Engolo, or NGolo (kikongo word meaning strength, power) refers to a public and private performance of ritual combat by various ethnic groups around the Cunene river in Southern Angola. The style of fighting involves various kicks, dodges, and leg sweeps, with an emphasis on inverted positions, i.e. with one or more hands on the ground. The first mention of Engolo in literature was made by Ablano Neves e Sousa in a set of drawings demonstrating various techniques and their similarities to the Afro-Brazilian art form of Capoeira in the 1960s. The NGolo is considered to be one of several African martial arts of the African Diaspora in the Americas. (See Kalunga, Kalunga Line)
Neves e Sousa described the NGolo as part of a rite of passage, Omuhelo, between young boys vying for a bride in the contest, and whose techniques derived from the peculiar way in which Zebras fight amongst themselves. Research carried out by Dr. TJ Desch Obi finds that the NGolo itself is not strictly performed for any one ritual, but as an element in various public and private performances.
In his book Fighting for Honor, as well as his article "Combat and Crossing of the Kalunga", Dr. Desch Obi draws parallels between the circle space used in the Engolo and the inverted techniques with the Kalunga Cosmology, in which the spirit–ancestor world is inverted as a world of opposites: Where men walk on their feet, the spirits walk on the their hands, where men are black, the spirits are white, where men reach their peak physical abilities in life, the ancestors reach their peak spirituality. He states that men in performing N'Golo with its inverted positions connect themselves physically and spiritually with the ancestors, and with specific ancestral warriors of the past.
- Da minha África e do Brasil que eu vi, Albano Neves e Sousa. Angola: Ed. Luanda, sdp 23 2.
- Fighting for Honor: The History of African Martial Art Traditions in the Atlantic World, By M. Thomas J. Desch-Obi, Edition: illustrated, Published by Univ of South Carolina Press, 2008, ISBN 1-57003-718-3, ISBN 978-1-57003-718-4