Colombian grima

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Also known as Colombian grima, Colombian fencing, Colombian machete fencing
Country of origin Colombia
Parenthood Machete fighting in Haiti, machete fighting in Cuba
Olympic sport No

The grima, Colombian fencing or Colombian machete fencing is a sport and a martial art practiced in Colombia.

In the early twentieth century, the Afro-Colombian communities of the Gran Cauca and Tolima were epicenters of esgrima or grima, a martial art utilizing sticks, knives, lances, and particularly the machete. Also known as "juego de machete", this dynamic art taught its adepts to defend themselves with extreme corporal dexterity and cunning. Grima experts passed on this art through formal master and disciple relationships, and often helped to spread important counter-memories of popular participation in the nation's conflicts.[1]


Among contemporary masters of the art, there are a number of competing ideas as to the origins of grima. Although there are numerous variants on these, they fall into four groups. The first group views grima as having come from Africa along with enslaved Africans brought to work in the mines of Colombia and the second group traces grima directly to European sword-fighting experts who visited Colombia in colonial times. The third sees grima‟s "desgonses" as evidence that Colombian grima was formed by blacks developing their own styles inspired by the European sword-fighting they witnessed, while the fourth group traces grima to the Wars of Independence when it was taught by foreign soldiers to Colombian troops. In the near future comparative research on the fencing histories of the Atlantic world may provide clearer details on the historical relationship between Colombian grima styles and other fencing traditions in the wider Atlantic world.[1]

People of African descent utilized this mastery of stick and bladed weapons as an important contribution to the national struggle of Colombia. While published history of wars emphasize the importance of political and military leaders, the practitioners of these fencing forms perpetuate important counter-memories that emphasize the role of common soldiers, often of African descent, whose mastery of stick and bladed weapons helped to pave the way for national victories.[1]


Colombians practiced grima in many styles known as "juegos". These included Sombra Caucana, Palo Negro, Cubano, Español, Frances, Relancino, Venezolano, Costeño, Sombra Japonés, and many others. Each had slightly different stances, ranges, footwork, tactics, and choreographed sequences. Although not limited to blacks, these styles have been a resource for Afro-Colombians in their struggles for honor, both in their communities and in the wider nation.[1]


  1. Español Reformado was played at long ranges with long erect stances and linear footwork.[1]
  2. Palo Negro was practiced at close range and trained in circular walking patterns.[1]
  3. Relancino was similar to Palo Negro but emphasized deceptive attacking combinations and the defensive utilization of low-crouching positions and double handed blocks.

However, these styles were all related and shared a common core of eight strikes and fundamental defenses.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Dr. T. J. Desch-Obi. "Peinillas and Popular Participation: Machete fighting in Haiti, Cuba, and Colombia". Retrieved 5 February 2015.