotel to have lunch. It was really nice to see that restaurant.  After that we hit the road again and around 5 o'clock we reached the city of Bojnord.  Bojnord is a famous city for training Ba Chukhe wrestling.  Many professional Ba Chukhe wrestlers come from this area.  This is the hometown of javanmardi.  This is a place where champions such as Pahlavan Akbar Khorasani used to train.  This is the place whose earth made acquaintance with the powerful bodies of champions who have fought Ba Chukhe wrestling on its soil.  I had been always fascinated by the powerful art of Ba Chukhe wrestling.

Pahlavan Delavar Sedaghat

The following day, Pahlavan Delavar Sedaghat and his father came to the hotel to pick us up.  Pahlavan Delavar Sedaghat is a champion wrestler in Ba Chukhe wrestling.  A  very nice gentleman.  Pahlavan Sedaght spent many years honing his skills in this powerful art.  He introduced me first to the directors of Korash and Ba Chukhe wrestling arts in Iran.  

My father and Mr. Sedaghat (senior)
Mr. Kurosh Khosroyar

First we met Mr. Kurosh Khosroyar. He is responsible for Korash wrestling.  He gave me an introduction on Korash wrestling.  This style is practiced in Uzbikestan, Afghanistan, Turkemenistan and Iran.  Although Uzbikestan has made this style popular with many representatives worldwide.  It is truly a powerful style.  This style has been traditionally practiced by Turkemen tribes in Iran as well.  Participants wear jackets and pants and similar to judo, they apply powerful leg trips and throws.

Then we drove to the Ba Chukhe Federation to see Mr. Gholamhossein Shakeri who is the head of Ba Chukhe Wrestling Federation in Iran. He explained to me the activities of the federation.  Each year there is a championship in Ba Chuke Wrestling which takes place in Khorasan.  Powerful wrestlers of this region and also practitioners of other areas of Iran come to this region to take part in Ba Chukhe Championships.  Participants haves short pants and short-sleeve jacket.  This is a very old and traditional wrestling style with its roots going back to centuries.

Pahlavan Ghasem Asadi and Pahlavan Delavar Sedaghat

Then Pahlavan Delavar Sedaghat introduced me to a champion wrestler Pahlavan Ghasem Asadi.  A true gentleman who has won many places in Ba Chukhe wrestling championships.  He explained the history of Ba Chukhe wrestling to me and explained that his brother Pahlavan Hashem Asadi, who was an active coach of Ba Chukhe wrestling, would demonstrate the techniques that afternoon.  Although one of the most powerful wrestling arts, Ba Chukhe is still not an international wrestling art and we hoped that one day that would change of course.

Pahlavan Hasanali Dartumi and Pahlavan Mohsen Mohammadi: Experienced Ba Chukhe wrestlers and coaches
Mr. reza Mahnan

In the afternoon, we went to the wrestling center to pratice, document and see Korash wrestling techniques.  Many team members of Korash are blackbelts in judo as well and they practice both arts and take part in both championships.  The center of wrestling of Bojnord has many wrestling styles: Ba Chukhe wrestling, Korash wrestling, Freestyle wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling, Pahlavani wrestling, judo and of course one can also practice Varzeshe Pahlavani in a Zurkhane there.  Truly a magnificent center to learn many wrestling arts.  There Pahlavan Ali Mohammadniya and Mr Ahmad Jafakesh showed me the fundamental techniques of Korash wrestling.  We were accompanied by their kind head coach Mr Reza Mahnan.

Korash wrestling team of Bojnord
Pahlavan Ali Mohammaniya executing Yanbash Tecnique of Korash wrestling
Pahlavan Ali Mohammadniya demonstrating the technique Qolpich in Korash wrestling
Pahlavan Ali Mohammadniya showing the technique Kamargiri
Pahlavan Ali Mohammadniya applying the technique kamar be kamar in Korash wrestling
Pahlavan Hashem Asadi and his team and Pahlavan Sedaghat

After Korash wrestling, we went to the adjacent building.  Pahlavan Hasehm Asadi was already waiting for us.  I was truly excited as this was the first time that I could train, document and  claasify the techniques of Ba Chukhe wrestling.  This is one of the most powerful and beautiful wrestling arts I have ever seen.  Pahlavan Asadi welcomed us with his students and he showed me all fundamental techniques of Ba Chukhe.  As I had already expected these were the most powerful throws I had ever seen. Pahalavan Asadi showed the techniques with his student Mr. Behnam Baghcheqi

Pahlavan Asadi demonstrating the technique Lenge Vasat in Ba Chukhe Wrestling
Pahlavan Asadi showing the technique lenge vasat (variation 2) in Ba Chukhe wrestling
Pahlavan Asadi showing the technique Pasleng in Ba Chukhe wrestling
Pahlavan Asadi showing the technique Chap Bekan in Ba Chukhe wrestling
Standing right to left (Pahlavan Sedaghat, my father and me); Sitting right to left (Behnam Baghcheqi and Pahlavan Hasehm Asadi)

This was one of the best research trips I have ever undertaken.  I would like to thank my father, Pahlavan Sedaghat and all other champions and representatives who have helped and assisted me in this project.  The results of this project will be published in one of my future books on traditional wrestling arts of Iran.

For Ba chukhe wrestling: LINK

For other wrestling types: LINK

Dr. Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani